Archive for Jen O'Brien

Superfood Skin Care Products You Need Before The Big Day

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup

superfood skin care

Photo via iStockphoto

Life’s big events provide great incentives for adopting new healthier routines, whether that’s a change in diet or a more regular workout regime. Since you’re likely to start paying more attention to what you’re putting into your body in the lead up to your wedding day, it’s also a good time to start reconsidering what you’re putting on it — especially where skin care is concerned. Did you know that certain superfoods can be just as beneficial for your skin as they are for the rest of your body? According to Charmaine Cooper, lead educator at Dermalogica Canada, nutrient-rich ingredients commonly found in trendy superfoods have long been on the radar of skin care professionals as topical treatments.

“Superfoods support the internal health of the body, which includes our internal organs. However, only about 10 percent of what we ingest, makes its way to the outer organ of the body: the skin,” Cooper explains. “The majority of those ingested nutrients work to support internal functions and our internal organs. Since our skin is the largest and most outer organ of our body, it undergoes a lot of assault. Pollution, harsh climates, UV radiation are among the few elements that we are dealing with daily. The skin also secretes toxins that have been accumulated and loses daily nutrients and moisture that it naturally possesses. It is therefore crucial to skin health that we apply nutrients topically that support the daily function of the skin.” She adds that many of the nutrients available in antioxidant-rich food that you also see cropping up in skin care products are nutrients that the skin should have normally produced on its own, but with age, lifestyle and the weather, the production of key nutrients decreases.

We’ve rounded up three of the hottest new superfood ingredients out there that are also great for your skin.

superfood skin care products

Photo via iStockphoto

Tamarind

What is it? A pod-like tropical fruit that contains sticky sweet and sour edible pulp.

What does it do? “Tamarind seed extract is rich in polysaccharides,” Cooper explains. “It possesses a similar structure to hyaluronic acid and is therefore abundant in its source of hydration for the skin. It also prevents trans-epidermal water loss.”

Where can you find it? Tamarind seed extract is a key ingredient in Dermalogica’s Sound Sleep Cocoon, a revitalizing gel-cream designed to be applied at night to help skin stay hydrated while it works to repair, rebuild and recover from the stresses of the day.

superfood skin care products

Photo via iStockphoto

Kombucha

What is it? A fermented sweet black tea.

What does it do? Rich in vitamins and organic acids produced through the fermentation process, kombucha is thought to offer protection against skin-damaging pollutants and free radicals while enhancing skin luminosity, reducing the look of fine lines and pores, improving elasticity, and enhancing skin tone, texture and moisture levels.

Where can you find it? Kombucha is centre stage in Fresh’s Black Tea Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence. This age-delay product, which is applied after cleansing morning and night, is designed to protect skin from pollution and promote a youthful clarity while fading fine lines.

superfood skin care products

Photo via iStockphoto

Coconut

What is it? The fruit of a coconut palm, which is filled with fatty, nutrient-dense meat.

What does it do? Packing with essential fatty acids and vitamin E, coconut oil hydrates skin while delivering antioxidants to fight the signs of aging.

Where can you find it? Kopari’s line of coconut skincare products celebrate the tropical fruit and its many beneficial properties. Start by removing impurities with the company’s cleansing oil, then balance pH levels and tighten pores with the Coconut Rose Toner. Finish by replenishing nutrient levels and hydrating while strengthening skin’s protective barrier with the Coconut Face Cream.

Why Namibia Is The Perfect Place For A Royal Honeymoon

Royal Wedding

namibia honeymoon - sossusvlei

Yes, there are cheetahs, lions and zebras galore, but these once-in-a-lifetime safari encounters are only a small part of Namibia‘s charm. The country, known for its breathtakingly vast deserts and seemingly endless horizons, is perhaps one of the best places in the world to really get away from it all and spend time alone with your new husband.

Located in southwest Africa, Namibia is not only home to some of the continent’s most jaw-dropping sights but also some outstanding, remote, luxury properties so you’ll understand why Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were repeat visitors and why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would choose this destination for their honeymoon.

Since gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, the country has also developed a strong culture of conservancy. Endangered animal populations that were once dwindling are now on the rise and scenic attractions, like the stunning dunes of Sossusvlei and parched white clay pan of Deadvlei, remain pristine.

