Archive | basics RSS feed for this section

(Drugstore) Skincare Essentials 

21 May

Skincare has become as big an industry as makeup, with hundreds to thousands of brands pumping out some new exciting product every other week.  It can make things very confusing and you can find yourself dropping lots of money on these items.

This is my list of skincare essentials all of which may be found in a drugstore. This doesn’t mean there aren’t outstanding higher end skincare products, but it isn’t a necessity.

Before I proceed with my list let me state two important points:

FIRSTLY, Consult your family physician or dermatologist to determine the right skincare regimen for you. Skincare and makeup go side by side, however, one (skincare) falls into the realm of medicine. I’m not saying to disregard any advice given by makeup artists or gurus, however, do not take it as gospel.

SECONDLY, Having healthy skin is affected by lifestyle, so it almost goes without mentioning that you should aim to: eat healthily, exercise regularly, sleep well, limit the amount of alcohol you intake and avoid smoking.

I also want to state that many of my skincare choices come both from my personal dermatologist as well as a dermatologist who has a great, informative YouTube channel; Dr.Dray

Lastly it is worth mentioning that I have acne prone, sensitive, oily-combination skin (that’s also technically ageing). This means that if I can use it,  anyone can!

With all that stuff out of the way, let us proceed.
SKINCARE ESSENTIALS

1 Makeup remover and eye makeup remover– Yes I know these are technically two things! Makeup remover is important in breaking down as much of the cake face before you wash, making it easier. Makeup remover comes in wipes or liquid and even some oils (also technically liquid)

I have nothing but good things to say about the Garnier micellar remover, but there are loads of other brands at the drugstore. 

As for eye makeup remover I’m currently using Almay liquid remover. Another recommendation is witch hazel which is gentle, affordable and effective. 

2 Face wash– A gentle, non-exfoliant face wash for everyday use. This creates a bit of controversy as many persons especially those who wear a lot of makeup think they need a very abrasive face wash to deep clean their pores and get the gunk out. However, being harsh on your skin can ultimately result in further damage and overproduction of oil.

I have three recommendations for gentle everyday face washes: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Neutrogena Ultra gentle cleanser.

3 Day cream WITH SPF!– Do NOT leave out the SPF. This will almost surely defeat the purpose of wearing cream during the day. A day cream with SPF helps keep the skin moisturized, acts as a primer for any makeup products and most importantly protects from sun damage which ultimately leads to wrinkling and increases the risk of skin cancer. If your favourite daily moisturizer doesn’t contain SPF then add a sunscreen.

NB. ANYONE, of any skin tone, can get skin cancer, so cover up!

My drugstore day cream recommendations include: Ceruve, Cetaphil and Oil of Olay.

Sunscreen recommendation: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer sunscreen.

4 Night cream– After you’ve brushed your teeth and washed your face and getting ready to settle in for the night, put on some night cream. A cream with a glycerin base is good for keeping the skin moisturized by protecting it from drying out. You can also use the same daytime moisturizer at night (sans SPF)

Night cream recommendation: Ceruve, Neutrogena Hydro boost .

A tip for nighttime cream is to put it on when your face is still moist to avoid it drying out when the water evaporates.

5 Night eye cream- You don’t need it. Yes the skin surrounding the eye is quite delicate and can show aging before other parts of the face but your regular moisturising cream works for your entire face. I KNOW, I’ve been fooled before.

6 Retinol cream (on alternate nights)- This is optional. Retinol containing products help prevent signs of aging and it is recommended to start using at age 30. Additionally, retinol products also help treat acne, so it’s useful for many persons. When you do use retinol containing products, stil, use your regular night moisturizer and use the retinol sparingly.

Let me clarify that these retinol products have to be “prescription” strength to offer real benefit. There are some prescription strength preparations available over the counter in some places but other than that your doctor will have to write up the prescription for you.

Recommendations for retinol products: Retin A and Differin gel.

7 Lip balm– I use a thick moisturising balm in the morning and the evening to condition my lips, especially with the increased use of drying liquid lipsticks. A petroleum based lip balm also helps in the removal of stubborn lipstick.

This list is one of essentials and not exhaustive. Also, it doesn’t include products to specifically treat acne or other skin conditions. For that you must see your health care provider.

