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MAC Pro Longwear Foundation and MAC Blot Pressed Powder 

Let’s face it: I have oily skin. I break out. I have scarring. I get acne in one spot on the side of my chin, no matter how well I treat my skin. I rarely had acne as a teen and just started getting it as an adult in my late twenties. It can be frustrating and embarrassing.

Remember this video? I feel like this sometimes.

Currently I have a nighttime routine down pat: Cerave Foaming Cleanser, Neutrogena Rapid Clear Treatment Pads, and Cerave Moisturizing Cream. In the morning I splash with water and use Aveeno Baby Lotion Sunscreen SPF 55. This helps keep breakouts at bay and at the best of times (and most of the time), I have pretty clear skin. I did a lot of research on the Great Wide Interwebs (especially Reddit’s r/skincareaddiction) to find this regimen. I tried many products, had a zillion breakouts, cried a little, and decided to buckle down and do something about it. Like a lot of women, I can’t help that I have hormonal acne, and I refuse to take Accutane or antibiotics (although that’s a good, surefire route if you want to do that).

So… what to do? Finding something to cover up acne while still looking natural is difficult. Most drugstore foundations and concealers aren’t highly-pigmented and the ones that do a good job are expensive. I broke down and shelled out $30 for Vichy Dermablend. I was so desperate that I bought one shade too light as they didn’t have my colour in stock. I compromised by dusting a bronzer over top instead of powder. The schtick with Dermablend is that it’s supposed to cover up tattoos and therefore any red marks on your face. That it did, but it didn’t stay put after working 9-hour shifts in a humid cafe and using a tad too much gave an unnatural look. The bronzer (which shall remain nameless) didn’t do much to mattify either. I ended up ditching it after using half the tube and going foundation-free.

The other day I was gifted with MAC money and decided to go to the their store downtown to spend it. I have never been in a MAC store. I have never even considered using MAC products. They seem luxurious, expensive, and way out of my league. The pros use MAC, not me.

I walked in and was immediately both dazzled and overwhelmed by the extensive (and neatly organized) selection of makeup. A salesperson with a perfectly contoured face greeted me. I told her I was looking for long-lasting, highly-pigmented foundation to “cover up this”, pointing to my face. She immediately selected the Pro Longwear foundation and brushed two shades on each side of my face. She had me look in the mirror and choose which side I liked better. I chose the lighter side (NC 25) and she agreed, saying that we were going into winter and I wouldn’t get much sun. I touched my face. It was smooth, not sticky and the colour blended perfectly.

MAC Pro Longwear Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I asked about wear and she recommended a powder to set the foundation and give it hours of more staying power. She chose Blot Pressed Powder in Medium/Dark and dusted it over the foundation. It looked matte yet natural, just the way I like it. The salesperson knew what she was doing (I could tell from her perfectly made up face and the way she chose colours for me instantly), answered all my questions, and recommended a brush set that was going on special the next day. She told me a brush was ideal for applying the foundation and powder, although the powder compact comes with a puff. I secretly decided that I would skip the brush and use my fingers or one of the sponges I had at home and I already had a brush for the powder.

MAC Blot Pressed Powder

MAC Blot Pressed Powder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$77.58 later and I was out of there. I cringed spending $38.50 alone on a foundation, but this seemed worth it. How much is a perfect face worth, anyway?

That evening, I washed my face with my usual cleanser and was thrilled to see it washed off with little effort and no scrubbing. Very little came off on the Neutrogena pad, whereas with the Dermablend quite a bit did. In the morning, I prepped my face as usual with water and sunscreen. The foundation bottle has a slider that locks the pump, which is great for travel. I used one pump of the foundation and spread it with my fingers. It felt smooth and creamy and blended evenly. I layered a bit more on trouble spots and was pleased to see it covered effectively. I swirled my brush in the powder compact a couple of times and dusted it on. Perfect. I was impressed.

The final test came that day after I worked a long shift at the cafe and then went out afterwards. I left the house at 6 am and got home at 11 pm. I wanted to see if I could get away without reapplying either product during the day and if it would wear off or become shiny. After standing in front of a steaming espresso machine, mopping, cleaning, and doing dishes for hours, I was very pleased to see my skin wasn’t an oil slick and still looked natural. However, I still had hours to go.

Fast forward 5 hours later, I was done for the day and ready to wash my face and head to bed. With bated breath, I slowly turned to the mirror and behold! My face was still fresh and natural and wasn’t shiny at all! Yeah, MAC!

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To sum it up, MAC rules. I’m totally stoked on their makeup and can’t wait to save my nickels to try their other products. I hear their eye shadows are just as highly-pigmented and long-lasting.

