Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie review: Hammam, Gommage, and Deep Tissue Massage | theNotice goes to Toronto!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Toronto spa review hammam Caudalie

The Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie is located on the fifth floor of the Shangri-La Hotel, but you’d never know it by the decor. This spa is a cozy, Middle Eastern-inspired haven from city life decorated with low lights, exquisite dark wood cutouts, and gently curving furniture that warms and welcomes you in from the busy city streets.

Note: I lost all of my photos of this gorgeous location, so unfortunately, you’re going to have to re-live my experience through photos provided by the spa! (And, okay, edited rather extensively by me because when do I not.)

Miraj Hammam Caudalie Alahambra Lounge review

The relaxation lounge within the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie

The Hammam & Gommage (30 min/$130 CAD)

What makes the Miraj Hammam Spa unique is their private hammam (Turkish bath) rooms, which contain a high intensity steam chamber inside of a warm, low mist chamber.

The spa’s Hammam & Gommage treatment begins with 10 minutes in the steam room, which is a really intense experience — it’s literally so heavy and dense with steam in there that I had a bit of a claustrophobic panic going in (and I’m not even claustrophobic). It opens your pores right up, and I was left warm, tingling, fresh-faced, and dripping with condensation! Facials have nothing on this.

Miraj Hammam steam room spa review Caudalie

One of the two steam rooms, sans steam

I wasn’t crazy about the gommage, though I know a lot of other reviewers have loved it. For this part of the treatment, you lie (preferably naked) on Jerusalem gold marble in the low-intensity steam chamber, and a spa attendant scrubs you down using tingly, eucalyptus-infused black Moroccan soap on exfoliating gloves — no grit-paste involved.

My gommage treatment left me feeling wonderfully raw and smooth, but… also kind of like a horse. I mean, the woman who preformed my treatment was fantastic, and my back feels suuuuuper smooth, but I’m thinking that getting literally hosed down by a stranger might just be too clinical for me.

Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie services menu

The Deep Tissue Massage (30 min/$90 CAD)

My second treatment of the day was the spa’s 30 minute Deep Tissue Massage, which uses pressure techniques to target stressed muscles and increase circulation. It left me feeling limber but not sore, and my (registered) massage therapist used mostly pushing and pulling movements, not kneading ones.

The finishing touches for this massage were great, too: the table that you lie on is heated (perfect for the winter), you’re covered by a warm, heavy blanket where you’re not being massaged, and a Caudalie candle burns quietly on the side table. You can also choose from unscented, orange blossom, or clove-enriched grapeseed oil for your massage (I chose the clove, of course!), which is great for those with scent sensitivities.

Miraj Hammam by Caudalie spa review gommage massage

The Alahambra Lounge

The Alhambra Lounge

Finally, every visit to the Miraj Hammam Spa ends in their Alhambra Lounge, which is a gorgeous, dimly-lit room walled with what can only be described as relaxation cubicles. The room has a very soothing, intimate feel to it, and you’re served a perfectly-spiced shot of sweet chai tea along with (a hilarious) three grapes and a piece of baklava.

» Can we talk about that baklava for a moment, though? Because I swear, it was the most delicious piece of baklava that I have ever had in my life — it was small, light, and syrupy, and reminded me a lot of jalebi (aka the best thing ever).

Once you’re ready to leave the Alhambra Lounge (if you’re ever ready, that is), it’s back to the change rooms, where the showers are equipped with rain-style and handheld shower heads and the shelves come stocked with Caudalie products.

Caudalie spa review Toronto

The verdict?

I can’t believe I’m saying this about a spa, but: yes, I would absolutely go back. The hammam is a must-experience (you can add it onto any service for $25), and the atmosphere at the Miraj Hammam Spa is just so welcoming and relaxing – even for an awkward twenty-something.

For a luxurious treatment that really will leave you feeling fantastic, I recommend the Hammam & 60 Minute Personalized Massage ($195) as a serious indulgence, or the 30 minute Deep Tissue Massage with a 15 minute Hammam booked separately ($115) if you’re just feeling a little under the weather and want to come out glowing. 

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Curated Clarins favourites hauls | Valentine’s Day Bloggers’ Favourites

Monday, February 2, 2015

Clarins Blogger Favourites

I wanted you guys to get the chance to try out my Clarins body favourites, so when I found out they were doing a five-piece sample promotion until the 4th, I kinda… curated a couple orders for you guys. (I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it.)

Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck while trying out my Clarins body favourites!

» See the feature here & use code RAE to get five free samples + free shipping with no minimum!