Are there any other drugstore skincare brands you know about? Let me know and have an awesome day!

Advertisements

Ten Baking Hacks

20 Nov

Household baking items




Hello

I love a #lifehack. There are hundreds of YouTube videos and websites dedicated to “hacks” but the truth is that many of them are totally pointless and useless . Some times they involve one hundred steps and cost loads of money and generally make your life harder. That being said ,  when you find real hacks, the ones that save you money or calories or make life easier, it makes it all worthwhile . 

I have curated 10 hacks that pertain to baking . Some of them may be obvious ,  some you may have heard before and some may blow your mind but ALL have been tested by me at one point or another and they all add some benefit to your life and use items that most of us have in our homes most of the time. So enjoy…


1) Cake Flour

You may see quite a few recipes calling for this and if you’re anything like me, had no idea there was a difference between cake flour and regular flour. Until now.

Use: Regular baking flour + cornstarch .  For every 3/4 cup of flour add 2 tbsp of cornstarch . 

Cake flour

2) Buttermilk

I remember feeling really pleased with myself when I first learnt this hack. Now it’s practically common knowledge . Still, it’s worth mentioning for anyone who may not already know. Lots of baking recipes call for buttermilk and it is expensive ! 

Use: Milk + vinegar/lemon/lime juice. For each 1 cup of milk add 1 tbsp of vinegar and let sit for at least 10  minutes.

This creates a clotted or soured milk not unlike buttermilk.

Milk and white vinegar 


3) Substitute milk with buttermilk
.

For all your recipes that DON’T require buttermilk but just regular milk, swap it out for buttermilk . It makes the cake smoother and moist.


4) Piping Bag
 

This hack will cost you less than purchasing disposable piping bags. You can also push the tip into the bag and use that way.

Use: A ziplock bag + scissors/tip

DIY piping bag


5) Weigh and measure using metric units

I’m aware this is a point of controversy for many and I don’t even take my own advice half the time but the truth is the truth, metric measurements are more accurate and baking is all about accuracy . 

6) Egg Substitute 

There are actually a number of egg substitutes including bananas,  oil and yogurt but my preference is apple sauce.

For every 1 egg use approximately 1/4 cup of apple sauce.

Eggs and applesauce


7) Wax/Parchment paper cupcake cases
.

This is something I didn’t know was a “thing” for quite a while. My sister did this once as a money saving idea and I loved it.

8) DIY Coloured Sugar

Coloured sugar can be a bit pricey considering what it is: coloured…sugar. Fortunately it’s easy to do.

Use : Granulated sugar + food dye. Mix until dye is fully incorporated . 

White granulated sugar 


Add a drop of food colouring

Mix

Continue mixing 

Coloured sugar 




9) Swap out butter with oil

This makes the cake softer and fluffier, more like a chiffon cake. I find it useful for chocolate cakes which can always tend to be on the drier side.

Swap an even amount of butter for oil in your recipe . 

10) Confectioners/Icing Sugar

Out of necessity comes brilliance . One evening I was baking and realised I had no confectioners sugar but I had granulated sugar. I knew they had to be related somehow so I googled. It was so easy! I feel as if I would never purchase confectioners sugar again because it can tend to be a bit pricey compared to granulated sugar.

Use: Granulated sugar + Food Processor /Blender /Nutribullet .  Blend for a few seconds (literally ) and you have your confectioners sugar . 

 Granulated sugar(left) and confectioners sugar (right)
Thanks for reading. Maybe some of these hacks will help you on your next baking adventure .  Have an awesome day ! 

Travel Light(Packing Tips)

14 Sep


Hello

Here is another post giving some travel tips. This one focuses on what you should (and shouldn’t ) pack when setting off on an adventure.

Travel Goals…

In my mind’s eye I am an “easy-breezy” traveller. I am wearing an ethically produced maxi dress, beautiful wrap sandals holding my wide brimmed hat in one hand, my large but not oversized beautiful travel bag hooked over my other arm and my cute but not miniscule crossbody bag draped over my torso.

I would have a physical book with an engaging yet lighthearted storyline and I’d be contentedly nibbling on a healthy home made pinterest worthy snack bar while waiting on my next flight. 

