Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Vegas Bound: My Travel Makeup Bag

I'm going to Vegas today!

I was inspired by Essie Button's post and thought I'd show you what products I'm taking with me! I'm only taking a carry-on so with flight restrictions and space limitations, it's all about taking only what you need.

This is a new product to me, but as my trusty Nivea night cream was running out I faced the inevitable dilemma, do I go with a trusty standby or do I try something new? I decided to try this one as it was on sale and I'm on a healthy products kick- this one has no parabens, phthlates, dyes, or silicone!

Image curtesy of 
This is kind of my old stand by, but I'm looking for something new to try as it doesn't seem to match my skin tone as well as it used to and I'm looking for something that takes even less time to apply. I was hoping to replace this with a good BB or CC cream, but I've yet to find any that have decent coverage. I still love how light and weightless this foundation feels when applied, so I'm bringing it with me to even out my skin tone.

  • MAC holiday eyeshadow (limited edition) 
My dear Cate got this for me one Christmas and it's one of my very favourite eyeshadow palettes- as you can see, it's well-loved! The combination of gold and purple is just perfect and you can create so many different looks with just a few colours.

This is perfect for travelling as it has it's own little case and it isn't a liquid. Usually I make due with the hotel shampoo, but my hair is never in love with it and this is a great alternative that takes up very little space in your makeup bag!

It's the perfect natural shade for when I want to be a little fancy. Though I'm not going to lie, usually I just stick to...

I have the driest lips ever, so lip balm of some sort is absolutely essential. This is one of the most moisturizing that I've fond and it smells irresistible.

I've found for the price that this eye liner is pretty good. It produces a solid dark line that stays on for a long time, as long as you don't rub your eyes a lot. Must have for Vegas.

I got this in a makeup kit my brother gave me for Christmas (awww). It's tiny! TINY! Look, it's next to a loony! It's a decent mascara that does it's job well and it's so perfect for travelling.

All of this (and my toiletries) are safely packed in my new cute little makeup bag in my new cute little backpack!

See you soon!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Healthy Hair Products: LUSH CACA MARRON Review

Today I'm reviewing Lush's Henna hair dye, Caca Marron. You'll get all the details here: Does it really make your hair that much softer and healthier? How bad does it smell? Is it really that messy? Is the colour worth it? But first you'll have to read my little rant on how I got started on this healthy hair journey (or you can just scroll down til you see the big heading and get the goods right away!)

I watched a documentary on Netflix called Pink Ribbons Inc. about the pink ribbon campaigns that are so common today and how much we, the public, support this industry. The reality of the situation, the documentary claims, is that it's just a moneymaker for the companies that slather everything in pink; the money isn't going to the important research that needs to be done on environmental causes of breast cancer. The documentary (which I highly recommend by the way) briefly touched on how many of the products women use every day, like makeup and hair products, contain ingredients which may be carcinogenic. In fact, the documentary claims that many of the same companies that support breast cancer research are the same companies using these harmful chemicals in their products. Of course, this really made me think about the products I use every day, whether they are harmful to me, and what I should do if they are.

Originally, I planned to just write one article on this topic, but honestly, it is so huge and complex that to do it any justice I need to break it down. First off, I'm going to focus on hair, and more specifically, hair dye.