Here we’ll introduce you to six of Namibia’s top honeymoon attractions, which are currently some of the best kept secrets in Africa — trust us, they won’t remain so for long!

Namibia Honeymoon Guide

View more from our Namibia Honeymoon Guide ›

The Trick To Looking 10 Pounds Lighter In Your Wedding Dress

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Photo via iStockphoto

There’s no doubt that religiously attending spin classes and sticking with a strict healthy diet in the months before your big day can help you look and feel fabulous when it comes time for your walk down the aisle, however, there’s another (much more easily achievable) way to ensure your body looks its best in your wedding dress. Going for a professional bra fitting and investing in the right undergarments well before the main event can have a truly transformative effect.

“Getting a bra fitting is so important,” says Maggie Hess, a fit consultant for Wacoal Canada. “When you have the right undergarment everything hangs so much better, your clothes fit better, and you can look 10 pounds lighter!”

Hess explains that when it comes to shopping for undergarments, most women are doing it all wrong. “Most wear the band too loose and the cup too small,” she explains. “Ladies also get really hung up on bra sizes, but a number doesn’t mean anything.” Hess recommends trying on every bra you’re considering buying. “Don’t just assume that you’re a 36C and go with that,” she advises. “Not every brand fits the same and not every style fits the same. Sometimes even black bras and beige bras in the same style will fit differently! Just because you like it on the hanger, it may not be the bra for you.”

When it comes to your wedding day undergarments, Hess says it helps to have some options purchased before going dress shopping. “If you don’t have the right undergarment with you and you try on a bias-cut satin dress, for example, you might immediately rule out that style of dress. Without the right bra on hand you might avoid trying on dresses that could be very flattering on you,” she explains.

For women with larger chests, Hess says support should come from the band of the bra, not necessarily the straps. “The band will give you the most support and three to four hooks in the back of a bra will give you more support so you’re not sagging,” she explains. “Also, a three section cup can move your breast tissue to the front so you look less wide.” Hess says that full-chested women should also gravitate towards double-lined fabrics and look into minimizers if the goal is to look both lifted and less busty. “If you have the right bra you might not even need shapewear,” she says.

Smaller-chested women can opt for pushup bras, maybe with an extra pad on the inside, for a bit of extra lift and fullness or go in the complete opposite direction with a more natural look. “I’ve noticed lately that a lot of smaller-chested women don’t necessarily want to look bigger so in that case they’ll go with a bralet or a lacy balconette bra with a vertical seam that will lift the bust and give shape and a bit of cleavage without showing under clothes.”

Hess notes that finding the right bra can even save you money on alteration costs. “I was fitting a lady, she was the mother of the bride, and she had a beautiful dress. She thought she needed alterations for the dress she purchased but she just needed the right bra to make it fit better.”

Finding the right bra for your big day also means looking for a piece that’s high quality. Wacoal bras are some of the best on the market because of the design process, fabric and fit. “Every style and every size of Wacoal bra, from design to production, is fitted on real women. It’s about a nine-month process and they use metric system so the measurements are much more precise,” says Hess. “I do dress making so I know what I’m talking about,” she adds.

How To Take Your All-Inclusive Honeymoon In Mexico To The Next Level

Travel » Honeymoons

all-inclusive honeymoon in mexico - poolside bali beds

An all-inclusive honeymoon in Mexico is the perfect choice for couples that like the idea of a fuss-free beach getaway close to home. Cancun has become a particularly popular spot for these types of vacations with its direct rear-round flights from Canadian gateways, fascinating natural and historic sites nearby, and fabulous beachfront accommodations that are just 20 minutes from the international airport.

Searching for a spot to stay on this swath of sand on the Caribbean Sea you’ll quickly realize that you’re spoiled for choice. However, for your honeymoon no typical packaged trip will do. Your post-wedding mission should be an excuse to spoil yourselves with five-star accommodations, gourmet food, bucket list experiences and the type of service typically reserved for VIPs.

Paradisus Cancun is one property that’s reinventing the all-inclusive experience on the Yucatan Peninsula with its Royal Service offering. This adults-only resort within a resort features luxury amenities for travellers looking for an elevated travel experience (think butlers and bespoke service instead in place of babies and buffets).