I would be the envy of all other travellers. They would whisper to themselves “Look at her, she’s so casual, so worry free, traveling so light”

Sadly, I have more often than not, NOT been this type of traveler. I have been the one with two overstuffed duffle bags literally filled with useless nonsense, struggling and panting to get from one gate to another, who despite having packed everything but the kitchen sink, left the one thing I really need at home . But I am getting better, much better, so much better that I made a 10 day trip to Costa Rica last November with only one large carryon and one hand bag. YASSSS!

Packing heavy isn’t just physically and mentally taxing, it can cost you. It means maximum luggage fees, it means having to repurchase the crap you forget to pack and sometimes leaving things you’ve spent money on behind. 

So I am going to share a few “packing light” tips and I hope it helps.

MUST HAVES

1) Travel Documents 

Don’t leave home without them or you won’t get very far. Most of us need our passport to get around but don’t forget other supporting documents such as work permits, residency letter etc.

Additionally,  check well in advance about Visa requirements prior to travelling.

2) Prescription Medications

Again, just don’t leave home without them. If you are on potentially life saving medication such as insulin, thyroid meds, asthma inhalers etc please make sure you pack this stuff.

Unlike OTC drugs that you can stroll into any pharmacy, gas station or even book store and purchase, most pharmacists will not issue prescription, meds without a prescription. This means if you forget your stuff you will have to go pay and wait to see a doctor in order to get the prescription written.  This can take a chunk of time not to mention money out of your vacation.

3) Wallet

Just as important as the first two on this list. Even if you have your passport and your medication, if you don’t have a dollar or cent to spend, you are in proverbial duck’s guts. Be sure to pack these three things FIRST!

4) Electronic equipment 

We live in the digital age (that is what we call it right?) and our electronic devices are just as much a part of our lives now as food and water. Be sure to pack your electronics as needed. So if you don’t think you’ll need your laptop for the next 4 days, leave it or if you never use your tabet then forget it. Be sure however, to remember your camera, go pro and any other important photography equipment for your awesome trip!

5) (Mini) Cosmetics/ Makeup

Mini is the important word here. Precisely what you need is rather subjective. I might need skin moisturizer but not shower gel, someone else might need 6 hair products but no mouthwash .(I’m not judging)

The real key, is the amount. Even on a fairly long trip; >10 days you don’t use a full container of any product so you don’t need to carry it. Most  fullsized containers are well over the carryon allowance of 3 FL Oz (100mL) and it means you will have to check your luggage which for most carriers will cost you. 

So, it is worthwhile to carry mini sizes of most of your cosmetics. Most pharmacies, supermarkets etc sell these pint sized versions of your favorite cosmetics for under $3 each and for certain items like deodorant and hairspray I recommend buying them.

But in an effort to be more money conscious I recommend investing in a set of mini empty containers. You can fill them up with small amount of your full sized products instead of having to buy a mini. This is more cost effective ultimately.

As for makeup  (if you wear it) select a few items that create a number of looks for the time you’ll be travelling. You don’t need 3 eyeshadow pallets or 12 liquid lip colors for 5 days! 

6) Clothing 

Of course this is a must have. If you are going anywhere for longer than 24 hours, you’ll need a change of clothes. You’ll need underwear, actual clothing not to mention jewelry, shoes and accessories. 

This is definitely a situation of less being more. Try to coordinate your outfits in advance selecting pieces you can mix and match maximizing each one. For example in a 4 or 5 day trip I may only need two bottoms, 3 tops and a dress. Be even more minimal when it comes to accessorizing.  You can probably get away with one pair of shoes (plus the ones you travel in) , one bag and just a few jewelry pieces.

My mother will legitimaly pack 3 different pairs of shoes and about 10 bracelets to go with each outfit because she couldn’t make up her mind.( She is that traveller with 2 overweight suitcases trying to smuggle an extra carryon piece) Don’t do it!

SHOULD/COULD  HAVES

7) Emergency kit

As easy as it may be to find painkillers or bandaids when on vacation , they may be pricier as you will likely be purchasing from a souvenir shop or you may not find the brand you want. 

I usually carry along a little pouch with some emergency nessecities. Note I said LITTLE. Again it’s all about moderation. In my emergency kit I carry a few ibuprofen tablets, a couple antihistamines, a few alcohol swabs and a bandaid or two. 

