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    Miraj Hammam by Caudalie facial review: Resveratrol Lift + NUFACE

    The service: Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Facial with NuFACE

    One of my favourite spots in Toronto is the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie, a luxurious spa tucked away in the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto. It ticks everything off on my list: it’s spacious, easy to get to, and very consistent. I stopped in during my Toronto trip this summer for my first Caudalie facial.

    The spa’s design takes inspiration from Paris, Istanbul, and Marrakech, and features lots of dark wood and copper accents. It’s currently undergoing renovations to expand its change rooms and Alhambra Lounge, but most of the Caudalie services are still available. From what I experienced, the renos are really unobtrusive and quite quiet.

    The Caudalie facial experience

    The most all-encompassing way that I can convey to you how wholly good this facial was is to tell you this: I don’t remember all of it. I walked into my Caudalie facial caffeinated, stressed, and a little tense. I walked out fully energized and fresh off a light, restful doze.

    The Caudalie Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Facial ($175 CAD) is a 60 minute experience that uses techniques to lift, tone, and firm the skin. I’m still young, so the effects aren’t prominent on my skin – but my skin still LOVED the facial.

    Travelling really takes the glow out of my skin, so I noticed a big difference before and after this facial. Everything used in it was silicone-free, and my skin drank up the products. The Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream ($42 CAD/$35 USD) was one of my favourite parts. My skin looked noticeably smoother and more radiant after the scrub, but it was really gentle.

    Another little detail that I noticed during my Caudalie facial is that the signature Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($22 CAD to $49 USD) is used to mist the skin. It’s a small detail, but I loved it – it made the facial feel really Caudalie. My aesthetician performed a soothing massage of my hands, arms, shoulders, and feet while my mask was on, which added to the feeling of luxury.

    My Resveratrol facial finished with a NuFACE Lifting Treatment add-on ($65 CAD for 15 min), which uses a microcurrent to contour the facial muscles and stimulate collagen and elastin production. A “lifted” effect is achieved similarly to a very low-level TENS treatment, but on such a small scale that I didn’t feel anything but the NuFACE touching my skin.

    The lobby/relaxation room of the Miraj Hammam Spa

    The Miraj Hammam by Caudalie amenities

    The services at the Caudalie spa are fantastic, but what makes the experience so special is the spa itself. Its decor is unique, and the atmosphere at the spa is so relaxed and cozy. You can’t help but feel like every minute there is precious, you know?

    I loved the spa’s original dark, wooded Alhambra relaxation suite, and I can’t wait to see the updated room. It’s my favourite part of the Caudalie spa: there’s always spicy Moroccan mint chai tea (or an unsweetened rooibos alternative), and each treatment ends with a single piece of baklava.

    My post-facial, makeup-free, filter-free glow + that baklava and chai

    I talked about Caudalie’s baklava at length in my Caudalie Hammam & Gommage and Deep Tissue Massage post in 2015, and it’s just as good as I remember. It’s the best baklava I’ve ever eaten in my life, and I kid you not, my foodie heart would 100% book a facial here just for the baklava. It’s THAT good, and it’s exclusive to the spa.

    The rest of the spa’s amenities are great, too. There are showers to wash up after your treatment if needed, and the change rooms come equipped with Caudalie essentials, including body mists and moisturizers. You’re always supplied with a bathrobe and big, fluffy towels, and a small cupboard stocks anything you might have forgotten, like a q-tips or a razor.

    I’m a sucker for a good spa, and despite the high price tag, I’m already looking forward to my next visit to the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie. There’s no use fronting: I know that I’ll be back.

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    Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive review, photos

    The product: Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive Silicone-Free Replenishing Shampoo, Replenishing Conditioner, and Transforming Leave-in Conditioner

    It can be tough to stick to a silicone-free skincare regimen, but it’s even harder to go totally silicone-free in your haircare. The really good stuff (like my fave Matrix Biolage R.A.W. line) can run you a pretty penny – which is why I’m always on the lookout for good silicone-free products from the drugstore, like the Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive range.

    Don’t let the Whole Blends name fool you, though: this line isn’t all-natural. The olive oil products are the only Whole Blend products that are silicone-free, including the other shampoos.

    Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive Shampoo & Conditioner

    The Whole Blends Legendary Olive collection is formulated with virgin olive oil and olive leaf extract. It’s silicone-free and designed to deeply hydrate dry, sensitized hair, and it’s made to be great for fine hair like my own.

    For drugstore products, I think that these are great. They leave my hair really smooth and nourished, if a bit flatter than I’d like. The shampoo suds up easily, and the conditioner is easy to rinse out. The basic bottles are easy to hold, too – I actually reach for these over my Kérastase when I’m tired, because while they aren’t quite as nice on my hair, at least they don’t have twist-off lids.

    (I hate twist-off lids. Why would you do this to us? Do you want us to get shower water in our products??)

    The Whole Blends price point is just right, too: each bottle is $5.99 CAD for 370 ml (pictured here) or $8.99 CAD for 650 ml.

    Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive Leave-In Conditioner

    As much as I liked the Legendary Olive shampoo and conditioner, the leave-in falls kind of flat for me. It’s generously portioned ($8.99 CAD for 300 ml), but it just … Doesn’t really serve a purpose.

    Like, okay. The shampoo and conditioner are great, but they leave my hair SO smooth and flat. Adding in the leave-in conditioner makes no difference for my hair – I actually find I like my hair a lot more if I follow up with a mousse or texture spray through the roots instead of another smoothing product.

    If you have a lot of frizz, the Whole Blends leave-in conditioner might be more helpful for you, but on the whole? I say skip it – the conditioner is plenty hydrating.

    The Garnier Whole Blends verdict?

    I love finding good products at a great price point, and these definitely make the cut. The silicone-free Garnier Whole Blends Legendary Olive line is easy to find and easy to use, and while there’s nothing stunning about them, I don’t always need my hair products to be stunning. Sometimes they just gotta get the job done, you know?

    Availability: $5.99 CAD & up at drugstores and mass-market retailers across Canada, or at Amazon.ca with free shipping over $35!

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    Henkaa Blume convertible dress review & lookbook | The dress that’s a shirt (and a skirt)

    The product: Henkaa Blume Midi Convertible Dress

    Henkaa is a Canadian company founded by an Asian-Canadian woman, and it’s focused on empowering women through fashion. Its core products are convertible dresses like the Blume, which change and adapt with you. If you’re hooked into the Canadian wedding scene, you might recognize the brand. Their Sakura dress is a go-to for brides and bridesmaids, and it’s customizable in over 60 styles!

    I had the privilege of checking out Henkaa’s showroom while I was in Toronto this summer, and I brought home two beautiful multi-way pieces. My Blume has seen a lot of wear since then – it came out three or four times a week while I was away.

    Henkaa Blume – Elizabeth style with a cropped tee

    The concept behind the Henkaa Blume convertible dress

    Henkaa’s dresses are made in North America from Lenaa™ fabric, a polyester-spandex blend with a tight, silky knit. It’s the perfect travelling fabric: it has a professional, satiny finish, and it’s incredibly wrinkle-resistant.

    My favourite thing about the Henkaa brand is that their dresses designed to be size-inclusive. The Blume is offered in four size ranges, from the XS/S that I’m wearing to a 3X/4X that’ll comfortably fit up to a US size 24. They’re photographed on both straight-size and plus-size models, so you don’t have to imagine what each piece might look like on someone with your body type.

    Henkaa Blume – Elizabeth style on the Toronto waterfront

    How versatile is the Henkaa Blume really?

    So. Heckin’. Versatile.

    My aesthetic is half androgynous lesbian, half “pieces of clothing that look like they’re multiple pieces of clothing,” so multi-way dresses are right up my alley. I’ve waited a long time to try a truly multi-way dress, and the Henkaa Blume does NOT disappoint.

    Henkaa promises that the Blume will turn into at least 17 styles, including dresses, skirts, shirts, and maternity wear. It’s offered in 24 colours, but I got mine in Night Black, because I’m basic like that.

    Henkaa Blume – Maddie Style with cutoffs and heeled boots

    To finish up this post, I thought I’d go over a few of my favourite Blume styles. I’ve photographed the Elizabeth and Maddie styles for this post, but they’re not all I’ve been wearing!

    I really love the Blume’s Bella skirt style, and I tend to wear the Eliza when I’m going out at night. The Maddie is great for an all-day outing, because its sleeves pull easily into the Madison at night.

    My one caveat about this dress is that the band sometimes slips down if I’m wearing it in the Elizabeth style (aka the dress in this post). While the extended section keeps the look going, I do end up flashing a good deal of size boob if I wear it braless. I’ve tried circumventing the problem with a heavy application of fashion tape, but the weight of the fabric is just too much for the tape.

    It’s not a functional issue (because let’s be honest, I’m all about that sideboob), but it’s something to be aware of before you buy!

    Henkaa Blume – Maddie Style

    The verdict on the Henkaa Blume Midi Convertible Dress?

    The Blume is $108 CAD, and I think it’s thoroughly worth it. That money is going straight to supporting a female-led business, and in exchange, you’re getting a durable, sweatshop-free item of clothing. (Or 17 items of clothing, depending on how you look at it.)

    I love the versatility of Henkaa’s products, and they’re really well-made, too. The Blume Maddie style is my perfect slightly risqué, not-too-girly top, and it functions like a good half-closet in one single item.

    Availability: $108 CAD at Henkaa. Use code BACK2COOL at Henkaa.com this August for 10% off your order

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    Deciem Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist review, photos | Staple sprays for lazy days

    The product: Deciem Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist

    Question #1: How long do you think I can keep tagging products like the Deciem Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist as “indie beauty” for? Because like … If you haven’t noticed already, Deciem has been blowing up.

    Question #2: If you have a bunch of cool new stuff from a brand, are you allowed to just keep reppin’ your old faves first? Because that’s 100% what I’m doing today, but I promise it’s worth the extra attention!

    A deeper look at the Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist

    I go through bottles of Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist like they’re water, but you guys. This stuff is SO good.

    It’s lightly lemon-scented and smells squeaky-clean, and it’s a cinch to apply. This body mist has a really dense “next-generation, non-aerosol continuous mist,” with all the good stuff of an auto-spray without any of the CFCs.

    For a body mist, it’s pretty hydrating, and it’s just all-around easy to use. The mist can double-duty as a face mist for those with dry skin, too, so don’t let its body-mist promises deter you.

    As a spoonie, I like to keep a bottle of this stuff in my cupboard at all times. It can be really tough to find the energy to moisturize every day, but this stuff has my back whenever I’m too tired or too stiff to moisturize by hand.

    It’s great for non-spoonies, too–if you’ve ever wanted a lightweight body moisturizer for hot summer days or post-workout showers, this is what you’ve been waiting for! It’ll leave you smelling fresh and clean, and it has a totally non-tacky finish.

    Availability: $20 CAD. Permanent (but getting repackaged soon!) Available at Deciem, Look Fantastic, HQ Hair, and more.

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    Womanizer Pro 40 review & Satisfyer Pro 2 comparison

    The products: Womanizer Pro40 and Satisfyer Pro 2

    It’s been a while since my last sex toy review, and today, I’m pulling out the big guns: a review and comparison of the Womanizer Pro40 and Satisfyer Pro 2 clitoral air stimulators, AKA my current favourite style of toy.

    The cool thing about writing about sex toys is that they exist in a fast-growing industry. While a lipstick is a lipstick is a lipstick, new technologies are being invented in the sex-positive industry every day. These new clitoral toys use “pressure waves” of air to act as a touchless air pump. They’re not vibrators, and they’re not clit pumps–they’re altogether unique.

    Womanizer Pro40 review ($129 USD)

    The Womanizer was the first air pressure clitoral stimulator to hit the market. It was released in late 2014, and despite the original being ugly like space-age technology from the 80s, it quickly gained popularity.

    What makes the Womanizer Pro40 so great? Even though I’m violently opposed to Womanizer’s branding, my body adores the product. It’s so good that it’s changed how I want to rate a product’s battery life. In a post-Womanizer world, I’ve been measuring battery life in number of orgasms instead of number of hours.

    I can get 2-3 orgasms out of a vibrator with the Womanizer’s 2 hours of battery life, but I can get more than a dozen out of a single charge of the Womanizer. Its battery is really high-quality, too, holding a charge for the better part of a month and charging to full in 60 minutes.

    No, really: On top of that, I’ve found that using the Pro40 is sensitizing rather than de-sensitizing, making it easier for me to get off even when I’m not using the Womanizer. As someone who has worried about anorgasmia for most of their life, that’s been a hugely impactful experience.

    Satisfyer Pro 2, Womanizer Pro 40 #1, and Womanizer Pro 40 #2 heads

    Other great stuff about the Womanizer Pro40: The Pro40 features 8 intensity levels (the lowest setting really is whisper-quiet), an ABS plastic body, and 2 silicone heads. The heads are easy to wash and made to fit most bodies, including plus-size ones.

    The Pro40 is waterproof, and it’s the cheapest model offered from the brand. Plus, hitting the power button during use immediately takes the toy to its lowest intensity, which is a rare feature to find–but a really useful one.

    Satisfyer Pro 2 review ($69.99 USD)

    The Satisfyer Pro 2 is, in my opinion, just as problematic as the Womanizer–but for very different reasons. It was released hot on the heels of the original Womanizer, and its makers have publicly admitted to stealing Womanizer’s ideas to “improve” on them.

    I prefer the Satisfyer’s look and branding, but let’s be honest: that kind of blatant plagiarism is just rude. It’s harmful to smaller makers and new creators, and it encourages distrust in an industry that I think could benefit from more collaboration. But at the same time, I appreciate the availability of air pressure toys at a lower price point, and while “Satisfyer” is still a pretty crap name, it’s not nearly as offensive as the “Womanizer.”

    Satisfyer Pro 2 (L) and Womanizer Pro40 (R) charging cables

    How does the Satisfyer promise to improve on the Womanizer? The Satisfyer Pro 2 charges with a super-sleek magnetic charging cable, is waterproof, comes in rose gold, and promises a head made from medical-grade silicone. It features 11 intensities to the Pro40’s 8.

    But is it better? Not if you ask me. Yes, the Satisfyer range is cheaper and price accessibility is great, but the toys aren’t as good. The Pro 2 comes with only one head, and that one head doesn’t fit my body very well. It’s noisier, too, and takes a lot longer to charge–four hours instead of one.

    The Satisfyer also only has one “mode” button, so you can’t reduce the toy’s intensity while you’re using it.

    The Womanizer vs Satisfyer verdict?

    The only thing better than a new technology is a new technology that works really, really well for you–and these do, at least for me. The Womanizer Pro40 has become my new toy of choice for everything but partnered PIV (its size makes it quite cumbersome), and the toy itself is very well-made.

    I’ve heard that air pressure toys tend to be very love-or-hate, but I love them. They deliver a quick, reliable orgasm for me for the first time in my life, and the Womanizer Pro40 both makes me more sensitive and reduces my orgasm-related anxiety.

    Both the Satisfyer and the Womanizer that I tried were good, but only the Womanizer was great. If you can stretch your budget to make it work, I think the reliability and interchangeable heads of the Pro40 make it worthwhile.

    Availability: Both of these toys are available at Peepshow Toys, who kindly sent them in for review. (Use code “theNotice” for an extra 10% off your oder!) They’re also available at Shevibe and PinkCherry, but Peepshow offers the best price by far.

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