Clarins Skin Tone Palette deal free shipping

Clarins Skin Tones Eye Quartet Mineral Palette (Graphites has been discontinued!)

Keep reading! »

TOP FOUR | My Clarins skincare (body) favourites

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Clarins Favourites b

I’ve loved a lot of Clarins over the years: their Mineral Eye Palettes, for one, or their lipsticks. (Or, right now, their One-Step Water Cleanser, which smells like peaches. I love the smell of peaches.) So, when they asked me if I wanted to pick out my four favourite body products from the line, I was like, YES PLEASE, I WILL DO THIS.

It’s always a little hard to find skincare favourites when you can’t use silicones, but here are my four top products from the line!

» Shop my favourites here with free shipping on all orders (use code RAE at checkout!)

4. Eau Ressourçante Gentle Fragranced Deodorant ($25 CAD)

Clarins spray on deodorant

Clarins Gentle Fragranced Deodorants

I can’t actually use Clarins’ spray-on deodorants (I swear the internet implied that they would be ‘cone-free somewhere, but apparently not so), but they’re just so unique.

I mean, a non-aerosolized deodorant that you spray on that’s scented with a proper fragrance, rather than a fruity $2 Unilever blend? You gotta give points for coolness. (And this packaging is totally too classy for my underarms — I feel like I’m about to grab lunch with Moira Queen or something.)

A runner up for my cool-cred favourite was Clarins’ Eau Dynamissante Treatment Fragrance, which is insanely huge. It’s bigger than a baby’s head, and when you pair the scent with the way that the bottle is styled, it gives off major ’80s mob boss’ wife vibes.

Clarins Eau Ressourcante deodorant review

Clarins Eau Ressourçant Deodorant

Clarins Relax Body Oil review

Clarins Relax Body Treatment Oil

3. Relax Body Oil ($57 CAD)

I like to keep my body oils as affordable as possible, but every now and then, a girl’s gotta splurge.

Clarins makes three: Relax, which smells very herby and spa-like (it’s similar this oil, but in way better packaging) with geranium, petit grain, camomile, and basil extracts; “Anti Eau,” which is meant to–and I quote–“prevent sponginess” by eliminating toxins; and Tonic, with a lot of citrus and rosemary to its scent.

Clarins Tonic Body Oil review

Lookit the tiny baby Tonic Body Treatment Oil! So tiny!

All three are preservative-free with a base of hazelnut oil, and they come in the most gorgeous glass bottles. Unlike the rest of the Clarins Body range, which I can find to be rather perilous (especially those damn shower gels!), the Body Oils are hefty and easy to use, and the smooth lids and heavy glass packaging seriously class up the product.

Clarins Body Oil review

Clarins Body Oil packaging

2. Eau des Jardins ($53 CAD)

I’m using the Eau des Jardins Uplifting Shower Gel ($37 CAD) right now, and while the box is gorgeous, the bottle itself is pretty (charmingly?) comical. I mean, it smells great, but it is constantly falling over in my shower with its wide, flat body and tiny, tiny base!

Clarins Eau des Jardins shower gel

Clarins Eau des Jardins Uplifting Shower Gel

That said, I do love a good citrus-based body product, and this one is no exception. It kind of reminds me of L’Occitane’s Frisson de Verveine (which I adore), with more garden and less unavailability. I like the shower gel a lot, but if you’re going to go for it, I say get the EdT instead!

1. Gentle Roll-On Deodorant ($21 CAD)

Clarins Gentle Roll On Deodorant review

Clarins Roll-On Deodorant/Anti-perspirant, AKA THE BEST EVER

Do you know how hard it is to find a silicone-free antiperspirant? I’m guessing “no,” but just in case you’re not clear on it: it’s really bloody hard. When I went searching, I think I found a whopping three. But, because this one’s labelled as a deodorant, I didn’t even realize it was a candidate until this month!

Despite the misnomer, Clarins’ Gentle Roll-On Deodorant is actually not a deodorant (read: scent masker) at all — it’s an antiperspirant, which minimizes sweatiness. And it is the best of the damn bunch. This roll-on keeps my underarms significantly drier than anything I have ever tried before, including the “clinical” stuff.

Clarins Gentle Roll On Antiperspirant review

Clarins’ spaceship-esque Roll-On Deodorant

This beauty takes few minutes to dry, but it’s leaps and bounds better than my last two ‘cone-free antiperspirants. It smells fresh and a little powdery, doesn’t sting at all, and despite the wait, it actually dries really quickly for a roll-on. (Literally five times faster than last one I tried.)