The documentary mentioned the website, the Skin Deep Database, where you can look up products you use and get a rating from 0 (good, containing less potentially harmful ingredients) to 10 (flashing warning signs!). Most of the products I use were only mild to moderately concerning, but my precious, lovely, very favourite hair dye in the world, John Frieda's Radiant Red Deep Cherry Brown is rated a ghastly 10. There are bunch of horrible things in this product (most of which are found in any popular hair dye, so it's applicable to almost anyone who dyes their hair), and I'm going to break it down for you in plain English.
  • PROPYLPARABEN (10) (Developmental/reproductive toxicity, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Miscellaneous, Use restrictions) 
This harmful chemical is a preservative which imitates estrogen and can interrupt your hormones.
  • FRAGRANCE (8) (Ecotoxicology, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Miscellaneous, Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive))
Although it seems like the ingredient listing fragrance would be relatively harmless (what's wrong with a little smelly stuff, anyway?), it was news to me that this is actually high risk. Linked with this are "allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system"... definitely concerning!
  • RESORCINOL (8) (Cancer, Ecotoxicology, Endocrine disruption, Allergies/immunotoxicity, Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive), Occupational hazards, Use restrictions)
Resorcinol is a skin irritant and is also associated with other effects on the body, including links to cancer. According to the website, the US Federal government regulates its use in the workplace, but not in personal care and I have to wonder why not? If it is dangerous enough to be regulated in one place, it's dangerous enough to regulated when uninformed consumers are using the product in their homes.

Each company and each individual hair product that I looked up had a slightly different chemical concoction, but these harmful ingredients like this were common in many of the dyes I looked at.

I was absolutely torn between continuing on as a creature of habit and having the hair colour that I wanted and trying something new. I could keep using a product that gave me great results physically, but at what price? I decided I didn't want to look back later in life and regret that I didn't start taking care of my body earlier.

When I was in LUSH the other day I realized I had to try it, even if it is a bit of a commitment. You can't just switch back and forth between henna hair dye and chemical hair dye, you will need to wait at least 6 months to a year before using chemical hair dyes again, lest a reaction happens which fries your hair or turns it a scary colour. Seeing the employees and how enthusiastic they are about the products was definitely one of the things that convinced me.

How to use LUSH Henna hair dye:

  1. Cut the bar into pieces depending on the length and thickness of your hair. Each bar has 6 pieces. I used three pieces on my shoulder length, moderately thick hair. If your hair is longer, but thinner, you could probably use the same.
  2. Boil water or use a double broiler to melt the bars into a brownie batter like consistency. The packaging says shredding or grating is not necessary and I read that doing so can make it hard to tell when the mixture is ready to go. That being said it took forever to break down the three bars otherwise (consisting of a lot turning and scrapping) and next time I would break them into small pieces before adding hot water.
  3. Apply vaseline or lotion on to your ears, forehead, neck to avoid the henna staining your skin. I didn't find that the henna stained as bad (and definitely not as quickly) as chemical dyes, but it's better to be safe than sorry, especially when you are leaving it on for a long time!
  4. Apply the mixture to your hair starting from the back and working forward. Be warned: this is messy! If you don't want to spend a while cleaning up your bathroom floor, I would suggest applying it in/over the bathtub as it drips quite profusely. Also, a partner in crime to help you is strongly recommended. It is best to apply it as hot as you are able to stand, but be careful not to burn yourself! Applying it hot is important as it allows the colour to saturate your hair resulting in a more successful colour. This is one area in which I think my application could have been improved. When I applied the mixture it was lukewarm to cool as it had taken so much time to break down the bars!
  5. Wrap your hair into a bun. Saran Wrap your head as tightly as you can for a more vibrant red tone or leave in the fresh air for a more brownish tone. Leave on for 2-4 hours or as long as you can stand. I left mine on overnight, about 9 hours. Be sure to put a dark towel down while you sleep as it will inevitably leak and you don't want to wreck your bedding.
  6. Wash it out! It takes at least a couple shampoos to get the product fully out of your hair. I first rinsed my hair throughly with just water to get the chunks of henna out until the water became mostly clear. The granules of Henna are pretty annoying, but eventually they come out with a little work. Then I washed my hair twice with LUSH shampoo SEANIK (made from seaweed, salt, lemon oil for body and shine) and then conditioned with John Frieda Full Repair Full Body Conditioner (rated a 5 on Skin Deep). Even after that when my hair dried some underneath parts were crunchy, almost like I had put mousse in it.

