Chemical Peels: Myths Debunked!

imgresA flawless complexion has become somewhat of a life goal. Okay, so it’s not exactly world peace or feeding the hungry but I figure I should start out with baby steps.

Turns out that world peace might be easier to come by than a flawless complexion. I know that some of you, dear readers, think that I am being frivolous or hyperbolic and that’s because you were genetically blessed with a good complexion free from acne breakouts, discolouration, Melasma . . .I could go on.  And some of you, dear readers, know exactly the quest that I am on. Keep reading.

I first discovered Canadian made Miracle 10 when I was invited to an event they hosted for beauty bloggers.   Miracle 10 was developed by Ann Marie MacDonald and acclaimed plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Lista in 2005 after spending years learning about cutting- edge skincare advancements from the best medical doctors and researchers in the world. Together they identified a void in a crowded marketplace where many times promises fail to actualize. After extensive research and development they founded Miracle 10. MacDonald, with her background in dance and psychology, is passionate about providing women with products that allow them to articulate their beauty and develop confidence. Miracle 10 does that by offering just below clinical grade skincare that delivers noticeable results on both a superficial and cellular level at a competitive price.

The Lista-MacDonald team’s life goal doesn’t seem so far removed from my own.

A Chemical Peel Play-by-Play

Elevate_landingpage_v1Miracle 10 Spa offers a variety of medispa treatments including chemical peels – a procedure that had been on my skincare bucket list for some time. I arrived for my scheduled peel 15 minutes early to fill out a comprehensive skin history. After a lengthy discussion with the medical aesthetician, where I fired question upon question at her about side effects, redness, recovery and the epidermis and she patiently and thoroughly answered each one, I lay on the treatment table.

To start, my skin was cleansed to remove make-up using Miracle 10 cleanser. The next step involved dermaplaning, the process of using a surgical blade to gently scrape away two weeks worth of dead skin covering the upper epidermis. There is no blood, it doesn’t hurt and the immediate result is illuminated skin!

When it comes time to apply the peel, the medical aesthetician assured me that the best way for novices like me to begin is with the gentle lactic acid peel.   There are three different peels and each offer their own benefits.

  • Lactic Acid Peels are derived from sugar and are gentle. They are best for hydrating, reducing the appearance of wrinkles and can help improve acne.
  • Glycolic Peels feature glycolic acid and when applied remove the top layer of skin revealing brighter, healthier skin reducing the appearance of wrinkles and acne.
  • Salicylic Acid Peels are made up of salicylic acid, commonly found in over-the-counter acne medication but in a higher concentration and generally help improve the overall tone and look of the skin by targeting pores.

The peel was applied for two minutes, and a fan was made available to cool the skin, but I found that didn’t need this. The treatment felt no more intense than my nightly Alpha Hydroxy cream.

To conclude, the mask was washed off with a fruit enzyme scrub followed by a moisture-rich soothing mask.

It’s important to note that you should always wear sunscreen but it’s especially important following a peel. Also, even though peels are non-invasive and seem as simple as a manicure, it is important to remember that it is a procedure and it is best to have these applied by a trained professional in a doctor/plastic surgeon’s office because there can be side effects.

Admittedly, all I (thought I) knew about chemical peels I learned from Sex in the City. For those unfamiliar, sexy siren Samantha had a peel done and her skin was left a deep shade of crimson. I now know that this is a possibility but a thorough pre-analysis, a well-trained medical aesthetician and low-dosage peel will likely not garner that unfavourable result!

Initially following the treatment, my skin glowed and using the recommended follow-up products has improved the over-all look of my skin. At Miracle 10 they believe skin needs to be healthy, not just pretty but to achieve this standard educated, passionate technicians are a must. And at Miracle 10 you’re in good hands.

Intrigued? Still not sure a peel is for you? Take a look at this video or visit the Miracle 10 Spa in Toronto, or visit their website to order their products to your home!


H20 Float Spa – Floating to Relaxation

float spaI first heard about the float spa from Beth-Anne.  The synopsis: you enter a large water capsule, close the lid and lie there in the dark.  I believe she may have referred to it as a nightmare.

