24 November 2017

Six Canadian Brands To Try NOW

I won’t be publishing my usual Black Friday sales roundup this year, partly due to time constraints and partly because I've been feeling a little overwhelmed by all the BUY-BUY-BUY hyper-consumerism this year.

Instead, I'm taking today to highlight a few exceptional Canadian companies that I've been wanting to talk more about for quite some time.  We have some great brands here -- I had a hard time narrowing things down to just these six, in fact -- but I wanted to focus on companies that maybe don't get talked about as much as some others.



[P.S. If you are looking for sales this weekend, I have it on good authority that all six of these have something special up their sleeves! I'll update to include any sale/deal details as that info becomes available]

Based in: Halifax, N.S.
Current Deal: 25% off for email subscribers

Duckish's colorful labels make me happy every time I look at them and what's inside is next level amazing too. The lotion sticks glide onto the skin like luscious, hydrating, melting butter and are unbeatable for dry winter skin. (No question, I'll be taking advantage of that 25% to stock up!) The body butters and lip balms are also excellent, as are the pretty bath salts and bath bombs, if bath products are more your jam.

Based in: Toronto, ON
Current Sale: 3 new deodorant launches, up to 40% off + a free travel size deodorant for email subscribers

If you don't already know, I work part-time for Mabrook & Co., which means I'm very familiar with the entire line. With small-batch handmade products made from minimal top quality ingredients, Mabrook & Co. is a brand that takes minimalism to a really intentional and elegant place. The deodorants are undoubtedly Mabrook's claim to fame, but the rest of the line performs very well too and I have a special love for the minty-citrusy Glow, one of the brand's multipurpose face/body/aromatherapy sprays. A portion of every sale is also donated to Women for Women, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating and empowering women in conflict-ridden countries.

Based in: Vancouver, B.C.
Current Sale: 25% Off

I've tried the majority of Sola’s products and I've yet to discover one that disappoints! Christine, one of Sola’s two founders and the creative force and formulator behind the company's products, combines nourishing plant botanicals and traditional Chinese medicine ingredients to create unique formulations that truly work.  I'm on my second bottle of the Balancing Face Oil and use it just about every day -- it's serious skin magic both on its own and in combination with other serums and moisturizers -- and I don't see myself switching any time soon!

Based in: London, ON
Current Deal: 10% off on Friday, free US/Canada shipping on $40+ Monday

Batty's Bath has an impressively large range of products that includes skincare, body care, and makeup, and they regularly add new items to the lineup.  What I love most about Batty's Bath is that everything feels very real and genuine.  The products aren't clinically white or watered down and, as such, they feel very vibrant and 'alive'.  Batty, the company's eponymous founder, is something of a problematic skin expert too -- be it acne-prone or sensitive -- and the company produces a lot of great educational content as well.   

Based in: Toronto, ON
Current Deal: Free US/Canada Shipping, Free Refresh Face Mist with $75+

If you're familiar with Sonja, one of Double Happiness's two founders, from her blog, Life in Blush, you'll know she's no stranger to quality skincare, so naturally when she launched her own line, it had to be top notch.  With 4 concentrated, waterless products, the line is simple but really lovely.  

This is the only brand on the list from which I haven't personally used any of the products beyond testing on my hand -- only because they're too floral for my sensitive, picky nose -- but great reviews abound and I swoon over the ingredients lists which include unique botanical picks like schizandra berry and magnolia leaf.  

Based in: Canmore, AB
Current Deal: Free Body Lotion with $75+, Free Shampoo and Conditioner with $150+

Rocky Mountain is significantly larger in scale than the rest of the companies on this list, but they still never compromise quality or ingredient integrity and they've got some truly standout products. For anyone looking for a replacement for Bath & Body Works and the like, Rocky Mountain is always my top recommendation -- great product selection, tons of scents, including fun seasonal options, and even in-person stores if you're lucky enough to live in certain parts of the country.

This is by no means an all-inclusive list -- what other Canadian brands are you loving?