Read on to learn about all the ways you can take your honeymoon in Mexico from basic to brag-worthy with a high-end all-inclusive experience in Cancun.

Three Skin Care Ingredients Every Bride-To-Be Should Know About

Fashion & Beauty » Skin Care & Makeup

Photo via iStockphoto

Your wedding is obviously a day when you strive to look your best, hence the popularity of bridal fitness bootcamps. But while countless brides concentrate on exercise during the sometimes busy and stressful wedding planning process, proper skin care can often take a back seat. However, considering the number of professional portraits (and selfies) that will be snapped on your big day (probably more than you’ll have taken on any other day of your life), getting your skin in top shape for the big day is equally (if not more) important than achieving that elusive Victoria Secret runway show bod.

So how soon after getting engaged should you get serious about kick-starting your wedding skin care plan? The answer is: immediately, according to Chloe Smith, national education and scientific communications lead for SkinCeuticals. “The earlier you start investing in your skin, the better the results will be come your wedding day. Women should take this time as an opportunity to develop healthy skin habits for life,” she explains.

When it comes to getting your visage wedding-ready, there are a few key skin care ingredients that are guaranteed to give every bride-to-be great results, regardless of skin type. Here’s what they are, where to find them, and how to use them:

Ingredient #1: L-ascorbic acid
“This is the biologically available form of Vitamin C,” Smith explains. “It increases the skin’s antioxidant reservoir to combat oxidative stress caused by environmental factors like UV, pollution, and infrared radiation. Vitamin C also codes collagen gene transcription to both prevent and protect against fine lines.”

Find it in: SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic. This best-selling serum is designed to give skin its required daily dose of Vitamin C.

How to use it: Apply L-ascorbic acid as a first step after cleansing and toning in the morning.

Ingredient #2: Retinol (Vitamin A)
“This ingredient interacts with cell DNA to optimize cellular functions such as regulating pigment production, increasing epidermal thickness, and regenerating collagen,” says Smith.

Find it in: SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 or 1.0

How to use it: Retinol should only be applied at night since it degrades in sunlight. Cleanse your face then apply retinol and wait at least five minutes before applying another product (this is to guarantee a full metabolization into the skin. A product applied immediately after dilutes retinol’s efficacy). “We recommend everyone start with Retinol 0.5 once a week,” Smith explains. “SkinCeuticals retinols can have up to a three-day time delay for side effects like peeling, redness, or sensitivity in first time users. As the skin adjusts to retinol, usage can be increased to every other night.”

Ingredient #3: Proxylane
“This ingredient stimulates the production of dermal hyaluronic acid,” says Smith. “Hyaluronic acid is a key component of the dermal extracellular matrix, and it provides structural support to the skin. However, the HA molecule is too large to penetrate the skin so we need ingredients like proxylane that stimulate HA production internally. The result is restored volume, a reduction in fine lines, and smooth skin texture.

Find it in: SkinCeuticals H.A. Intensifier

How to use it: H.A. Intensifier can be applied twice daily. In the morning, cleanse skin, apply CE Ferulic, then H.A. Intensifier. In the evening, cleanse skin, apply retinol, and then apply H.A. Intensifier.

The Prettiest Canadian-Made Engagement Rings

Fashion & Beauty » Jewellery

Engagement season is currently in full swing and there’s absolutely no reason to look beyond our borders when it comes to gorgeous wedding bling. Canada is home to a host of world-class design studios producing some of the most beautiful bridal jewellery on the market today. And what better way to honour your roots than with an engagement ring that was designed and crafted right here at home?

From internationally-acclaimed artisans who have been in the business for decades to the new homegrown jewellery brands poised for success, we’ve rounded up a collection of the prettiest Canadian-made engagement rings from some of our favourite designers.

The Coolest Place To Honeymoon In Europe

Travel » Honeymoons

Budapest is a symphony for the senses; a place as charming as it is modern and exciting. With its dazzling architecture and burgeoning food and fashion scenes, this central European city is poised to become the next Paris—minus the pretension.

