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Summer Glow Essentials + Giveaway ft Shoppers Drug Mart


Summer is finally upon us and, for many, that means it's time to rock that summer glow you had been yearning for all winter. But amid the excitement, don't forget the importance of protecting your skin and safe tanning! We have partnered with Shoppers Drug Mart to share this season's most coveted products that are sure to give you a natural sun-kissed glow without the dangerous effects of UV rays!

Clinique Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion

Let's kick things off with arguably the most important skin product for the summersunscreen! I am super excited to try the Clinique Mineral Sunscreen Face Lotion ! At SPF 50 it's a great defense against environmental aggressors and helps in the anti-aging fight, too. My face is super sensitive and generally ends up burning or red from most sunscreens, but the Clinique Mineral Sunscreen, which is exclusive to Shoppers Drug Mart, is non-acnegenic and perfect for sensitive skin. No more choosing between clear skin and sun care, now you can finally get protection without the breakouts. It's also gentle enough that it can be used around your eyes, and is supposed to be totally undetectable once applied! Definitely number one on my must-try list for the summer. Retails for $34 at Shoppers Drug Mart.


The Clinique Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is another product I can't wait to try. It's oil-free and glides on really easily, which I'm excited about since plenty of sunscreens I've tried in the past leave white, chalky residue behind on my skin. Exclusive to Shoppers Drug Mart, it uses Invisible Shield Technology to create a lightweight and highly blendable formula that promises to be undetectable on all skin types. I'll be trying ASAP and giving you guys the down-low soon. You can pick one up for only $41.


If you have sensitive and/or combination skin, you will want to give La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra Fluid Lotion SPF 60 Face Sensitive Skin a try this summer. This one is my- hard-to- impress mother's holy grail summer lotion so you know it ought to be good! I love that it is paraben free and has a matte finish and blends into the skin super fast -  I've been wearing mine under my makeup for the past  week and noticed no difference in the application or finish of my foundation at all. It's ultra-lightweight and thin (almost liquidy texture) but still manages to protect against both UVA & UVB rays. I took some photos with this product on and it did not leave a white cast like the previous product I was using did! Plus for only $29, you really can't go wrong! 


We often flock to products for the face but 
forget about safeguardingour lips from the sun! Caring for your lips is just as important in the summer as it is in the cooler months and luckily for us thirsty-lipped gals, Clarins has our lips covered in style ( literally!)  with their sought-after Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oils collection! I LOVE the packaging on these-  each bottle consists of a nourishing blend of organic jojoba and hazelnut oils, then each individual shade is complemented and cocktailed with its own specific oil to match its hue – adorable right? The best thing about these oils is that they’re so multi-purpose. You can wear them alone, underneath lipstick or on top of lipstick to completely customizyour lip routine. I love that the formula isn’t sticky, which is a godsend for lip oils! It retails for $25.

Shiseido Sports BB Wetforce SPF 50+

During the summer, I like to give my skin a break from makeup so I was thrilled to find a product that combines the Shiseido sunscreen that I love so much with some tint for coverage on days that I want to take it easy with my makeup routine. Essentially, Shiseido Sports BB Wetforce SPf 50+ cream is a hybrid makeup and suncare product that gives the coverage of a BB cream with water resistant SPF protection. I've been meaning to invest in a quality BB cream that is water resistant and this one sounds promising. Retailing for $48, it is a bit of a splurge for BB creams but the WetForce technology in it enhances your SPF protection level once your skin gets wet. This means that after 30 mins of sweating or swimming, the SPF becomes more effective! As far as its powers as a makeup, it comes in three different shades: light, medium and dark. Typically, I prefer a wider range in shades but since this is a light coverage product, the limited range shouldn't be a problem at all!

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer

If you do like to wear foundation for extra coverage, Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer  will provide all-day hydration. The peach-colored formula is infused with 4K, high-definition spheres that blur the look of pores, fine lines, and imperfections. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology, this means that the primer looks invisible in 4K (Ultra HD) definition, and to the naked eye. I haven't used this as a primer just yet but I did play around with as a highlighter and it is super blendable! It retails for $50.
This summer glow round up wouldn't be complete without some tanner talk! You guys, 
FINALLY – a one-night-tan solution that DOESN'T immediately rub off all over your clothes, car, and basically anything else you even slightly bump into. Don't get me started on the streaky, smudgy, embarrassing nights I've spent cursing the decision to“sunless tan'One Night Only' by St.Tropez ( retails for $20/ 100 ml ) uses RainMac Technology that keeps your tan in place until you simply wash it off with soap and water - and it sticks to your skin like a charm (and nothing else). The long and short of it is that St. Tropez 'One Night Only' is a no-commitment, non-streak, white dress approved, amazing product. And just a little trick of the trade, make sure to exfoliate 24 hours before applying for the perfect application. 


