Oh so Pretty

Over the years I’ve written about going more and more natural with my beauty routine, but I think it’s safe to say almost all of us have those few “dirty” products that we have loved for most of our lifetime and can’t quite bear to give up.

My move to Vancouver prompted so much change and improvement in my life, providing a push to drop bad habits and move forward with a clean slate. Before my boxes had even arrived at the new apartment I had started to mentally detox my world, and that included rethinking the toxic products I hadn’t yet let go of and swapping them out for healthier, more eco-friendly alternatives.

I had a lot of fun shooting and styling all of my new favourite natural products, and I’m happy to share them alongside little reviews of why they work best for me!

Toothpaste

David’s Toothpaste

I tried David’s original toothpaste a couple years ago and absolutely loved it, so I was delighted to find they’ve released 3 more new flavours since! This brand works so well, has a beautiful design, and the “key” that comes with each tube really ensures every last drop gets used up. After a lot of brushing and careful comparison I decided the Spearmint is my top pick – it’s a perfect sweeter mint that really makes my teeth feel clean. Charcoal is my lowest rated only because I found the darker paste colour really messy in/around the bathroom sinks.

Deodorant

The winner //

Nala Care

I have tried SO many natural deodorants since realizing just how toxic the typical drugstore brands can be, but no brand has ever blown me away quite like Nala Care. A Canadian company created by a mother/daughter duo right here in Vancouver, this deodorant actually stands up to the mom sweat (who knew being a mom made you SO sweaty all the time?) They’ve just launched two limited edition holiday scents, Winter Mint and Winter Spice (spice is my favourite!) which both use Copaiba oil, a cannabinoid like CBD that can apparently evoke feelings of calm just from smelling the deodorant? SO cool! Use code PASTEL20 for 20% off your cart through the end of December.

The runner-up //

Detox Mode Deodorant

I’m a big fan of Detox Mode and I was really excited to try their take on a natural deodorant. They make two formulations, “Feeling Altogether” which is the classic, and “Feeling Free” which is baking soda-free and created specifically for sensitive skin. I loved how both versions smell, but unfortunately the classic irritated my skin – the baking soda was too much for me, but I passed it on to my parents and they both swear by it! I ended up using the Feeling Free daily until there was nothing left – the lavender scent was just right, and it worked fairly well to keep my mom sweat at bay, though some days I did need to reapply.

Mascara, Eyeliner and Brows

The winners //

Ilia Limitless Mascara

This. Mascara. Is. Life. Changing. In case it isn’t already clear, I have really sensitive skin, but I also find myself sensitive to beauty products, especially around my eyes. I love big dramatic lashes, but with COVID and single mom life I haven’t done extensions in ages, and instead I’ve been on the hunt for a mascara that has the same effect. There have been a few drugstore brands that worked, but my eyes were always so itchy and irritated that nothing was left on my lashes by the end of the day, and I’d be counting down the seconds till I could get the remaining crumbs off.

If you’re looking for a 100% natural product with big impact, this is the one! It’s flake-free, non-irritating, loaded with lots of nutrients that help “feed” your lashes, and the dual-sided brush gives dramatic results every time. The only catch – they do use beeswax, so the product isn’t vegan.

Beauty Counter Precision Liquid Eyeliner

I was *very* hesitant to give up my beloved Stila long-lasting liquid eyeliner pen, a product I’ve been devoted to for years. I have really oily eyelids, and as I mentioned, sensitive eyes, so once I found something that worked for me I didn’t want to give it up.

Luckily this natural formula is the perfect replacement. Not only does it go on easily (I love the brush!) but it really stays – it lasted through a cry test AND stayed relatively in place even after a night of sleep!

Ilia Essential Brow

Simple and easy to use, this brow gel creates big impact with minimal effort and has quickly become one of my makeup bag must-haves! I went with Medium Brown but for the summertime I’d definitely switch to Blonde for a less intense look.

The runner-ups //

Beauty Counter Volumizing Mascara

This mascara is a lot more lightweight and stays put really well, plus it’s 100% vegan. If you’re looking for a more natural day-to-day look, this softer mascara is a great option.