While confidence shouldn’t cost $77.58, a little help is always appreciated. So, thank you MAC. Thanks for being you.

 

Spanx Higher Power Brief

Alright. Let’s talk about our unmentionables. Well, they’re not so unmentionable anymore – we see bras and panties everywhere: on mannequins, hanging in store windows, on TV, and in catalogues. But we don’t see shape wear hanging around. There’s some sort of stigma attached to trying to look 10 lbs thinner – you just don’t want people to know your secret. Spanx is #1 on the market in shape wear. They have an array of products from leggings to briefs and full-body shapers. They’re designed to be durable and comfortable for everyday wear and most importantly: invisible. They come in different shades, like nude and black, to be camouflaged underneath whatever you’re wearing. 

Most of my friends wear shape wear on special occasions only: when they squeeze into their little black dresses. Most of my friends are also of average weight and height and have maybe a bit of a tummy they don’t want poking out of their evening wear. I’m more than your average weight for my height and my tummy pokes out of everything I wear. Short of actually losing 10 lbs, I felt like it was high time to do something to look a bit more sleek and shapely.

I bought my first shaper panty at Penningtons. It was $30 and served me well for 2 years. It gave me a smooth figure, but the nude colour got discoloured from my favourite dark wash jeans. It also rolled down in the back and I was constantly hiking it up. I tried to tuck it under my bra, but it would just slide down. However, it allowed me to wear pants one size smaller and that felt good.

I got sick of always fussing around with it, so I decided to ditch it for a couple of years . When I met my boyfriend, I was embarrassed wearing it. I had someone once mention it after a hug because they could feel it under my shirt. I was mortified.

Fast forward a year and a half. I was shopping at London Drugs with my Mom and we found a display rack of Spanx products next to the pharmacy. My Mom picked up a pair and I thought, “why not?”. I had heard good reviews of the Higher Power panty and had specifically read a story in a magazine about a woman who felt more confident and sexy wearing it under her clothes. It was $50 – $20 more than the generic Penningtons brand. It promised not to roll down and to be comfortable and invisible. They only had black, but I decided to give them a try.

I wear them every day (with panties underneath) under my work clothes and I no longer have a roll over my jeans. My blouse that was pulling on the bottom button now fits smoothly. The bottom part is cotton and very comfortable. Panty lines are non-existent. The elastic top has a thick band around the top that fits under my bra and doesn’t roll down. I hand wash them several times a week and they have held up great and have no runs or tears.

Overall, I give this product a great rating. It was well worth the $50. I feel more confident and sleek. I also feel more professional at work – not sloppy with my un-tucked blouse pulling at the bottom.

I thought long and hard about my motives for wearing Spanx. And I’ve basically come to the conclusion that I don’t know if it’s not feminist to wear them. I think whatever makes you comfortable is okay. That’s worth $50 in my opinion.

Dr. Mist Deodorant Spray

I know, I know, I said I would review hair products. But I just had to review this product first. You’ll see why.

Natural deodorants…they suck, right? Most of the ones I’ve tried do. I’ve tried several brands (which I won’t name here, because that’s not nice and I’m not reviewing them), and all of them left me stinky, wet, and sometimes worse off than wearing nothing.

I got a little bit of a scare at work the other day when my boss showed me an expensive silk blouse that had had anti-perspirant stains in the underarms. After washing the blouse, the anti-perspirant had actually eaten away at the fabric! The ingredients that help you stay dry are natural fabric-eating monsters. I wondered what it was doing to my skin. I also found my underarms to be itchy when I sweat and sometimes have red bumps. Not razor burn bumps, but ones that looked like pimples. I asked my doctor about it and she suggested I switch to a deodorant rather than an anti-perspirant. Preferably one without alcohol, which can be drying to skin.

After work, I hopped the bus to the health food store. On this particular street, there are two side by side. I visited each one and stared at the selection. Priced anywhere from $3.99-$7.99, I was terrified of spending my precious cash on something that didn’t work (yet again). I asked the cashier if he had any recommendations, and he polled 3 of the staff. They all mentioned the crystal rock. It’s basically a mineral salt rock that is supposed to neutralize odours. I tried it many years ago in my natural deodorant forays, but it gave me a red rash. I used my phone to frantically Google each brand to see reviews and they were all disappointing.

Until I noticed Dr. Mist on the shelf above…

Dr. Mist had been on Dragons Den (click the link to watch the video), and was a Canadian company. The mother-daughter duo from Quebec were one of the only contestants I’ve seen accept a deal on the show: $100,000 for 20% of the business, plus 5% royalties from every sale to the investor.