If you’re a sweaty-Betty looking for a fantastic antiperspirant for sensitive underarms, give this one a try! It does contain aluminum, but it doesn’t leave that super-gross aluminum-silicone film behind (ugh) and never leaves your underarms feeling itchy.

What body products have you been loving recently?

Keep reading! »

L’Occitane Shea review & free samples: Cleansing Oil, Light Comforting Cream (aka magic cream), and Gentle Toner

Monday, January 5, 2015

L'Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil review

The products: L’Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream, Shea Cleansing Oil, and Shea Gentle Toner

New year, new beginnings… new super-exciting giveaway that’ll put December to shame. (Keep reading or click here for the giving bit of this post.)

L’Occitane is one of my favourite brands to work with, and their French-made Shea Butter range plays a big part in that — each L’Occitane Shea product bought helps women in Burkina Faso achieve economic emancipation through sustainable, fair trade practices. So, today, I’m talking about three really affordable new silicone-free products in the range, and sharing one with you!

The L’Occitane Shea Cleansing Oil ($26 CAD) and Gentle Toner

L'Occitane Shea Gentle Toner review photos

The Cleansing Oil and Light Comforting Cream join L’Occitane’s Shea Gentle Toner in their permanent Shea Butter range this January, and I couldn’t be happier. Both carry the same scent as the moisturizer (though in much smaller amounts), and are just as gentle on my skin — even the toner.

I find the Shea Cleansing Oil to be quite a heavy oil, but it washes off with no residue and removes my makeup really easily. I like it a lot more than Shu Uemura’s Cleansing Oils, surprisingly enough, and it’s actually super-cheap — only $13/100 ml! (Tatcha’s Camellia Cleansing Oil is still better, but it’s a whopping $40/100 ml.)

L'Occitane Gentle Toner review

L’Occitane Gentle Toner

The L’Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream AKA MAGIC FAIRY-DUST CREAM* ($30 CAD)

This is L’Occitane’s big launch of the new year — a face cream that pairs shea butter (5%) with a creamy, lightweight texture. And, somehow, L’Occitane manages to pull it off beautifully.

I do find that the Light Comforting Cream leaves my skin feeling tight after I apply it (it’s targeted for normal/combination skin, but they also offer a 25% Shea Ultra Rich Face Cream; not silicone-free), but it seems to nourish my skin over time — unlike things like German Nivea or Weleda Skin Food. Rather than providing a thick, comforting layer off the bat, it sinks in quickly and works to hydrate over time and eliminate surface dehydration completely over the course of a few days, which is… kind of crazy-impressive, if we’re being honest.

L'Occitane Shea Light Comforting Cream review

L’Occitane promises that their Ultra Rich Cream will sink into the skin with “an almost disconcerting ease,” which is freaking wonderful copy and totally applies here, too. My one complaint for this line is that it’s way more fragranced than it needs to be — the Light Comforting Cream smells good, and quite cozy, but the scent hangs around for so long that I can still smell it when I splash my face with water 12 hours later.

» Best for: silicone-free skincare regimens & regulating dehydrated skin! My skin has been crazy smooth and breakout-free since I started using this.

L'Occitane Shea Light Moisturizer review photos

L’Occitane Light Comforting Cream (5% shea)

Get your sample

And now, for the exciting part! I’m lucky enough to get to test out a lot of L’Occitane for theNotice, but this time, you guys get to be the testers. Just walk into any L’Occitane store in Canada and mention theNotice for a free 8 ml sample of the Light Comforting Cream (or use the code SHEAFACE online).

The promo expires at the end of January and only covers samples for 50 followers of the blog, so try to get to a L’Occitane boutique soon — and tell your friends! Unfortunately, it doesn’t apply outside of Canada, but think of it this way: it’s probably all you freezing, dry-skinned Canadians who really need it.

L'Occitane Cleansing Oil review budget buy shea butter

L’Occitane Cleansing Oil (5% shea)

The verdict?

L’Occitane has never really blown me away with their face care until this very moment, but blow me away they did. The Shea Butter range is incredibly well-priced and (now) comes with a bunch of great silicone-free options, so it definitely has my stamp of approval.

If you have dehydrated skin, check out the Shea Light Comforting Cream ASAP. The Gentle Toner is fine and the Cleansing Oil is quite good, but it’s this new moisturizer that really shines.

Availability: All three products are permanent products as of January 2015, and will be available online soon!