Evio Beauty Mascara

Toronto-brand Evio creates all natural beauty products infused with hemp seed oil at a great low price point. While this product makes my lashes look noticeably thicker, feels nice and light, doesn’t irritate my eyes, and even stood up to a cry test without getting too messy. My one complaint is how sticky it stays on the lashes for quite some time – it’s definitely slow to dry which isn’t ideal for someone who moves as quickly as I do!

Ilia Clean Line Liquid Eyeliner

I love this liquid liner – it’s super dark with great solid lines on the first application, but I had a hard time getting a handle on using the pen tip, and I did find it smudged a tiny bit easier than the Beauty Counter formula.

Shower Soap

The winner //

Detox Mode Impossible Soap

I LOVE this soap. My boyfriend LOVES this soap. Summer LOVES this soap. I may need to order the massive 128oz refill jug because we all LOVE this soap so much! The uplifting scent of sweet almond, bergamot, and cedar wood is the perfect addition to coveted time in the shower, and the consistency is the ideal marriage of oily/moisturizing and soapy/cleansing. Best of all, the glass bottle is recyclable if you don’t choose to refill (but I can almost guarantee you will!)

Lady Suite Probiotic Refreshing Cleanser

This niche product probably deserves a category of it’s own because it’s for a specific area (the area between your legs), but since I use it daily in the shower I’m including it here alongside the Impossible Soap. I’ve been interested in trying a soap specifically for intimate areas for ages because I’m so sensitive in that zone and very prone to irritation and infections, and I wish I’d made the switch sooner. No itching or burning, this gentle soap includes aloe and cucumber, and makes me feel super clean. There’s no scientific evidence, but I genuinely believe it’s made a big impact in helping to prevent yeast infections, something I’ve struggled with for years. Thank you Lady Suite!

I’ve also got their Botanical Oil on my radar to use post-shave – has anyone tried it?

Body Lotion

Sparitual Body Cream

Let me first be transparent and say I’m instantly sold on anything that involves Earl Grey. Brewing a cup of tea is one of my daily calming rituals, and infusing my post-shower moisturizing routine with the sweet scent of black tea and bergamot made it feel like a whole new ritual too. With Aloe, Jojoba, Shea Butter and Tamarind Seed, this body lotion is a truly luxurious experience that’s much needed these cold winter months.

Makeup Removers and Cleansers

The winner //

Province Apothecary Moisturizing Cleanser + Make Up Remover

I’m a long-time fan of Province Apothecary and everything they do – I had my first facial with Julie over 6 years ago and I’ve been hooked on her beautiful natural brand since. Their makeup remover oil cleanser is one of my daily must-haves and the only thing I can use on my eyes without irritating them. I use it with my reusable cotton rounds, which I also highly recommend incorporating to help reduce your eco impact.

The runner-up //

Counterstart Cococream Cleanser

I love Beauty Counter’s Counterstart Cococream Cleanser as a backup cleanser to have in the shower, but it isn’t ideal for eye makeup removal, and I prefer to use a product that does both at the same time when I can!

Serum and Moisturizer //

Cardea Auset Aurora and Phoebe Facial Oil

These day and night serums are incredible in every way, and handmade in Ontario by the coolest lady duo! I especially love the night formula for bedtime – I swear I wake up with clearer, softer skin every morning!

Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer

This moisturizer absolutely lives up to its name – it’s SO smooth and creamy, and literally does melt into your skin. It’s also an amazing base for makeup!

Shaving

Well Kept Safety Razor

I honestly didn’t even think about the amount of waste a traditional razor creates until I started seeing beautifully crafted safety razors pop up on my Instagram feed. The Well Kept razor is definitely an investment, but it’s plastic-free and the replacement blades cost less than a dollar ($15 for 20!) which makes it totally worth it in my opinion. Plus, they’re a women-owned small business based right here in Vancouver, and their entire collection is seriously gorgeous! I was definitely a bit nervous to make the switch, but Well Kept advises reframing shaving as a slow, mindful act of self care, and not only did my razor give me the closest, smoothest shave I’ve even had, but I really appreciated the change of pace in my routine. They also sell beautiful bath milks, agave exfoliating cloths (a great alternative to plastic loofas), natural sea sponges and more!