The bottle claimed it won the Geneva International Award for Invention. I Googled the award and apparently it’s pretty significant: one can only submit their invention once in a lifetime. The reviews of this product were astounding: 4 or 5 out of 5 stars and many commenters saying they purchase by the case. Read reviews here and here.

There were lavender and fragrance-free versions. I chose lavender, just in case it didn’t work and I needed something to cover up the smell. It was $8 CAD, a little more pricey than the other deodorants, but I thought it must be worth it.

I took a shower that night (3 days ago), and applied it. I read it could be drippy, since it is a spray-on, but didn’t find that. I used 3 sprays to cover the whole armpit area and rubbed it in like the bottle instructed. It took a few minutes to dry and felt like I had sprayed water on my pits. However, it dried to a powder-y like finish, which is apparently the secret of the deodorant spray: the water evaporates, leaving the mineral salts on your skin which neutralize the bacteria. And voila! No smell!

Usually in the morning I smell funky. Not so after using Dr. Mist! I even went out for the morning without showering and smelled just fine until I took a shower at 1 pm. I used Dr. Mist again and did several covert sniff checks throughout the day. Nothing noticeable. Not even the lavender scent. And I was pretty dry to boot. Even with my regular anti-perspirant, I get wet under my arms. The other bad thing about anti-perspirant is that it makes your clothes yellow in the underarms and it’s hard to get out. (Bleach makes it worse; the only thing that’s worked for me is OxiClean).

It lasted all day and into the morning. I took a shower this morning and applied again. And whaddayaknow? No smell, no funk, no wetness. Even after a typical weekend of running errands, walking for exercise, and even sitting in the 12 degree (C) sun wearing a hoodie and jacket and scarf for a couple of hours. 

I have to say, Dr. Mist rocks so far. Tomorrow I’ll test it in my hot, humid work environment and let you know how it goes via an update to this post. I have my fingers crossed.

Edit: You can purchase Dr. Mist at many health food stores, London Drugs, and Superstore.

Edit 2: The day has come! I have applied Dr. Mist and I’m good to go. Oh yeah, the bottle and website also say you can use it to treat a number of other ailments like cuts and athlete’s foot. It also states it works as a fabric refresher. One reviewer on Amazon said he used it on his bruises and it helped them fade. I squirted it between two of my toes where there is a cut. It’s drying up already! I’m going to try a spray in each of my boots next. Yeah, Dr. Mist!

 

Heart of the Revolution by Noah Levine

I admit it: I’m a “Noah Levinian”. I’ve been to a few of his retreats and talks and generally love the guy. I also love his trained teachers (two of whom live in Vancouver and who I am honoured to call my friends). 

I first read his book Against the Stream in 2007. I was looking for more in my life and a way out of the constant battles and struggles I found myself in. Relating whole-heartedly to his writing, I dove into meditation right away. My “monkey mind” wouldn’t sit still. I expected I would flip this switch and my mind would be clear and serene. It wasn’t until I went on one of his retreats that I learned this was false. There is no magic switch. There is no such thing as a blank mind. The thoughts will never stop. It’s just a matter of letting them arise and fall away with a friendly attitude towards yourself.

I found meditation very difficult at first. I had pain in my legs and I didn’t want to sit upright. I thought it was more spiritual to sit on a cushion, legs crossed in a half-lotus position. Years later, I would finally succumb to sitting in a chair and not give a shit about being “spiritual”. I just wanted to be comfortable and able to focus on my meditation than constantly shifting my position every minute. 

I found out about a local group called D.I.Y. Dharma from a participant at one of the retreats. After I returned from my retreat, my best friend and I tried to find the “Dharma Lab”, located in the industrial part of the city. We walked around and around the block, finally interrupting a man working on a car in the back alley who told us the entrance was around the front. I recognized a lady from the retreat opening a non-descript green door. She invited us in. About 10 people showed up for the meditation. Having had a little instruction from the week-long retreat I was just at, I felt ready to meditate without guidance. Boy, was I wrong. I felt panicked and restless. All I could think about was that bell ringing, signalling the end of the meditation. 

It’s been an interesting six years since then and I have kept up with the group, forged relationships, and my own meditation practice. I’ve gone deeper than just focusing on my breath and expanded my practice to having compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance for others.

That’s why I was so excited when Heart of the Revolution came out. It explains the Buddha’s teachings on forgiveness, compassion, and kindness in great detail. Noah calls it being “1 %s of the heart” (like the biker gangs). It’s less of a memoir like Dharma Punx and more of a practical guide like Against the Stream

Heart includes the metta (loving kindness – universal love) sutta and breaks it down. Noah explains each verse practically in a way you can apply to your own life. He talks about personal love: love we have for our friends and family, and romantic love: love we have for our sexual partners. He talks about the clinging that accompanies each, how each type is conditional, and with expectation. It seems pretty grim: love brings pain. But a solution is presented! There are practical meditation guides for everything from forgiveness to metta. You can sit on the cushion and apply these techniques and get results. Noah says it took him 10 years of meditation practice to feel like he’d forgiven everyone everything and that it’s still a struggle at 22 years. 

I especially liked the chapter “Hurt People Hurt People”. Apparently it’s a line from a movie that stuck with Noah. It’s true: people who are suffering hurt others. I know I have. This chapter talks about having compassion and forgiveness for those who have hurt us. It also includes the forgiveness meditation. I practiced one at a retreat and cried. It felt good to forgive and let go. 

This book also tells you to question everything you hear. Question your teachers and only trust your own experience. It also talks about the trap of religion and not getting caught up in “Buddhism” and not being that person who stares into others eyes proving how serene and meditative they are.

Overall, this is a sweet book. It’s a quick and easy read and Noah writes very eloquently and with a sense of play and humour. He also relates his own experience of pain and how meditation has given him real results in his life. Also included are experiences of his own folly; ways that he hurt others and how he amended it. 

I highly recommend reading this book if you want to learn more about your own capacity for forgiveness, compassion, and kindness. This is a way out of suffering. This is a way to help others and be of service. What better life could there be?

 

 White Pine? More like “White Fine”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday, we were blessed with some gorgeous sunny weather so my friends invited me to come along to the floating docks at White Pine Beach. It’s on Sasamat Lake: green and serene. The beach is often very busy, but the floating docks across the lake are more of a well-kept secret. We arrived to find only a handful of people on each of the two docks. My friends don’t want me to share the location of the docks so it stays less crowded. (EDIT: I got called out for the stealth tip I provided, so it looks like you’ll have to find it yourself).

The water is cool and inviting; there’s no beach so you dive right into the deep. After swimming you can sun yourself on the concrete dock (bring a blanket to protect your poor back and knees). 

We also played Anomia, a Mensa-approved card game. It get’s its name from Anomic apashia: a severe inability to recall words or names. You flip cards from the middle deck away from you, and if your card matches another player’s you quickly yell out the person, place, or thing on their card. For example, if my card says “Breakfast Food” and their card says “Business Mogul”, I would try to yell out “Donald Trump!” before they shouted “waffles!” (when a music card came up, I shouted “baroque” and everyone was like, “niiiiiice”. It was a proud moment for me.) There are wild cards too, making the game more complicated. It’s really fun with 4 or more players. 

Here are a few pictures of the scenery of White Pine. Lovely.

 

 

 

Yarn and a Hook: Not As Easy As It Looks

So in my quest to find some hobbies that interest me, I decided to pick up crocheting. Both my grandmother and mother are expert crocheters and have made many a dazzling afghan in their time. I still have the blanket my grandmother crocheted me when I was 10: it’s white with green squares with tulips in each square. It’s beautiful and I still use it!

My mom gave me 2 hooks and some royal blue acrylic yarn. The book she gave me on basic knitting and crocheting was difficult to follow. I couldn’t figure out the instructions for the life of me! So, I do what every girl does when she can’t figure out how to do her makeup or exactly how that hair style works: I turned to YouTube. I found lots of how-to videos on crocheting and knitting and picked the top link: Learn How to Crochet Part 1 – Basics For the Absolute Beginner. I’m absolutely a beginner and thought this would be a good place to start

The video did for me what the book could not: show me in live action how to make the first knot and then make the chain stitch. It even showed a simpler way to make the slip knot that becomes the basis for every stitch. However, it wasn’t as easy as it looked. The yarn kept falling off my index finger and I had to keep pulling the yarn through the loop (I think I made it too small to pull the hook through). I’m not a very visual person, so I had to watch and re-watch parts of it several times. Overall it was a very good video and shows you how to make a 20 stitch x 20 stitch square and finish it with a darning needle (which I still need to pick up).

Here’s my work so far:

An hour of hard labour

I accidentally made a knot in this one so I started another. I eventually learned how to make the second and subsequent rows, but messed up pretty badly. I spent about 2.5 hours making 6 rows – it was slow going. 

I’m going to bring my crochet work on my camping trip next week to do by the fireside. Hopefully I don’t light the whole skein of yarn on fire!