Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Our experience at the My Blend Spa by Clarins at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Toronto

In the middle of last week (specifically Wednesday) my Gorgeous turned 40. We celebrated that night with oysters a bit of wine, and some cheap cake :) 

However, it's one of those milestone birthdays that I wanted to make special for him, and that night wasn't the end of celebration… there is no material thing that I could give him, we sort of have all the essentials, and the material stuff I'd like to give him I can't afford at this time… so I decided on a sensory experience.

A day at the spa felt appropriate. Upon recommendation from my sister Kinga, I booked us a Couple's Retreat at the Ritz-Carlton. Three things that convinced me this is the right spot: one she had a great experience there, two it's ubber posh, three conveniently close to us.

We woke up to a very gray, chilly, and rainy Saturday morning (Sandy was on its way). The perfect weather for a spa day. Our appointment started at 10:30am, the spa opens at 9am. We were there at 9:15 to take advantage of other amenities.

We were greeted very warmly, and as I informed the staff upon booking that Jay has turned the big four-oh, everyone that we met wished him a happy birthday. 

First we had to fill out a quick form that I think is standard for most spas… you know: your skin concerns, skin care routine, any medical history or allergies that might require special attention and so on. Then we were separated and were given a tour of our respectful locker rooms. Seriously I just wanted to move into mine. It was warm, inviting, and extremely clean. The lockers have generous storage space, there is a private changing area if preferred, they have a perfectly tiny little spinner to dry your bathing suit in, there are three showers, two of them with shower heads all around, a sauna, a steam room, and a green tea-infused vitality jacuzzi. There is a private relaxation room, and a co-ed one, where one waits and relaxes before, in between, and after a treatment :).

After slipping into our bathing suits, and terry lined robes (linen on the outside) Jay and I hit the pool and hot tub first. It's not the longest or the deepest pool in the world, (only 1.3m max, so no diving), but it is salt water, on the 5th floor with a wall of windows on one side. And as luck would have it we had it all to ourselves :)

Pictured below the pool, hot tub located behind the chaise lounge. It might have been rainy and gray outside, but inside it was bright and welcoming.
 
http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/Toronto/Spa/Default.htm
After 30min of frolicking we split up again. I enjoyed the green-tea vitality pool in my locker room, then some time in the steam room, then a quick shower to rinse off the salt and sweat from my body. After spinning my suit dry I met up with Jay in the co-ed lounge. We had a few minutes to unwind sip some tea, and snack on some dried fruit and almonds before our massage therapists arrived. 

Our first two treatments were performed in our own private room. Pictured below. The beds felt sturdy and very comfortable, no wobble as you are flipping over :) (which I have experienced before). The light was dimmed, there were scented candles burning, and gentle spa music had me floating on could 9 even before I had a chance to lie down :)
My therapist was male, Jay's was female, I don't know why, but it made perfect sense. Jay and I have been together for well over a decade, he works with his hands every day, they are big and a bit callused and can feel rough - a working man's hands… love them :).  I have never had a massage before, so when my therapist first touched me I was so surprised, because I just didn't realize that male hands can feel so incredibly smooth and soft… hahahahaha, I'm a bit of a bumpkin… so let's just leave it at that. Moving on, we had a choice of coconut oil or aromatherapy oils; Jay and I both chose coconut. Hot lavender scented towels are part of the massage, and they felt wonderful. As well a lavender scented pillow is placed on your eyes when you flip over, a lovely sensory treat. Our therapists were informative and friendly; who listened to our concerns and customized our massages accordingly. After 60 minutes of Swedish hand therapy, we were both completely de-stressed.

We had a nice 15 minute break, before our next treatment. The break in between is optional, but we both wanted an intermission to regroup :). We did not want ourselves or the staff to feel rushed.  

Then we were back in our couple's room for our facials. Once again we began with a short consultation, in order to customize our respective needs. After slipping under the heated blanket (heat is optional), another 60 minutes of bliss begun. All products used are by Clarins this being a Clarins spa :) 

Jays facial was so good, that halfway through he fell asleep and had a bit of a snore. We giggled, and his therapist felt she had accomplished her mission by completely relaxing him. Couldn't agree more.