I have seen a certain family member who shall remain nameless (cough* my mother* cough) pack a first aid kit so massive I swore there was an actual defibrillator in it. (There wasn’t ). Unless you are going hiking or exploring some other dangerous terrain where you need a proper first aid kit you won’t need anything so elaborate as to include abdominal gauze and actual bottles of alcohol. If you really require that stuff then you should probably be in an Emergency room.

8) Book/Magazine/Art/Craft supplies

So you love to read or do crossword or sudoku or whatever the kids are doing these days.Maybe you are a hobby artist. Going on vacation for many means having time to relax and do something they really enjoy (like reading) so by all means take your hobby items along. Just not too much.

I am guilty of this. I read quickly and I’m constantly afraid of finishing a book and having nothing else to read for the remainder of my trip. I can say without a doubt this has almost NEVER happened. Take 1 book, or one crossword or one roll of crochet thread and one needle. Not five or six. You will overload yourself and probably not use half the stuff anyway.

9) Snacks/Food

This is another thing you don’t need but it can be reasonable to travel with. Perhaps you like a very specific protein bar that you eat every morning at 10 am and you don’t think you can get it where you are going. By all means pack a few. Not ALL. Maybe you have layover and 3 flights to get to your final destination and you want to carry something to sustain you along the way, sure go ahead and pack a bag of chips and an apple.What you don’t need to do is prepare a 3 course meal and portion it out into plastic containers (I have actually seen this). Keep it light.

DON’T NEED

Towels and paper toiletries

When I was very little, we traveled with our towels. Then, on the last day had to pack a moist towel on top of our clothing. You don’t need this in your life. Most hotels and even many hostels will provide clean fresh towels and toilet paper. If they don’t,  check out and get far away, very far away.

Extras

This is the whole point of this post. You only need what you need. Always think about that when you find yourself wanting to pack something “just in case” You don’t need extra clothing, you don’t need extra snacks, you don’t need extra shoes and purses. I often find myself feeling more flustered than comfort when I am over packed and over burdened with stuff.

DON’T FORGET

These are those items we can often overlook or leave until the absolute blessed end and then forget.

Sunglasses/Shades

This is a pet peeve of mine. It happened to me so many times I’ve lost count. You step out of the airport into the sun and bam! Corneas scorched! All because you forgot to toss your sunglasses on top of your stuff. Now you have to decide whether you are going to spend a chunk of your cash on new ones, overpay at a souvenir kiosk for likely poor quality ones or spend the rest of your days with your hand over your eyes.

Umbrella

This might sound weird to some but I have never regretted traveling with an umbrella. Not once. I have a small one that easily fits in my hand bag.  This is especially important if you’re travelling someplace with a high chance of rainfall. I am that person that whenever it begins to pour I pop out my umbrella and keep moving only to find one or two persons (who I don’t know) nestled up beside me sharing my umbrella. Don’t be a nestler!

Electrical cords/Backup memory cards and batteries

It should go without saying that when you travel with electronics you carry the cords. I have never left one of mine behind but I know so many unfortunate persons who have. Then you are faced with a similar dilemma to the sunglasses situation.

CHECKLIST

To ensure I don’t forget any of these items I have a highly organised mental travel checklist that I won’t allow myself to step through the door without checking off twice. If you don’t entirely trust your mental faculties I recommend a written (paper or electronic) list to make sure you have all that you need and nothing more.

I hope you’ve found some useful tips,  travel light and have an awesome day!

CASUAL WEAR BASICS

11 Jan

Hello all, happy new year! I wish joy, peace and success to everyone in 2016 and beyond.

Today’s post is the first of a four-part series entitled “Basics” where I outline basic wardrobe items every girl should have.

In this post I’ll be aDRESSing (bad dum ching) basic casual wear which entails the stuff you wear when you go to the movies, dinner, shopping, hang out etc… basically everyday wear.

If you invest in a few basic pieces you will ALWAYS have something to wear. I HATE when my friends and I do something spontaneous and I go to pick out something and end up sitting on a pile of clothes I’ve dragged out of my closets almost in tears cause “I have nothing to wear”.

Having these basics almost entirely eliminates this occurrence. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but rather suggestive and is based on the premise that you will add some “non-basics” to compliment your basic wardrobe.

