What I’ve learned about cleansing

Ah, skincare!  Is there a better way to pamper yourself?  My journey in self-care has led me to the magical world of skincare and I admit that I have now become a major skincare junkie.  During my research, I realized my whole routine was allll wrong. I was washing my face with harsh scrubs every day, I moisturized with coconut oil, never used sunscreen, and even slept with my makeup on more often than I care to admit. YIKES. With so much information and so many products to choose from, building the right skincare routine for you can be overwhelming.  So where do you start? Let’s begin with step one, one of the most important steps: cleansing.

Why is cleansing so important?

Your skin is your body’s largest organ.  It protects all of your vital organs and goes through quite a bit during the day.  From stress to makeup and sunscreen to environmental factors like pollution, dirt, and bacteria, it’s very important to cleanse your face every day.  These things, if left to sink into your pores, can lead to breakouts, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging. Cleansing also preps your skin to soak up all of the products that follow.

What to use and what to avoid

There are a few different kinds of cleansers to choose from but gentle cleansers that won’t strip your skin are best.  Contrary to popular belief squeaky clean is not a good thing when it comes to your face.  Completely stripping your face of its natural oils can actually lead to more oil production, which can lead to breakouts. Harsh ingredients can also irritate your skin, damage your moisture barrier, and contribute to signs of aging.  Stick to cleansers that don’t contain sulfates, drying alcohols or fragrance, all of which can irritate your skin. Avoid scrubs, no matter how gentle they claim to be, which are just too harsh for your face.

Choose a cleansing oil, oil-based cream, micellar water, and/or non- or low-foaming water-based cleanser.  Wipes are super convenient but are often full of harsh ingredients and encourage rubbing, which is a no-no especially around the delicate eye area.  If you choose to use makeup wipes try not to use them every day and pay close attention to the ingredients. Micellar water is a great option if you’re in the market for a quick and easy cleanser/makeup remover.

Double Cleansing

One cleansing method that I have been loving is double cleansing.  Double cleansing is a technique that is very popular in South Korea/K-beauty and involves using two different cleansers to completely cleanse your face.  Step one removes makeup, draws out excess oil, sunscreen, and pollution. An oil cleanser, cleansing balm, or micellar water can be used for this step.  Be sure to remove ALL traces of makeup before moving on to step two (the cotton pad should be totally clean). Makeup can be stubborn and is really awful for your skin if left to sink into your pores, so it’s best to remove your makeup before double cleansing if you have the time/motivation.

When using an oil cleanser it’s best to use a designated oil cleanser, rather than regular plant-based oils like coconut and olive oil.  Oil cleansers contain emulsifiers that enable you to wash the cleanser off properly. Oil and water don’t mix hence the need for an emulsifier (see science class did come in handy!), regular cooking oils don’t have these so they’re harder to wash off properly.  Some oils, like the beloved coconut oil, can actually clog pores and cause breakouts.

Step two is a deeper cleanse with a water-based cleanser to wash away sweat and dirt, as well as any leftover residue from your first cleanse.  Some people like to remove their makeup then use a water-based cleanser followed by micellar water.

Double cleansing twice a day is common but not necessary if that’s too much for you.  People with oily skin have been known to benefit from double cleansing twice a day (yes even with an oil cleanser!).  Hydrated skin actually produces less oil because your skin does not have to overcompensate for harsh cleansers stripping your face.  If you choose to only double cleanse once a day include it as part of your nightly routine. In the morning some people like to use a mild cleanser, micellar water, or even just some regular water.  I, personally, like to alternate between splashing my face with water followed with micellar water on a cotton pad, or using a gentle cleanser. It depends on how oily my face feels when I wake up.