In the end our faces were left clean, soft, moisturized, and glowing… our hair all mussed up as a result of the scalp massage. As we shuffled back to the lounge room to sip some honeydew melon water before out last treatment, I realized that I already want to come back here again.

Lastly it was time to pamper our feet. The nail treatments are preformed using a combination of Clarins and SpaRitual products. The chairs are supremely comfortable , with their own remote controls to set a pulse for a massage (if preferred). I have a bit of a pet peeve when it comes to sharp objects and my toes, but I should have left all those fears at home. My pedi was incredible… I should get them more often.

With a brand new color on our toes, Jay and I once again returned to lounge in the lounge room, to relax, and wait while our polish dried. At no time did we feel rushed to leave. There is a spa menu available, and as it was already 2pm, we ordered two bellinis and some guacamole to sack on. It was delicious.
 Then, sadly before we knew it 3 o'clock struck and we both felt it was time to leave.  As this was my treat to Jay I took care of the bill, and yes it was hefty… lol… we were at the Ritz after all. An automatic gratuity is added: spa treatments 18%, and food 15%. However a bill is printed out for you to review first and if you wish to change the gratuity (up or down) you may. I left it as is, it was worth it.

Now a few days later when I think about our experience, things that first come to mind:
1. incredibly friendly and welcoming staff
2. outstandingly clean facilities
3. blissful happiness 
4. those soft hands of my massage therapist :)

It was the ideal spa experience, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SheaTerra Organics Rose Water Shea Butter Hand Crème

Fall is upon us. I'm transitioning from my citrusy light summery scents, to more heavy heady warm vanilla and rose ones.

Thats me spring/summer = citrus, fall/winter = vanilla-rose.

Since my love for rose based fragrances is growing as days are getting shorter and colder, I was looking forward to give a jar of rose water hand cream from SheaTerra Organics a try.
The cream is incredibly thick and rich, and a very bright shade of white in color. No dry chapped winter hands here. The rose water scent is hard to describe, it definitely has a rose note, but it's more organic. It lingers for a little bit. It's nice, but not as nice as my body cream.
Instructions on the packaging suggest to use a tool to scoop the cream out, but I moisturize my hands after they've been washed, and so I just use my fingers :)

I'm a cream-lotion addict. What some may qualify as greasy, I see as just right. This stuff takes a while to sink in, I don't mind it... but I know not all will like shiny hands. If you want a heavy cream but hate the 'greasy' feeling, I suggest using this before bedtime, maybe even with a pair of gloves.
Packaged in a dark brown glass jar, it looks pretty next to my sink. This jar set me back $18.99 CAD + tax... maybe a little pricey for a hand cream, but I've paid more before... and this stuff feels like it was worth it :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CocoVie Hand & Body Cream in Rose Petals

Picked this up along with a shampoo a few months back at a Green Living show... I'm no longer 100% sure what it cost... but I do believe that the show had a special of 'buy 2 for $25'. I didn't use it for a long time as I was working through my ginormous bottle of Kheil's Creme de Corps :) then I tired this product which I hated more and more each day and just threw it out after couple of weeks.

Then I reached for Rose Petals by CocoVie, made with 100% organic coconut oil and essential oils it just sounded good. Plus a little sniff and sample at the show had me in love with both fragrance and texture of this stuff. It doesn't smell like coconut at all, is smells delicately of rose petals just as the name indicates. The fragrance is intoxicating, my first post shower proof, as I'm sitting next to Jay he leans over inhales deeply and says 'mmmm wow you smell good' :) 

I shower at night, because I tend to work out once I get home from the job... this scent is comforting, but not overpowering, and in the morning I can't detect it at all. My skin is soft and moisturized and I'm free to apply any fragrance I choose without worry that the scent will clash with my body cream.
Texture is deliciously thick and luxurious. I don't need a lot to cover my body, but I can't help but slather this on... I'm going to use this 150g tube up faster than I expected to :) It spreads easily, absorbs wonderfully, and leaves my skin feeling supple and glowy :)
Oh yes this is a definite reorder... I think for the next few winter months I'll be alternating between this stuff and Kheil's :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

A taupe dupe I didn't know I had - Laura Mercier's Alloy and Burberry's Rosewood

So one gray morning I feel all taupe. I don't know why but I thought it will be interesting to combine cream and powder. I haven't used either product in a little while, and without even contemplating if they go together I grabbed Laura Mercier's Alloy and Burberry's Rosewood.
 
 First I slapped on Alloy all over my lid. Then I coated my blending brush with Rosewood and started to work it into my outer corner and crease…. except I couldn't see it… the colors match so closely that I couldn't tell where I put Rosewood on. With more back and forth action, eventually my outer corner darkened slightly, but I think it's a result of the metallic finish of Alloy becoming muted by the satin finish of Rosewood.

Below a comparison swatch on my arm… see what I mean...
 Yes Alloy is metallic while Rosewood is not... but seriously they are the same shade, different finish.
 So what I'm trying to say is that these two colors are so extremely similar that if you own one you really don't need the other… unless of course you do… in which case, carry on :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a little Thanksgiving haul…

It's really terrible of me to be at the mall on a holiday (that would be this past Monday)… my excuse is really lame, and it's no excuse at all… I just wanted to browse Sephora… it felt like it's been a while. Six of these items are from that browsing session, and one I included because it was acquired on Sunday at Vineland ARTfest, on our way to see family.

These are some of my favorite lines. Ones I tend to gravitate to first when I'm looking for something new or to replenish an old favorite.
 
In no particular order, my haul consists of:

Ole Henriksen Truth To Go Wipes - I'm running low on makeup wipes... the "age defying" phrase got me. Plus I've used these before and liked them.

Boscia Clear Complexion Tonic - Running out of my current toner, so I decided to try something new. To date everything I've tried from Boscia I've loved. Hope this will be another one.

Jurlique Hand Cream Trio - One tube retails for $31 CAD, it just made sense to buy a pack of three. I've always been curious about this pricey natural line. I can never have enough hand cream, this seemed like a good start. Three flavors in this package: Rose, Citrus, and Lavender. Sampled all three at Sephora. First impression rich and delicious, just what I want :)

Josie Maran Argan Luscious Lips - I sleep with gloss on. It started one night, when I realized I run out of lip balm. Now I can't stop… even if I put lip balm on, I tend to top it off with gloss before hitting the sack. A couple of times my gloss ended up on my pillow, but no biggie, I do laundry… it comes out easily. Back to the point, JM stuff is beautiful, and when I saw this liquid gold gloss I din't think twice about getting it.

YSL Volupté Sheer Candy, Glossy Balm Crystal Color in Sweet Fig #07- I'm not sure if it really should cost that much, but my gosh the packaging is gorgeous. I chose this color, once I saw it on Sandra from 15 steps, then a beauty blog. It's such a beautiful shade, but I wandered Sephora aisles for a full 15min before I decided it to get it… ah it hurts to pay $38 CAD  for a glorified lip balm, even it it's a beautifully packaged YSL lip balm :) . My swatches coming soon.

Caudalie - Traded in some points for this sample box which includes: cleansing water, vinosource s.o.s thirst-quenching serum, and vinosource moisturizing sorbet. Winter is coming, even my oily skin will need some moisturizing eventually :)

Earth to Body Clay Neem - Acquired at the ARTfest. Powdered clay for face and body. My sisters love this line, and this product appealed to me :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

SheaTerra Organics Gingered Pumkin Whipped Shea Butter

Ok I was a little confused when I bought this :) Because the image showed 5 jars, I thought I will receive 5, 1oz different flavored containers to sample… $7.95 for one is way too many pennies. If I read the fine print I would have bought myself a full sized version.

Especially since this flavor wasn't my first choice to start with. I wanted to try Bananas and Babobab. I should have specified that in the comments section of my order. I didn't so a choice was made for me, and I received Gingered Pumpkin.

The cream has very pleasant texture and as you can see is a pale orange in color. First whiff and omg! this is Thanksgiving in cream form, so I saved it to use during our Thanksgiving :) The scent is so deliciously sweet. I want to eat it not rub it into my skin.  It's a tiny jar, so I keep it in my purse for a delicious hand aromatherapy :)

I thought Laura Mercier was the queen of irresistible food scented body creams… creme brulee anyone, or pistachio… yum… But no I found a new favorite that is much kinder to my wallet.

Beautiful shea butter cream that not only smells delicious but moisturizes beautifully as well. My next choice picks will be Bananas and Baobab or Vanilla and Bourbon… omg that sounds heavenly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Live Clean Exotic Nectar Body Lotion

There is only one thing that I like about this body lotion… the price. I bought this tube at a health show for $4.00. The fact that this purchase was cheaper than a latte at Starbucks is the only reason I don't regret it.

While the price was right, everything else about this product is just wrong for me. I am a body moisturizer snob :) Very particular in my preferences, and what I thought I could get used to, I just can't. Namely this is just too thin for me. I like my body products on the thicker side, this is just plain runny. While easy to spread, it's just doesn't satisfy me.

The scent is also driving me a bit crazy. It seems while it was nice sampled on the back of my hand, it's just a bit much when I cover my whole body with it. Some will find it overpowering (like I do), some will love it, it's on the sweet heady tropical side.

So as you can gather from this short post, there will be no repurchase. Thumb down for the product consistency. I'm sure I'm a minority in this, I know plenty of people who love a light thin lotion, in that case go for it, and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Empties

This is the first post of it's kind of my blog. You won't be seeing these very often, as I tend to dispose of empty containers and not hoard them. But in September I just started running out of one thing after another, and saved the empties for this post. Proof that I actually use stuff up :) In no particular order

Amore Pacific Bio-Enzyme Refining Complex - had this forever.. used sparingly.. but it is finally all gone. While I have no complaints against this serum, I don't have real praise either. No repurchase, the price tag is way too steep.

Shiseido Ultra Sun Protection Cream for Face- love this stuff. I've lost count on how many times I've repurchased this item. New tube already gracing my shelf.

Green Beaver Company Gardener's Balm Hands & Heels with Canadian Organic Cranberry Oil  - This has been wonderful on my feet. A possible future repurchase.

Dior Capture Totale One Essential - Skin Boosting Super Serum - One pump twice a day for my face. I used up a 2.5oz deluxe sized bottle in about 8 months. It retailed for $155 CAD. I bought two, already on my second one. Regular sized 1.7 oz bottle retails for $125. Pricey, still on the fence about future repurchase.

CocoVie ANH-Virgin Coconut Oil Shampoo - I absolutely love this shampoo. I love the scent, the lather, the way it leaves my hair so clean and soft and wonderful. Need to find a store that stocks this :)

CHANEL Perfection Lumiere Long-Wear Flawless Fluid Makeup - I used it practically every single day. Lovely stuff, great coverage, but it does not have the lasting power it claims. The formula coats the inside of the frosted bottle so you're never sure how much is really left, and because the bottle is kind of substantial weight isn't a real give away either. At this time no-repurchase I have 9 different foundations in my drawer I'll use what I have for now, and then probably try something new.
 
Kiehl's Creme de Corps - One liter bottle lasted me 6 months. Now that was a great purchase. Not only money wise but this stuff is also really wonderful for your skin. It moisturizes but doesn't have a strong scent. One of the best moisturizers I've tried to date. I have a couple that I already bought to try... but I see myself coming back to this.

Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil  - My face doesn't feel clean if I don't use this first. A holy grail item for me. I've repurchased this over and over again. A backup has been acquired when I was down to 1/4. This is the ultimate oil cleanser. At this time I have no desire to shop for others.