Period

I’ve already shared in great detail how great Hannahpads have been – especially since my period came back postpartum! Such a great eco-friendly solution for overnights. I also upgraded my menstrual cup post-baby to the Saalt cup, and I’ve been absolutely loving it in comparison to the other cups I’ve tried. Most importantly, this one locks in place and opens properly much easier than other brands! I am interested in trying their soft cup at some point to test if it’s even more comfortable than the original, and their cute period panties are on my wishlist too.

Sunscreen

Beautycounter Countersun

The season for sunscreen may have mostly come to an end but I couldn’t leave out my absolute favourite sunscreen find of 2020. Countersun is the ultimate natural sunscreen – it rubs in easily with no white residue, it smells great, it’s water resistant for up to 40 minutes, and it’s safe for the whole family so you don’t have to pack separate sunscreen if you have kids! I like the spray best for quick and easy toddler application, but there’s also a stick (great for faces) and a traditional lotion.

Bug Spray

Cardea Auset Repel Outdoor Mist

Again, not exactly the season for this product, but we loved Cardea Auset’s chemical-free bug repellant spray so much this past summer that I had to include it. Created with essential oils, this spray leaves a somewhat pleasant scent, and it really worked in the BC wilderness!

Let me know your favourites in the comments below!

Dear Diary

So I know the new year is technically just another day, and I also know that day is now long past, but as much as I have a good head on my shoulders (most of the time) I can’t help but get into the whole “new year, new me” routine.

Everyone (and I really mean everyone) can always be a bit better, whether it’s financially, health-related, environmental or interpersonal. There’s always room for improvement, and though you can change your life any day of the week, sometimes it takes a made up shift to get your ass in gear. Personally I really love my bad habits, I take ownership of them like they’re a special part of me, and this year I collected bad habits like Pokemon cards (or whatever is relevant these days). Every day I woke up knowing there was an endless list of things I wanted to shift, change and improve, yet every night I went to bed disappointed in myself and the pile of bad decisions weighing on my shoulders.

I started my goals for this new year with a simple list of what I want more and less of in my life, than built out my goals from there. In the end, it turned out something like this:

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MORE >>

Movement
Vegetables
Live music
Time with friends
Sweating
Outdoors
Adventure
Cooking
Dancing
Energy

LESS <<

Thinking about boys
Drinking
Shopping
Animal Products
Sleeping
Parties and Events
Small Talk
Smoking
Complaining
Toxic humans

Action Plan //

None of these less and more ideas make much sense without actions behind them, so after I had established the things that build me up and break me down, I started working out how to implement the changes I wanted (correction: needed) to see. If I was to sum up my 2017, I’d have to call it “The Year of Least Caring” because I really lost sight of so many of the values that make me, well, me. Here’s how I got started spinning a better story for myself:

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Start Fresh //

I really treated my body like a garbage dump last year, worse than I ever have before (even in University when I lived on Pop Tarts, Pizza Pops and Ben & Jerry’s!) I smoked more than I care to admit, even early in the morning (EW) and got into a pattern of having at LEAST two drinks a day. I felt puffy and slow and don’t even get me started on the mood swings. When I decided to start 2018 off on a better foot I knew I needed to do a real Spring Cleaning for my body.

In an effort to reset my body, I signed up for a juice cleanse with Daily Press Juicery a couple weeks after quitting smoking cold turkey on Christmas Eve. I know what you’re thinking – “Didn’t she try this last year?” Yes, I did, but sometimes quitting smoking takes a long time with a lot of tries, and this year I really fully feel like it will stick. It’s been over a month!

I really loved doing the cleanse, though I did continue to eat a small amount of healthy, warm food throughout to sustain my body for the winter. I especially love the lemony activated charcoal juice, and the night time nut mylk!