Ingredients »

theNotice’s Best of Beauty: 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 was a big year for me — or, at least, for my skin. I found out that I have eczema, I kept trucking my way through the silicone-free lands of Clear Complexioniteria, and I tried some seriously cool new products.

So, as the year comes to a close, here’s what I really, really loved this year. These are the products that are both the best in their class and the ones that I reach for time and time again, and all products that were just one or the other (for instance, a gorgeous eyeshadow that only saw use once a season, or an everyday favourite that I think could stand to be better) just didn’t make the cut.

I hope you enjoy the list, and please! if you have time, let me know what products you loved this year!

theNotice skincare favourites 2014

theNotice’s Best of Beauty 2014 – Skincare Edition

Best makeup removing cleanser – NSPA Melting Cleansing Gel, which beat out Shu Uemura’s cleansing oils for the spot! { $15.97 CAD / review }

Best serum for dehydrated skin – Clarins Hydra Quench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase. This one works better for me than Hydraluron, but it really shines when combatting dehydration – not dryness. { $58 USD / review }

Best de-puffing eye cream – L’Occitane Immortelle Eye Care & Mask Duo. This isn’t a fix-all, but so far, it’s the best de-puffing product I’ve tried — and trust me, I’ve looked. Slather on a thick layer of this before bed and puffiness from crying and salt will go way down by morning. { $42 CAD / also seen in }

!!! Best miracle product – Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion. If I had to pick just one product to attribute my clear skin to, it’s this! It works wonders on regular blemishes and really makes a difference with cystic acne. 9/10 times, if I apply this early & frequently, this clears up my spots before they even have a chance to come to a head. { $19 USD / also seen in }

Skincare favourites 2014

Best everyday moisturizer for dry skin – German Nivea. Great if you love a heavy moisturizer for dry skin; not so good for dehydration! {  review }

Best intensive moisturizer for dehydrated skin – This category, unfortunately, just has two runners-up: the Odylique Timeless Rose Moisturizer and the L’Occitane Light Comforting Cream (5% Shea), so neither have been photographed. Both are great for dealing with dehydration, but neither is suited for dry skin — and the Odylique goes bad fast. Expect reviews of both next week!

Best face mask for dry skin – Bio-Beauté Vitamin Rich Detox Mask (for immediate smoothing, not long-term repair). { $27 CAD / review }

Best hand cream – Weleda Skin Food. This thick, glossy cream smells like citrus, lasts for an impressive amount of time, and really sinks into dehydrated hands. In a pinch, it’s great for extremely dry skin on the face, too, but it will leave your face pretty greasy. { $12.76 USD }

tn Best haircare body products of 2014

theNotice’s Best of Beauty 2014 – Makeup & Hair

Best body oil – Osmia Sunset Body Oil.This luxe body oil is all-natural and smells absolutely gorgeous. I’ve tried a few of the line’s other scents now, too, but this is the only one that I think is a must-have. { $25 USD / also seen in }

Best hair styling product – Giovanni 2Chic Avocado & Olive Oil Dual Action Protective Leave-In Spray. Low scent, no silicones, and zero-effort smoothing and hydration. (Literally — this minimizes frizziness even in air-dried hair.) { $10.43 USD / review }

Best hair treatment – Coconut oil. Pure coconut oil is a dream for a dry scalp — even one with eczema. Just warm up about a tablespoon in your hands and work onto your scalp once every week or two!

!!! Best skincare secret – Moisturizer on the lips! M is actually the one who figured this one out. The next time your lips are dry and cracking, apply a generous layer of your favourite intensive moisturizer to the lips, and follow up with a heavy lip treatment 5-10 minutes later to lock it in overnight. Voilà — I promise your lips will be completely healed within 48 hours at most.

theNotice favourite makeup 2014

Best lip balm – Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15. This stuff is stiff, hydrating, and tacky, so it’s perfect for lasting until morning and keeping your lips hydrated overnight. It’s amazing for super-dry lips, comes in a wide pot (so it’s easy to pick up without getting any under your nails), and even works well as a lipstick base. { $23 CAD / review }

Best lipsticksRevlon Lip Butter in 085 Sugar Plum and Lise Watier Hydra Kiss Colour Balm in Rose Eden. Both formulas are super-comfortable, and both deliver my-lips-but-better colour. { $11-ish } { $22 CAD / review }

Best blushers – MAC Powder Blush in Full of Joy (Frost), which is a gorgeous, glowy sheer lavender, and Senna Sheer Face Color Powder Blush in Très Jolie, a really wearable neutral-pink (I love the slim packaging). { $22 USD } { $18.50 USD / review }

Keep reading! »

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