As a self-proclaimed faux tanning expert, I can tell you the number one trick to getting an undetectable tan application is a mitt, and I love the St. Tropez 'Applicator Mitt'. The glory of the tanning mitt is two-fold, it helps you create an absolutely flawless, streak-free tan, AND it protects those fingers from turning brown; nothing worse than tan-stained fingers to give away the fact that you might not have earned that golden glowing color by hours in the sun. It's washable, re-usable and allows for precision blending to get the perfect tan. The mitt retails for $9 at Shoppers Drug Mart.


We hope this round up helps you decide which products would work best for you this summer! Make sure to tells us what your holy grail products are for the time of the year in the comments below. 

You can enter to win a $100 Beauty Boutique gift card from Shoppers Drug Mart below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This blog post has been sponsored by Shoppers Drug Mart. Opinions expressed are our own.

A weekend in Toronto ft. Trump Toronto

Hello travel bug!

I has been a hot minute since I have done a travel post but I'm pleased to let you know that I finally got the chance to escape Ottawa for a long weekend with my mom and spend a fun Easter weekend in Toronto! If you've been following the blog for a while, you would know that I frequent Toronto quite often for work and so naturally I'm always looking for new hotels to check out. A few blogger friends of mine had recently stayed at Trump Toronto and had described it as "champagne and caviar chic " so I knew I had to stay there! I, on the other hand,  don't like adjectives when it comes to describing places... sometimes, too many adjectives fall short to describe the beauty. As I see it, beauty in a place is more than the walls, decor, and the perfect scenario... the real beauty is appreciated by the heart.  And let me tell you.. my heart appreciated all what Trump Toronto & Toronto offered last weekend.



From the moment my mom and I entered the lobby of the hotel, we felt welcomed and so at ease! I've had the privilege of staying at countless 5-star hotels over the years but never have I had interaction with staff that were so friendly and approachable yet professional at the same time! It quickly became clear to me why Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto is one of five hotels in Canada to be on the exclusive Forbes Five-Star list.
The lobby decor theme ( the entire hotel, actually) is Champagne and caviar and I cant think of a better way to express luxury. The opulent lobby is built in granite in shades of black and grey (the caviar), brightened by a stunning mural of 10,000 sparkling Swarovski crystals (the bubbly).
If you thought the lobby is beautiful, wait till you see the suites! We stayed in a gorgeous one bedroom suite that was a complete dream! From the 21st floor, our suite bathed in natural light ( so perfect for instagramming!) thanks to large windows which offered stunning views of Toronto's financial district! My mom pays greater attention to detail than I do and was SO impressed with  the user-friendly bedside controls for lighting and drapes ( on both sides of the bed !), the heated floors and even the in-mirror HDTV in the bathroom.

After unpacking, we decided to head outside and explore a little of the city. We did not have a car for the weekend but everything from shopping to dining and beyond was within walking distance! The weather was overcast most weekend but not a single drop of rain came down ( we were truly lucky!) so we took full advantage and walked everywhere! We were so exhausted by 8pm the first night that we decided to come back and hang out in our suite. We wore matching hotel robes, ordered in-room dining , turned on the electric fireplace and relaxed. I should mention that the food was simply delicious- we had ordered some spring rolls and sweet potato fries for starters , salmon and chicken for entrees and a big fruit salad bowl for dessert!




The next morning, we woke up to a gentle doorbell ring- breakfast was here! Again, everything was fresh and delicious. It was the perfect way to get ready to a big day ahead of sightseeing. We also had the chance to check out a $25 million dollar  penthouse on the residential side of the tower! The whole place is #goals and I will let the pictures speak for themselves.