Nicknamed the spa capital of the world for the hundreds of thermal and mineral springs that run beneath the city feeding its numerous bath houses, relaxation is an integral part of daily life in Budapest. For centuries locals have been “taking the waters” to cure everything from hangovers to arthritis.

Budapest is also a place where derelict buildings are being transformed into trendy ruin bars—another of the city’s claims to fame (hence the aforementioned hangovers!).

An average summer afternoon might include a trip to the Széchenyi Thermal Bath, one of the largest bath houses in Europe with 21 pools and 11 saunas, followed by lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant (there are several to choose from) serving modern takes on Hungarian classics like goose liver and goulash, and local wine spritzers on a sun-speckled terrace on the shores of the Danube.

The romance of Budapest is undeniable, and at the heart of this is the city’s connection to its musical heritage. Handsome, captivating piano virtuoso and composer Franz Liszt is a national hero (even the international airport bears his name) and, in some ways, Liszt has become a muse for the city, which shares his famous characteristics.

Whether wandering Budapest’s cobblestone streets, touring the bustling market halls or enjoying an evening at the iconic 19th-century opera house, it’s easy to lose yourself in the quiet rhythm of this place and almost impossible not to fall in love with what you discover.

We’ll show you some of the best honeymoon experiences the city has to offer.

This Might Be The Ultimate Wedding Gift

Planning

iPhone X

Extra jewellery is always nice and, sure, your significant other could probably use a fancy watch to wear on special occasions, but there’s a new tech accessory on the market that we think trumps either of these items when it comes to the ideal wedding gift. The ultra buzzworthy iPhone X hit stores today and it’s actually the perfect wedding day companion.

Check out all the cool ways this state of the art smartphone can enhance your big day:

1. Animoji messaging
Sometimes a smiley face just doesn’t get the point across (especially on the happiest day of your life). Animojis, probably the most hyped feature of the iPhone X, on the other hand, are able to capture and analyze over 50 different facial muscle movements to bring emojis to life in a fun new way with audio. Now you can deliver a lighthearted message to your sweetie moments before walking down the aisle without revealing your dress!

iPhone Animoji

2. Enhanced selfies
Yes, you have obviously hired a photographer to capture every element of your day from beginning to end, but that doesn’t mean you won’t still want to snap a zillion selfies to immortalize your perfect hair and makeup. The iPhone X might just be the best selfie camera on the market. Its seven-megapixel front-facing camera supports Portrait mode (where the subject in the foreground is in focus and the background is blurred) as well as Portrait Lighting, allowing you to give your photos a flawless studio effect or dramatic stage lighting look.

iPhone Camera

3. AR apps for newlyweds
Apple’s iOS 11 ushered in a wave of amazing augmented reality apps. One of the most impressive is IKEA Place, a must-have for any couple furnishing a new home together. This app uses the iPhone’s camera to scan a room then allows you to select and drop furniture into your space while viewing it from every angle on your phone.

Before your honeymoon you’ll also want to download Sky Guide, a stargazing app that will help you identify and learn about the constellations you’re bound to see on your post-wedding vacation in paradise.

4. Party-proof design
It’s also worth mentioning that the iPhone X features the most durable glass ever in a smartphone — this means if you happen to drop it on the dance floor after one too many cocktails it should be okay.

Trendy Destinations To Consider For Your Honeymoon

Travel » Honeymoons

trendy honeymoon destinations - kauai

Your honeymoon is the chance to splash out on the trip of a lifetime (you can even opt for a travel registry to cover some of the cost) so no ordinary vacation destination will do. Think of this post-wedding trip as the opportunity to take a bucket list vacation that you’ll still be talking about on your silver anniversary.

Where in the world should you go? We asked the experts at travel search engine KAYAK for some intel on which destinations are trending with Canadians right now. Click through the gallery below to explore the top five spots Canadians have been searching for in the past six months. Some of the results may surprise you (but they’re all great honeymoon options).

When it comes to nailing down your dates the experts at KAYAK say that Friday is the cheapest day to fly out and start your trip compared to any other day of the week, while returning home on Monday is your best bet (all the more reason to take an extended vacation). Keep in mind that, according to KAYAK, flight prices decrease slightly for domestic flights on Tuesdays and international flights on Thursdays so those would be the days to search for and book your trip. You can use this helpful tool to get a rough idea of how much your dream destination will cost during the time you’re hoping to honeymoon.

