Beauty: Mario Badescu

I think we can all relate to the feeling of despair when trying to deal with breakouts and the willingness to try absolutely anything we think might help. Well, I was lucky enough to find something that helped.

A few years ago I discovered the wonders of Mario Badescu. A new co-worker was going on and on about how great their facials were, so I decided to tag along one day and see what it was all about.

It was amazing – not painful, which I was very nervous about – and I left with a bag full of goodies. They gave me some great advice on what kinds of things to use on my skin and how often, but were never pushy about selling products. I suppose they knew the samples would speak for themselves. Well, that was almost 3 years ago, my skin has changed almost beyond recognition, and I’m still using their products.

Here are some of my favourites.

The Glycolic Foaming Cleanser had the most dramatic effect for me. Cleansing with this a few times a week made a huge difference in my skin. It exfoliates without being harsh or drying.

As soon as I got the slightest hint of a pimple I dabbed on a little Buffering Lotion at night and within a couple of days it was gone. Getting to them with this stuff before they had a chance to fully erupt saved me from so much scarring.

The Drying Lotion does for those annoying little whiteheads what the buffering lotion did for my cystic breakouts. A little pink dot before I go to bed and I’m clear in the morning.

Silver powder – I don’t use this very often, as it’s mostly for blackheads, but it works really well and is good at controlling oiliness.

This is a very, very small selection of the products they offer; they have every kind of lotion, mask, toner and serum you can imagine. Though the focus is on acne they have solutions for most common skin issues. And one of the best parts is how affordable it all is!

*second photo

Lacquered: Spring Fling

When I was younger I never wanted any colour on my nails at all. Ever. Now I’m very much the opposite; I can never have too many colours to choose from or get my nails done often enough.

I’ve tried most brands of polish out there and have heard a lot about Priti NYC (and lusted over their amazing selection of colours), but had never bought any. Most likely because buying a product like this online often means you end up with something that doesn’t look quite like the picture. But as soon as I saw this new polish set, I had to have it.

Called Turkish Sorbet, the collection includes four light, bright shades that are perfect for Spring.

From left to right you have Red Maple, Horned Poppy, Lungwort, and Day Flower. There is not one that that I would trade, I love them all. The colours are richer and brighter in real life than in the images on their website, but not so different as to be mistaken for another colour entirely.

The consistency of the polish is great – smooth and thick enough to achieve the perfect look in two light coats. The consistency is also the same across all four colours which is something I don’t always find. The polish dries smoothly and quickly, so it’s ideal for a rush job at home.

Now, what colours should I buy next?

Beauty: Eyebrows

I’ve already mentioned my thick, curly hair and how much effort it takes to tame. Well that unruliness extends to my eyebrows.

Before we begin I just need to say, unless you absolutely have to do not engage in any kind of hair removal. Trust me when I tell you this will not be a one time thing; once you start you will need to do it regularly because it will alter your hair growth. So, if you’re lucky enough to have lovely, even, eyebrows that are not too thick and grow in the right direction then I suggest you drop the tweezers. This rule applies to all hair removal. If it’s not completely necessary then don’t bother because hair removal is time-consuming, sometimes painful, and expensive. <end warning label>

In my opinion the only methods for eyebrow grooming and shaping are threading and tweezing. I know a lot of people wax, but it’s a bad idea. The skin around the eyes, yes even the skin above, is very delicate and pouring hot wax on it before ripping it off doesn’t seem like a very good idea. That’s just my take, to each their own.

Threading is a technique commonly used in India and in the Middle East. A twisted length of cotton thread is pulled across the surface of the skin picking up stray hairs and pulling them out at the root. This is not something you’re going to be able to do at home, but these days you can find lots of places that provide the service. It does feel strange at first and might be a little painful since it does pull out a lot of hairs all at once. As long as you go to someone who knows what they’re doing there won’t be much discomfort and the process will only take a few minutes.

I recommend threading to maintain your already defined shape, not to create a new shape. Since an entire line of hairs are pulled out all at once it doesn’t allow for as much control as tweezing does; but nothing beats threading for maintaining your brows. Get it done as often as you need to depending on the rate of your hair growth – you’ll be in and out in just a few minutes – and your brows will always be perfect. Threading will result in a little redness, though not nearly as much as waxing, so don’t get this done right before a date.

Tweezing is the way to go when wanting to define an arch or a new shape for your brows. I recommend going to a professional for this to make sure that you end up with even brows. But tweezing is really easy to do at home for a quick touch-up and to catch those stray hairs. The keys to tweezing at home are a reliable pair of tweezers and a steady hand. I’ve been through a lot of tweezers in my time and the best I’ve found are Tweezerman; now I don’t buy anything else. Yes, you can find cheaper tweezers, but they don’t stand up to these.

These tweezers have an excellent grip and are very comfortable to hold. I mostly use the slanted edge design which will pick up the majority of hairs, but also have the pointed ones for particularly fine hairs and those short, little stubs. The company offers free sharpening services for as long as the tool can still be sharpened. They’ve even realigned the point of a pair of tweezers that I bent accidentally, and they came back looking and working like new.

In the end what ever method you decide to choose, just remember to go slowly. It’s easy to remove hair, but not so easy to put it back. So whether you’re doing this yourself or having it done by a professional, stop to take a look at how things are going. This way you’ll be able to make adjustments to the shape or stop your brows from becoming too thin. Also it’s best to work on both brows at the same time, so take a few hairs from one and then the same from the other so you’re matching them as you go. You might think you know what you like and may have described what you want perfectly, but you never know until you actually see it.

Beauty: Handmade Combs

My hair has always been… well, let’s just say it’s a challenge. It’s thick, curly, frizzy and there is LOTS of it. I don’t know where it comes from, since as a young girl I had beautiful silky straight hair. Taming it is a constant battle and I’m always trying out various new products. One thing that I have learned is that you can’t just throw a few drops of some serum on it and hope for the best, you have to be very deliberate and can never skip a step. Deep condition, shampoo, condition, comb, apply serum, never towel dry, etc., etc.

As much as I switch out most of the products I use on my hair, one of the few constants are my combs. My handmade in Switzerland combs to be exact. You’re probably wondering – what is so great about a piece of plastic? Well, a lot actually. First, they aren’t plastic they are biodegradable cellulose acetate. They are just the right size, comfortable to hold, the teeth are the perfect distance apart, and most importantly those teeth have no rough edges. Most other combs I’ve ever tried would snag and break my hair and scratch my scalp, making detangling a somewhat painful process. But these  combs are handmade meaning there are no seams from the manufacturing process which can damage hair and cause split ends.

Mason Pearson and Speert are my brands of choice, they have both been around for hundreds of years so are obviously doing something right. The detangling comb (pictured) is my favourite and at $30 it is a little expensive, but it’s a lot less than the amount I would have spent on countless cheap combs that would break after just a few months. I’ve had my combs for years now and I dread what my hair would like without them.