The 60-second rule

Another trick I’m loving is the 60-second rule.  The 60-second rule was created by LA-based esthetician Nayamka Roberts-Smith aka @labeautyologist on Twitter and Instagram.  The 60-second rule is as simple as it sounds; wash your face, with your fingers, for 60 seconds before rinsing. Most people only cleanse for maybe 20 seconds tops, so cleansing for a full minute allows the ingredients in your cleanser to have time to actually work.  The 60-second rule softens the skin and helps dissolve oil blockages better, which leads to improvements in overall evenness and skin texture.  It also allows you to pay attention to your skin which may help you to remember to cleanse spots that are often overlooked, like your hairline, the edges of your nose, and under your chin.  

What about cleansing brushes and facial steams?

Your fingers work perfectly fine for cleansing your face so brushes really aren’t necessary, but if you would prefer something else there are a few options.  Washcloths and most brushes are too harsh for your face, but silicone brushes and something like the Clarisonic brush (if you’re boujee), with the gentlest brush head on a low setting, can be used.  

The Clarisonic brush uses sonic frequency rather than regular mechanisms to spin the brush head around.  It has been shown to effectively remove dirt, oil, makeup, and sunscreen, so it could, possibly, eliminate the need for double cleansing.

Facial steams feel so luxurious and are a great addition to a pamper session.  Many people like to steam their face prior to cleansing to “open” their pores.  While it is a myth that your pores open and close (genetics and skin damage play a big role in the size of your pores), they can appear smaller or larger depending on whether or not they are full of debris.  Steaming can soften hardened oil in pores and make it easier to wash away.

So there you have it.  Everything I have learned, so far, about cleansing your face.  The most important advice I can offer is to remember that skincare should be all about self-love!  Loving your skin, loving your beautiful face and loving your beautiful self, so the routine that works best for you is the best one.  Check out the gallery to see my current favourite cleansers and some cleansers on my wishlist that people that are loving.

 

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My Favourite Met Gala 2019 Looks

Well, the first Monday of May has come and gone, and Spring has officially sprung.  The theme for this year’s Met Gala was Camp: Notes on Fashion, inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1964 essay “Notes on ‘Camp'”.  Camp is not something that is easily defined but is generally recognized by its love of over-the-top theatricality and humour. You can find examples of camp fashion in much of Thierry Mugler’s archive or in Viktor & Rolf’s latest collection of meme gowns, but the LGBTQ community and drag culture are largely to thank for today’s camp movement.  Camp is “a love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration” as defined by Sontag in her essay.

The exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City features over 200 pieces of fashion as well as sculptures, paintings, and drawings from the 17th century through today.  Sections of the exhibit feature work from designers like Virgil Abloh, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, Rei Kawakubo, Mugler, Bob Mackie, Karl Lagerfeld, and Viktor & Rolf.  Other sections highlight Versailles and queer subcultures of Europe and America from the 19th to the early 20th century.

Without further ado, let’s marvel at a few of my favourite looks from last night’s ball.

Lady Gaga

One of the evening’s hosts, Lady Gaga, made quite the entrance with her four outfit changes, all by Brandon Maxwell, while en route to the front door.  She arrived in a hot pink gown with a dramatic train.

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Her second gown was black, voluptuous and hidden underneath her first gown. Her third reveal was a hot pink curve-hugging gown, reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe, with a super cute Judith Leiber telephone bag. Her final look was a bedazzled bra and panties with fishnets and platform heels.

 

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Kim Kardashian

Kim K came through drippin’ in a nude, skintight custom Mugler dress that paid homage to her May Vogue cover look. The creation was Thierry Mugler‘s first in 20 years and Kim prepared by taking corset breathing lessons(!).  For the after party Kim wore another Mugler creation, a blue latex dress with a diamond wig inspired by Cher and blue latex boots.

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Kendall & Kylie Jenner

Kylie’s lilac Versace feathery gown was my favourite look of the night.  Kendall complimented her sister’s look in an orange Versace feathery gown of her own. For the after party, Kylie changed into an aqua Versace gown with matching wig.