This Wedding Was Shot On An iPhone And The Photos Will Amaze You

Real Weddings

This couple used beautiful rustic décor to add romance to their industrial venue, then Toronto photographer Barb Simkova captured all of the stunning details using the new iPhone 8 Plus.

From the photographer: “I love that an iPhone allows you to capture something quickly, with little technical knowledge and set up. Portrait mode blows me away – some of the images that come out of the iPhone in portrait mode have such a beautiful depth to them that I find myself exclaiming, ‘THAT was shot on an iPhone?’ I also find that the low-light capability of the iPhone 8 Plus is quite astounding. The quality of colour that the phone is able to pick up and the quality of the images that you can capture without motion blur or too much grain is really surprising.”

“The portraits of Kristen with her flowers are my favourite. These images were lit from behind, which gives her the beautiful glow. Historically, backlight has been more challenging to capture on phone cameras, and the iPhone 8 Plus’s ability to deal with that type of light – which we wedding photographers spend all day hunting for – is a game changer.”

From the bride: “We were going for a casual, rustic feel with our wedding. We didn’t have a ‘theme’ or ‘colours’ per se, we just knew we wanted a lot of neutrals and greenery to give the industrial space at Evergreen Brick Works a somewhat romantic feel. We had always loved the space at Evergreen and couldn’t picture any other venue for our wedding. We wanted the decor to be minimalist such that it would complement rather than overpower the existing aesthetic of the venue.”

“From our perspective, the band was key to the whole evening. We still have vivid memories of our guests running to the dance floor from across the room when they heard the beginning of a Backstreet Boys’ track.”

“At one point in the night I looked over my left shoulder to see my 86-year-old grandfather busting a move – a sight I have never seen before in my life. Our whole family was amazed and I can guarantee that moment will be etched into my mind forever. It was a testament to the energy in the room. Our families were living in the moment that night and the excitement was incredibly contagious.”

“After being together for 12 years, we wanted to plan a wedding that was very ‘us’ – something casual but heartfelt that was riddled with personal touches. Our wedding day turned out to be just that. The energy and pure, genuine excitement we felt throughout the day, from beginning to end, is something we will never be able to replicate. Our family and closest friends really made sure we felt the love in a big way.

Kristen Holman and Robert Frasca, October 7, 2017, Toronto, Ontario.

Photography courtesy of Barb Simkova from Tara McMullen Photography.

Vendors
Ceremony venue: Trinity College Chapel
Reception venue: Evergreen Brickworks
Bridal gown: Pronovias from Ferre Sposa
Groom’s tux: Nino Cerruti
Cake: Le Dolci Bakery
Flowers: Sharon Johnson from Coquette Studios
Hair and makeup: Bespoke Beauty
Favours: Blood Brothers Brewing
Stationery: DIY
Day-of coordination: Andrea Hanifen and Julie Stulberg from Kari Lywood Events
Caterer: Cafe Belong
Music: Off The Wall (guitar, Jeff Eager; bass, Mike Ferfolia; drums, Marco Stornelli)
Midnight snacks: Great Canadian Food Truck
Coffee truck: Brightside Brew
Sweet table: Baxter’s Bakery

Rime Arodaky Fall 2018 Wedding Dresses

Fashion & Beauty » Wedding Dresses

Photos by Greg Fink

Parisian designer Rime Arodaky kicked off Bridal Fashion Week with a collection that is equal parts chic and edgy. Showcasing her signature rock ‘n’ roll style, Arodaky sent a variety of silhouettes down the runway, ranging from dresses to separates.

Inspired by the mantra “French Rebel,” Arodaky sought to challenge traditional bridal style ideals with her new line by pairing classic demure necklines and embroidery with sexy thigh-high slits and bold, statement-making ruffles.

To spite her modern point of view, Arodaky admits that she continues to draw inspiration from 70’s icons such as Jane Birkin and Romy Schneider, and her elevated boho bridal aesthetic is one that continues to grow in popularity with each passing year.