3 November 2017

Everyone Hair Styling Products: Style Gel, Tame Cream & Volume Serum

I'm always game to try out new #curlygirl hair products, so when I spotted Everyone's small hair styling line at a local health food store for a super inexpensive $5.99 each, I decided to pick up all three products to test out.  Everyone is a budget-friendly offshoot of EO Products, specifically designed for younger consumers, large families, and others who might have less money to spend on quality, natural products.  The products are made for "every budget" -- something you know really resonates with me -- and contain no GMO's, parabens, sulfates, synthethic fragrances, gluten, or synthetic polymers.  The hair styling products are also phenoxyethanol-free.  

I've been testing this hair trio out since the summer -- keep reading for my thoughts on each product!



The Style Gel is your basic no-frills hair gel.  It has good hold, isn’t sticky, and, just like the bottle says, doesn't flake or crumble throughout the day.  The gel isn't specifically designed for curly hair, but it works well for curl definition nonetheless, and even leaves curls looking pretty great on the second (and sometimes third) day.  

The scent on this one is my favorite of the three.  It’s a mild, sweet blend of citrus, vanilla, and coconut that smells nice as you use it, but isn't noticeable much beyond that.  

The Hair Cream doesn't offer much in the way of hold, but it’s fantastic for defining curls and taming frizz.  It has a creamy consistency and gives hair a bit of moisture too, similar to a lightweight leave-in conditioner. For my hair, this is the best of the bunch for first day curls, but, because its hold is so light, by the second day (and beyond) my curls have fallen considerably.  

Again, the scent is fairly mild -- this time a mix of lavender and coconut -- and I don't notice it in my hair other than when I'm first applying/distributing the product.

Volume Hair Serum
Of the three, the Volume Serum is the one I’d say you can skip.  It has a thin gel consistency and claims to add volume, bounce and body, but I don't find it does much in my hair. On days that I air dry (which, let's be honest, is most of the time), the serum does basically nothing.  When I blow dry instead, I do get more volume, of course, but I'm not convinced it's any more than blow drying without the serum, either with or without a different product.

The scent on this one is lemon and coconut and, again, it's very unobtrusive, although you can initially smell some alcohol -- the third ingredient in this one -- coming through too.

The Bottom Line
I'd pass on the Volume Serum -- I just haven't found a good use for it -- but I really like the Hair Cream and Hair Gel.   Both give light to medium hold, offer good curl definition, and do well at controlling frizz and flyaways. The ingredients are also great and Everyone's inexpensive prices really can't be beat!

19 September 2017

August Goodbeing Box (All Beauty)

I’ve got so many ideas for blog posts I want to do, but very little time of late to actually sit down and write them!  Thanks for sticking with me, even when things are slow.

Today I want to talk about Goodbeing. I haven't done a subscription box post in quite some time, mainly because I haven’t gotten any boxes in a while.  With trying to limit the amount of product I bring in, spending on guaranteed items has made more sense than risking it on the unknown, but when Goodbeing had an offer that was too good to pass up, I decided to subscribe for the August box.  



Goodbeing (formerly Goodebox) is one of the longest running natural sub boxes. They have a "pick your product" feature that lets you choose 1-2 of the 4-5 items in the box, which I think is fantastic. Boxes retail for $24.95 in the US and $33.95 in Canada and internationally. With the exchange, I ended up paying just under $44 CAD.  Mini boxes and discounts on prepaid yearly subscriptions are also available. I chose the all beauty box, but there's also a lifestyle option that contains a mix of beauty, lifestyle, and wellness products.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll have already seen what came in my box, but I want to share my thoughts a month later, now I've had a chance to use (almost) everything in the box. Ultimately I think mini reviews are more valuable than first impressions, which is why I waited until now instead of doing a quick unboxing as soon as it arrived in the mail.

Let’s get to the goodies inside!


Previse Hydrofoam Moisturizer ($48)
The Hydrofoam Moisturizer was a bonus for new subscribers in August -- what finally sold me on the box -- and I have lots of thoughts on it.  As part of Previse’s new ZeroFragrance line, the Hydrofoam Moisturizer is marketed as a lightweight antioxidant-rich moisturizer with a unique aerated micro-bubble mousse consistency.   The ingredients caught my eye right away -- specifically hyaluronic acid, which I already know my skin loves, and ceramides, which I'd been interested in incorporating into my routine for some time.  The bubbly mousse consistency is unconventional -- similar to that of a foaming hand soap -- and, according to Previse, serves to activate the antioxidants in the formula.  

Honestly, I’m not sure if the aeration making the product any more active is just a gimmick or not, but it’s a fun item to use and I like the results I’ve gotten from it so far.  I also consider it to be more of a serum or essence -- and a pretty watery one at that -- than a moisturizer.  Aerating the liquid into a foam may temporarily change its consistency, but it doesn't significantly  impact the weight or feel of the product once it’s on the skin.  My skin has been verging on oily this summer, and the Hydrofoam Moisturizer is still nowhere near enough moisture for me.  

To be clear, I really enjoy this product as a serum layer, either mixed with a couple drops of my longtime favorite Sola Balancing Face Oil to create something of a micro-emulsion, or followed with a separate moisturizer or balm. For my skin, it just doesn't replace a moisturizer and isn't something I can use by itself, even in the humid summer.

Emani Hybrid Cream Color in Speechless ($20)
Emani’s Hybrid Cream Colors are multipurpose cream products for eyes, lips, and cheeks and Speechless is a pretty copper shade.  It’s not a color I’m likely to wear on my cheeks or lips, but it’s very pretty on the eyes.  As you can see in the photo, the product comes with an abstract sparkle overlay, but it doesn’t significantly impact the shade.   Speechless has a pretty sheen throughout.  

I've been enjoying wearing the Cream Color all over my lid, paired with a mid-toned taupe powder shadow in the crease for a little definition, and I really like the look it creates. In terms of wear, the Cream Color fares pretty well -- much better than I expected! It does fade throughout the day, like any natural cream shadow, but it does so in a very natural way without any obvious creasing or patchiness.

Osea Malibu Ocean Cleanser ($16)
Osea has been on my to-try list for literally years and the Ocean Cleanser did not disappoint.  With a creamy gel consistency, the cleanser doesn't lather or foam, but it does thoroughly cleanse without stripping or drying out the skin.  It also smells great - mild, fresh and a little beachy, if you will - and leaves my skin soft and happy. I'm even more eager to try more Osea now!

Isa’s Restoratives Blue Beauty Balm ($7.50)
The Blue Beauty Balm was the surprise star of the box.  I haven't been completely sold on face balms in the past, but this one has been changing my mind.  The texture, once melted by the heat of your skin, is quite thin and light, leaving the Blue Beauty Balm feeling more like a plush oil than a balm.  It's not at all heavy, waxy, or occlusive and I love it! The balm is loaded with great ingredients that moisturize without feeling greasy and my skin is left soft and supple.  The scent -- a mix of blue chamomile, neroli, and carrot seed -- is intoxicatingly lovely too.  

In fact, I liked this guy so much that I was quick to scoop up the company’s Immortelle Balm when I saw it as a choice in Goodbeing’s October Pick Your Products.

St. Tropica Coconut Hot Oil Hair Mask ($5)
Life gets busy and hair masks easily fall off the agenda, so this is the one thing from the box that I've yet to try.  I like the simple ingredients -- it's basically a boosted virgin organic coconut oil that’s loaded with good for your hair ingredients like biotin, amla, horsetail, green tea, and hibiscus.  I'll report back on Instagram or in an empties post once I give it a go.


The Bottom Line
I think this was a great box!  I expected to love the Previse moisturizer and while it’s great, the Osea Ocean Cleanser and Isa’s Restoratives Blue Beauty Balm were even more so the standouts of this box for me.  Goodbeing consistently includes fantastic brands and I like that they also let you pick some of the items in advance, so it’s not a complete surprise.  I opted not to get a box in September, but I am getting one in October and will decide whether or not to continue from there.  

Have you subscribed to Goodbeing or used any of these products?  What’s your take on subscription boxes in general?

28 August 2017

Marin Bee Detox Masque

I fell hard for the Marin Bee Lip Repair a few months ago, but it took me a little longer to come to appreciate the company’s Detox Masque* ($48 for 2 ounces).  Let’s just say it wasn’t love at first mask for me and this guy.  To be completely honest, I didn’t like it very much at all the first time I put it on my face.  

I've since changed my mind on all but one of these points, but that first time using it, I found:
It was sticky and hard to spread.  
I felt like I used up half the tube on that one mask.
I didn’t like how it smelled.  
And, most important of all -- I didn’t notice any difference or improvement in my skin.  

I set the Detox Masque aside for a couple months and when I gave it another go more recently, with a little tweaking and perhaps the weather change from spring to summer, I’ve come to really enjoy using it.


The major change I made? Adding in a small amount of water (or hydrosol, or toner) before applying the mask onto my face.  The extra liquid helps thin out the mask, allowing it to spread much more easily on the skin so you need considerably less product.  It also helps the mask feel much less sticky and gooey.

Since re-trying it, I've also seen an improvement in my skin following the mask.  My skin looks bright and healthy, the pores on my nose and cheeks look cleaner (and therefore smaller and less visible), and my face is very soft to the touch.   

I will say, I'm still not a big fan of the mask’s smell as it sits on your face.  Straight out of the tube, it smells mostly sweet, like honey, but the sulfur comes through as the mask sits on the skin and, in combination with the other ingredients, is very reminiscent of pungent garlic.  I don’t love it, but it’s much more bearable when everything else is working for me.  

Let’s talk about ingredients...

The mask is made up of ⅓ California wildflower honey.  Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and it’s a natural humectant.  It's fantastic for all kinds of skin and here it does a fantastic job balancing and tempering the more active ingredients in the mask.  

Kaolin clay is one of the more gentle clays out there, but it's still very effective at drawing out dirt and impurities.  

Sulfur and pumpkin enzymes balance oil production, get rid of dead skin cells and provide gentle, chemical exfoliation.

Aloe vera, zinc oxide, and oats offer soothing benefits and help to reduce redness and inflammation.  


All in all, the Detox Masque is a great mask for treating acne, blemishes, or clogged pores without overly drying or stripping the skin.  Marin Bee has packed the formula full of skin nutrients and soothing botanicals that elevate it far above your standard clay detox masque.

I’m not sure why I had such a different reaction to the mask on the first go, but I’m definitely a fan now.  I’ve also had good results dotting the mask onto blemishes and leaving it on as an overnight spot treatment.

The Bottom Line
Marin Bee has done it again!  This honey-based line has some real gems and I’m happy to say, the Detox Masque is, on second try, another one. The mask offers purifying and detoxifying benefits in a gentle formula that won’t leave skin feeling stripped or overcleansed.   

* Press sample

24 August 2017

Homemade 3-Ingredient Laundry Detergent

I can’t remember the last time I purchased store-bought laundry detergent.  There are a million and one other options and I've definitely tried a good number of them!  I used reusable laundry discs for several years, but when they needed replacing, I decided to feel out other options instead.  Soap nuts were okay for a time, but I was never confident they were getting agitated enough in the washing machine to make the most of their saponins and soapy goodness.  I also did a stint using just a small amount of liquid castile soap, which works well but isn’t the most cost-effective option.  And so, I eventually turned to making my own powder detergent.
I shared a photo of the detergent-making process on Instagram stories a few weeks ago and got multiple requests for more info, so I'm finally sharing the (incredibly easy) recipe here.

There are a lot of similar recipes circulating on the internet, but the main difference with mine is that I use proportionately much less soap than other recipes I’ve seen.  Why?  I wash most things in cold water, and find that with a higher soap ratio, some of that soap just doesn’t dissolve, leaving gummy pieces of half-dissolved soap attached to your clothes.  Clearly not what we’re going for!  

This really is a super simple DIY.  I've linked all the ingredients below, should you want to order them online, but everything is pretty easy to find -- any natural bar soap will work, and you can find borax and washing soda at most supermarkets and grocery stores.  Scale the recipe up or down, as needed, depending on the size of your bar of soap.

Homemade 3-Ingredient Laundry Detergent 

1 4-oz bar natural bar soap, grated
4 cups washing soda
4 cups borax
(Essential oils -- optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container.  To use, sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons into your load and wash as normal.

And that’s it!

You can scent your detergent with essential oils, but I personally don't.  The soap gives the detergent a fresh clean smell, plus I've never found essential oil scents to last very well in the wash anyways.  Scented bar soap is another option to make the detergent itself smell great, but, again, I don't find the scent detectable once clothes/linens are dry.  I use whatever bar soap I have on hand -- scented or unscented -- and really can’t tell the difference once everything is dry.  

Have you ever made your own laundry detergent?  What are your favorite household DIY’s?
Contains affiliate links.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...