Image of SEANIK, courtesy of LUSH UK

The Results:

The colour: On my medium/dark brown hair, dyed a reddish brown, the results were a reddish brown with purply tones. When in the light the reddish tones definitely come out stronger, which is really lovely and subtle.

I didn't see a lot of colour difference in the before and after because I chose a colour very close to the colour my hair already was (John Frieda's Radiant Red Deep Cherry Brown), but the overall tone was great (not brassy) and it blended my former roots in with the rest of my hair. I would definitely recommend this colour for those who would like a reddish tone, but don't want to go full on red (CACA ROUGE). In fact, I have gotten quite a few compliments on it in the last few days for just that reason.

The cost: Lush Henna products are $25 dollars each ($29 with tax here in Canada). It might seem like a lot for hair dye, however I only used half of the product and can save the rest for another application. As my usual John Frieda hair dye is around $14 dollars an application, there isn't much difference. Besides, I like to think of it like this: I'm paying for quality ingredients, like henna straight from India and creamy cocoa butter, but I'm also paying for what I'm not putting in my hair: chemicals, carcinogens, preservatives.

The smell: The product does not smell as bad as some of the reviews say. It's not pleasant, but it smells like a mix between hay, grass, and mud.

The mess: It's not as messy as I thought it would be after reading all the reviews, but I do not think it is all that much more messy than regular hair dye as long as you take proper precautions. Apply the henna while you are in or leaning over the bathtub as it will drip heavily on the floor and on you (so wear something old or nothing at all!). Put newspaper down if you choose not to do it in the tub. It will easily wash off your bath with some running water as long as you don't leave it for too long and it is the same with your skin. Yes, you will look like you are covered it mud, but rest assured, it will come off! As I already mentioned, if you choose to sleep or lay down with it on, be sure to put a towel down as it will leak.

All in all, I'm hooked and have started my LUSH obsession! I'm particularly excited about mixing the henna colours to create my own shade! Next time a mix of CACA MARRON and CACA ROUGE, maybe?

Have you tried any LUSH products you love? Are you interested in makeup and hair products that are healthy for you? Let me know what you think in the comments!


Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Little Time At Joe Malone

You may know about my perfume addiction. I did a post last August during BEDA about my perfume collection in which I shared my top picks.

I don't generally venture off with perfume and fragrance too often. I find something I like and I stick to it. Like my beloved Miss Dior  but I do read the blogs and have heard of the wonderful Jo Malone and their unique, albeit pricey, selection of scents and I decided to hop on over to my local Holt Renfrew and stop by the Jo Malone counter.

I must say the fragrances at Jo Malone are quite unique and not like anything I have ever tested before. Their are very specific scents and as they are "colognes" they are quite strong and as I was being given samples I was beginning to think I may not like anything and walk away empty handed but I ended up falling for the Grapefruit Cologne and purchased it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Products I Regret Buying

Hello all,

I hope you are doing well. I had a really fun idea to show you all the products that I regret buying. I know I do a lot of product reviews so this would be a cool way to do a bunch of mini reviews and show you things that I definitely won't be spending my money on again.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Cate Reviews: Avene Soothing Moisture Mask

So this polar vortex weather looks like it may continues, especially for those of you on the east coast. We in British Columbia have been a little luckier but it is still cold and my skin care regimen has adjusted.

I love face masks, just the whole routine and the way your skin looks after you wash it off but a lot of the times in the winter, face masks can be too much for your skin but this one by Avene is perfect for those colder days.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cate Compares: Acne Spot Treatments

Hello everyone,

I hope you all are doing well and fighting this cold and flu season. I am still getting over my sickness which has lasted quite a while but I finally feel up to blogging again which is nice.

I hope you all have been checking out my awesome friend and co-writer's latest posts. She just did a really awesome baking post that you should check out by clicking here!