This Is A Wedding Photo Game-Changer

Planning » Photo/Video » Planning

Photo via iStockphoto

Great photography is a wedding essential and, let’s face it, these days couples count on guests for cool coverage almost as much as they rely on their pro wedding photographers. The reason? These two sets of pictures serve totally different purposes. While pros are employed to capture the artistic images that will fill Facebook albums and live on mantles for years to come, friends and family are typically called upon to document the event as it’s happening, populating the day’s hashtag with gorgeous FOMO-inducing images that will present the celebration in the best possible light.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier for amateur photographers to capture beautiful photos. iPhone users now have access to a whole new suite of tools perfect for snapping flawless wedding shots.

With the introduction of iPhone 7 Plus came portrait mode (allowing the shooter to focus on the subject and blur the background) and 12 megapixel wide-angle and telephoto cameras, and with the launch of iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, hitting stores in late September and early November respectively, the smartphone’s camera will be improved yet again with larger and faster sensors, new colour filters, better image stabilization, faster auto-focus in low light and a portrait lighting feature, which promises studio-quality illumination. Meanwhile iOS 11, which launches September 19th, will give iPhone users access to new filters inspired by classic photography styles and a photo feature that can transform any Live Photo into a loop, bounce and long-exposure shot.

Check out these iPhone photography tips and where they can be incorporated into your wedding day. To ensure your wedding hashtag is blowing up with only the best possible images, share these tips with guests beside your hashtag signage and appoint a trusted friend whose photographic style you admire to use these pointers as your honourary iPhone photographer (because everyone loves a special job on the big day).

To make sure you don’t miss the first kiss
Swipe to the left from your lock screen to quickly access your camera.

To get that ultra-flattering couple shot
Try photographing in open shade (like under a beautiful tree) for the most flattering light.

To shoot an artsy shot of the venue
Try turning your phone upside down and shooting upwards toward the ceremony or reception venue for a dramatic angle.

To snap a drool-inducing wedding cake shot
Use portrait mode. You can use this camera setting any time you want your foreground subject to pop. Use it to shoot food, flowers, or even the wedding bands.

To photograph the first dance, even from far away
Crowds tend to congregate quickly when the first dance is announced. Thankfully on iPhone 7 Plus a 2x camera is available in all camera modes, which means you’ll be able to capture a perfectly-framed shot even at a distance. Just tap on the “1x” icon on the camera screen to immediately switch to the 2x camera.

To capture the bouquet toss in a unique way
With the introduction of iOS 11, wedding guests will have so many more cool ways to capture motion with Live Photos. Just ensure that the Live icon at the top of the camera display is yellow and apply Live Photo effects after the shot is snapped. To apply an effect, swipe up on the photo in the Photos app and choose loop, bounce, or long exposure.

5 Jaw-Dropping Spots To Get Married In St. Maarten

Travel » Destination Weddings

spots-to-get-married-in-st-maarten-oceanpoint-azul-rooftop

Not all destination weddings in the Caribbean need to be laid-back beach affairs. St. Maarten, in particular, is the perfect island to host an action-packed party for a crowd that wants to stay busy beyond the beach.

With a prime location between Anguilla and St. Kitts, this popular cruise ship port with both Dutch and French roots has developed a reputation as the “Vegas of the Caribbean” for its high-end restaurants, bustling casinos and world-class nightlife. This is the sort of place where, if you’re lucky, you just might spot Drake at the club for Ladies’ Night or P. Diddy leading a late-night conga line from the black jack tables to the bar.

St. Maarten also boasts an array of stunning wedding venues, from picturesque patios with views of Maho Beach and its iconic oceanside airport to chic rooftop spaces perched above the sea.

We’ll show you the best places to get married in St. Maarten.

Three-Ingredient Cocktails Your Guests Will Love

Planning » Reception Ideas

three-ingredient-cocktails-mint-julep

Complex cocktails are fantastic for a night out on the town, but probably not so appropriate for your wedding day — after all, nothing kills a party quicker than a super long lineup at the bar. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still have cool signature cocktail offerings at your celebration that extend beyond vodka sodas. The solution? Opt for cool wedding drinks that are both tasty and simple for your bartenders to make. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite three-ingredient cocktails that are as beautiful and wedding-appropriate as they are delicious and easy to whip up.

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