I was like, “Oo, I want to try!”  And in honour of 4 Mothers’ reviews of interesting spas this week, I did. And it was really quite cool.

My local H20 Float Spa, conveniently located on Danforth Avenue, offers two float pods (with lids) and two open concept float rooms (large enough for a couple to float together).  I opted for the pod, which really is large water capsule with a lid, perhaps the size of a queen size bed, filled with 10 inches of water and filled with 1000 pounds of Epsom salts.  At this concentration (higher than the Dead Sea), the body naturally floats to the surface without any effort, which in turn is conducive to deep states of relaxation.

It was this selling point that got me: I am trying to meditate more, and was curious about doing so in the pod.  What would it be like?

The water in the pod is comfortable but not hot – you can’t float for an hour in water that is too hot.  It’s normally kept at body temperature (34 degrees) although when I mentioned to the attendant booking my appointment over the phone that I get cold easily, he increased the temperature a degree or two for my session.  I slipped into the water and immediately was buoyed up.

The attendant had asked me if I wanted cream to cover any cuts on my body, but I didn’t think I had any. Apparently I had small cuts on some cuticles though, and the high salt content of the water meant that the stinging was distracting enough that I buzzed the attendant (there’s a button in the pod for this) to request the cream after all.  I generously applied (and reapplied) this and felt better. (Luckily I hadn’t shaved before floating; I later learned this is not recommended because any little nicks in the skin will sting too.)  I also inserted little spots of wax into my ears; apparently you don’t want the salt water entering the ear cavities.

It’s possible to plug in music to the pod, which I think would be an amazing experience, but for my first try, I wanted just silence.  When I was ready, I reached up for the handle to close the capsule.  When the lid actually clicked shut over me, I had a moment of startled awareness of enclosure. And the sudden, completely absence of light. There was a subtle green glow in the pod when the lid was open, now with it shut, there was a short window of reddish darkness, and then just black darkness.  Pure sensory deprivation.

It was quite amazing.  Weightless, with absolutely no difference to my sight whether my eyes were open or closed, I began my mindful meditation practice.  With so little sensation, what was there was heightened.  I was very aware of the water, its temperature and mine, its texture on my skin (so very smooth), and also what parts of my body were covered by it or exposed. The sounds of my breath were intensified, and almost foreign as it got deeper. My mind wandered (it always does – my meditations are a work in progress), but there was very little external stimulus.  And I don’t think I have ever heard my own heartbeat so prominent and plain.

The one meaningful distraction was the periodic rumble of the subway that makes the location so convenient; in my sensitive state I could both hear and feel this.  I took this in stride with my meditation but could imagine a purer experience without it – some music might mask this beautifully.

I’m fairly sure I fell asleep and woke a few times.  Towards the end of my hour, my meditative state ended, and I very nearly opened the lid (although I didn’t – the lights came on just a few minutes later to signal the end of my session).  I began to wonder:  how much oxygen is in this pod, and was my breathing a bit more laboured than when I started?  In other words, I began to experience some mild anxiety. But I recognized this, and was not actually worried; I had just left my relaxed state.  I finished up with a leisurely hot shower in my floating room, and ended my spa with a hot cup of sweetened tea and an orange.

As Beth-Anne astutely observed from the beginning, the floating pod isn’t for everyone.  Even though there’s only 10 inches of water, I think you have to be really comfortable with water – no fear of it at all – to enjoy the experience.  Also, you have to be a-okay with the dark and small spaces (although it’s absolutely possible to float with the lights on and the lid up, but you’ll be missing the main experience of sensory deprivation).

If you are good on these fronts, by all means, give it a go.  I’m not sure I’ll become a regular, mostly because I rarely go to spas in general, but it was an unforgettable experience and a very good meditation session. The attendant told me that there are some excellent meditators who book three hour sessions. (I had asked him my oxygen question, and he explained that there is a filter inside the pod that is constantly monitoring oxygen levels and adding air so very long sessions are possible.)

And if the pod isn’t quite up your alley, the open concept floating rooms sound very accessible.  There were only couples in the waiting room when I was paying and wrapping up; a casual testimonial, I thought, that floating in the dark with your lover probably makes for an excellent date.  One thing is sure: you wouldn’t soon forget it.

float spa 2

Aveda Facials: A Treat for the Senses

One of the things I love about Aveda salons is the marvellous array of fragrances that waft through the space.  I can’t get enough of their Shampure products, their candles and their essential oils.  The massage that I get with my hair cuts at Civello on Queen Street is a highlight of the experience because I love the essential oils the stylists use for the head and shoulder massage before they begin the hair cut.  Until last week, though, I had never experienced an Aveda facial.

My facial began with a cup of Aveda tea (more great aromas) and a clipboard.  There was a three-page form to fill out that covered my skincare routines, my general health and my concerns.  Very thorough.  It also asked about previous experiences with facials and asked for positive and negative aspects of those experiences.  I particularly appreciated that detail, because it felt like this would be a step in an on-going process, and that the salon wanted my experience to be optimal.  It was!


After I sipped my tea and filled out the form, my aesthetician took me into the treatment room and began with a consultation.  She went over the form and asked some follow-up questions, and then she began the treatment with a sensory journey: I closed my eyes and smelled a variety of Aveda’s Pure-Fume flower and plant essences.  Bliss.  I chose two fragrances that would be used during the treatment, and then got undressed and onto the treatment table.  The room was dimly lit, the table warmed from head to toe, and new age music piped into the room blocked out the sounds from the salon below and the street outside.

The opening ritual of the facial included a quick and soothing massage from scalp to shoulders to arms to feet.   Then she put a hot towel on my face, infused with the fragrance I had chosen, and then cleansed and exfoliated my skin.  The exfoliation is the Aveda version of microdermabrasion, and was gentle but thorough.

Once I was cleansed and scrubbed, the aesthetician covered my eyes with an eye mask and examined my skin under bright light to determine the refinement, massage and treatment options to follow.  While the toner, mask and moisturizing treatments sat on my skin, I got arm and shoulder massages, a wonderful complement to the focus on the face.

Finally, the closing ritual included a gentle stretch and an application of peppermint oil to my back for an uplifting and energizing finish.

My whole body felt refreshed after the facial, and my skin felt smooth, plumped and oh so soft.  I have sensitive skin, but I did not have any reactions to the fragrances in the products.  On the contrary, they were a highlight of the experience.  The products are all plant-based and I really felt like I had done my skin a great service in this multi-step pampering.

One of the best things about my facial is that it was free, and yours could be too!  Every year, Civello salons have a promotion: the amount of money you put on a salon gift card, Civello will match and put on a spa gift card.  Since I know that I will spend a certain amount each year on hair cuts, I get that dollar amount free to spend in the salon.  Until now, I had spent that money on manicures, but I loved this facial so much that I’ll be back for more.


A Week of New and Unusual Spa Treatments



Okay, it’s mid-February, Toronto is in the middle of a deep freeze, and I don’t want to leave the house.  Can’t we channel some wisdom from the animal kingdom – there’s a reason why they hibernate!

But February comes every year, and must be faced when the time comes, and we all must do the best we can with it.  This week, 4Mothers tries to cope with a bit of pampering, also known as the spa.  Most of us like a good spa treatment, but to shake things up a bit, we’ve decided to try some unusual and new spa treatments and report on our experiences.  Stay tuned and see what each of us turn up with.

Also, tell us – what are your favourite spa treatments?  Do you stick with the tried and true, or do you venture into novel territory?  We’d love to hear your thoughts, and we’ll get through February together!

Image credit

Maturity in Makeup: An Interview with Makeup Artist Boriana Karan

“Every face has beauty and personality.  I see where my clients are and where they want to go and look for ways to get there.”  So says award-winning Boriana Karan, one of Canada’s preeminent makeup artists, whose work has appeared in a plethora of magazines, commercials, and videos.

It’s easy to get lost in her collection of dazzling work, yet for all the glamour of her profession, Boriana has a decidedly down-to-earth manner.  She is equally at home in the world of high fashion as she is on the living room floor playing with her two children. So it comes as no surprise that Boriana’s clientele includes not just models and actors, but also the rest of us who seek out individual consultations to help us look our best.

I’ve talked to Boriana a few times about her work, and each time it’s nothing short of captivating.  And since my beauty regimen consists primarily of an annual haircut and flossing, this really is saying something.  I think it’s because her approach to makeup is so thoughtful.  Listen to her:

Like a house, you need to build structure to a face.  I observe how women do their make-up – usually they focus on the eyes and sometimes the mouth.  But every feature of the face is part of the structure and needs attention, so emphasizing one or two features doesn’t create a balanced look.  Just as a good room is created from various pieces of furniture, or a recipe from different ingredients, a face is made of multiple components and requires a structure.  Some components are more prominent than others depending on the person – these components include hair, eyes, a nose – if a woman is lucky, sometimes a mouth – also fullness of the face and colour.  

It sounds very subjective but everyone has to look in the mirror and see what parts of her face’s structure are missing, and then focus on this first.  Maybe you have small lips or big eyes or a reddish complexion or lack of colour or healthy glow in the face – whatever it is, you must address this missing link first.  If you have only a few minutes to do your make-up, this is where you spend it by focusing by building a complete structure from all your features.  Creating these basic structural elements to the face is like creating basic visual manners.  Make-up should have a health and balancing to it before moving onto something more elaborate.  Then, if you have an extra minute, you can go on to something else.  But make sure that this translates into balance of the overall structure.

This reference to minutes is another reason why Boriana has the credibility that she has.  Sure, she can airbrush a naked body into almost anything, but she also knows how it works for most of us, on the ground.  Women are busy; mothers are very busy. “Three minutes – it’s what most of us has,” she says.  In which case you need to know how best to use each of those minutes.

I ask her whether she has any advice to dispense to the everywoman, and the biggest message here, hands down, is to take care with eyebrows. “There is a huge misunderstanding about brows,” she explains. Firstly, girls and women are too aggressive with eyebrows at an early age, and regrowth in the brow zone can be as little as 10%.  But the more we age, the more brow we need.  With age, the asymmetry in the face becomes more prominent and the eyebrows can compensate for that without surgical intervention and create the illusion of better symmetry in the face.   As eyes inevitably become deeper set and faces start to sag with time, clearing underneath the brow and working the top layer can give the face a natural face lift.

Another area that’s often overlooked is colour in general in the face. We’re not talking here about sucking in our cheeks and stroking an angular slash of blush under the cheekbone.  Boriana speaks instead about the apple of the cheek, the highest and roundest part of the cheek most prominent when someone smiles.  She’s seeking here to replicate the flush of youth, the glow that comes after exercise, an external showing of healthy, internal heat.  This is where “makeup can compensate for the lack of a look of health, including the lips.”

Finally, Boriana generally recommends that for women 30 and over, smoothness and softness to the features is usually more flattering than sharper lines. So, as we age, it can be helpful to shift from lipstick to a gentler lip balm, stain or gloss.  Move away from powders to mattifying creams; choose targeted use of concealer rather than a foundation over the whole face.  “Imagine a move from tempera paint to watercolours,” she tells me. “It’s maturity in makeup.”

Boriana is completely engaged as she talks and her energy is contagious.  She has been interviewed for magazines and other print media before but this is her first blog experience.  “Is there a way for your readers to ask questions?”  I’m surprised by this because she is a very busy woman, but I am meeting with her next week and she says she can answer questions then for me to report back.  It won’t be instant gratification, but her thoughts will undoubtedly be helpful, because this is a woman who not only wants you to look your best, but who can actually help you get there.

boriana pic

                    Boriana shows how to match skin ton from a palette of rainbow colours from Make Up Forever


Celebrity Hairstylist, Jason Lee’s Simple Tips for a Hair Refresh


I met Jason Lee on a sweltering, humid July day.   My hair looked as though I had just injected my finger into an electrical outlet. In a bathtub. Not a good day to meet a superstar hairstylist.

Jason exudes cool.

Growing up the youngest of three boys, Jason’s love for art and creative expression were encouraged by his professional parents. At the age of seventeen while working as a choreographer and dancer renowned hair stylist, Sabino DiTacchio, discovered him. At the urging of DiTacchio, Jason studied the craft of hair design and with the pragmatic voice of his accountant father in his head, found a way to marry his passion and practicality with his salon, Salonière.

Jason Lee is no amateur stylist. He’s earned his stripes under the tutelage of masters like Marc Anthony, been decorated with awards from his peers in the industry and has built a loyal clientele of all ages, aptly dubbed “the cool kids”.

His clients rely not only on his skills but his eye for style, which he hones with frequent trips to New York City, his former stomping ground. He finds inspiration everywhere in the city from the architecture, to the fringe art community and the diverse neighbourhoods.

When I go to visit him at Salonière, he’s in his element talking with clients and mentoring younger stylists. The space is bright and quaint with nods to both NYC and Paris in the brick detail, the gilded mirror and the embellished fireplace. Even the name, Salonière is rooted in historical Paris where women would be invited to salons to discuss and exchange ideas about politics, literature or social events. This refuge is nothing like the McSalons that are known for pumping out the perfectly coiffed amid a cacophony of blow-dryers.

Despite, or maybe in spite, of his coolness Jason, Anthony and the entire team at Salonière are welcoming and professional.   Each member of the team conveyed genuine interest in me – what a typical day is like, what are my hobbies, what movies/celebs/books do I like.

It is having a real understanding of his client that sets Jason apart. He is firm in his belief that women can wear any style, any trend, but it is in the tailoring of the style that delivers confidence and is transformative.

I asked Jason to share with our readers looking to update their hairstyle for some dos and don’ts. His advice may surprise you.

Move On From:

  • Chunky highlights
  • Angled bobs
  • Unkempt or inexpensive hair extensions. Extensions require a considerable amount of time and money to keep looking fresh and natural.
  • “Housewives” hair – too long, overly stiff and perfectly curled.
  • Short layers
  • Not taking any time for yourself. Find 5 minutes in the morning to pull your look together. You will exude more confidence and feel better about yourself. Quick tip: Sleek ponytails and polished high-buns are a busy woman’s friend!
  • It’s okay to cheat on your stylist and have fresh eyes give your look the once over. Stylists differ in their technique and may suggest an update.

Do More Often:

  • Communicate with your stylist. Bring pictures of what inspires you – it doesn’t have to be photos of hair. Bring pictures of art, architecture, celebrity style, movies, clothing, and interior design. A hair cut should never be an exact replica of something from a magazine. A good style will reflect your personality.
  • Remember this: lifestyle trumps face shape! Almost every haircut can be tailored to suit your face.
  • Be honest about your lifestyle. You can only love a cut that reflects your personality and is manageable to maintain and style.

Upcoming Trends:

  • Shorter bobs with bangs and texture
  • Bleached out colour
  • Baby fine highlights
  • Anyone, regardless of age, can pull off any trend. It’s a matter of tailoring.

Jason has appeared on E!, Slice, CTV and Entertainment Tonight Canada. His work has also been featured in the Globe and Mail. Be sure to follow Jason on Instagram, stop by Salonière (2470 Yonge Street, Toronto, 416-480-0020)

Go-to Outfits for Moms-On-The-Go by guest blogger, Amy from Joey and the Owl

Please welcome our guest for the day, Amy from the Joey and the Owl.  A new mom to her son Joey, Amy finds herself living in one of the world’s most fashionable cities and yet she lives a real life.  Running around after a toddler in Louboutins isn’t practical!  Amy chronicles her fashionable and functional wardrobe with beautiful photos but it’s her honest and compelling essays on motherhood that resonates with her readers.


So many times when women become mothers, their sense of style goes out the door. I have always loved fashion so after I had my son Joey two years ago, I was determined to find outfits that were effortless, comfortable and stylish. I always feel better about myself when I put in some effort in how I look and dress and I think that is so important for mothers. We give up so much of ourselves for our children and families so I think it is essential we take a little time out of our busy day to apply a little lip gloss, put some curl in our hair and throw on an outfit that makes up feel good about ourselves.