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Saoirse Ronan

Saoirse wore a dress by one of the sponsors of the evening, Gucci. It was an amazing figure-hugging column gown covered in red sequins and adorned with golden dragons.

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Naomi Campbell

The Queen of Supermodels wore a dreamy Valentino Haute Couture outfit with a showstopping feather cape.

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Elle Fanning

I really loved Elle Fanning’s Miu Miu retro flower child look.  The breezy fabric, coral hues, and pastel makeup were reminiscent of a summer day at Woodstock. She also paired the look with a super cute manicure in a matching colour featuring some trendy nail piercings.

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Hailey Bieber

People seem to be a bit divided on whether or not Hailey’s Alexander Wang dress was on-theme, regardless, I think she looked amazing.  I’m a sucker for pink things and the curve-hugging fabric, open back, matching thong, and retro high pony made the whole look even cuter.

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Emily Ratajkowski

Emily’s sexy Dundas gown and matching headpiece were reminiscent of vintage Cher in her Bob Mackie red carpet and performance looks.  Her glowy makeup was on point and was the glaze on the donut, so to speak.

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Dua Lipa

Dua Lipa made her Met Gala debut in a colourful, voluminous Versace gown with a plunging neckline.  Her classic smoky eye and nude lip paired with jeweled flowers nestled into a bouffant give me vintage Priscilla Presley vibes.

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Janelle Monáe

Janelle wore custom Christian Siriano topped with a matching hat(s). She paired the look with a matching Judith Leiber handbag.  The coolest part about this outfit? The eye on her dress actually winks!

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Cardi B

Cardi’s second Met Gala appearance was as showstopping as her first in an oxblood Thom Browne dress.  The custom gown, with coque feathers and ruby nipples(!), took 3,000 hours and a team of 35 people to create.  She completed her ensemble with lace gloves and an embroidered headpiece.

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Kacey Musgraves

Kacey was a life-size Barbie doll bringing to life the Barbie x Moschino Met Barbie doll with her hot pink bomber jacket gown. Kacey’s attention to detail really completed the look with pink sunnies and a pink hair dryer purse.  She even showed up in a hot pink Barbie convertible!

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HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Jeremy Scott & Katy Perry

I might just be hungry but I’m really digging these bedazzled cheeseburger looks.  The Moschino creative director wore a custom cheeseburger jacket to the Met Gala after-party to match his date for the evening, Katy Perry.  Katy wore a fabulous Moschino cheeseburger ensemble with a cute little lettuce dress hidden underneath.  The look was complete with a toothpick beaded cap and amazing cheeseburger Judith Leiber accessories

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Moschino After Party, Met Gala, New York, USA - 06 May 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WTF is Crohn’s?!: My Life With An Autoimmune Disease

I had originally intended to use this blog solely for fashion and beauty purposes, and I’ll get to that in due time, but upon some soul-searching, I’ve realized my passion for fashion and beauty was sparked as a result of dealing with my health issues.  So I wanted to share my story in the hopes that it might inspire someone else to look for their silver lining. 

Firstly, I will answer a question that I often get whenever someone finds out I have Crohn’s disease: what is it??  Crohn’s disease is an autoimmune disease (when your immune system attacks your own body) that affects the entire digestive system, from the mouth to the anus (super fun!).  Mayo Clinic describes Crohn’s disease as “an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of your digestive tract, which can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition.”  It affects everyone differently and can be extremely painful and debilitating. There is no known cure but, with the right medication and lifestyle changes, it can be treated effectively.

I was diagnosed when I was 16-years-old, but I have been living symptoms since I was 15.  When I was first diagnosed I was lucky enough not to have any of those debilitating symptoms, though I was told I had severe Crohn’s disease.  I spent some time in the hospital but, to be honest, I didn’t really believe the “severe” part the doctors were telling me. For the most part, I was still able to do all of the things I wanted to do, sometimes I even forgot I had a disease.  So, apart from taking my medication, I didn’t really take my diagnosis seriously and continued about my life the way I had been.