We decided to do a little shopping at the Eaton Centre which was only a 5 min walk from the hotel! Later that afternoon, we even walked to the ferry terminal to take a 10 min ferry to Centre Island. Unfortunately, it was windy and overcast so the photos did not come out as I had anticipated! To stay positive, we decided to check out Calii love on King St W for some acai bowls and coffee! For dinner, we ended up eating at Pai Toronto, a super busy Thai restaurant. We had to wait 1 hour for a table for two but it was so worth it! All of the places mentioned above are within walking distance from Trump Toronto.


The next morning, we indulged in another hearty breakfast which we had pre-ordered the night before. Even when I'm on vacation, I'm constantly catching up on emails  so it was nice having a comfy bed & a good wi-fi connection to get some work done! Unfortunately, before I knew it, it was time to pack our things and check out of our suite.




A huge thank you to all the friendly staff at Trump Toronto for making our stay so pleasant! I mentioned earlier in this post that I'm always on the lookout for new hotels to check out but I think I finally found one I know I will love every time!



Disclaimer: Trump Toronto kindly hosted my stay. All opinion expressed are my own.


Mom Jean Days ft. Nakd Fashion

Hi babes!

If you have been following our last IG posts, you may have noticed that I am SO into mom jeans at the moment! I meaaaan..I am a Mama, after all! The whole vintage fit denim trend has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years -  so many fashion bloggers, celebrities and members of the public opting for vintage Levi’s 501’s and going for a 90’s a look, but the trend has come into its own right now and is taking off like crazy. I  just bought two pairs from Na-kd.com in two different washes and plan on wearing them with leather jackets and heels, or baggy sweaters tucked in only at the front.  i've seen a lot of ladies style them with lower heeled ankle boots but heels can work just as good. Be sure to stay away from any footwear that’s too chunky (if the jeans are full length) as it can make the silhouette look sloppy and overwhelming. If you decide to have them cropped or cuffed, you can be a little more lenient with your shoe choices. The best thing about wearing Mom Jeans though is how you plan on bringing them into the current times and trends, making them feel relevant and not dated. So with these tips in mind, you can be sure to look fashionable when you wear Mom Jeans and not silly.You can check out how I styled these light wash jeans here:




Ottawa's Trendiest Stops:Quelque Chose Patisserie



Happy Monday, beautiful!

Whenever someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up ( because I only turned 24 last month..), I usually say " nail polish namer" orrrr.." macaron connaiseur!'. The macaron one is probably my favorite out of the two career options, although, it ought to be the most dangerous for my waist line. Long story short, I am notorious for my sweet tooth ( or two!) and is always on the hunt for good macarons!

A week ago, my blogger friend Marie from Mariesbazaar.com were walking down my street after a lunch event  and spotted Quelque Chose Patisserie , a cute macaron boutique. I couldn't believe I had another seen the place before given that I live merely blocks away!  It turned out that the shop had JUST opened that exact date- they even offered the first 45 customers a free macaron, although, we did not qualify showing up around 3pm. Regardless, we set up a macaron date for later that week and it happened!


Did I mention that the location in Westboro has a beautiful terrace space that would be for private and corporate functions,  cocktail receptions,  birthday celebrations , etc.?! They also have the cutest macaron towers that go up to 8 tiers - I can totally see an all blue/ all pink one for a fun gender reveal party!


Marie & I love our macarons so we did not shy away from trying as many as we could- they were so light that u can almost fool yourself into thinking you haven't had that many. We ended up getting a macaron tower with an assortment of flavours- we pretty much tried all the flavors with the exception of pina colada, orange & milk chocolate, matcha tea and s'mores. Our favorite was hands down the lemon & poppy seed one ! You HAVE to try this one. The strawberries & cream was a close runner up and I also loved the Nutella & jasmine tea a lot!



You guys, a macaron tower apparently wasn't enough for us, so, we even shared a chocolate ├ęclair and raspberry tart ( not pictured).

It's safe to say we loved everything given the aftermath of our table situation. I can't wait to go back and love that Quelque Chose opened a location close to home ( they also have on in Vanier ).