Since we live in NYC and we walk everywhere, comfortable shoes are a must! Joey and I are always running to playdates and classes so I am always buying things that I feel allows me to get down on the floor or chase after him. The first look is a  mid-waisted jean, which is a must when you’re on the ground with your child. The low waisted-jeans are definitely not practical when you are a mother and constantly bending down. I paired my jeans with a simple black turtleneck, flat over the knee boots and a poncho sweater. I threw on a hat with this look because I love hats and I think they make every outfit look more stylish.

Jeans: Madewell

Poncho: Topshop

Turtleneck: Splendid

Poncho: Topshop

Boots: Stuart Weitzman

Hat: Rag and Bone

Amy 3 Amy 1Amy 2The second outfit is a little bootie, with boyfriend jeans, tshirt and a plaid jacket. I am really into plaid this season and I love matching it with leopard so I threw on a leopard belt. I saw this Madre tshirt on a fellow blogger and I had to have it. I just thought it was so adorable! I also don’t carry a diaper bag, I substitute it with a simple tote because it is more stylish and you can throw everything in it.

Tshirt: Riley and Co
Jacket: Gap
Jeans: Madewell
Belt: Jcrew
Booties: Rag and Bone
Bag: Cuyana
Beanie: Gap

Amy 4Amy 5

Amy 6

A Round-up of Beauty Finds

From Nathalie

Pour le Monde Perfumes


You know that I love perfume with a passion bordering on obsession.  I’ve collected perfumes that smell like books, paper and libraries, and I’ve hosted a perfume-themed book club.  Little wonder, then, that when the chance came to sample a new line of all-natural perfumes, I jumped at the chance.

Pour le Monde is a line of fragrances created by Wendi Berger, because when she was pregnant, she struggled to find a fragrance that was not synthetic.  The perfumes are animal cruelty free, vegan and pregnancy safe.  Even better, 10% from each bottle sold is donated to charity (National MS Society, Cancer Support Community and Guiding Eyes for the Blind/Heeling Autism).

The perfumes are crisp, light and crystal clear, and I loved wearing all three.  Envision is a blend of lavender, bergamot and peppercorn; Together is a woodsy floral; Empower is a unisex citrus.  These perfumes tick all the boxes for me: mom-made, all-natural and charity-supporting.


From Beth-Anne

Artist Liner – Make Up For Ever

It’s no secret that I love Make Up For Ever but this Graphic Liner is something that every make-up lover needs to have in their bag of goodies. First off, its ultra fine-tip makes applying a clean and precise line easy-peasy for beginners or those intimidated by eye make-up. If you have a flair for the cat-eye or like to embellish it, this liner is the one you want to be using, and just like in true Make Up For Ever fashion, the colour is perfect and won’t smudge.


Proraso Sandalwood Shaving Cream

I may or may not have a history of sneaking my husband’s razor and shaving cream. I don’t do it often but when I do he always seems to know that I’ve used it. He’s like that princess from that fairy tale, the Princess and the Pea. You can’t really blame me because I love the light fragrance of this foaming cream that is rich in Vitamin E so my legs feels nourished and not scaly or dry. It’s made with natural ingredients including sandal oil and karité butter. Proraso also carries a line of men’s products for beard and moustache care in addition to shaving and brushes.


Mondor tights

What does a taxi driver, men’s micro-shorts and figure skating all have in common? Mondor, a hosiery company from Iberville, Quebec. Mondor sent me a pair of tights to try-out. I will admit to being skeptical that they could be that good. I’ve never been loyal to any brand of tights. I have always found that they never fit according to the chart on the back: the crotch too low or the waistband too high and cutting. Inevitably they all seem to lose their shape and the cheapies always run even with the lightest touch. Mondor has made a convert out of me. The tights fight beautifully, maintain their shape and are durable. It’s no wonder they are a favourite with athletes, including dancers and figure skaters.


Yoga Jeans, Harem pant

Have you seen these Harmen pants from Yoga Jeans? I am obsessed and can’t wait to get my hands on a pair. I have a feeling these will be my go-tos come the spring/early summer when relaxing on weekends. If you’re more stylish than I am, these would pair well with heels and a blazer. I just need to grow a few more inches to pull that look off!



Disclaimer: Make Up For Ever and Mondor both sent me their products to try, but trust me, I only write about what I love and what I think you’ll love too.