Things started to change my first year away at college.  I had dreams of being a musical theatre star and started a one-year introductory program.  I spent my days singing, dancing and learning how to act, my whole life revolved around the theatre.  I have always been hyper-critical of myself and this only intensified during my time in this program. The entertainment industry in itself is highly competitive, stressful and, at times, not overly forgiving.  There was a lot of pressure, mostly from myself, to be perfect.

No one really knows what causes Crohn’s but there are many factors that contribute to aggravating its symptoms.  Stress is a big one, something I learned the hard way. That year at school I started developing the first of many Crohn’s-related complications.  My hair started to fall out and I developed arthritis in my knees and ankles, which restricted my ability to dance. This, paired with my worsening anxiety, quickly brought an end to my dreams of being a performer.

At the time, I wasn’t really aware that the issues I was having were related to Crohn’s but it was clear to me that Broadway just wasn’t the place for me.  I moved back home and enrolled in a pre-health sciences program to keep me occupied, and got a part-time job at Le Château. I was still having issues with my health, I was declining but in denial, and continued to ignore my disease as best I could.  By this time I had also developed some unhealthy habits; I liked to party with my friends, stay up late and sleep all day, I was overweight and not eating right. I was not helping myself.

I’ve always loved clothes and everything to do with style but working at Le Château convinced me to pursue a career in the fashion industry.  By the end of my one-year in pre-health, I had been accepted into public relations, my third (and favourite) college program. I moved away to Toronto and began my first year in PR and I was loving every minute of it.

My downward spiral started slowly at first.  I was still indulging my unhealthy lifestyle choices, and still pushing myself as hard as I could to be “perfect”.  I was a little more than halfway through my first semester when my medication stopped working, though it would take about two more years for me to really notice and take my health seriously.  All of those painful and debilitating symptoms I had evaded at 16 had now caught up with me. I developed anorexia, lost 125 lbs, I was malnourished, and I was in so much pain I could barely move for days at a time.  I was blacking out regularly, dehydrated and could barely keep anything, even water, down.

I was lucky if I was able to get out of bed to take a shower so, needless to say, it severely impacted my life, not to mention my studies.  By the end of my third semester, I had missed so much school that my GPA plummeted and I was kicked out my program. I was devastated. Fortunately, my school was very understanding and allowed me to return after a semester-long break.

My personal life was not spared during this time either.  When I finally got serious about my health, I had to make some lifestyle changes and lost a surprising amount of friends during this process.  It was really eye-opening how many of my “friends” weren’t really friends of mine at all, a lot of people disappeared when the party-girl did and they could no longer take advantage of my low self-esteem.

What I was not expecting was the number of people who blamed me for being sick.  Upon hearing that I was down for the count some people’s first response was “well she never took care of herself”. Ouch.  Admittedly, some of my past habits certainly did not help my symptoms, but to blame me for having an autoimmune disease, something I honestly have no control over was a low-blow.  “Friends” of mine started to analyze and judge my life, particularly my eating habits. All of this was done behind my back of course.  One “friend” heard I had been put on a medication that was also used during chemotherapy and proceeded to preach about how I didn’t take care of myself because she saw me eating a hamburger one day (the first thing I had eaten after not eating at all for three days).  My biological father actually told me, the day he found out I had Crohn’s, that it was because I “eat too many Mr. Noodles”. I would like to point out that what you eat does NOT cause autoimmune diseases. I’m no expert but I’m 99.99% sure that if Mr. Noodles and hamburgers caused autoimmune diseases we would have heard about some serious lawsuits by now, just sayin’.  I also wasn’t really eating, drinking or doing anything that many other people (including all of these critics) weren’t, so it was baffling that, rather than be compassionate and understanding, many chose to judge me and find reasons why I “deserve” to be sick.

Then there are the wannabe doctors.  Oh, my God. I didn’t realize there were so many “experts” out there!  These people mean well, I know they do. I always respond with a smile and a thank you, but the number of people who try to “help” by preaching and doling out unsolicited advice is infuriating.  If one more person tells me that I “need” to go gluten-free I am going to scream. I spent $60 (that I really don’t have, I am a broke student y’all) on a health and healing candle from a Voudon priestess in New Orleans that I found on Instagram.  Do you really think I haven’t tried going gluten-free?!?! Honestly. I have tried cutting out pretty much every allergen you can think of; I’ve tried vegan diets, paleo diets, low-fat, low-carb, all of the diets really; juice cleanses, soup cleanses, fasting; I’ve gone to more specialists than I can count; tests, infusions, so many needles and pills you would think I was some kind of experiment.  I even saw a holistic doctor who had me take 32 supplements a day while drinking 4 lbs of juiced carrots DAILY. And for the love of God PLEASE stop telling me to “just pray”, “be positive” or “just be grateful you’re not dying”.  It’s really not helpful and some days were so hard that I would actually pray that I would go to sleep and not wake up.  So telling me to be grateful I’m not dying is just rude and inconsiderate. Just believe me when I say that I really am doing everything I can to get better.

The year I got kicked out of school and lost my friends, I also lost my grandmother.  I was really close to her; she helped raise me and between her and my mom they pretty much made me the woman that I am today.  She took a piece of me with her the day she died. My dog, Puddles, who I’d had for 18 years also died that year and my “best friend” decided to stop talking to me altogether out of the blue.  He was someone I’d shared a lot with so that was really unexpected and felt like a punch in the gut. My life was falling apart. It was a lot to handle and I sank into depression and anxiety.

I was at rock bottom, but it wasn’t all bad.  The thing about rock bottom is that there’s nowhere to go but up.  I definitely had a few pity parties for myself but, eventually, I decided to make the most of this experience.  I wanted to try my best to “bloom where I am planted”. I did a lot of research (and still do!) and overhauled my lifestyle. I eat as healthy as possible with my dietary limitations and I exercise regularly whenever I am able to.  I also started meditating and practicing yoga, as well as seeing a therapist. I started reading and writing daily again, an outlet I’ve loved since I was younger but neglected when I started losing myself.

Of course, there is absolutely no way I would have gotten through any of this without my rock-solid support system.  I am truly so blessed. My mom and my step-dad are so amazing and work so incredibly hard to support me in any and every way that they can.  The friends that didn’t abandon me in my time of need, my real-life Earth angels, have stuck by me through all of the tough shit. They’ve never judged me or made me feel like a bad person for making mistakes.  They brought me soup, tea and meds when I was sick and in pain. They would come and sit with me when I couldn’t get out of bed, watch movies with me and let me cry on their shoulders.  Most importantly, they never failed to lift me up when I was down and keep my spirit strong. 

These days my outlook on life is much brighter.  I still have some hurdles to overcome with my health, mental and physical.  Until a cure is found this is something I’ll be dealing with for my whole life, but I’m hopeful for a loooong remission soon!  I am thisclose to finishing my program in public relations. I was forced to take another break when a new medication failed to produce any results, but I am determined to achieve my goals.  I have found a new specialist and medication and both seem promising. I’m always researching and continue to tweak my lifestyle in an effort to find the right balance for me. I do not miss the parties at all.  I have since filled the hours I would spend sleeping off a hangover with books/magazines, DIYs and art projects, YouTube videos, writing and shopping excursions with my mom. My love of style has given me the perfect outlet to keep my sanity.  This journey has not been easy but I’ve learned so much about myself and life. Every heartbreak and challenge has been a blessing in disguise.  These have been life-changing lessons that I will never forget, and only fuel my drive to do better, be better and to always appreciate everything the world has to teach me. 

xo,

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