Today I am going to be comparing acne spot treatments. There are so many on the market and you can never tell which ones will work for your skin. Luckily, over the years I have accumulated and tried quite a few and I know which ones work for my skin so stay tuned to this post to find out which ones I would recommend and why.

Let's not save the best for last. This acne spot treatment gets a lot of hype on blogs and youtube and rightly so. This one contains Benzoyl Peroxide which honestly, I find really drying, especially in the winter time but it does work. In fact, this is the only Benzoyl Peroxide (BP) formula that works for me. I will explain more when I talk about the other treatments but BP is usually too drying and I don't usually see a difference but this one really does work to zap the pimple very quickly.
*Quick Info: If you are in Europe or the United Kingdom, this product is not a spot treatment but a lighter version all over moisturizer.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Special Message To All Of You


*Image curtesy of Google Images.

We hope whether you are celebrating with family and friends or with a special someone that you have a wonderful day basking in all the love. 

We love and appreciate every single one of you!

         Cate & Meg 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In The Kitchen With Meg: An (Almost) Homemade Heart Apple Pie

There's nothing I love more than yummy apple pie, fresh from the oven. Last weekend my boyfriend's family was having a big get together so I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to bake the very thing I was craving.

This pie is tender, cinnamon-y, and sweet. One thing to remember is that the apples you choose make your pie. All apples are not made equal when baking... some fall apart and get mushy, some are better suited to applesauces or just munching on. My favourites to use for pies are Granny Smith (for that tart taste) and Pink Lady (for the sweet and crisp). I'm a believer in using a medley of apples in the pie for more complex and balanced flavours and textures.

It's only a few days away, but this would be a wonderful pie to make for Valentine's Day... maybe with a strawberry rhubarb filling instead? YUM! Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I can't think of an occasion which would not benefit from a heart pie...
so let's get baking!

This recipe was adapted from this user post on Lauren Conrad

Monday, February 10, 2014

Art Is Fundamental - Book Review

 Art Is Fundamental:Teaching the Elements and Principles of Art in Elementary School by Eileen S. Prince is an instructional book on how to teach art to elementary and high school students, starting from the very basic and progressing to more complicated concepts, vocabulary, and lesson plans. The book is divided into three years of art lessons. The first year is appropriate for a first grade classroom, but the material can easily be adapted for older students and Price shows you how.

 As a future elementary school teacher, I am seeking a way to teach art to my future students in a way they can easily understand, yet also in a way that touches them deeply and inspires them. The projects in this book do both. The lessons Price prepares are ones that are tested and true as she herself has taught them repeatedly. She also makes a point to expand on any issues that might come up in the children's responses: tackling common questions, concerns, and teacher response.

 If I had to describe this book in one word I would say it is extensive. The breadth and depth of knowledge included in it is remarkable. Price takes the time to explain her art philosophies, her classroom management, the whys behind her art project, all in ways that make sense to the reader, even one with limited knowledge of art. I have to say, I've taken a few art classes and generally enjoy art, but I definitely learned a few things!

 One aspect I enjoyed most about the book were the pictures of actual student artwork (often from grade one and two) that are found throughout. I often was shocked that such young students could create such beautiful, creative, and complex works. I shouldn't have been surprised; young children are more capable of things than most people give them credit for. I especially shouldn't have been surprised considering the amount of solid instruction and information Price packs into her lessons. Nonetheless, I was impressed with the results. If anything my one complaint is that there should have been more pictures! I particularly loved her rule that the children's art must not look too much like hers or their peers. It gives her classes license to be creative and play with the concepts they are working on, while reinforcing the idea that every artist is unique and thus should produce a unique vision.

"Paper weaving, crumble montages, organic form sculptures, and value collages- there can be so much more to elementary school art than finger-paints and cut-paper snowflakes."
-From Art Matters book jacket

 Another enjoyable aspect of the work was how Price incorporates art with other subjects. Her art lessons reflect how art relates to science, math, and history. This makes it especially easy to incorporate art into the curriculum as a classroom teacher. The art projects you do in the classroom could really augment what the students are learning in other subjects. As someone going into education I believe it will be invaluable to me as I plan lessons for art as a subject and when I go to reinforce lessons in other subjects through art.