Let’s get to it!

TOPS

CAMIS/TANKSBlack Tank top $6 H+M

You’ll need about 3 of these in neutrals e.g. black, white, grey. These are excellent for layering as well as on their own.

 

TEESBlack V neck shirt H&M $6

Some basic tees with either a cap sleeve or half sleeve depending on your preference. You’ll also need about 3 of these in neutrals. They are also good for layering but fine on their own.

 

SHIRTS/BLOUSES

Plaid Shirt by Faded Glory $10

Something with some sleeves and buttons. These are useful for a more conservative or formal look as well as great for layering. I recommend 2 neutral blouses e.g. black and white as well as a plaid(flannel) and a denim shirt , two timeless styles.

 

JACKET

Black Jackey H&M $35(This doesn’t include winter jackets). You need 1 jacket. A nice fitted one with a good cut and made from luxuriant material. I recommend either a neutral such as black or tan or a deep jewel tone such as emerald, royal purple or navy.

 

BOTTOMS

SKIRTS
You need 3 skirts.

 

MAXI                                                                                                            Black jersy maxi skirt from allyfashion.com $11

Get this in a neutral e.g black or tan. It’s great for a boho vibe and can be paired with any of the basic tops mentioned above.

 

 

MINI/MIDI

Get this in a  body con  style. It’s great to dress up for an evening on the town or dress down for a daytime look.

Black pleated flare skirt.jpg

FLARE

A short(ish) flared skirt for a more dressed up fun look. This can be great in black or maybe a bold print that can be easily matched with a lot of different tops.

 

 

PANTS

SHORT

2 of these: 1 denim pair and 1 neutral e.g. khaki or black.

JEANS/JEGGINGS

You should have 2 pairs: 1 well fitted pair of blue jeans with whatever wash you prefer (I find a dark wash matches well with most things) and 1 other colour either another blue pair with a different wash or black. Jeans can withstand a day out as well as clean up nicely for night time looks.

Black leggings

LEGGINGS

These are a staple. You can be safe with 3 pairs in dark tones e.g. black,grey and navy. Leggings can be dressed down for a super casual day or vamped up for evening. They are great lounging wear, travel wear and can even be used as active wear.

 

DRESSY

Floral print wide cut pants H&M $50.jpeg1 pair. I recommend a neutral like black or white or a statement print that has many matching options.This is the kind of pant you can do a wide leg with or a super fitted bottom with heels for that elegant look.

 

 

 

DRESSES

SHORTBlack skater dress from Choies $26.jpg

I recommend 2 short dresses. One fit and flare and a more fitted body con dress. Cannot go wrong with black but other dark colours are equally versatile.

 

MEDIUM
This is for when you want to feel a little more conservative like maybe Floral midlenghth dress from Lindy Bop usa $16.jpghaving brunch with your grandparents or attending a church function. This kind of dress could work in a neutral tone but would be great either in a bright colour such as aqua or coral or maybe a floral print. A medium length dress would look nice with a fuller skirt but can work with a pencil fit as well, depends on your style.

 

LONGBlack Maxi Dress from H&M $12.jpeg

A maxi length dress for comfort as well as  bringing the drama. Great in black or another dark colour e.g. navy or maroon.

 

 

 

This list contains a lot of neutrals right? Black. White. Grey. That’s the point. With these basics you can now build your wardrobe. You can glam up or glam down each piece based on the accessories used making each piece stretch.

Having basics saves money. Instead of buying something new to wear each time you go out, you can open your closet and realise the almost endless options available. Usually adding just one new item e.g a pair of earrings or a belt and you have an entirely reinvented outfit!

Keep posted (you can follow my blog) for the continuation of this series. The next topic is Basics Work wear and will be posted in one week’s time.
Thank you for reading and have an awesome day!

Below I have listed all the clothing items shown in the pics

Cami- H&M $4

Tee- H&M $4

Red and black plaid shirt- Faded Glory $10

Jacket- H&M $35

Maxi skirt- allyfashion.com $11

Mini flare skirt- shein.com $13

Wide leg print pant- H&M $50

Black skater dress- choies.com $26

Floral print mid length dress- Linda Bop (lindabop.com) $16

Black maxi dress- H&M $12

Thanks for reading and have an awesome day!

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: