26 March 2018

Flawless in Five

Only got 5 minute to hurry out the door? Well, I won’t waste too much of your time. I will, however, share my routine forgetting out the door in 5 steps and just 5 minutes!

1. Perfect Your Base
Depending on your skin type, Beautycounter has two amazing foundation options. For oily skin use Tint Skin for buildable oil-absorbing coverage. For dry skin, use Dew Skin for sheer, moisturizing coverage.

2. Conceal
Hide tired eyes and imperfections with the full coverage, natural finish Touch Up Skin Concealer Pen.

3. Get Glowing
Highlight cheekbones with a natural Powder Blush, a stunning Cream Blush, or get a natural sun-kissed glow using the Matte Bronzer.

4. Make Eyes Pop
With a few coats of Volumizing or Lengthening mascara. Free of carbon black, the Beautycounter mascaras are made with naturally occurring iron-oxides for their rich black colour.

5. Seal with a Kiss!
Put on the finishing touches using your favourite shade of Sheer Lipstick or Lip Gloss. Formulated without Lead, these healthy lipsticks and lip glosses are natural flavoured with pure vanilla extract and a moisture-rich finish.

Shop your own Flawless in 5 for just $180, that's a $62 savings! Shop flawless in five here.

23 March 2018

Get Ready for Summer with Herbivore

Summer is my favourite season. I love the light airy clothes, the way I can leave my hair to dry naturally in the sun, and of course the fact that I can show some skin - and get some sun!

But it's been a long winter and I am going to need the ENTIRE spring season just to get my skin back to being summer-ready. It's been hidden behind abrasive fabrics, and of course it's dry from the horrible winter air conditions.

Luckily, I have my collection of Herbivore Botanicals to help rescue my winter skin and get it ready for summer. I buy all of my Herbivore products from Well.ca, but Sephora is also an Herbivore retailer here in Canada. All Herbivore products are made with high quality, non-toxic ingredients. No fillers and nothing unnecessary. Seattle-born, I basically consider it Canadian ;) It might just be the simple branding, but there is something about these products that got me hooked before I even tried them.

If you haven't tried them yet, come along and I'll show you how to get summer-ready skin in no time...

This Coconut Milk Soak is good for even the most sensitive skin. It’s hydrating properties are out if this world, and would also benefit you after a day of extreme sun exposure. But after a long winter it’ll seep into pores and loosen up some of the driest skin, prepping it for exfoliation!

If you want to smell like a rose garden, this is the scrub for you. The Coco Rose Scrub is a coconut oil based polish scented with hydrating rose water. You’ll want to use this every day. But don’t. Only exfoliate 2-3 times a week.

After every shower replenish moisture with the Jasmine Body Oil. When your pores are still open from a warm shower oils and moisturizer are more likely to set in rather than sit on top of the skin all day. This body oil does not leave you feeling greasy, which is why I love it so much.

Treat - After Shave
I haven’t exactly figured out if Herbivore meant for this to be a men’s product or not. But either way I love it. I spritz Post Shave on my legs and bikini line after I shave to eliminate the chance of razor burn and post-shave rashes. Have I ever mentioned how sensitive my skin is? haha. It does smell quite manly though .... which is why I digress back to my initial point of this being a “men’s product”.

Treat - After Sun
If you’re planning on taking a last minute end if winter trip—I know the deals this time of year are hard to pass up—you are going to need After Sun. Don’t forget to moisturize after being in the sun all day. (And please wear sunscreen!!!) The sun is the leading cause of aging. Take care of your skin and rehydrate after a day of sun exposure. You’ll love this product all summer long!

Lip Care
There is always a focus on hydrating our skin but we always forget about our lips. My lips are usually the most “wrecked” after a long, cold winter. I use the Coco Rose Lip Conditioner all year round now to avoid the dry flaky lip look. Another product you’ll want to roll into summer with!


19 March 2018

The Benefits of Booch

You've probably noticed it lately in every grocery store. Kombucha. What is it? It's basically sweetened tea, fermented using a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast). It gets its carbonation from the process of yeast metabolizing sugar into carbon monoxide. Because it is fermented, it is high in natural probiotics, which gives it an immense number of health benefits.
Probiotics are live bacterial culture which are critical to balanced intestinal flora and a healthy gut. I took a Kombucha Making Workshop today with Ashleigh Norris, Holistic Nutritionist and #girlboss behind The Soulful Sprout. She taught me SO many more benefits of Kombucha.

She taught us that Kombucha helps bring the body back into balance. It is full of acids and enzymes that the body needs to function properly, and it's an adaptogen -- something that normalizes the body and protects it from environmental stressors. It's an amazing and powerful drink. Just one cup a day can have so many positive effects on your body.
Here are some amazing benefits of Kombucha:
  • Improves digestion
  • Reduces bloating
  • Balances the body's PH level
  • Detoxes the liver
  • Increases metabolism
  • Alleviates constipation
  • Increases energy
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps with headaches and migraines
  • Regenerates healthy cells
  • Reduces kidney stones
  • Improves eye sight
  • Reduces eczema
  • Helps with heart health
  • Rebuilds connective tissue
  • Natural antioxidant

If you are interested in learning more and want to save money by making your own kombucha, I highly recommend you take Ashleigh's workshop. She holds one every few months, where you get to try some of her homemade kombucha, learn the home brewing process a d take home a starter SCOBY. Her workshops sell out quickly so I suggest registering as soon as you see one that works with your schedule.

She also holds fermentation workshops, a DIY homemade chemical-free cleaning products workshop, a foraged foods workshop and MORE. Check out her full list of available workshops HERE!

16 March 2018

Controlling PCOS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve deemed this month “Hormone Health Month,” because lately everyone I talk to is concerned about their hormone levels. Since I have been so open about my struggle with PCOS, I have had many friends approach me asking about ways I have balanced my own hormones. The truth is, I am not a healthcare professional, and I am not going to pretend I know what I am talking about when it comes to hormonal health. But, I did do A LOT of research when I was diagnosed with PCOS because I was determined to control the symptoms naturally - aka NOT relying on synthetic hormone treatments such as the Birth Control Pill. That being said, if you struggle with PCOS and want to know some of the ways I have managed my hormones, read on ...

Manage Stress
I manage stress with exercise. I go to the gym 4 days a week and hot yoga 2 days a week, with one day for my body to rest. Exercise is essential to happy hormones. In lamens terms, when you sweat you release endorphins, a hormone that essentially gives you a “high” feeling. If you exercise in the morning you are starting your day off with an immediate positive outlook. Which is why I workout for an hour before work every day. As long as I manage the day-to-day stress of work, I am generally a happy person and feel stress-free.

Eat Well
A healthy and well-balanced diet is also essential to controlling PCOS symptoms. The first thing I tell people is to start controlling their sugar levels. I have read over and over about how high insulin levels are the biggest contributor to PCOS symptoms. Since insulin resistance causes your body to create higher than normal levels of male hormones, you are suffering from unwanted hair growth, acne and irregular periods. I notice immediately when I eat something with a high glucose level that my skin starts to tingle, as if I am developing acne as it melts in my mouth. I love dessert, and I love candy and FRUIT! So, I still indulge, but I definitely pay the price. I also swap out white sugar for coconut sugar whenever I can, or I sweeten smoothies with dates. There are so many great ways to sub white sugar with low-glycemic options and I am excited to share these ideas with you through my blog.

So to reiterate, avoid caffeine, eat a high protein, high fibre, iron-rich and low-glycemic diet and avoid processed foods. You will start to notice a difference in your skin, your hair growth patterns AND I think you will notice losing weight becomes a lot easier. Keep checking back for amazing PCOS-approved recipes I plan on sharing in the near future!

Meditate and Sleep Well
This is everyone's favourite time of day - ha! As I lay in bed every night listening to the Calm App and Tyler has to listen. One day I am determined he will join in this few moments of solitude. But until then he will snore beside me - the sounds of his snores are quite soothing! This is another way for me to manage stress, but it also helps with my sleep patterns. The nights I meditate, I wake up less throughout the night, and wake up in the morning feeling more rested. Rest is crucial to EVERYONE, not just those suffering with hormone-related illness.

Clean Up Your Skincare Routine
Many cosmetic companies use hormone disrupting chemicals in their products. This is because there is little to NO regulation in the cosmetic industry. Ingredients such as phthalates and parabens, when absorbed through the skin (remember it's your body's largest organ!), can disrupt hormones and cause a multitude of health problems. Toxins in cosmetics are linked to nervous system damage, body acne, allergies, skin sensitivity and cancer. I joined Beautycounter to spread my knowledge and share my love of these clean, toxic-free, luxury beauty products. They have formulated amazing products free from parabens, sulfates, phthalates and more. All of their banned ingredients -- there are 1,500 of them! -- are listed on the Never List on their website.

There are so many other amazing brands on the same path to CONSCIOUS consumerism. Some of my favourites are: Juice Beauty, Honest Beauty, The Honest Co., RMS, Tata Harper, Herbivore Botanicals, Grown Alchemist, Kypris and Native. I will continue to share more and more about these brands and their AMAZING products as I try them, see results and learn more about the company's values! So stay tuned.

Indulge in Raw Cacao
Our body craves chocolate before our period because we need these two minerals to menstruate regularly. Avoid sugary chocolate bars and add a tablespoon of raw cacao powder, which is high in magnesium AND iron, to your morning smoothie. Or, have a square of Giddy Yoyo's 100% Raw Dark Chocolate when you are craving something sweet!

As always, if you have any questions please reach out to me!


14 March 2018

Spring Break Essentials

Well it's finally the middle of March and half-way through this thing we call "March Break" in Canada. I am gearing up for  summer in our new house -- which has a pool! I have bought many cute swimsuits in the past few weeks, and now I am onto skincare.

Sun protection is so important, but over and over I hear about how toxic sunscreen is, and how the toxins in most sunscreens outweigh its benefits. There are a few really great HEALTHY sunscreen brands on the market, Coola being my absolute favourite. But what I don't like is that I have to buy a separate face and body sunscreen, and the price tag of each is quite high!

I switched to the Beautycounter sunscreen before our last trip and I loved that it was 2-in-1. It was gentle enough to use on my sensitive acne-prone skin, and a big enough bottle for me to slather all over my body - and Tyler's.

And considering the active ingredient is  Zinc, it didn't go on white and absorbed very easily. I have found that many natural sunscreens are quite thick and hard to rub in. They often leave while residue on your skin and feel quite heavy. The Beautycounter sunscreen beats all of the other natural sunscreens as it is lightweight, not greasy and the price tag is really reasonable. As well, if you need quite touch ups they have a really great small sunscreen stick for face which is perfect to use on the kids - who are always eager to get outside and don't always want to sit still while you apply sunscreen.

Shop Sunscreen here.

Tinted Moisturizer
Poolside or beach-ready, you shouldn't have to give up the glamour. But you also should not be wearing a heavy foundation. Let your pores breath but still look photoshoot ready with a tinted moisturizer. The Dew Skin tinted moisturized has an SPF 20 which provides sun protection while evening your skin tone. It is also infused with vitamin C and peony extract which reduce the appearance of age spots and promote brighter, more radiant skin.

Shop Dew Skin here.

Facial Mist
Facial mists are a such a staple in my makeup and beach bags. They have so many great purposes... toner, makeup setting spray, midday refresh. 

Beautycounter has 3 amazing facial mists; Brightening, Plumping and Balancing. My absolute favourite is the Balancing spray. It is great for anyone with combination/oily skin, and anyone who suffers from acne. It is also a great tool for spraying on body acne. If you have dryer skin, the Plumping Facial Mist is for you! It has peony extract which firms the skin and reintroduces moisture to dehydrated skin. The Brightening spray is perfect for aging skin. It reduces the appearance of age spots and promotes a brighter complexion. 

Shop Facial Mists here.


12 March 2018

Rescue Your Mascara with Lavender Oil

Happy Monday! I know the beginning of the week for me always requires a little more mascara, a lot more under eye concealer and an extra shot of espresso. The weekend is NEVER long enough. So this morning while I was putting on my mascara and I noticed it was starting to get clumpy, I was nothing short of grumpy. I am sure you can all relate. We spend $40 on a tube of mascara and it doesn't even last 3 months.

Well I have got a trick for you. Lavender essential oil! I put a drop of lavender oil into my mascara today, swirled it around and voila!, it was fixed. It had thinned out, the brush wasn't clumping together anymore and it was back to providing me voluminous lashes!

But wait! There is more. Not only does Lavender Oil extend the life of your mascara. It also has cleansing properties which can eliminate mites and bacteria that could be growing inside that dark tube, it helps promote lash growth and strengthens your lashes.

Win, win win! Try it for yourself and let me know how it works.
If you are looking for healthy a mascara option, try the Beautycounter Volumizing or Lengthening mascaras. They are formulated with natural iron oxides which is what provides the rich black colour. Iron oxides are healthy ingredients to use around the sensitive eye area. Beautycounter mascara's are free of carbon black, an ingredient in most drugstore mascaras.

09 March 2018

The Magic of Tea Tree Oil

In my last post I mentioned the use of tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil) for spot treating acne. This is something I have been doing for years in place of harsh, store-bought acne treatments. I try to use essential oils to heal as much as I can. I add it to my moisturizer to help radiate my skin during high-stress times (stress and acne flare ups go hand in hand!), I use it on it's own to spot treat pimples, and I dilute it with water and witch hazel and use it as a toner. But, since my last post, I have really been thinking about how many other uses there are for tea tree oil. Since it has natural healing powers and draws out bacteria, it has so many amazing uses. I believe in the healing power of tea tree oil so much I made a list of all the other ways you can use this essential oil...

1. To stop dandruff - Add 3 to 6 drops of tea tree oil to your current shampoo and shake! Use less if the bottle is already half empty. Shampoo every other day and you will notice a difference in a few weeks.

2. To kill nail fungus - If you notice white or bumpy spots on your nails, it may be a fungus. Using a small nail polish-type brush, and apply a thin layer twice a day to the affected nail. This usually clears up the fungus in a few days.

3. To prevent and kill head lice - You have two options for this. For lice prevention, add it to your shampoo and condition (using instructions from #1). I normally recommend parents start this the moment they hear a head lice infestation is going around at school. To kill lice, you can add it to coconut oil and cover the hair from root to tip and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. The tea tree oil will suffocate lice, while coconut oil drowns them and makes them easier to remove. Use a lice comb to brush out dead lice and eggs.

4. To kill athlete's foot fungus - Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with 5 drops of tea tree oil and rub it on and around your toes twice a day to kill the fungus. Alternatively, fill a basin with warm water, mix in a 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar and 5 drops of tea tree oil and soak your feet for 30 minutes. Do this two times a day for 1-2 weeks.

5. To treat cold sores - Apply directly to cold sores using a cotton swab. This will dry out the cold sore, helping to heal it and kill any bacteria.

6. To get rid of ingrown hairs - Mix warm water with 10-20 drops of tea tree oil, soak a small towel in the warm water mixture and apply to the ingrown hair area. Press gently and hold it there until the cloth is no longer warm to touch. Repeat as necessary.

7. To loosen a tick grip - It's coming up to tick season. It's scary because tick's can carry Lyme Disease, which can be transferred to humans and pets. If you notice a tick on yourself or your pet, immediately apply pure tea tree oil to the tick and surrounding area. The tea tree oil should force the tick to loosen it's grip, making it easier to remove from the skin.

If you know of other uses for tea tree oil, please leave a comment below!

07 March 2018

Hormonal Acne Routine

Trust me, I know how it feels. I have struggled with hormonal acne for years. I am not saying I can clear this for you, but I do have some suggestions that have helped improve MY skin. And if you are anything like me, you'd try just about ANYTHING to achieve clear skin.

First of all, I think what we eat plays a huge role in how our hormones are disrupted and set off course. We as a society, consume far too much sugar and processed food. So first things first, stop it with the junk food! The first thing you will notice when you clean up your diet is an immediate increase in energy, your skin will clear and have more radiance, and you will start to lose weight... and feel great! (haha! I had to!) Eat lots of greens, stay hydrated, exercise and get plenty of rest.

As for your beauty routine, it's time to clean that up too! What we don't realize is a lot of ingredients in our personal care items also contain hormone disruptors. One of the most common hormone disruptors are PARABENS (anything listed in the Ingredients that ends in -parabens) and fragrance.

Parabens are preservatives used in cosmetics to prevent mould and bacteria. They mimic Estrogen in the body and can throw your whole system into a state of confusion. Excess Estrogen in women has been linked to triggering various forms of cancer, most commonly Breast Cancer.

Fragrance is a funny little guy you find in almost ALL cosmetics...even ones you THINK are safe. There is little regulation around the use of fragrance in cosmetics. It is a trade secret, so companies don't have to disclose which chemicals make up the scent in a product. It can even mean dozens or HUNDREDS of chemicals.

Whether you are struggling with hormonal acne or not, it's important to read the labels of everything you buy to avoid any further hormone imbalance (and of course prevent cancer). I recommend reviewing The Never List for a full list of ingredients to avoid.

Beautycounter is one of very few brands which have BANNED the use of parabens AND synthetic fragrance in all of their products. They have actually banned the use of 1,500 ingredients which are proven to cause a multitude of health problems. Today, I am just focusing on parabens and fragrance as a part of my intention to help those who struggle with hormonal acne.

I am going to share with you my morning and evening routine.

Cleanse (AM/PM)

Use the Nourishing Cream Cleanser to cleanse your skin morning and night. This cleanser is coconut oil-heavy which helps remove makeup (even eye makeup!) seamlessly, and witch hazel, which helps tone the skin.

Tone (AM/PM)
Close your eyes and lightly spritz your skin with the #3 Balancing Facial Mist. The charcoal and clay in this product help reduce redness, stop oil production and calm breakouts. This can also be used as a makeup setting spray!

Treat (PM only)
Treat pimples with Tea Tree Oil. If you have roll-on Tea Tree Oil, lightly roll over the pimple to treat. If you do not have a roll-on, dip a cotton swab into the tea tree oil and dab lightly. Tea Tree Oil has purifying properties which help heal and dry out pimples.

Mask (1-3 times per week)
The #3 Balancing Facial Mask is so nutrient-rich, it purifies and balances while drawing out impurities. Charcoal minimizes the appearances of pores, while salicylic acid stimulates exfoliation for radiant, clear skin. This can also be used as an overnight spot treatment!

Stay tuned to my Instagram this March for an upcoming contest where you can WIN a free full-sized Balancing Facial Mask!!! You have to FOLLOW to win :)

Balance (PM only)
If you ask me, this is the most important step AND the product I notice making the biggest difference to my skin. I spent weeks playing tricks on my skin to see which products are affecting my skin the most, and the nights I don't use the #3 Balancing Facial Oil are followed by the saddest mornings. The Balancing Facial Oil is a blend of seven lightweight, natural oils which help smooth the skin, restoring the skins natural balance and clearing up acne and acne scars. A lot of people with acne think they have oily skin so they avoid face oils. This is a very common misconception, and often oil production is caused by over-drying the skin. Your skin creates more oil to try and protect itself from drying products. Make oil your friend and restore your skins natural ability to produce oil as needed. This product would be considered my own personal MIRACLE WORKER.

Moisturize (AM/PM)
Moisturizing is another very important part of your skincare routine--who am I kidding, every step is important. Many people do not buy targeted day and night creams, and if you think you are fine to use the same for day and night, go ahead. I prefer to use day creams in the morning because they are typically lighter and easier to layer under makeup. Night creams are thicker and heavier, and are meant to be absorbed throughout the night as you rest--it's called beauty rest for a reason.

The Rejuvenating Day and Night creams are great for acne-prone skin, and also for those worried about preservation. If you notice your skin is starting to age, now is the time to start introducing anti-aging products into your regime. A combination of omega and vitamin-rich oils hydrate and brighten skin, while flower extracts help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

That's all for today! I hope this information helps and I hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone in your struggle with acne. If you want to talk about anything I have discussed today please feel free to contact me. And, if you have any questions or other concerns unrelated to acne, again, please contact me! I look forward to helping you achieve your skin goals!

xo, Sera

The contact form can be found to the LEFT of this message if viewed on a desktop, and below this post if viewed on mobile.


05 March 2018

10 New Ways to Use Cleansing Balm

We call it a girl's best friend. This miracle worker has so many uses, and at $89 it's one of our best sellers. Why? Because it is an all-in-one product, and the reality is everyone wants a multi-purpose product when they are shelling out a hundred dollars for it. What is it? The Beautycounter Cleansing Balm.

Formulated with no harsh chemicals, but rather raspberry and cranberry seed oils, this product melts into your skin, removing makeup but not stripping your skin's natural oils.

Other uses we've discovered along the way?

1. Over-night hydrating mask
2. 10-minute radiance boosting mask
3. Heel balm; heals cracked skin
4. Overnight lip treatment
5. Acne spot treatment
6. Heals burns
7. Helps with rosacea and eczema
8. Under-eye treatment
9. Cheek highlighter
10. Baby balm

Shop the Cleansing Balm here.

04 March 2018

Winter in Ontario: The Northridge Inn

We couldn't have found a better place to spend an extra long weekend in February. After searching for Muskoka cottage rentals with wood burning fireplaces, I stumbled upon The Northridge Inn - located in the Township of Strong, just 30 minutes north of Huntsville. The Inn has 20 large hotel rooms, 4 cabins, and in the summer 3 glamping tents and a vintage Airstream.
The moment we walked in the door we were treated like family. There were dog bowls and a blanket waiting for Colby in the room. Our bed was adorned with a faux fur throw and matching throw pillows. Bright yellow accents brightened up the otherwise rustic, cabin-esque feel of the room. I was in heaven already.
I hadn't even seen the dining room yet. The dining room is mostly white with chevron wood floors and the most gorgeous stone fireplace - which we ate dessert beside every night. The thrown together, "pretty" accents are what make this place so warm. It's like an antique store exploded on the walls and shelves of this Inn and the final product is nothing short of perfect.
The food was to die for. We ate 2 dinners, 2 breakfasts and a lunch at the resort dining room because we wanted to keep trying more menu items.
My absolute favourite meal was probably the smoked salmon benny - breakfast IS my favourite meal. But the mashed potatoes at dinner - with a hint of mint - were mind blowing.
Winter activities are galore here - snowshoeing (borrow for free from the Front Desk!), cross country ski trails, ice fishing, skating on the ice trail at Arrowhead Provincial park. These are only a few of the things you can do in the area. There is also Horseback Riding and dog sledding in the area.
We snowshoed across the lake to the ice fishing hut on the middle of Lake Saint Bernard to check out what people were catching. The weather was so nice that the top of the lake was slushy - pretty scary! But we asked one of the staff members at the Inn and they assured us it was safe and the ice would be safe enough to walk on for another month or so.
For the beer lovers! Check out Highlander Brew Co. for free tours of the brewery and free beer tastings. We picked up a bottle of their Winter seasonal beer; a 10% fruity blend of deliciousness. My personal favourite was their Rye Road. The dining room at the Northridge Inn serves Highlander Pined Ale on tap, which Tyler really liked! (Rumour has it that brew is ONLY served at the Northridge Inn.)
We definitely created a new Family Day weekend tradition and can't wait to come back. BUT we definitely won't wait an entire year - and can't wait to head back this Summer to check out what a new season has to offer up at Northridge.
Thanks for the hospitality - we can't wait to be back!
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