Till next bite,

Amira

Preloved and Perfectly Amaze: Working with The Lady Bag





Babes!! How is everyone? The weather here is NUTS. Like, one day it’s freezing (and by the way, I think anything under 84 is chilly but it actually was like super cold), the next day we have pouring rain and tornado watches and lightning, and then it’s like 92 and summer and clear as can be. Sooo I still haven’t really figured out how to dress myself when going out, haha – I’m always too cold or like sweating-my-life-away hot. I’ve taken to toting my parka around with me as a security blanket, lol.
SO – since lots of you still have snow (or live in LA), I figured I would share this easy, layered look to get you through the chillier days – while educating y’all (see how I did that?! So Texas oh.em.gee) about The Lady Bag and how I style my looks with vintage, preloved bags!
The Lady Bag is a family owned business that specializes in buying and selling pre-owned authentic Louis Vuitton goods (and other luxury brands, too). Launched in 2013, The Lady Bag’s goal is to make sure that anyone who wants a Louis Vuitton or designer bag should be able have one! They carry authentic merchandise only, and each bag is authenticated through a team of authenticators (both in-house authentication and 3rd party authentication to ensure that bags are absolutely 100% real. Every bag on The Lady Bag site is guaranteed 100% authentic or your money will be refunded. PS – they also offer 30-day layaway/payment plans just in case. AND if you’re like me, and are always looking for something unique, different, or rare, you can email support@theladybag.com to discuss finding THE piece.
Speaking of “the piece” how incredible is this vintage Gucci bag?! It’s from 1990 – 1999 (omg that makes it vintage and that in turn makes me OLD…anyways) and it’s gorgeous! Brown suede with dark brown tiny G’s, black leather straps, and for a super cool twist, the double G’s closure is gold AND silver. Very unique – and very much in love. Often I find that people find it hard to style brown purses (or brown in general) and I would say it’s a pretty common question that comes up. So – I figured this was a perfect time to discuss styling.
How to work other colors into your life. HA. I’m sure by now that you are all aware of my incessant love of neutrals, i.e. grays, whites, blacks, tans. Brown just doesn’t quite cut it in the neutrals department, but I do think it’s a close runner-up and I enjoy styling with it. If I am going to have brown in my look, then I choose ONE piece that will be that color, and then design around it – think of it as a statement piece.

For this look, I kept everything very clean – clean lines, clean colors. The sweater and cardigan that I’m wearing are actually just one piece – how cool is that? Literally a sweater and cardigan all in one, sooo easy! Really like it, and love how lightweight it is (also to my fellow wool-alergic homies, it’s acrylic and cotton so no itchiness). I added this amazing Dynamite sweater coat because OMG the knit is amazing! The color, the texture, the weight, just SO good. And again, no wool, yay!! The sweater coat has deep pockets and runs true to size – I like rolling the sleeves. Black denim and sleek black heeled booties *which by the way are dreammmmy* complete the look .Everything is kept simple to allow the bag to be the star.
Vintage purses add intrigue, some depth to an otherwise very simple look. In this case, I love how the suede, the thick-knit of the sweater coat, and the lightweight sweater all compliment each other with their various textures. A vintage purse like this Gucci one takes a look from #basicbitch to amaze – and it’s also an awesome conversation piece because of how unique the bag itself is. What do you guys think when it comes to preloved items? Yay or nay, and why? How would you style this Gucci bag? We love to hear from you!
Stay tuned, we have another spring-focused look coming soon with this gorgeous bag, can’t wait to share it with you!


PURSE: c/o The Lady Bag  ::  DENIM: c/o Paige  ::  Boots: c/o WindsorSmith ::  Sweater & Cardigan: by Bobeau c/o Samantha Slaven  ::  Sweater Coat: c/o Dynamite

Flatlay Styling + Affordable Props

There are two things I wish I realized about photography when I started this blog. One: you have to fake till you make it. Two: you have to work with what you’ve got.

There’s this one thing about blogging that really bothers me: it’s the idea that everything needs to be perfect. Including blog photography. It’s the idea that every blogger should live in a house with huge windows, all-white interior, a french bulldog and has always perfectly manicured nails (the blogger.. not the french bulldog..I hope)  .And here’s the thing: we all blog for different reasons. Just because someone wants to start a blog doesn’t mean that they’re planning to quit their job and pursue blogging as a career. Just because YOU want to get better at blogging or photography, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re planning to turn it into a business.
And maybe, you are- and that’s awesome too!

