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Mantras I live by

I found this definition online for what a mantra is:

A mantra is supposed to help you clear your consciousness out of the noise, so you can make room for one idea you want to concentrate on. A mantra is an idea, a philosophy or a world overview, concentrated in a sentence, a phrase or even one word.

It was the most unofficial, relaxed definition of mantra I could find that didn’t go too deep into meditation practices, because I think we use the word “mantra” a bit more casually in today’s culture. I think for most people a “mantra” has more to do with “words to live by,” than meditation — but the foundation of the word, as noted above, says your mantra should help you focus on one central thought. If you were asked, “what advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?” I’m sure you’d have a few mantras to share… Here are mine:

1. LOVE YOURSELF: I specifically put that one in bold, because I think we’re so quick to tear ourselves down. Most often than not, you’ll point out your flaws than embrace them, and you know I’m right on this one. This idea to love yourself, or self-love and body positivity, is a really buzzing idea right now with influencers that aren’t cocaine-chic posting cellulite shots in bikinis, or real-life models posing in photo shoots for a women’s underwear line…but I think self-love goes further than just esthetics. You could be gorgeous and a size 2 with no cellulite and not a blemish on you and still not love yourself. You may think your intellect isn’t all there, or you think that your social circle thinks (insert thought here) of you. Something I learned after baby #2, when I was struggling with baby weight and some serious body image issues, was that none of it matters. You are perfectly imperfect, and that’s what makes you YOU. If you want to lose weight, do it — but dont punish yourself until you hit your goal. If you want to get that tummy tuck, do it, but realize that you’re doing it for you and nobody else. I still have these conversations with myself, so I still struggle with it, but I love myself because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.

2. Trust the journey. I don’t believe in coincidence, and I think everything happens for a reason. Could I be more cliché? Hah. Seriously though, I think our destination is unknown and the journey is the exciting part. Your life will work itself out, and the challenges you’re facing right now are temporary and possibly something you need to learn something from. Use every experience, downfall, obstacle as a learning point. You’re here for a reason.

3. I am worthy. This one ties in with “love yourself,” because you can’t expect to feel worthy of what life is giving you unless you love yourself. Your life didn’t happen by accident. You deserve all of the good in your life! Have grace, and love yourself. When we feel worthy, we strive for more because we feel that we deserve it. So hear it again: YOU are WORTHY. Love yourself, know you’re worthy, strive for greatness, and trust the journey. And I’m not just talking to my boss babes out there, this applies to you too. Yes. You. Don’t hold yourself back from greatness because I’m not the only one who thinks you’re worthy.

I didn’t know where that all was going when I started writing it. I don’t typically go deep with my blog posts! Now that you’ve read it, what are some mantras you live by? How do you make sure these mantras are top of mind?

What got me thinking about this whole topic was really our new Mantra Band products that we’ve launched in our store. I love them and I think they’re powerful reminders that we can wear daily to keep us focused on inspiring words to live by. You can check them out here: https://waxonomy.myshopify.com/collections/mantra-bands

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My Own Skin FAQ

I’m no skincare expert by any means, but i’ve done enough of my own research and have had enough of my own ???-moments that I can answer some of my own previous questions that confused me. It was definitely a sight to see when a skincare rep would come and do her shpiel, and i was like a deer in headlights — i always had to have someone else in on my sales meetings with them so i wouldn’t look like a complete newbie. So read on, nobody is judging you.

Why would anyone ‘double-cleanse’? Because, if you watched my video the other day, if you’re just washing your face once, you’re not really getting all the junk off of your face. You can use a microfiber cloth to wash your face, literally wash it twice, or use a different cleanser for that initial clean-up. The Korean skin-care gurus will suggest using an oil-cleanser for the first wash, and a water-based cleanser for the second. The oil-cleanser will clean off all excess oil and oil-based residue, and the water-based cleanser will really deep clean and remove all the dirt that will end up clogging your pores. Korean skin-care is known to be experimental, high end, top of the line, but you don’t have to go from 0 to 100 overnight. Just make sure your face is clean before going through your skin care routine.

What products do i need? So, a decent cleanser, and it doesn’t need to be expensive, is a good first step. I personally have been using the FacEnvy (EyEnvy brand cleanser) because it does a good job in getting my lash glue off, and my face feels squeaky clean. I also enjoy the mild hint of rose, because it’s not overpowering and it’s quite pleasant. I also use an eye serum, eye cream, face serum, face cream, daily peel. You don’t have to be nuts like me, if you’re just starting to think about taking care of your skin, lets start with a cleanser, a serum, and moisturizer. The cleanser’s function is obvious, the serum will treat your skincare concerns, and the moisturizer…moisturizes. Once you get into this rhythm and you’re seeing some positive results, you can add in steps into the routine. The rule of thumb is to apply the thinnest to thickest, so after i wash my face: I use my daily peel pads, apply eye serum, eye cream, face serum, spf moisturizer. But start with the basics and work your way up from there. No point in investing in a skin care regimen if you’re just going to let it sit on your shelf.

Do i really need to “invest” in skin care? I get your on this question, really i do — up until 3 years ago, i would maybe wash my face. I certainly did not want to invest big bucks into a skincare routine because i felt like my skin looked fine, and i was about to cover it with foundation anyway, so WHO CARES. Right? See, i told you i get you. And then i turned 35, and it was like my skin puked all over itself overnight. I found hyperpigmentation spots id never seen, my skin felt dull and blah, and i just didn’t enjoy having to always put on a full face in the morning. Plus hanging around my friend Desiree who was all about skincare had a bit to do with it. So now that i’ve invested in my skincare, my attitutde about this question has done a complete 180º. Everything you put on your face is a preventative measure. Hyperpigmentation takes years to surface, so SPF daily year-round is vital. Anti-aging may seem silly when you don’t have wrinkles, but preventing them is way way easier than reversing them. If you don’t have acne now, when you have a breakout — you can dump all the expensive skincare you want on your face, but it takes a while for you to condition your skin to have it respond to product. Figure out what pricepoint you’re comfortable with, and find a skin-guru you trust that can actually look at your skin and give you a plan. My skincare regimen won’t work for you, necessarily, because all skin isn’t the same. Invest while you’re younger and don’t have “skin conditions” to fix. Preventative.

What other skin treatments can i do? This answer depends largely on what your skin is saying to you. Treating your skin can be as simple as changing diet (dairy can be really inflammatory to a lot, and cutting it out may mean less breakouts — but talk to a naturopath, derm, doctor, before doing this. Dairy does nothing to my face, and if i cut cheese out of my life, i don’t know what i’d do). A good deep-cleaning treatment every season change is a great idea. Microdermabrasion or dermaplaning will help you by getting that top layer of dead skin off, which can often act as a barrier to your skincare. Imagine how much better your skin will respond to your products if it was actually sinking into your skin, rather than fighting to get to it thru dead skin. Microneedling is a service that can literally change your skin in a few months. It’s collagen-induction therapy, and by creating microtrauma to your skin forces it to product collagen to repair it. Collagen is a protein that keeps our skin from sagging and helps it look plump, youthful. Your body has a “collagen bank” and as you age, your production starts to slow down (around the age of 25). The less collagen you have, the more your skin looks aged. So by doing treatments that help build collagen, you’re literally making yourself look younger. I swear, once the ‘rona is gone, i’m getting trained specifically on microneedling because it’s a miracle treatment. You can induce collagen production with Radio-frequency facials, which is more cost effective but is better as maintenance for your microneedling. Microneedling can be the initial jet-pack, and radio-frequency can be your booster fuel to keep it going.

Do i really need to wash twice a day? Do you brush your teeth twice a day? Yes. Wash. Your. Face.

Do I need day and night products for my face? Lets go back to the answer for my second question about investing. Start off slowly. Once you get into your rhythm of using skincare, and you’re doing your steps consistently, then you can invest in specific day and night products. I know, i said the word aging and wrinkles and you freaked out a little bit.

Ok! I hope this helps a little bit! I’m looking forward to phase 3 when i can start working on peoples’ faces again, so until then invest wisely, use some sheet masks once a week, and sit tight.

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So someone else tattooed your face…

And you’re not happy with the outcome. You’re hoping someone (maybe me?) will be able to save your face, quite literally, and fix the mess. Here are a few things you need to know about cosmetic tattooing, and how it can go wrong:

  • Your old microblading has changed colour. It’s been a few years, and it’s looking either too warm, or too cool (aka orange or grey). First things first, brown pigment is made up of yellow, red, and purple. As the pigment ages, there’s no way of knowing which colour will fade faster than the other, which can result in the colour shifting to orange or grey. If this is what you’ve got, don’t freak out — it’s fixable. And it happens to the best of us. Your artist will try to avoid this by using modifiers, but sometimes it just happens.
  • Your old microblading isn’t crisp, it’s blurry, and its super dark. This happens for a couple of different reasons: Either your original artist wasn’t super experienced and went too deep (resulting in blurry, dark strokes), or your skin isn’t suited for microblading (also resulting in blurry, dark strokes). Microblading isn’t for everyone (on both ends of the service). If you’re oily, or have trouble skin, microblading won’t end well. Powder brows are much better suited, and is a much more gentle technique, will last longer/age better. I also am of the belief that eventually everyone will transition to powder — you can only go into the same strokes so many times before it just gets blurry and messy anyway.
  • Your shape doesn’t suit your brows. Either the shape is off, or is sitting too high on the brows, you have a double tail, whatever the case may be. You’re just not happy with the shape anymore.

So what the heck are you supposed to do now? In most cases, an artist will work on someone else’s work for a fee. Please don’t expect to pay an artist’s touchup rate if they didn’t do the original work. You should expect to pay at least the cost of a brand new set of brows, at the very least. You may also be required to have removal of some sort to lighten pigment that’s too dark, or remove pigment that doesn’t belong in your best shape.

If you’re OK with your brows becoming thicker or darker than they currently are, it’s usually an easier fix. If you’re hoping to get lighter or thinner, count on a few rounds of laser removal so that your skin/pigment is workable. If you’re in the tri-cities area, DM me and i’ll send you over to a clinic in Cambridge that’s done a decent amount of removal on old microblading.

Corrective work is an advanced technique, and requires a skillset you won’t find with a beginner artist. There’s a reason experienced artists charge what they charge, and it is extremely important to check an artist’s portfolio for healed work. I’ll be the first to say everyone starts somewhere — we all need practice on actual skin before we can start to improve. And you may be someone’s practice… that’s ok. If you’re sitting across from an experienced artist asking them to fix your brows, don’t try to bargain: you’re paying for years of experience.

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My top 5 products I can’t live without

Ok that’s a bit extreme. I wouldn’t die if I didn’t have any of these products, but you’re reading aren’t you? So here’s a list of the 5 products I use on a daily, and love love love having them as part of my regiment:

1. Salt + Stone sunscreen. Summer or winter, I love this sunscreen. We discussed the importance of sunscreen last week, and how you should be wearing this stuff year round. The reason I’m a huge fan of the s+s is because it goes on so nicely under my makeup, so if I happen to be using a foundation that doesn’t have SPF (and many don’t), im covered. You still have to reapply throughout the day, and for this you can find an SPF setting spray, like Coola. It’s also a clean SPF, so you can use it on your littles without worrying about harmful ingredients!

2. St Tropez Purity Vitamin Serum. Ok, I’m pasty. I hate being pasty white in the summer. When you have a glow, a slight tan, everything just looks healthier…but we know sun damage isn’t healthy. I use the purity serum on my face after my moisturizer in the morning, and it helps maintain my glow year round. If I want more colour, I put it on day and night until I get my colour where I want it to be, and then switch back to once a day. Originally I was concerned about the price tag ($40) on such a small bottle, but I’ve been using the same bottle for about 2 months now, and I’m good for probably another 2 months.

3. Olaplex 3, 6, 7. This one is actually 3 products combined, but I didn’t think you guys would object to more product recommendations. My hair is dark brown, as the lockdown has made painfully clear. I enjoy being blonde. What happens when you make dark brown into blonde? Typically the hair goes brittle and dry, and looks unhealthy. Everyone’s on the quest for the Holy Grail of hair products to make your overprocessed hair look glossy and shiny, and I think Olaplex has it it right on target. When I wash my hair (once a week), the night before I put my #3 hair mask on and sleep with it on. Wash it off in the morning, use a salon quality shampoo/conditioner, and dry/style. While it’s still damp, I use a small quantity of #6 styling cream (less is more), and 5 drops of #7 bonding oil. Rub my palms together, and work it thru my hair focusing on mids-ends. I also like using a drop or two of the #7 if I have a lot of fly aways on top…helps me look like I don’t have a frizz halo.

4. Esqido strip lashes + companion glue. You guys ask me all the time what lashes I’m wearing, if they’re magnetic. When I tell you I use the glue on ones, you’re baffled at how I get them on. Guys! I’ve been wearing strip lashes since August 2017, almost daily. My first two or three applications were kinda ridiculous. I’ve figured out my own tips and tricks on getting these beautiful strips to stay on all day, one of which is the glue. I don’t use drugstore glue, they usually come in a tube and you can’t get a precise application. The companion glue from Esqido has a liner brush applicator so you’re not over-applying, and if you let it dry for a good 30-60 seconds, you’re not fighting to get them to stay on your lash line. Plus the Esqido strip lashes will last for up to 30 uses if you take care of them, and I’ve put this to the test. My fave lashes are the BFF, Lashlorette, Nebula, and Gin and Tonic from the Unisyn line. Trust me on this — you can do it.

5. The Scrub. This is my all-time favorite. I’m biased because it’s my formula. We created this formula over the course of a year, and have it made exclusively for Bare Essentials. I use it every time I shower, and I love how it keeps my skin moisturized and smooth. We’ve picked our top 5 scents and they all smell AMAZING. And you know how you’ll use a bath product, and smell good in the shower…and then you get out of the shower and you don’t smell that product anymore? Well, with the scrub you still get the fragrance on your skin, so you smell delish. Seriously, if you haven’t tried it — get it now.

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The New Normal

Today’s announcement has everyone EXCITED and BUSY preparing to open with proper policies & procedures to ensure safety for all customers & clients of local businesses. It got me thinking about this whole NEW NORMAL. It is totally NEW. Experiences will be different, approaches will change, but the good news is we’re on our way BACK to providing you with the best in beauty services. We are still figuring out our official re-open policies & procedures, but there are some thing we do know…

The new normal isn’t going to be the way things used to be. It will include things like, masks, social distancing, arriving at your appointment alone, arriving on time instead of early, not coming in if you have any symptoms of a flu… Just because the economy is starting to open up, doesn’t mean the threat of the virus is gone. We have to remember we’re all still susceptible to being bit by this virus, and still need to be careful about exposure. So, that being said, here are a few protocols I predict we’ll have to adopt at Bare Essentials when we reopen:

• All staff and clients must wear a mask. If you don’t have one, we’ll provide one for you at a cost of $1. If you refuse to wear a mask, we’ll refuse service and have to enforce our cancellation fee.

• Show up 5 minutes early to your appointment to allow time for handwashing and checking in. If you’re new, you’ll be asked to fill out our new client waiver online prior to your appointment. If you’re a returning client, you’ll be asked to fill out our health check waiver prior to your first service back.

• Upon entering, you’ll be asked to wash your hands for 20 seconds. Handwashing is still one of the best preventative measures to stop the spread.

• If you have any symptoms of flu or illness, and cancel the morning of your appointment, our cancellation fee will not be enforced. Just be mindful to allow us enough time to fill the appointment.

• Don’t bring anyone with you to your appointment. This includes friends, and children. If you’re bringing your underage child to get a wax, our preference is for you to wait outside — however if you’re uncomfortable with this option, you’d be expected to wear a mask. We’re just trying to limit exposure for our staff here as well, but we understand if your teen isn’t old enough to ride solo!

These are just guidelines we’re assuming will be enforced by public health, but until we get a firm date from the government on when we reopen, we won’t have much detail or direction on their expectations. We may be going overkill here, but since we’re a busy wax bar and there are many many bodies coming through our doors, it’s our duty to our clients and staff to be as safe as possible.

Aaaaaand a reminder: Black Friday is when we have our best laser sales. Just putting that right there.

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ONE WORD. SUNSCREEN.

So it’s June, which means it’s FINALLY summer. Is it just me, or has this been the shortest/longest season getting from winter to summer? Seriously though, with the onset of warmer weather, there’s something important we need to discuss. Sunscreen. Don’t roll your eyes at me, seriously. SPF should be part of your daily regimen for all four seasons, but even more vital during the hot summer months when the sun is hotter and more dangerous.

Little known fact — My dad’s a redhead. My mom has an olive complexion. Guess who’s skin i got? Ok well, both — i get burned in the sun, which eventually develops into a tan. But i feel like my dad’s redheaded-ness gave me a threshold to my ability to develop that golden tan, which is why i just opt for sunscreen and self-tanner. I also am a workaholic, so my face doesn’t see much sun, and this is what i attribute my youthful look to (I’m 38, and i don’t think i look it). I also now take better care of my skin than i ever did in my youth (can we all agree that at one point we’ve all used cetaphil, or neutrogena, and those toning wipes?)… But don’t you wish someone would just have shaken you in your early teens when you’d lay out in the sun with tanning oil slathered all over you? UGH. That’s one thing Stella’s never going to do.

Ok, lets talk about what happens in your skin when you tan. I found this great explanation on self.com:

When your skin cells are threatened by the UV rays coming at them from the sun, they kick into protection mode, distributing darker pigment cells (melanocytes) to those cells on the surface. The pigment blocks UV radiation from hitting cells’ most valuable parts. “What the cells do with this pigment they received as a gift is pile it all on top of the cell’s nucleus, like an umbrella,” Sekulic explains. When pigment piles up, your skin looks tanner. The more threatened your skin is, the more it works to form pigment shields. That’s why you get darker the longer you stay out.

…That base tan you rely on to prevent burning is at best the equivalent of putting on SPF 3 sunscreen, according to the CDC. Most derms recommend that you wear at least SPF 30 to protect yourself from sun damage. That includes both DNA mutations that could lead to skin cancer, and the weakening of connective fibers, which leads to wrinkles, sagging, and sunspots.

So we’ve established we need to protect our skin from the sun, regardless of the colour of our skin — all skin types are susceptible to the damage of UVA and UVB. Wait, what? 2 kinds? There’s actually UVC as well — but we’re really mainly concerned about A and B. UVA is what’s used in tanning beds, plays a major part in skin aging and wrinkling, and can go thru clouds and glass. GLASS. UVB is what’s linked to skin cancer, can burn your skin in 15 minutes or less, and damages your skin’s DNA. So really, you’re not safe without SPF whether you’re inside or out. This is why you should wear sunscreen every day whether you’re inside, or outside; whether it’s summer or winter.

Available thru Bare Essentials & Brows by Laurie

How do you pick a sunscreen that’s effective enough to prevent all this nasty sun damage? Find something that’s marked as broad spectrum, which means it’s effective to protect you from UVA and UVB rays; and ideally find something that’s zinc-oxide based instead of synthetic chemicals (like oxybenzone, octisalate etc). But honestly, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen, so if you don’t have any better quality sunscreen, coppertone spf 30 will do the trick until you can get your hands on some.

It’s also worth noting that sunscreen application isn’t a once-and-done kind of thing, you need to reapply once every 2 hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming and sweating. If you’ve got a full face of makeup on, it’s worth investing in a face spray with spf so you can stash it in your purse and spray it every few hours.

The last thing to know about sunscreen: The difference between spf grades. SPF 15 blocks 93% of all UVB rays, SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. The 1% difference is minimal, but it’s important to also know that SPF 30 means it’ll take 30 times longer to burn than without SPF. There’s a lot more to this answer than I’m equipped to answer, so for full details a simple google search will give you a ton of information on how to decode SPF.

The most important take-away from this post though: Wear sunscreen and reapply every 2 hours. When we put sunscreen on, we feel a false sense of securuity, and don’t necessarily seek shade, put a sunhat on, cover up, etc — and we tend to get more sun exposure than if we didn’t have sunscreen on, which totally defeats the purpose. Reapply, reapply, reapply.

REAPPLY THAT SUNSCREEN.

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The Pandemic Pivot

If this quarantine, self-isolation, social distancing period (whatever you want to call it) has taught us anything, it’s that:

  • Don’t compare yourself to others, do what you need to do to survive
  • Use this time wisely, because at some point it’s all going to end and we’re going back to work. Soak up the time for self-care, or spend the time with your kids, take that online course, start that business idea, or binge watch that series you’ve always wanted to watch.
  • Dry shampoo is your best friend, and you can never own too many loungewear pieces
  • Put your jeans on at least once a week to make sure they still fit, but
  • Don’t feel guilty about eating that donut, but also
  • Try to get some workouts in because movement is medicine.

There are so many conflicting messages that we’re all being exposed to, and the message has never been more unclear. People are spending so much time on screens because they can, and because it’s entertaining, but it can definitely be a negative. The word i’ve been focusing on for the past 9 or 10 weeks has been: PIVOT. I heard my business coach use that term on a zoom call at the very beginning and it stuck with me. I’ve made some broad changes in my personal and business lives and I’m here for it.

My morning routine: wake up, get kids fed, get them started on their school work, and hit the elliptical for half an hour. At minimum, half an hour of cardio followed by 15-20 minutes of some strength training. I’ve followed a few accounts online that i use for inspo on strength training, so i change it up, but i’ve gotta say — i’ll be selling tickets to the gun show soon! Also, i’ve been watching Schitt’s Creek every time i’m on the machine. Kinda bummed that in a few days i’ll be done the whole series, and i’ll need a new show/movie to watch while i work out. Feel free to comment below with recommendations. So i work out 5 days a week… but i’m not really losing weight. I still eat. meh. Once this is all over, and i go back to my normal busy schedule, i won’t have the interest in boredom-eating. I’ll be too busy doing brows to want to eat!! I CAN’T WAIT TO DO ALL THE BROWS.

I’m definitely blessed — i haven’t fully embraced the homeschooling role like most other moms have. Peter is wayyyyyyy more patient than i am when it comes to the kids, and i’m kind of a meanie when it comes to teaching. He’s taken on a lot of the schoolwork and i step in when necessary. I help with art homework, spelling, occasional math work… but the kids definitely gravitate towards Dad when it comes down to it.

I have also turned into a full-time freaking chef. Is it just me, or does it feel like as the main meal-prep person, we’re always in the kitchen? Breakfast is easy most days, cause cereal is easy enough…smoothies are done in a jiff… but sometimes, i’m in the kitchen prepping something that seemed like a brilliant idea (cue cinnabon copycat recipe), but just ended up being a time-suck. Don’t get me wrong, homemad cinnamon buns are always a hit, and they’re definitely worth the reaction from the rest of the family, but the prepping, proofing, baking, icing, washing, putting away… ugh. And then when you’re done, you still have to make dinner! I often wonder what’s worse: making dinner, or coming up with what to make? We have meal prep convos on sunday evenings, and I make each person at the table give me meal ideas for the week. They’re not terribly inventive, but i’ll take it. Any idea is better than no idea. Amirite?

Amongst all this, I’ve done something i’ve generally said I wasn’t all that interested in: Online sales. I’m not a salesy kinda gal, but whenever i’ve been put in retail roles, somehow i’ve done well. I remember going back to my university days, I had a job at Fairview Mall (in Toronto) at a small boutique called Melrose. My boss, Harry, loved it when I was in — “Laurie! My superstar! Lets get some great numbers today! You’re my heavy hitter!” I was always surprised that he thought this of me because i was never really selling… When clients would come out of the change room, my face was very telling. I could not lie and gush about how great they looked when clearly it was too small, not the right cut, not the right colour, or just plain ugly. I think this has carried over to my online store, too. I’m not a BS-er. If i don’t like something, i’m not putting it up on my Shopify store. I’ve legit handpicked everything on there, and i’ve used 99% of my inventory. If i haven’t personally used it, someone i’m directly affiliated with has used it, and has vouched for it. Honestly, this online store has been the thing that’s kept me most busy, and fortunately has helped me pay my rent. Hah, not all of it — but a good chunk. So share my site with friends, post it on your social media, tag me, etc. When you buy from a small business, especially at a time like this, the support is immense and trust when the business owner says THANK YOU, they mean it on another level.

And although i’m not the best teacher for my children — i’m building some online courses. Some free mini courses, some bigger paid courses, because I’ve educated myself enough that i’m ready to educate others and raise the bar. This is the area i’m having the most trouble with, not because i don’t have the content, but because i’m all those other things — there’s always something to interrupt or distract me. I just need to lock myself away, hunker down with my laptop, and just get to it. Goal: finish ONE course by the end of lockdown.

That essentially sums up all of my lockdown modes: Morning workouts, part-time homeschool teacher, full time chef, online salesperson, and online educator. My head is spinning. In a way, i’m super grateful for having the time to tackle all of these things that i never would have had the time for beforehand. Pre-COVID, if i wasn’t with clients, i was with clients. Now i’ve got the time to hopefully finish all of the things i never had time to start. Don’t get me wrong: this post isn’t meant to make anyone feel bad, or show y’all how amazing i am. Everyone is doing GREAT, and everyone is doing what they need to do to stay sane, but instead of talking product, this post was just a conversational insight into a day-in-the-life. I feel like i’m funny and interesting enough. yeah? no? what do you think? will i get some comments in the comment box below?

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Sheet Masks 101.

So, i think it’s safe to say we all are aware that i really have enjoyed upping my skincare game in the past year or so. I wash my face twice a day, make sure to never sleep with my makeup on, and apply SPF every day. I also have had the pleasure of being such a workaholic that my face doesn’t usually see the sun, so i’m not really exposed to UV rays all that much regardless of the SPF I apply before i put my makeup on. One thing i haven’t used much of until recently are sheet masks. I just didn’t think i had time, or I used them as a special treat when hanging with some girlfriends and a glass of wine.

You’ve probably seen them in line at Sephora, or Shoppers… Or even at Bare Essentials on the retail wall. You likely don’t give it much thought, or see it as a gimmick-y kind of thing. Yeah, I get it — i thought the same until i had all this time on my hands to do whatever, and i started using the sheet masks i had stockpiled over the past couple of years. You know what i mean — you get one as a freebie, you pick one up cause it had a cute package, it was part of a gift set… yeah. same. So here’s a quick rundown of what sheet masks are, what they do, how often you should use them, etc.

Sheet masks are face shaped bits of material, soaked in a serum. If you were to take serum and slather it on your face, the liquid when exposed to air would evaporate eventually. The reason why a sheet mask is beneficial here, is because it doesn’t have that evaporation factor. The liquid is locked into the fabric, the fabric is sitting on your face, your face is absorbing the goodness of the serum. You let it sit on your face for 20 minutes, and then peel the fabric off and chuck it. Pat in any leftover serums into your skin/neck/decolleté. Theoretically these things shouldn’t fall off your face because the serum sticks it onto your skin, so you *could* potentially do stuff while you’re masking, but put that mask on, throw on an episode of Schitt’s Creek or The Office, and fuggedaboudit.

Sheet masks can target a plethora of skin concerns — hydration, brightening, hyperpigmentation, inflammation, acne, really the possibilities are endless. If you can get your hands on a Korean sheet mask, these can tend to have experimental and weird sounding ingredients that could have surprising benefits.

Korean skin care is top notch, and amazing stuff. I say these things but i don’t know exactly why. I did a quick google skim to see why Korean skincare has the rep it does, and i think based on what i’ve found, is that: they don’t have as strict regulations so they can experiment with things like snail slime to see the effects it has on skin; they focus on hydration because hydration is key to plump, radiant skin; they act preventatively, so they’re not worrying about how to get rid of problems they prevented from earlier on; they are focused on being squeaky clean (think double cleansing, and never going to bed with makeup on).

There are a few different kinds of sheet masks as well, in terms of the material the mask itself is made of. I bring this up in case you’re looking at different masks, and wondering why “a” is more expensive than “b”. Let’s compare:
– cotton/non-woven fiber masks are inexpensive, but not the most amazing delivery of serum into the skin. so these are the ones that are good for girls nights with wine.
– hydrogel masks are a little more expensive, but great delivery of serum into the skin; they usually come in 2 pieces, top and bottom of the face.
– bio-cellulose masks are the priciest, but best absorption properties and delivery of serum.

You can use sheet masks as often as daily, every two or three days, or even just once a week on a Sunday night. But with all skincare, or any kind of routine, consistency is key. You can’t expect to ignore all skincare rules, pop on a sheet mask, and look like (insert skincare goddess’ name here).

Got a favourite sheet mask? Have you tried the ones in my store? Let me know! I’d love to hear about it!

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Do Blondes really have more fun?

I’ve been trying to go blonde for a good decade now. I have pictures from my engagement party in 2008 where I had gone blonde a bit, but not blonde enough. I gave up in the middle for a period cause it was just too much to upkeep, and i just didn’t have the funds for the constant maintenance. I went from stylist to stylist, and had started accepting my blondorexia, and then i found my blonde angel. Van, at Studio Aura, gave me my dream hair. DREAM. HAIR. you know, the one i referred to a few blogs ago? Ya. hers.

I was in hair heaven! I loved everything about having so much long blonde hair, and it suited me! The tone was perfect with my complexion, and the curls were just so…pretty! Van suggested i use Olaplex with my hair, so I bought some Olaplex. I also made sure to use heat protector spray every time i took a hot tool to redo my curls, and I thought i was set. One day i realized my top layer of curls was looking a bit short, and it just looked funny. I asked my stylist about it, and she asked me what i was using on my hair… Apparently, not enough!

Blonde hair is high maintenance (like me). And the beautiful hair you see on insta, and magazine ads, has been highly maintained! I basically had to start thinking of haircare as an extension of skincare — daily haircare products to maintain the health of my long locks: mask treatments, serums, oils, heat protectors… they all play a role. Up until recently, my blonde hair was the right colour, but the texture was dry and brittle, like hay. It didn’t really inspire you to run your fingers through it (and if you see me now, please don’t touch my hair. that’s weird). So here’s a list of the products i use on a regular basis that i attribute my hair health to:

• Olaplex #2: This is a professional treatment that typically you can’t get to use at home. I have a trade account, so i have a massive jug of this stuff that i mask my hair with before I wash it. You can also get Olaplex #3, which is essentially a milder version of #2. You apply it to towel dried, wet hair, leave it on for 10 minutes, and shampoo/condition.
• Salon grade shampoo and conditioner: Since all hair salons are closed, i can’t get to my hair salon for my blowouts. I’ve invested in some Kevin Murphy shampoo/conditioner to make sure the products i’m using to wash my hair are still up to snuff. No Pantene here.
• Olaplex #6 and #7: Olaplex #6 is a leave-in cream that smooths, strengthens, rehydrates your hair, but a little bit goes a long long way. Don’t make the mistake to over-use this product, it’ll weigh it down. I like to mix it with #7, the bonding oil. Olaplex #7 is a styling oil that helps restore shine, reduce frizz, and has heat protection up to 450º. I put a bit more than a pea-sized amount in my palm, drop 5 drops of the oil, rub my palms together and run it mids to ends mainly, and whatever residue i have left in my hands i use it on the top of my head. I like to do this when my hair is dry too, on a daily basis.
• Moroccan Oil Perfect Defense: I know the Olaplex #7 is supposed to be a heat protectant, but because i’m not necessarily applying it everywhere, i like to be extra sure that I’m protecting my hair from heat. So I apply this to my dry hair when i’m flat-ironing, or curling with my wand.
• Silke Hair Bonnet: This — this i won’t leave home without. I think i was watching something on IGTV where this little girl with braids kept her braids smooth and tame with a silk cap, and then i went down a rabbit hole on silk cap posts which led me to learn that sleeping with a silk cap does wonders for hair health! I had spent so much on products to keep my hair healthy, but i was still finding i had to re-curl my hair in the morning, which meant more heat in my hair, more damage. A 100% silk cap will help distribute natural oils from roots to ends, and because your hair isn’t rubbing against your pillowcase all night, less breakage, less tangles, etc. I apply my olaplex #6/7 combo, wrap my hair into a bun, and without securing it with an elastic, i put the silk cap on. Peter laughed at me the first night i did this. I didn’t care. The next morning i woke up, slipped my silk cap off, and my hair looked the way it did the night before… i swear i heard cherubs.

Full disclosure, I am not a hair stylist. I am not trained on hair, hair products, etc — these are just products that i’ve been introduced to that i personally use, and love. I started really focusing on haircare products in december or so, and since then i’ve noticed significant growth, and a decrease in breakage. My hair texture has transformed, and i’m really happy with how far i’ve come!

And since you’ve read up to this point in my blog post, here’s a special treat for you. A pic of Peter and I at our engagement… Look how happy we are! And young! And Pete doesn’t have a beard!

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Glow Up

A few years ago when we first got our spray tanning system for Bare Essentials, i had no idea the monster that was about to be birthed. In the summer months, i am always tanned. And i don’t mean by the sun — gosh no, i work too much and don’t see the sun enough. I also don’t have time to go tanning in a tanning bed daily to get tanned. Enter self tanner. Instant tan, takes all of 20 minutes a week.

I’ve mentioned before, my skin is weird and doesn’t tan easily. When i was getting wedding-ready, i swear i went tanning every day for up to 25 minutes towards the end. I remember laying in that bed, sweating profusely, butt cheeks burning like a lobster… my tan was ok. Not the deep golden tan i wanted, but just a regular tan. Kind of underwhelming. I tried every tanning bronzing lotion under the sun — i can’t tell you how much i spent trying to be super bronzy and tanned. When we first started offering spray tans, i was SO excited — i could finally be as bronzed and dark as everyone else in my family that can tan just thinking about it.

The question i get asked many times is: “Will I go orange?” No. At Bare Essentials, we use St Tropez products, and they’re known for their natural colour! The only time i’ve ever had my colour look “off” is when it gets old, and i have too much fake tanner layered on. At that point, i scrub it all off and start all over.

Another FAQ: “How do i know what product to choose?” Ok — So here’s a long answer, explaining the nuances of the St Tropez line. It took me a bit of playing around with the products to really learn my way around so bear with me.

• Gradual Tan Line: This includes products like the in-shower or pre-shower lotion. Any product marked as part of the gradual tan line is exactly that. It’s a slow build, and you’re layering on your colour. I’ve tried the pre-shower mousse, and it’s definitely a light glow. I left it on for a minute, showered it off, woke up the next morning to being a shade darker. This is the perfect line for my snow-whites, or those who just want to really control how much colour they get. One of my favourite products in the whole line is the St Tropez watermelon lotion. I self tan with my St Tropez bronzing mousse, and then exfoliate lightly in the shower. Pat try after the shower, and i use the lotion everywhere to replace the tan i would have exfoliated off! I used to skip this step, and by the end of the week i’d be really blotchy and patchy regardless of what self tanner i used. Now that i’ve discovered this pro-tip, i self tan every 2 weeks!

• Self Tan Line: This is your typical self tanning mousses — comes in express, classic, dark, extra dark. You apply, leave it on for 8 hours, and the next day you’ve got an even, golden tan! Generally speaking, products in this line have a guide colour so you can see where you’re applying. Most people are afraid of coming out looking streaky, or stripey… With the guide colour, as long as you apply everywhere, and cover all of your white spots, you’re good. Pro tip, apply moisturizer on knees, knuckles, elbows, heels. Also, use the remnants on your mitt to apply self tanner to your hands and feet, otherwise they end up looking blotchy and too dark. The St Tropez self tan line also includes a few products with no guide colour in their Purity line. My favourite product in this family is the Purity Vitamin Serum for my face. I wash my face twice a day, the self tanner naturally will wash off my face quicker than my body. I apply this at least once a day after applying my moisturizer and it keeps the colour up. If you’re not a serum kinda person, the purity also comes in a face mist that you can use under or over makeup (think a setting spray), and the colour develops over 8h. The purity line also has a body gel and spray as well! No guide colour means no brown body print in your bedsheets.

Ok. Now that i’ve given you a bird’s eye view, your next question will be: What do i get? Fair question. If you’ve never self tanned, the starter kit is a great start. Comes with a small bottle of bronzer, mitt, moisturizer, and exfoliant. It’s good to exfoliate before self tanning so you’re applying tanner on fresh skin (vs dry buildup). If you have self tanned, and you’re not worried about taking a plunge, pick your level of darkness, make sure you have a mitt, and grab either the face mist or face serum. If you want to make sure to extend the life of your tan, Watermelon Lotion!

I honestly could go on and on and on… and on about the St Tropez line. Self-tanner in general. I feel like i have gone on and on in this post. I like the little pick-me-up that i get when i have a bronzed glow — especially in the warmer months. I can rock my pasty white when its chilly and i’m hiding in sweaters, but when you put on a cute white off the shoulder top… you don’t want to blend. ha!

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The Truth about Lash Serums

Closeup — Riekie’s lashes. One of the estheticians at Bare Essentials Waterloo; these lashes are the result of consistent Eyenvy use. Undoctored, unfiltered. AMAZING.

So since i do quite a few lash lifts, a question i get asked frequently is: How do i make my stubby lashes look longer? I honestly get asked this question about as much as i get asked about brows, so if you’ve asked me (or thought about asking me), don’t worry — you’re not alone. I know everyone’s found some brand of lash serum, and often i’ve heard that they’re gimmicky and don’t work… This one though, this one is different.

The one product that i can recommend with zero, absolute ZERO, doubt is Eyenvy. Eyenvy is a lash serum that you apply daily, and in about 3 months of consistent use, you’ll notice your lashes are longer and fuller than ever! No gimmick, no sales pitch, just truth. Eyenvy is safe to use while wearing lash extensions, so if you’re thinking of weaning yourself off of them, this is a great step to add to your regimen. I know, i know. the thought of not having lashes on is crippling for so many of us (which is why the magnetic lashes have done so well), but this is one way to get those long lush lashes you’ve dreamt about. Pair that with a lash lift and tint, and you’re set.

Question is, how the heck does this serum work? It’s not a medication like latisse, which is approx $200, so what’s in this little tube that makes the magic work? I’m not a scientist, but i managed to find this breakdown online:

credit: https://www.sundaybeauty.com/eyenvy/

In essence, Eyenvy is like lash food. It strengthens the lashes, and allows them to grow in thicker and longer. It also strengthens the thin, fragile lashes and helps them grow in to their full potential, so you’ll see more lashes than you regularly would have.

Full disclosure, i’m not currently using Eyenvy, mainly because i wear strip lashes on a regular, daily basis; but when i was using Eyenvy, the difference was remarkable! You can also use this to apply to thinning brows to help them grow in, so a 2 in 1 product, always a bonus!!

The one thing i like to warn people of, is that once your lashes are long and lush, if you stop using the serum — your lashes go back to normal when the eyenvy lashes naturally shed. This isn’t a once-and-done kind of deal. It won’t damage your existing follicles, but it won’t change them forever! We’ve always got Eyenvy in stock, so DM us for more info. We also have the Eyenvy QUADS! These kits have your Eyenvy serum, mascara, fiber mascara, and liquid liner — for an amazing deal. DM or email me for pricing and availability.

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xoxo

There’s a myriad of products out there claiming lots of miraculous things when it comes to your lippies. Google it, you’ll see i’m right! Today i’m talking about my new, and not so new, favourite lip products: The Polish, The Pout, both exclusively made for Bare Essentials, and a new addition to my lip routine — Fitglow Beauty lip serum.

First line of defence, a good lip balm: The Pout. A step we usually ignore, or forget, is keeping your lips hydrated with a good lip balm. Apply as frequently as you can remember to keep the dry lips at bay. Other factors can help you keep your skin hydrated, like drinking water — this is great for all of your skin, and not just your lips. I find when i’m using my lip balm throughout the day, i’m less likely to chew on them (guilty of this addiction, and you can often find me biting my lips when i’m working, stressed, etc).

Second line of defence, a good scrub: The Polish. Just like you’d exfoliate the skin on your face regularly, your lips are no different. I make this step part of my evening routine on a minimum. If i’m particularly dry, i’ll do it in the morning as well. You can’t overscrub your lips. Secret guilty pleasure, i love the way this one tastes. The mint flavour mixed with the sugar granules is kinda deeeelish. It’s also coconut oil based, so once you’ve scrubbed off the dry skin, it’ll leave them hydrated.

My newest addiction, and apparently according to the response on my insta-stories i’m not the only one: Fitglow Beauty Lip Serum. My question is, why have i never heard of this product before?! So i scrubbed my lips (top pic), and i was pretty happy with the way my lips looked. Lipstick would definitely apply smoothly and although i have some ridges in my lips, definitely not unhappy with the result. Then i applied my Fitglow lip colour serum, and took a nap. Not intentionally, i just had a goal for the day to take a nap (i’ve been busy with kids and work during this social-distancing time that i haven’t had a nap yet). Woke up a couple hours later, and my lips felt almost springy! Weird way to describe it, but the bottom photo still has some of the coloured serum (which is basically coloured gloss with serum in the formula). No editing, no filter. Pretty unreal, right?

So Fitglow beauty comes in at a 0 on the Think Dirty scale, which means they’re super clean. If you’re unfamiliar with Think Dirty, i’ve pulled this description from their website:

Think Dirty® is committed to helping consumers identify the potential risks associated with the personal care products they use every day. Unlike other ingredient databases, we focus exclusively on the chemical content of the products in question. We have consciously avoided the widely-used practice of “greenwashing”, whereby the environmental or social responsibility of a product’s manufacturer is factored into the assessment allowing a product to receive an artificially low toxicity rating.

We’ll be adding Fitglow lip products to the online store soon — keep an eye out so you can grab your own miracle lip product! In the meantime, The Polish and The Pout are already up, so grab yours today! Weekly pickups are every Saturday at Bare Essentials from 12-2.

Got any products you want me to review? Comment below!

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Eating your way thru Self-Isolation

Hah, the COVID-19. Get it? Freshman-15? COVID-19? Yeah — i don’t know about you, but i didn’t gain the freshman 15. I gained the freshman 50. I’ve struggled with weight, and my relationship with food for as long as I can remember. Actually, scratch that, since i was 8. I remember going on a family trip to Myrtle Beach, and coming back 10 or 11 pounds heavier. I have a distinct memory of eating junk on the road trip there, junk in our condo, junk for dinner, junk junk junk. We had an appointment with the family doc after the trip, just a regular checkup, and i was 80 pounds at the age of 8. He suggested I do 10 minutes of activity daily, and said I should run up and down the stairs as my cardio. Never did… and my parents weren’t really at fault, they didn’t really keep much junk around the house on the regular, but the thought that I “wasn’t allowed” to have chocolate, ice cream, chips, etc made it all the more desirable to me. I would binge eat in private, and hide wrappers and evidence in the DUMBEST places (couch cushions, piano bench, under my bed).

Fast foward 30 years, and I still would say that of all the things i’ve conquered and mastered in my life, food is still a daily battle. Most of my followers have heard me mention that i follow a keto eating plan on a regular. My family, on the other hand, doesn’t. I’ve been trying to lose the last 15 pounds from my last pregnancy for the past…. what, 5 years? Ok lets be real: 15 pounds is not a huge deal. Its a bit more than one dress size. I know. I also am aware that i don’t look bad by ay stretch. I love my wardrobe, and am comfortable in 99% of what i wear. I am happy to report my husband also finds me attractive. No issue there. But it’s a goal that i have set for myself, eventually one day i’d like to get there without compromising my daily life-enjoyment practices (for obvious lack of a better word).

Before the coronavirus hit the fan, i was on a freaking ROLL — i was down to just 8 pounds left to goal. I was intermittent fasting at a ratio of 20:4 (20 hours fasting, 4 hour feeding window) and i felt GREAT. Brain function clear, energy levels stable, mood stable, the whole deal. And then i was all of a sudden STUCK at HOME surrounded by my addiction. Not gonna lie, i haven’t been great these past 3 weeks with my food choices. I put on 8 pounds at the highest, and i’m currently at 4 pounds up from where i was before this all went downhill (or uphill). So writing this maybe isn’t as much an advice piece, as much as it is a journal.. or accountability piece. Here are my tips that i try to follow on a daily:

Drink water. I try to keep my 24oz water bottle on me wherever i am in the house. If i feel like i’m hungry, i take a swig. It’s proven that staying hydrated not only does wonders for your skin, but also helps your body run optimally including your metabolism. This is probably the easiest thing you can do, because you won’t run out of water, so you don’t need to go to the grocery store to restock.

Stop night-time snacking. Another obvious one — snacking = more calories ingested. duh. I usually have my last bite of food around 7/730 pm, and i don’t eat anything else until at the earliest 2 or 3 pm. When i was fasting for longer, i’d go a solid 20 (sometimes 22) hours before eating my next meal or snack. I’d go to work and bring no food with me, so there was no temptation to eat. Now that i’m stuck at home, and literally at arms length to snacks, i don’t fast for as long, but i can definitely stop eating food after dinner. I make sure to eat a satisfying dinner, and keep my water close.

Figure out what works for your body. I’ve been eating keto/low carb for a while… probably 2 years at least. I know some people who’ve gone full keto and have lost a ton of weight and maintained that eating lifestyle without fail, without cheating. They have no regrets, and don’t look back. Personally, and honestly, i break keto every so often. Again, these last two weeks have been really difficult because i’m out of my routine, but i’ll indulge in birthday cake, or a piece of bread, or whatever every so often. But I do know for sure, when i have white sugar my restless leg flares up and my nerves go nuts in my shins within minutes. I also know that if i have pizza for a meal, i’ll be up a solid 3 pounds the next day. So for me, carbs don’t really sit well… i do well with protein (meat, i’m not vegetarian), veggies, some fat. I don’t put butter in my coffee, although i know some people swear by bulletproof coffee; i moderate my cheese consumption; i will definitely enjoy bacon and eggs as a meal. If your body does well with good carbs, like quinoa, lentils, legumes, etc — listen to your body and do what works for you. But don’t lie to yourself either. Cookies didn’t do anyone’s body any good. Your mouth may disagree, but it’s still just sugar.

Move yo’ body. Chances are you’re moving a lot less while in self-isolation. Maybe before this went down, you were walking to work, taking the stairs, even just walking from your cubicle to someone else’s a few times per hour… making sales calls… going to the gym… anything more than just clicking thru Tiger King episodes. There are a lot of free online resources that you can find, either on IGTV, YouTube, etc. You could go for a walk (and stay 6 feet away from others), bust out that bike that’s been collecting dust in your garage, or finally sort/put away the laundry that’s been stopping you from using your elliptical. But if your finances allow for it, consider supporting a small business that is potentially hurting by subscribing to their online feed and pay a fee for a class.

At the end of the day, energy consumption is basic: calories in vs. calories out. If you want to be able to fit into the same wardrobe when we come out of this (not saying you want to actually lose weight or anything insanely ambitious), make sure you’re doing something to burn the calories you’re consuming. Here’s to hoping i’ll have the opportunity to wear the pretty summer wardrobe anywhere but my four walls.

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Goodbye Razor, Hello Laser!

One of the things people ask me about relatively frequently while i’m tattooing their brows is Laser Hair Removal (LHR). Honestly, if you’re thinking about picking my brain about non-brow beauty things, don’t feel bad. you’re not alone.

In 2013, we made the decision to invest in a Lightsheer Duet. It was a huge decision, an even bigger investment, and a bit of a risk for sure. At the time, we were still operating out of the house in a single room, just me solo. Clients were asking me about LHR, if i had any opinions or insight, and it just kept coming up. I was at the Toronto Spa show, and i started talking to different companies about their equipment, and training companies about their programs, and it planted that seed. I ended up taking a week long course on LHR, and spent some time with another beauty boss babe in Hamilton — Bozana Skojo, owner of the Laser Spa Group in Hamilton. I’ll tell ya, she’s probably one of the earlier influences on my path. She suggested that when i grow big enough, i’d start hiring people to expand and grow bigger… I snickered at the thought. Look at me now!

So in 2013 we bought our laser, and we’ve been doing LHR since — 7 years! I can’t answer questions that are too in-depth about any other machines, but i know my machine and i’ve answered a million and one questions at countless consultations. Here are some of the most common questions i get:

I’ve had laser done before elsewhere, and it didn’t work. We hear this one all the time — You had 20 sessions, and it never worked. You had 6 sessions and it worked for a bit but then all of your hair came back. They told you 6 sessions and it only worked for half… Here’s the thing. Your hair is an organic thing and there’s no way to know how well it’ll work. At Bare Essentials, we have a Lightsheer — gold standard in the industry. It’s proven, it works, and it works well. If you went elsewhere and it didn’t work, i’d ask what kind of machine was used? If the machine wasn’t a diode laser, it’s likely it was an IPL — which is NOT a laser. I’ll get a bit science-y here: A laser has 3 characteristics, it’s collumated, coherent, and monochromatic. I stress the monochromatic part, because an IPL is a broad wavelength light source and is all the colours of the spectrum, whereas a diode is just infrared light. It’s designed specifically for hair removal, whereas IPL can do some hair removal, but also treats skin pigmentation, photofacials, etc.

Ok, now that we’ve cleared up that one part… If you’ve had laser done before, and it legit was a laser and it still didnt work, the other factor could be technician error. Not all training is equal, and even if they had great training, a laser is a scary beast of a machine and it’s easy to go too easy on someone for fear of burning them. Go too easy, and you get no results.

So you’ve had legit laser, and your tech knows their stuff, and you still didn’t have the results you wanted? Laser won’t get 100% of your hair. You’ll always have something left behind, and a typical range of success is 65-95% reduction. That being said 10% of clients are non-responders. Meaning, sometimes no matter what we do — some hairs just don’t respond to the laser.

Does it hurt? Yes. It’s bearable mostly, to be honest. The later sessions definitely hurt more than the earlier ones, but keep in mind — we’re using heat to kill your hair follicle. The settings change with every session, usually increasing in heat. Theoretically, the less hair you have left the less it should hurt, but everyone’s pain tolerance is different. I always tell people to do their first session at least without numbing, and if you feel like you can handle it, don’t waste $60 on a tube of numbing cream. If your first session is intense and you don’t know how much more you can handle, yes. Go for the numbing cream. You’ll need to put it on 45 minutes prior, and occlude with saran wrap (cover the numbing cream with saran), but it should take the edge off.

How often do I need to come in? Can I speed up the process by coming in more frequently? We book sessions 8 weeks apart, and here’s why: Laser hair removal will only work on hair that’s in anagen, one of the phases your hair goes through in the growth cycle. Follow me here for a sec.

Anagen as noted in the image above, is when your hair is still actually attached to blood supply. Your hair is actively growing in this phase, and when treated while in anagen — any damage you cause will be permanent. Amazing, right? Right! BUT you can’t tell when your hair is in this phase. You can’t just tug on your hair and think, “oh — it’s not coming out so it’s definitely in anagen!” … LOL. If only. Just factor that 20% of your hair is in anagen at any given time. Now that we have a range, imagine you came in for a session and we’ve zapped all of your hair. What happens next — your hair will all start shedding and falling out. Here’s where most people get super excited about laser, and think they only need one session and they’re golden. Nah, sis. Remember, only 20% of your hair is in anagen, and these are the only hairs that are being affected. 6 weeks after your first session, you’ll start seeing hair grow back. At about 8 weeks is when you’ve had that full growth cycle come thru and you have a new batch of hairs grown in, and you’re back to that 20% range in anagen. We want as much as your hair in anagen as possible, so you need to wait that FULL 8 weeks to make sure you get the best possible results. You also will need at least 5 sessions to get rid of your hair (5 x 20% = 100%, although you’ll always have some hair remaining — but 5-6 sessions gets you a good chunk of the way there).

I have hair on my (insert body part here) — can you help me? Ya, usually i can. Here are the factors that will determine success rate:
• Hair and skin colour: Sorry to all of my gingers and blondies out there, you’re SOL. I know. I KNOW…. *virtual kleenex to wipe your tears away* … moving on. Laser is targeting pigment!! If your hair is too light, the laser can’t find your hair. If your skin is too dark, the laser gets confused on what to treat. This is why the dark hair/light skin combo is ideal. The laser is super clear on what to treat and what to leave alone. Darker skinned clients (latin, east indian, middle eastern, indigenous) can still get LHR, but will be treated with more caution to prevent burning.
• Hormonal issues: If you have hair growth due to a hormonal imbalance, you can treat the hair with laser until the cows come home. The laser will kill those hairs, and your body will say — “HAH. you think you can defeat ME? fool. Here’s a new hair to negate all the money you’ve just spent.” Think I’m kidding? Well, I am funny, but it’s true. Hormonal areas that are commonly a concern are under the chin, areola, inner thighs. Most other areas are pretty safe — your armpits are not a hormonal area so don’t worry. Also on the hormone note, if you’re on the pill, changing it up could also cause regrowth if it’s messing with your hormones.
• Location: Certain areas will definitely be more successful than others. Underarms, bikini line/brazilian… these two are the most successful cause those hairs, don’t we know it, are coarse and easy to target. Leg hairs, arm hairs, upper lip… these areas all will work, but may not be as successful as others. Also mens back/chest hair takes more than the typical 6 sessions — the hair here is much deeper and takes more sessions to target. Sorry dudes.

I honestly could go on and on and on. And on. And since we’re all stuck in quarantine, JOIN ME on Wednesday April 1 at 9pm for an IG live convo. No joke. Hit me up with aaaallllll of the laser questions. Or comment below, and i’ll cover them on IG and you can catch it pon de replay.

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Surviving the Self-Isolation Game

We’re all in the same boat. We’re all stuck inside, self-isolating, going stir-crazy. AMIRITE? Right. So, how do we survive? I don’t mean literally survive, because i’m sure we’ve all got our stocks of food, non-perishables, kleenex (cause you couldn’t get your hands on toilet paper) — i’m talking beauty & self-care. Here are 8 things you DON’T want to do while you’re self-isolating.

1 – Don’t tweeze your own brows. Take this time to let those puppies grow in. Who knows? You might be able to leave them alone long enough to correct your shape a bit. This isn’t the time to be concerned with the way your brows look — trust me, your significant other won’t notice the few extra hairs, but when it comes time to go back to your esthetician, SHE will notice the hairs you pulled out that were a touch too close to your shape. DON’T. TWEEZE. YOUR. BROWS.

2 – Don’t pick at your shellac. I know — once your nails start chipping, it’s so easy to get caught in the habit and just peel them all off… Don’t do it. You’ll damage your nails and peel off valuable layers of your nails, and will cause more damage than good. If you can’t handle it, and you have to get the chipped shellac off, here’s how without begging a nail salon to open their doors for you: grab some acetone, cotton balls, and foil. Soak the cotton in acetone, and wrap your nails with foil. Leave it on for 10 minutes, and use an orangewood stick to scrub it off. You probably don’t have an orangewood stick, but i wonder if a manicure kit might have a cuticle pusher that you could use… or a dollar store nail kit… Just make sure you rehydrate your nails with some cuticle oil and moisturizer.

3 – Don’t ignore your skincare. This is a great opportunity to use those sheet masks that you got as freebies in a box subscription, or your sephora purchase. Exfoliate, use that serum, mask, invest some time in your self care. Trust me, you’ll feel less grimy and gross if you have a clean face.

4 – Don’t laze around in your PJs. I don’t know about you, but if i have one lazy pyjama day, i’m ok. But when that turns into a lazy pyjama week… Ugh. After you do your morning skincare routine, throw some blush and highlight on. Heck, even some gloss. Put a pair of jeans and a sweater. Go through some of your regular routine moves, and it’ll help you knock that funk a little bit.

5 – Don’t pull your lash extensions out. In fact, keep your hands off your face. Not only will that help stop the spread of COVID-19, but also your lash tech will thank you when you eventually see her again. If you get antsy and pick at your lash extensions, you’ll pull out your natural lashes, and then you’ll have nothing to put mascara on when the extensions are all gone. Take this opportunity to use a lash growth serum, like Eyenvy (which we have at Bare Essentials, but jk — we’re closed) to help strengthen & lengthen your lashes. Make sure whatever serum you end up using is safe for use with extensions.

6 – Don’t stop drinking water. You go to work and have your routine, with your morning tea, followed by filling your mega jug with water to make sure you get your water intake for the day. Maintaining your hydration will help with your skin, hunger levels, energy levels… Plus, you’re home. Nobody cares how often you get up to go pee. Your boss isn’t tracking you.

7 – Don’t stop moving. It’s amazing how many people have started going outside, isn’t it? We’ve gone on some trail walks with the kids, and they’re actually buzzing! Don’t give in to the COVID-19 (get it? Freshman 15?), cause eventually you’ll need to put your regular clothes back on and get back into the office. Let’s make sure those pants still zip up. Social media is amazing, and there are tons of coaches, fitness accounts, etc that are posting free live workouts throughout the day to keep you moving! And even if you don’t want to do a legit workout, just get up and move around. It’s so easy to just become a blob and melt in with your couch cushions — and I know it’s what your cat says you should be doing, but even your cats will do a lap or two in high speed every so often.

8 – Don’t listen to your negative self-talk. It’s an easy thing for me to say, or write about; If you’re literally alone in your home, self-isolating, it’s so easy to get stuck in that lonely, depressed loop of self talk. Join some live chats on instagram. Facebook video chat with some friends. Call your parents. Read a book. Do a puzzle. Heck, if you’ve got nobody else, DM me on instagram. I’m here. We’ll get through this, i promise you!

Look, i’m no expert at this and i don’t have all the answers. Having to shut everything down last week was a very difficult call to make, and for a few days i was doing all of the above that i said you shouldn’t do. I’m an introverted extrovert … I enjoy being around people and just observe them, so being home and not seeing people is tough; Tougher still not being able to do what i love (brows, and serving clients)… and man, add kids into the mix. I know it was the right decision to make, in an effort to do my part to flatten the curve. The more we distance ourselves, the sooner we can all get back to some semblance of normalcy. And when we do, I’ll be here, waiting to see all of your hairy brows. DON’T. TWEEZE. YOUR. BROWS.

What are you doing during this self-isolation to help give your routine some iota of normal? Share your tips below, you just might help someone 🙂

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Long Hair, Don’t Care!

I remember it like it was yesterday. When Pete and I first got married, he had a client who co-owned a hair salon in Yorkville, Toronto. It was posh, everyone in there was dripping with money, and gorgeous head-to-toe. When Peter told me that his client was going to do my hair, I was excited, of course — but i had no idea what i was walking in to. I walked in, and felt every wrinkle, every mark, every bit of dirt on my clothes from wearing it that day. My outfit felt old and frumpy, my makeup felt sub par, my jacket and purse were so ordinary. They didn’t treat me any differently for a second, and my experience there was always DIVINE. I had my hair cut, coloured, styled, and when i walked out that door — i literally was turning heads. LITERALLY.

One time, there was a client in a chair nearby and i did a double take. She had this long, blonde, lush hair that was just so perfect and voluminous. I think ever since then i’ve had that image in my head as something i’ve wanted for myself. That was a solid 10 years ago, maybe more. I’ve been on the quest for perfect blonde hair ever since. If you’ve never met me, or seen my roots (ha!)… im a solid dark brown. My hair can pull brassy, warm because my dad’s a ginger (I KNOW!). Blonding my hair is a challenge, but to add to the situation, my hair is thin. Fine. i make the tiniest ponytails. Solution? Find a blonding guru and extensions.

I’ve had three different kinds of extensions, and i’m by no means a hair pro, but here’s my experience with them:

  • Tape Ins: My first go was tape ins. Pros: Easy, customizable to an extent, reusable. I’d go in every so often to have my tapes moved up, and reuse the same hair for a year. Cons: my roots were brown, my extensions were blonde. when we tried to root the tapes dark to help them blend in better, the hair under the tape was still blonde so although the hair was rooted, you could still catch blonde strips at my roots. Also i had a really hard time putting my hair in a ponytail without the tapes showing. For someone who works on clients’ faces and bodies, i need my hair tied back quite often. And these suckers would slip out once in a while leaving you with an inch gap in the length of your hair if it slipped out of a strategically important spot on your head.
  • Fusions: Second round, also with a different stylist, i went with fusions! Pros: smaller adhesion points, instead of a tape an inch wide, so easier to hide. These were less likely to fall out, but even if they did — its such a small bundle, that nobody would notice. Much easier to hide these into a ponytail, and they move better with your scalp so a lot more natural than the tapes. Cons: Pricier than tapes, for me anyways. My tapes were with a new stylist so i got a steal of a deal, but in the end as we all know… you get what you pay for. I had the same issue with these as the tapes at the adhesive — my dark rooted extensions had a chunk of blonde hair under the glue. I’m not sure if my stylist couldn’t get the fusion wefts pre-rooted, or if they just don’t exist, but occasionally you could see the original blonde bits if my hair moved the right way, or if i didn’t position my hair properly in a ponytail. Lastly, and this is kind of my doing, but towards the end when my extensions were growing out, my roots’ wavy texture needed to be flat-ironed. Guess what happens when you flat-iron glue? You get a big, matted mess.
  • Sew-in Beaded Wefts: Third round, and my current set of extensions, are my beaded wefts. Sew in wefts? Whatever they are, its what i’ve got. So they place a row of beads in your hair and sew the wefts into the beads. As your hair grows, the beads move down the bunch of hair they’re attached to, and the weft travels with the beads. Pros: completely customizable, right up to the roots. No adhesive, no unsightly misplaced blonde chunks that are impossible to hide. No glue or adhesive, so much less mess and no risk of melting your extensions into a matted mess. Also at my maintenance appointments, my stylist removes hair that is still cinched in the beads but not attached to my scalp (natural shedding). Cons: Most expensive of them all. As always, you pay for quality — but i’m referring to monthly maintenance appointments. You’ll need the extensions moved up every 5 weeks or so, otherwise the maintenance gets more complicated, more dead hair to remove, potentially matting… These monthly appointments cost money. Also you can’t let your hair air dry, because the moisture can cause mould to form and your scalp gets stinky.

Ten years after that experience in the Yorkville hair salon, I finally achieved #hairgoal status. I LOVE my extensions, and I LOVE the blonde that i’ve worked so hard to achieve and maintain. So obviously, i haven’t tried everything out there — i know there are other types of extensions, but this is just a recap of my experience with extensions. The biggest lesson i learned through this three year ordeal is, you get what you pay for. And that’s true for more than just hair 😉

Ok: your turn!! Have you had extensions? What’s your favourite style?

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Before you inject… Read. This. Post.

So, it’s no secret that i’ve had injections (both botox and filler), and i get a lot of questions about it from my clients. I thought interviewing Anndrea from Waterloo Medical Cosmetic would be a great opportunity to get information from the proverbial horse’s mouth! A little bit about Anndrea:

My name is Anndrea and I am a Registered Practical Nurse with a background in surgical nursing. My passion for nursing started in the hospital on the inpatient surgical floor. It was there that I gained my medical experience and knowledge. Even though I loved hospital nursing, I always had a passion and curiosity for the field of aesthetics. When I discovered I could combine my love of medicine with aesthetics, it was a no brainer. That is when I decided to further my education by obtaining both my basic and advanced medical cosmetic injectable certifications. These courses served to inspire me to want to learn more, which lead me down the path of continued education. I take a great deal of pride in helping to rejuvenate, and enhance the natural beauty of all my clients! Cheesy as it sounds, I feel such excitement and joy when I see the smiles on their faces and the new sense of confidence it brings them. I truly love what I do!

Toxin vs filler – everyone calls injections botox. Can you clarify the difference? Can you also comment on the different brands? Is there a level of quality between brands that people should be aware of? Botox and dermal filler injections have completely different cosmetic uses. Botox is an excellent product used to prevent lines and wrinkles created by dynamic movement. Dermal fillers are used to create volume, correction, contouring, and enhancement of facial structures such as cheeks, lips, and under eye.

Botox is injected into muscles in the upper portion of the face to prevent lines during dynamic expression. For example, when a person lifts their eyebrows, lines form across the forehead from the muscular contraction. However, when a client is treated with Botox or any other type of Neuromodulator such as Dysport, Xeomin, or Jeuveau, it prevents dynamic lines from forming by preventing the muscles from contracting hard enough to create lines. Results can be very soft and natural, contrary to what the media has portrayed over the years showing fake and overdone stars. Many people are shocked when I tell them I have used Dysport treatments. I have a very natural and refreshed look. At Waterloo Medical Cosmetics, we prefer to use Dysport. It has been clinically proven to take effect quicker than Botox, and we find the effects last longer.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) Dermal fillers are clear gels that are used to temporarily increase volume. They are not permanent fillers. They can be used to replenish volume loss related to aging, correct undereye hollows, define and contour facial features, and to increase volume to achieve fullness in areas such as lips and cheeks. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the skin that provides hydration and fullness. Many people use a combination of toxin and filler treatments to achieve their ultimate look. The combination can create a natural refreshed and rejuvenated appearance. At Waterloo Medical Cosmetics, are goal is to develop a personalized treatment plan for every patient that helps them achieve a very natural appearance. The current trend is enhancing natural beauty.

Not all cosmetic companies are created equal. It is best practice for quality control and safety to only use products that are Health Canada/FDA approved. This means researching to see if the clinic you are using carries reputable brands. These are a few of the more popular reputable companies: Galderma, Allergan, Clarion, Merz, and Prollenium. The product line a clinic chooses is solely the preference of the injector. It is common for injectors to use a combination of products made by different companies. I prefer Galderma products, however I also love products made by Clarion and Allergan. Each product has slightly different properties that can achieve a specific look.  

Is there such a thing as too young for injections? Anti-aging skin care can be used earlier on as a preventative, is it the same deal with botox? The youngest an individual can seek cosmetic treatments at Waterloo Medical Cosmetics is 18 years of age. I would argue that it is a bit young to explore cosmetic injectables. However, I am the nurse performing the treatment. I decide who and how I treat a patient based on my knowledge, skill and judgement. If I feel that a treatment is not in the best interest of my client, I will not perform that treatment regardless of age. That is the duty of a responsible and ethical injector.

Neuromodulators such as Botox and Dysport are excellent anti-aging treatments. The treatments work best as a preventative, however can still provide amazing results even if lines have set in. Honestly, the result you will get from one Dysport treatment will far exceed the results from even the highest-grade topical creams and serums on the market. Full results are achieved in two weeks verses months with creams and serums. I would say the biggest allure to these treatments are the quick and effective results for a reasonable expense.

How often should someone expect to have filler done in lips? Cheeks? How quickly does the product dissolve? The rate at which dermal filler dissolves depends on the individual’s metabolism and the unique way their body breaks down the product. More active clients will usually metabolize filler and Botox quicker in comparison to inactive clients. Here’s an approximate timeline: filler used in the cheek, jawline, chin, and under eye tend to last between 18 months to 2 years. Lip filler or filler placed near the perioral area, will last between 6 months to a year. This is because the muscles around the mouth are continuously working, causing the filler to break down quicker.

If someone were to have gone to a nurse injector and absolutely hated what they had done, can it be reversed? Hyaluronic acid (HA) dermal filler can be dissolved. A drug by the name of Hyaluronidase is used to dissolve HA filler. The injector can either use a small amount to correct an issue or use a large amount to fully remove all the filler.

Unlike HA dermal fillers, neuromodulators such as Botox cannot be reversed. That is why I err of the side of caution when I treat a client for the first time. My philosophy is: “I can always add Botox, but I can’t take it out”. I use the first treatment period (two weeks) to determine my clients “master face”. The “master face” is the exact amount of product needed during each treatment to achieve the perfect look. However, if a client experiences a negative outcome, they must wait until the Botox has run its course.

What’s your favourite filler to work with and why? I love working with Restylane by Galderma. Restylane fillers are easy to work with and are very smooth, which reduces the chance of lumps and bumps. In my opinion, they give a beautiful natural result. I really love the quality and versatility of their products

Can you fix wrinkles once they’re deep? Or is there a point of no return? There is definitely a point of no return. During the initial consultation, I assess the client to determine if my services can benefit them or not. Sometimes there is no getting around the fact that surgery is the best or only option to achieve the results the client is expecting. The factors I take into consideration when I am performing my assessment are: skin health and quality, age, extent of volume depletion, depth of lines, strength of muscles, and underlying health issues. It is possible to see improvement in deep lines and wrinkles. However, the client has to have realistic expectations. At Waterloo Medical Cosmetic we paint a realistic picture of what our treatments can provide for our clients. We design a treatment plan together that will address their concerns, as well as answer any questions they may have to ensure that both the injector and client are on the same page.

The question that everyone asks: does it hurt? Some people say they don’t feel it at all, whereas some clients curse during the treatments. It is a very individual experience, and people have different pain thresholds. However, the popular consensus is that Botox treatments do not rank high on the pain scale.

Dermal filler injections are more uncomfortable in comparison to Botox. The pain scale varies depending on the area you are treating. I have had clients fall asleep during filler treatments. Personally, I believe the most uncomfortable injection area is the perioral i.e. lips. If you have ever accidentally bit or hit your lip, you know how much that can sting. Overall, based on my personal experience, the discomfort is worth the results.

Ok — so this was definitely a long post, but i hope you guys got some good nuggets out of it! IG Live coming up with Anndrea next Sunday!!! Drop your burning questions in the comments below, or join us on IG at 9:30pm EST Sunday, March 15, 2020. Can’t wait to see you all there!!


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Sanitation First!

So this isn’t necessarily a glamorous topic, or beautiful by any means — unless you’re a PMU artist (PMU = permanent makeup artist). Sanitation, sterilization, and safety are pretty important things to be in the know about, whether you’re an artist or a client. Tattooing will expose both the artist and the client to bloodborne pathogens, and can definitely spread infections and disease. YIKES!

As a client, it’s easy to have blind trust and faith that the artist you’ve chosen is trained and knowledgeable on how to keep their station clean, and free from bloodborne pathogens. I know, that’s the second time i’ve used that term. In case you don’t quite get what that means, here’s a definition: Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Sounds scary? It should.

As an artist, it’s also easy to have blind trust and faith in your trainer and assume everything they’re doing is on the up-and-up. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’re properly trained and certified on bloodborne pathogens, and have the appropriate tools and safety measures to protect both you and your client. Here are a few things to make sure you should keep on hand:

  • Pigment cups and rings – all pigments and numbing agents should be dispensed into a pigment cup or ring to avoid cross contamination. Artists, if your pigment cups come in a bulk package and aren’t individually wrapped, you should soak them in 70% isopropyl alcohol to make sure they’re sterile.
  • Barrier film – if you’ve got something that isn’t single use, like your pigment cup holder, or your microtonic dispenser, wrap it in barrier film so that you can touch it freely during the procedure. after you’re done, unwrap and disinfect.
  • Disposable needles/microblades – your tattoo machine cartridges and microblades should be single use and disposable. Unless you’ve got an autoclave, you need to toss it in a sharps container once you’re done because you can’t sterilize them otherwise.
  • Clip cord sleeves and machine bags – your tattoo cartridge may be disposable, but your machine isn’t! And again, unless you have an autoclave and know how to take your machine apart and reassemble it — your best bet is to barrier it with a clip cord sleeve and a machine bag.
  • Dental bibs – you can use these as a waterproof barrier for your tray and your procedure bed. I personally use puppy pee pads to line my procedure bed, and i take a kitchen garbage bag and feed the tray of my tray table into it. when i’m done, i put all of my disposable garbage on my tabletop, bag it up, and it’s all in one place ready to be tossed. A quick lysol wipe of my tabletop, and i’m set for my next client.
  • Sterilizing tray and CS20 – for things that need to be sterilized like tweezers and scissors. CS20 is a high level disinfectant/sterilant that can be used to clean off your tools that you’re not going to toss. Make sure you’ve got a sink nearby to wash your tools with soap and warm water, and that you’re changing out your CS20 every 2 weeks.
  • Sharps container – You should dispose any sharps (microblades, shaders, cartridges) in a sharps. Make sure the one you’re getting is tall/long enough to find a pre-assembled microblade. When it’s full, take it to the pharmacy where they can dispose of it properly. Chances are they won’t have the same size container to exchange it with for you (they’re usually getting sharps from people using it for medical reasons so their syringes/sharps are smaller and fit into a standard sharps). I get my larger sharps containers from U-Line, and have it mounted on my wall. When i’ve gone thru all of my empty sharps, i just order more and chalk it up to operation costs.

Also remember that anything you put on your tray table that isn’t being sterilized at the end of your procedure should be thrown out. This includes qtips, extra cotton pads, unused alcohol swabs, or even that shading tool you thought might use but didn’t end up needing. THROW. IT. OUT. And when you’re cleaning up after your client has left, put gloves on as you tear down your tray table setup. Any time you’re touching something that’s been in contact with pigments, or bodily fluids — glove up. Any time your tools may touch something that can come in contact with bodily fluids and it’s not disposable or sterilzable, barrier it. When in doubt, err on the side of caution! It’s yours and your client’s safety we’re talking about here!

