Filed under: Beauty Swellness

Beauty Swellness: Backstreet Boys mani


I’m on my way to see the Backstreet Boys in Vegas, baby! While I’ve seen BSB in concert many, many times, I think this show in Sin City will be extra fun (and I should hope so as the tickets cost a small fortune!).

So what better way to declare my boy boy band love than with a fun mani from Tips Nail Bar? The awesome Naomi Misu at Tips wasn’t too familiar with the wonders of BSB so she had to watch music videos and research some photos to see what they look like (and she was thorough, she noticed AJ is always in shades!).

I’d asked for each of their faces, and then because I love the Millenium album, I also asked for the silhouette of the album cover (the boys all standing in their white outfits) on another nail, and the rest were simpler (a heart, a star, BSB and 4ever — the BSB Naomi did in the typography from one of their albums, she’s the best!). I love how she did Nick’s hair and the shades on AJ are the best!



The nails make me giggle so much. And I have to laugh because while they’ll make sense this weekend while in Vegas, after this weekend I’ll just be the weirdo with the Backstreet Boys nails (…or is that what I am now??). Or maybe as someone at Tips (another fan) said, “Backstreet Boys is always in style.” Hahaha!



Oh, and a PSA for all the non-fans: Backstreet Boys has not gotten back together. They’ve never broken up! Kevin left briefly but he’s back. They’ve been recording regularly all these years!

Leave a Comment March 17, 2017

Beauty Swellness: Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa


If I could afford it, I’d go to the spa at least twice a month; once for a facial and for a massage the next visit. Going to the spa often looked at as decadent pampering but taking care of your skin and body (not to mention how the time at the spa can benefit your mental well-being) should be a priority.

For that reason, I was happy to discover Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa last month. I was invited to try a facial there in exchange for a review, and I’m surprised I’d never heard of or seen the spa before considering there are 20 locations in Ontario. One location is just a short walk away from my home so it was super convenient, huzzah!

The spa itself, in terms of set-up and decor, is pretty typical. Fairly clinical. Clean and quiet. I feel they’d benefit from less prominent stock photos of spa-ing. I think it detracts from the quality of the spa, especially considering they use premium skincare lines (Dermalogica, Yonka and Diego Della Palma).

After assessing my skin and learning I wanted to focus on radiance, my facialist decided to use Dermalogica on my dry (but oily in the T-zone) skin. She asked me whether I wanted quiet time to relax or if I wanted her to walk me through the facial as it progressed, which I appreciated (I don’t think all spas think to ask). Key to the facial that day and for my ongoing skincare, she said, was to exfoliate a couple of times a week. Which I know I should do, but I get lazy. I left the spa relaxed and my skin felt great.

What I like about Hand & Stone is that it aims to make facials and massages something you incorporate into your lifestyle. For your first introductory treatment, the cost is $64.95. And while you don’t need to have a spa membership, which is free, as a member you benefit from cheaper treatment rates (about $30 cheaper). The membership is based on going in monthly for a treatment, i.e. providing your credit card for a monthly spa treatment. Which if you can afford $69.95 each month, great (N.B. Adding on extras like a peel or serum, for example, costs more, and prices vary from location to location). But you’re not tied to going every month. You can cancel your membership at any time, cancel an appointment with enough notice (or else, yes, your credit card will be charged for the month), or put your membership on hold for six months to a year.

I see it as a way to get a monthly treatment that’ll do you good and in a more budget-friendly way than many spas. And if you can’t justify that cost on a monthly basis, you just need to be diligent enough to remember to cancel your standing monthly appointment (the way you used to for Columbia House back in the day, or more recently with companies like Mint where I’ve ordered shoes from). I’d just schedule a reminder each month into my calendar so I could decide whether I wanted a treatment that month, and cancel in time if I didn’t. Just calls for being organized. And worse comes to worst: you forget to cancel in time and you have to get a spa treatment. Hardly an ordeal. 

My facial at Hand & Stone not only left my skin feeling great, but it was a good reminder to give my skin more TLC. I’ve applied a masque since the appointment, started again applying a serum or two at bedtime and have used the Dermalogica products I received after my facial. And my skin looks and feels better; it’s less dehydrated and a friend told me I looked more rested.

Want to learn more about Hand & Stone? Check out


Leave a Comment November 11, 2016

Beauty Swellness: The power of scent


A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Terre Bleu Lavender Farm thanks to Pine-Sol, and it was all to learn about the power of scent. Fragrance is, of course, a big industry not just when it comes to the perfume you wear but also in products you use, including your household cleaners like Pine-Sol.

I learned from Lauren Otis (of Pine-Sol R&D) and David Ballingall (of International Flavours and Fragrance) that they take inspiration from a range of categories, including fashion, food and beverage and home care. Clorox (the maker of Pine-Sol) works with the 3Ds in mind, that is desire, decide, delight when developing a product’s scent: they work to understand a consumer’s needs, and aim to surpass expectations when it comes to that need, which results in delight, which leads to desire for the product and, if all goes well, the consumer will decide to buy that product once again.


Lavender Pine-Sol, which has been on the market for a few years, came about because lavender exudes a clean freshness, and there is much research about its aromatherapy benefits. Otis and Ballingal spoke about how scent helps us interpret the world around us, and how it can evoke memories and transport us to another time and place. We all know how true that can be; a scent that always takes me back to my childhood is the scent of lilacs because we used to have lilac trees in our backyard.

If you’ve wondered how developing fragrance for bath and body differs from that of a  household cleaner, Otis and Ballingal said factors such as strength, bloom and substantivity come into consideration. What’s that mean? Well, this will help paint the picture a little better: while you might want some lingering scent from your body wash, it is possible you don’t want the lasting fragrance to be too strong since you may also be applying body lotion, perfume and hairspray and any number of other products after your shower. For your household cleaner, on the other hand, a longer lasting fragrance is what many of us want since that fresh scent will come to denote a clean bathroom, for example, for you and your family and any visitors.

Learning about the power of scent was all that much more lovely since we were doing it while dining on a delicious citrus and lavender-infused lunch at the pretty Terre Bleu farm (where I’m definitely returning next summer before the lavender has been harvested!). Lunch complete, we toured the farm and were sent home with lovely lavender goodies, including of course, Pine-Sol to get our homes clean and fresh.



Leave a Comment September 15, 2016

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