If you’re just starting a blog and getting into photography, it might feel a bit overwhelming. You want your pictures to look a certain way NOW, without realizing that it’s actually a process and you will have to learn a few things. Here’s where the “fake till you make it” attitude comes in.
I remember a few motnhs ago telling my mom that we need to re-paint all the walls in our home and get rid of all the furniture because I want everything to be white. She looked at me and said “um… why?” “well.. because it’s for my blog. I want bright pictures!“. Of course, she started laughing, and told me that I’m nuts. Rightfully so. See, I fell into this trap of wanting  everything to be white, bright and perfect. I didn’t realize that I could create exact images I wanted, without redecorating my entire house.

Today, I will be sharing with you easy ways to create beautiful flatlays! Before we dive in to the tips, I thought it would be useful to share some of what I believe to be essential props to find around the house or purchase so that your flatlays can be poppin!

Books & Magazines

Using magazines is probably one of my favorite ways to “dress up” my shots. I always have a lot of beauty and fashion magazines just sitting around and for some strange reason, I always  have hard time recycling them- I definitely have some hoarding tendencies. Good news is- they come in handy whenever I take flatlay photos. The same thing goes for books- especially the ones with pretty covers. When taking beauty product shots, I’m always careful not to get any makeup on my books, so keep that in mind.

Jewelry

Small rings, necklaces, pretty earrings can easily add a little something extra to your blog images. I find that this works best especially when it comes to flat-lay style of photos.

Throws & Rugs

These are great for adding some texture into your shots. I like to use anything from rugs, to patterned blankets or even white bed sheets. Sometimes when I style my blog photos, I feel like they seem a bit “empty”- almost as if there was something missing. That’s when I usually reach for one of my throws or little rugs and use them to add some texture to my shots.


Stationery

Pretty much any stationery products also work, especially for lifestyle photography. Bouclair is a pretty affordable place where you can find a ton of cute stuff.

Food

I wasn't planning on adding this one but I noticed that food was used a ton in our recent flatlays and I love the different textures they can add to a picture. Cookies, donuts, macarons all work great!


Candles
I mean can’t you tell I love using candles for photography styling? It’s probably because I always have a ton of them sitting around and promised myself not to buy another candle until the summer because I’m getting out of control. White, black or rose gold jars always work best I think and if I use a candle that I already burned, I always make sure to wipe off the soot and clean it up a bit.

When it comes to finding those affordable photography props, I’d say first take a look at what you already have sitting around your house/apartment/room (nothing is more affordable than using something that you already have). You’d be surprised at all the little props you can find around (I mean, one of my favorite props is a cheese board..). When buying little knick-knacks just for the purpose of styling your shots, I’d definitely suggest storing them all together in a box so that when you take your photos, you can easily grab them.

And.. don’t go to crazy. Don’t think that you have to spend a lot of money on those little props.
Of course I am not saying that styling or “dressing” your photos is a must (some of my favorite bloggers use just plain white background for their product shots) but if you start feeling that all of your images are starting to look a bit similar and you feel a bit bored with them, trying to style them can be really fun. I also think that it’s a great way to add some personality to your blog photos and make them unique.

So, now that we have the props down, how should you use them to make a killer flatlay?!


1.Lighting can mean the difference between a gray, blurry mess and a bright wonder-thing of a 'gram. But you don't need fancy studio lights to make it happen. Natural lighting in the morning is the best and if shadows are a huge issue in your photos, shoot on a cloudy day. The type of light emitted in that environment helps diffuse shadows and create fewer of them.


2. Use some plasticine clay from your local craft store to keep rolling products like curlers or shampoo bottles in place. Simply pinch off a bit of the clay and use it to adhere your products to your surface of choice. Your items won't roll around or fall out of place, and you can reuse the clay next time you take a flat lay.


3.Use a really simple backdrop for the products – I usually use a white art board that I lug around with me, or some simple floor boards or marble bench tops can work nicely too. The simpler the background is the more product you can include without making it too busy and messy


4. Tell a story ! Flatlays Flat Lay are compelling because they brings a lot of disparate elements together. But it’s also about the narrative of your image, as conveyed by the things you select, and how you place them. It can be something as simple as “Sunday Brunch” or as expansive as “my trip to Europe,” but your photo should tell a story, and not only showcase off a collection of items

5. It’s really important that you develop your own style rather than trying to copy someone else, particularly as flat lays have become so common. Its nice to see one that has a unique touch, so don’t be afraid to play around with things – even if its using flowers, the use of text, or even different angles