Art Is Fundamental gets a definite thumbs up from me. I believe it would be useful to anyone teaching art in any form, professional teacher or not.

Keep reading!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Meg's Skincare Routine

I keep my skin care routine relatively simple. I used to have a more elaborate routine, but I think what I'm doing now is the way to go. Too complicated, too many products. Less is more.

Generally, I wash my face twice a day, in the morning and at night, and moisturize after each and as needed.

Here are the skincare products I use most regularly:

1) Murad Clarifying Cleanser
1.5% Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment - Cleanse/Tone
Bonus: No animal testing, no parabens, sulfates, or phthalates.

Why I like it: It keeps any acne at bay. 
I've never had severe acne, but no one likes even the occasional pimple. More so, this cleanser also keeps away that those deep under-the-skin kind of pimple that really hurt! I get those occasionally and they are no fun, so when I found out Murad helped with those I was definitely on board.
I use this a few times a week, unless I'm sensing an outbreak, then I step it up to everyday. I like that it makes my face feel really clean, even though it has a slightly unpleasant medicinal smell. It's not overpowering enough to make me stop using it though. It is quite drying, which is why I pair with the next item on my list...!

Monday, February 3, 2014

When God was a Rabbit - Book Review

Image courtesy of

When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman focuses on the narrator, Elly, and her close and complicated relationships with her brother, Joe, and best friend, Jenny Penny. The narrative explores the bonds of friendship and family and the secrets that are shared, and not shared,  between them. The first half spans Elly's childhood as she grows up in Essex and later Cornwall in the 1970s, while the second half focuses Elly's adulthood in the Big Apple around 9/11. I enjoyed how Winman effectively blends the supernatural and otherworldly elements with the real world: the unusual things that happen in the story just become another facet of Elly's life as you continue through the book. I found the writing style is easy to get into, but sometimes the story can be difficult to follow. It can seem a bit disjointed. It's hard to pinpoint whether it is because the novel is separated into two parts or just that there are some unanswered questions that linger throughout.

One thing I loved about this book is how real the characters were. They were complicated, had flaws, but were also so likeable and memorable. Elly, as the narrator, was especially relatable. Because the story is told from her perspective, you can really feel her joy, her confusion, and her torment. Elly is the quirky loner who doesn't fit in anywhere, not in the classroom nor in the work world, but only with her family who are as eccentric as she is. The people that surround Elly are such characters (no pun intended), including: a glamorous movie star lesbian aunt, a lawyer father haunted by a case gone bad, a best friend with unmanageable hair who pulls a futuristic coin from her arm, and a jolly older gentleman who knows exactly when he's going to die.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Current Product Wish-list

Hello everyone,

I have been on a bit of a hiatus due to being swamped at school coupled with a terrible cold filled with coughing, high fevers, and shivers.

I would like to thank my lovely co-writer Meg for keeping the blog lively during my absence; she has taken the reigns and really come out with some awesome and interesting posts that I know I enjoyed reading. Make sure to check out her 2 most recent posts; a review of the novel The Time Traveler's Wife as well as her experiences with the 30 Day Squat Challenge

Today I am easing myself back in by doing a simple but fun post.

I love creating Wish-lists of products that I want to try. My iPhone notes sections is filled with products I want to try and am lusting over so I thought I would show you some things that I have currently been eyeing.

This is definitely my most priciest wish-list item and the one that I probably won't buy but I just love it. I think it is gorgeous and so classic in terms of style and I also think it would go with anything in your wardrobe. It is also not too pricey for a designer item. I currently don't own any designer bags because I have never felt the need to spend my money on them but I may have to start a designer bag fund for this guy.
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