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I’ve also been upping my antioxidants by drinking Matcha, the purest way to get all the health benefits of green tea! This stuff is supercharged with health benefits and doesn’t come with the same crash coffee does when you wake up with it. I can’t get enough of Matcha Ninja – it’s super easy to use and really high quality (you can tell by how green it is!) and the gorgeous Matcha Book I seem to see EVERYWHERE is filled with amazing new ways to use it in recipes too! Hello vegan matcha and cashew soup!

Cleansing doesn’t end on the inside – I’ve also been refreshing my space with new essential oil blends in my diffuser each day. Oui Fresh has the prettiest line on the market, and I’ve been loving their “Bergamot Mint” and “Rose Geranium” for cold winter mornings.

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Food for Thought //

When I say I treated my body like a garbage dump, I in part really mean I was putting constant garbage into my body. Think Uber Eats takeout almost every night, basically delivered to my bedside in between naps – yeah, not a cute look. I am a super extreme person by nature, so when I stop caring in one capacity it tends to spread like a rot into every piece of my life. Food was a huge part of what my 2017 so difficult, which is crazy considering I LOVE cooking, grocery shopping, and even doing dishes!

In taking back control of my fridge, I set a few really straightforward goals. I was super inspired by A Beautiful Mess’ Weekday/Weekend Challenge, a somewhat more “digestible” take on the Whole 30. Basically you skip sugar and refined sweeteners, refined white flour and rice, alcohol and dairy, plus you’re encouraged to eat a variety of different foods. It’s a really easy way to push yourself to get creative in the kitchen, and to be healthier in a sustainable pattern. Side note – their Oui Fresh meal planning notepads make getting organized simple and CUTE.

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Speaking of getting creative, I also want to cook through a number of cookbooks this year, with the added challenge of making recipes vegetarian that aren’t written that way. I’m starting out with Cherry Bombe’s Pink Spaghetti and Beet Ricotta Dumplings!

Last but not least, I’ve been seriously upping my vitamin intake. My friend Dana gave me some of her Ritual Vitamins while I was visiting in LA and I’m totally hooked! They’re vegetarian, made for women specifically, and taste minty when you swallow them. I also introduced Ouai Thinning Hair Supplements to offset some of my bleaching damage, and adding Moon Juice’s Pearl Powder to my smoothies for skin clarity.

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Heart Over Head //

I spent far too much time last year out, making empty connections and running from event to event every single night. Constantly sleep-deprived, my soul was drained from all the small talk and my body was tired of processing too much champagne. This year I’m making sure I cherish my time, investing in people, places and things that make me happy, like the dog park and my weekly Soul Cycle classes. I’ve also been reading “Light is the New Black” and it’s been super helpful when it comes to figuring out what really fills you up, and what brings you down. I highly recommend getting a copy and marking it up with notes like I have!

Back to Basics //

I’ve tried using natural products off and on over the years but I always end up giving up because it’s too hard to find products that actually work. This year I decided to try one last time and I was super pleasantly surprised by both my toothpaste and deodorant discoveries. Davids toothpaste is natural, vegan, made in the USA and comes with a handy metal took that helps squeeze every last drop out of the tube (SO GOOD!) I really love the subtle minty flavour and my teeth are looking just as white – in fact last time I went to the dentist I had not a single cavity!

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Deodorant was a bit more daunting – we’ve all struggled with the bad smell moments associated with making the switch. This time around I tried the Kaia Naturals Takesumi Detox Charcoal Detox Deodorant, which promises you’ll be BO-free by 30 days after your body detoxes from chemical deodorant. They sent me a booster soap to try along with it, which accelerates the process, and honestly it it worked SO well, SO fast, I will never ever go back! You can read all about the five steps here, but for me I saw results immediately and haven’t had a smell problem even after the most intense workouts.

I started working on this action plan a few days before Christmas Eve, so I’ve been at it almost a month. I don’t want to sound like a phoney, but I actually feel better than I’ve felt in YEARS and for the first time, all that happiness is accredited to me, on my own – there’s no prince in sight, but I’m no longer a damsel in distress anyway. Let 2018 be known as the year I stop waiting for someone to save me and just save myself!

What are you doing to get your New year in gear?  Share with me in the comments below!

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