Remember, every municipality/province has their own health department. Make sure you check in with them to be safe, because they’ll have an eye for something that you will have missed. At my first training, they were just plopping on a dab of numbing gel from the bottle right onto the client’s skin sometimes — cross contamination. Pigment cups weren’t in individual sterile packs, but they also weren’t sterilized from the manufacturer. So many little things that I didn’t have the eye for! You don’t know what you don’t know.

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Microblading vs. Ombré. Huh?

There are a million different terms floating around out there describing all of the different techniques an artist can choose to tattoo your brows. Microblading, nano blading, feathering, ombré, powder brows, stardust… you name it. Often clients will ask for microblading not even realizing the options out there! So — if you have questions about what the heck all those words mean, READ ON!!

First things first, all of the above are considered a tattoo. No matter what technique is used, the pigment will almost always stay in your skin in some capacity. It’s called a semi-permanent tattoo, but only because unlike body art, your brow tattoo needs to get touched up once a year or so. They will almost NEVER fade away entirely, and you’ll always have some pigment left behind.

Now that that’s out of the way, there are two different categories for brow tattoos — Manual and machine techniques. Here’s a breakdown of what these categories include:

Manual techniques: include Microblading Hairstrokes are drawn onto the skin using a tool called a microblade (shock!). The microblade is dipped into a tiny amount of pigment, and a hairstroke pattern is drawn onto the skin to create the illusion of hairs. this is the most natural looking brow tattoo, but is really only idea for clients with normal to dry skin. Oily skin types don’t fare well with microblading and will almost always do better with a machine technique, or powder brows. You can also have some shading done manually by stippling pigment into the skin. I really only use this technique personally when i’m looking for a small amount of shading to add density in areas of the brow that need a little oomph.

Machine techniques: This one is confusing to explain because it has so many different names! Powder, Ombre, Stardust, Infnity, bla bla bla. The tattoo needle moves in an up-and-down motion at high speed. By running the tattoo needle over the skin (with pigment in the cartridge, of course), pixels of pigment are deposited in the skin. How this pigment looks depends on the motion of the tattoo machine. Some people like a more crisp and defined edge, some want it to look soft and powdery and less obvious. Discuss what you want with your artist (me, ideally — hah) and see which looks best for your face. You can also have hairstrokes done by machine, but i personally haven’t perfected it yet so it’s not something i offer just yet.

Consultations are not a bad idea if you’re unsure about what you want, because often times clients say they want their brows microbladed but they mean ombre. Or they’re super oily, but they’re afraid of machined brows. If you’re picking the right artist, anything they do on your face will look beautiful and as if it belongs on your face.

What do you think? What technique do you think you’d prefer, and why?

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Love the skin you’re in!

You only get one. Your skin, as much as we all know it’s an organ, we often tend to overlook it. Either that or you care so much about your skin that you’ll try any flashy bottle or tube that promises baby smooth wonderful goodness. Right? Like, how the heck do you know what to pick? How do you know what you’re trying to combat? Which acid is good for what, and why are we using ACID on our FACES? I’ve connected with my good friend, Desiree, who lives and breathes skin care. She lets me do whatever new skin treatment on her face and i love it! Here are some questions i came up with to ask her, read everything!

What is the one thing you recommend everyone have in their skincare regimen?  It’s really hard to chose just ONE thing that someone needs in their routine, a proper exfoliant is your best bet to getting clean pores, decongested glowing skin and to help the rest of your skincare products work best .

What are the different acids you find in skin care and what are they for? 
The most common way you’ll see exfoliants describes is AHA or BHA. AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid, these include Glycolics, Lactics, Citric, Malic, Mandelic and Tartaric. These acids increase cell turnover by dissolving the surface layers of dead skin. BHA stands for Beta Hydroxy acid which in the cosmetic world is Salicylic Acid this is used to combat inflammation and oil buildup in the pores of those who are acne prone or have congested skin. 

How often should someone get an actual facial? In a perfect world, I’d recommend going for a facial once a month but more realistically for most people at least every 3 months and doing your own mini facials at home on the regular for maintenance.

Do you ever use sheet masks? If yes, What’s your favourite? I love a good sheet mask! Especially when my skin is super stressed out and dehydrated. I have a few I turn to in my times of need but my number one pick is the intense care snail gold 24k hydrogel mask from Tony Moly. I’m not going to lie it feels kind of gross sliding onto your skin but after 20 minutes in that bad boy your skin is soft, dewy and glowing.  

TIP: never wear a sheet mask for longer than 15-20 minutes depending on the delivery system (cloth or cellulose) once the mask starts to dry onto the skin you actually start to reverse all the great benefits you were trying to get form the mask in the first place because it starts to suck all the moisture it just put into your face right back out as it dries on top.

if I didn’t have the budget for an extensive skincare regimen, what is one super economical product you’d recommend, and one splurge you’d strongly advise to use? This again is a tough question because your face is the only one you have so I highly recommend making the investment in taking care of it. That being said, if I had to chose, I’d say skip the high price tag on a cleanser. This of course doesn’t mean subbing in a bar of soap or just using a facial or baby wipe and calling it a day it just means looking for the active ingredients you like at a more friendly price point.  My splurge will always be hands down the Dr. Dennis Gross Peel pads. Those little suckers pack a ton of power into a little wipe that will totally transform anyones skin. Plus the come in 3 strengths so anyone can use them from the most sensitive to a seasoned skincare junkie. 

At what age should women start using anti-aging products?  You are never too young to start. Your very first line of defence against aging is SPF which every one young and old regardless of skin tone type or texture should be using every single day! In terms of more aggressive anti-aging products, everyone over the age of 25 should be using a vitamin C serum in the daytime to keep their skin tone even and protected against free radical damage/pollution, and a retinol serum at night to keep the cells turning over at an optimal rate. This keeps the pores free of dead skin buildup and prevents lines and wrinkles. It’s much easier to prevent the signs of aging than it is to reverse them. 

Favourite procedure you like having done for your skin? My personal favourite is a lite microneedling followed my a BB Glow treatment. The microneedling helps keep my skin plump and free of fine lines and scarring texture from past acne, while the BB Glow keeps me even and cuts my makeup routine down to almost nothing because my complexion has already been perfected.  

I have a crazy idea — i want to do a joint instagram LIVE with Desiree where she can answer all of your skincare questions. What do you think? Would you watch? Comment below with your skincare questions!

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The Big L – Lamination

Brow lamination! It’s all the craze now! You’ve probably seen it, just haven’t known what you’re looking at, or what it does. Or you’ve noticed that the latest brow trend is all about the FLUFF. Fluffy brows!! Make those brow hairs stand up and give you VOLUME.

Do you find yourself using brow gel to keep those unruly brows in place? Would brushing them just so reverse years of overtweezing by filling in some gaps? Or do you like that fluffy look but your brows are just so darn stubborn that they only point downwards and not even contact cement will hold them in place? You. This is for YOU.

Ok, so real talk. Basically brow lamination is like a perm. The solution breaks down the structure of the hair and rejigs it so that you can style it any way you want. You’ll see pics of brows that look like they’re being electrocuted, and wonder who the heck thought that looked good. I know — me too. Me too, girl. There’s a reason for this: If you perm them upright and crazy, it’ll allow you to get a tame, stylized, fluffy look when you style them and brush them upwards in the morning. I used to look at before & afters and wondered what possessed the artist to do that to a person’s brows, and after doing a few laminations myself… I GET IT! if you don’t brush them that way, you get a *merp* brow lamination. trust me, i’ve tried.

If you want some added oomph, you can also add a tint to the procedure and make your eyes stand out even more. You can also combine this with microbladed/tattooed brows!! If you didn’t want permanently fluffy brows when you had them tattooed, you can have them with a brow lamination. The thing i love about all of these new trends is they’re super easy to maintain, and we’re just building on what you’ve got naturally. It’s a quick 20 minute procedure, it last 6-8 weeks, and anyone can do it.

Cara Delevigne — eat your heart out, baby.

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Oh, hello!

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

Have you ever set a goal for yourself, and tried really hard not to tell yourself you can’t do it? The mind is a powerful thing, and you can’t let your negative thoughts taint your potential.

My name is Laurie, and I set a goal for myself for 2019. In October 2018, I started my IG account focusing just on my cosmetic tattooing procedures. I told myself 5000 followers by the end of 2019. I had to rethink everything i knew about social media, and what I thought of how things worked. I had to read articles, talk to pros, ask questions. experiment… I had to EVOLVE.

If you don’t know who I am, here’s a quick overview: I’m the owner of Bare Essentials, and I started my business 10 years ago in 2009 out of my apartment in Uptown Waterloo. I started out just waxing, and little by little expanded my service repertoire to include threading, laser, electrolysis, microdermabrasion, and eventually cosmetic tattooing. Little known fact: I’m a university graduate, and have my degree in Design from York University. I was a pretty good artist — studied charcoal, watercolour, acrylic, oil… not too shabby! I started my business as a side hustle to make money while my main hustle (my freelance design business) was growing. One grew faster than the other, and the rest is history. I’ve been using my fine arts skills to put my mark on peoples’ faces since 2016, and I FREAKING love what I do.

When I came home from my first microblading course, I was so fired up to learn more. I started looking at facebook for groups, instagram for accounts to follow, suppliers to find the best rates for all of the things I’d need for my services… Peter, my hubby, says — you just took a course, why would you need another course? [Insert hysterical laughter here — cause you know what happens next, right?]

Since that first course, I think i’ve spent as much if not more on my PMU (permanent makeup) education than my UNIVERSITY degree. I just couldn’t get enough. I was thirsty for more knowledge. I also realized soon after my first few clients that I had a crap-ton more to learn. Like, unbelievable how much more I needed to know. The beauty industry is CRAZY, and there is always something new to learn about! It’s hard to keep tabs on all the new trends, or make sense of them and determine if it’s something you want to try…So I started this blog, not just to add to my never-ending list of things that require my attention, but to connect with YOU and talk about all things beauty! Beauty trends, fashion tips, boss life, mom life, or just life in general. Also, somehow (and I’m not sure why), apparently I’m interesting and people want to hear what I have to say!

If you’ve stuck with me this far, I’d love to hear your voice! Comment below, and let me know how long you’ve been with me — how do i know you? Have we met? How long have you been a part of my circle? And don’t just read this and not comment. Let’s engage in conversation!

xo – laurie