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What I Wore Last Week

Summer vibes

Linen button-down dress- Urban Outfitters | circle sunnies- Forever 21 | bag + hoops- LBLD (coming soon) | mules- Aldo | necklaces c/o Made By Mary

Summer vibes

Summer vibes

architecture

Summer vibes

Summer vibes

Photos by Ashley Antonio

Try This For Summer-Proof Skin

Try This For Summer-Proof Skin

Any time a product claims to have anti-aging properties, I can't help but slather it all over my face. The only problem is the rate by which I try different products is ever growing, making my skin confused, and often times, congested as a result. But when I happened upon Origins' A Perfect World range, what with their antioxidant support, environmental shields and SPF, not only did I slather it all over my face, but I liked it so much that I stopped slapping other products on. And guess what? There really is something to having a steady beauty regimen made up of only a handful of products— bye bye skin confusion and aforementioned congestion! No one liked you anyway.

Try This For Summer-Proof Skin

Here's what I've been using lately as the foundation of my morning skincare routine: The Antioxidant Cleanser; the Age-Defense Treatment Lotion; the Age-Defense Eye Cream with SPF 20 (a total Godsend!); and the Age-Defense Moisturizer with SPF 40. All are formulated with white tea— which packs major antioxidants for brighter, healthier looking skin— and offers not only a UV shield, but protection from pollution and other environmental aggressors as well. My skin feels clarified after cleansing and applying the lotion, then seriously hydrated after the moisturizer and eye cream, which both absorb into the skin quickly and take makeup really well.

Try This For Summer-Proof Skin

Basically, the entire range is designed to form a protective barrier between your skin and everything else going on around it (suck it, pollution and UV rays!), nourishing it to maintain healthy-hydration levels and prevent fine lines from forming (bless). I'm a pretty big fan of Origins as it is, but this range is really working for me, to the point where I'll definitely be repurchasing these products when they run out, which will likely be any day now at the rate I'm going through them. Good thing the line is affordable to boot (it ranges from $31 to $55 CAD). xx 

Try This For Summer-Proof Skin

Try This For Summer-Proof Skin

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

Off-the-shoulder gingham top- Forever 21 | high waisted jeans- Topshop | slides- H&M (similar) | bag- Cult Gaia | sunnies- Forever 21 | necklaces c/o Made By Mary

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

White sunnies for summer

I think it's pretty safe to say that along with things like sunscreen, popsicles and floppy hats, gingham has secured its spot as being synonymous with summer, but the history nerd in me got to thinking— what's the deal with this checked fabric anyway? How did it get its start, when did it reach mass popularity, and so on and so forth. So as with basically every query in life, I got to Googling... here's what I learned.

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

As it turns out, gingham has a pretty lengthy history. Originally manufactured in Dutch-colonized Malaysia and Indonesia, the fabric was exported to Europe and colonial USA in the 17th Century. The lightweight nature and breathability of the fabric (it's basically a simple cotton or linen fabric with dyed fibres), coupled with the fact that it was quite inexpensive to produce/purchase, led to it's mass popularity. It originally had a striped appearance, but somewhere down the line, checks were woven into the fabric, giving it the look we all know and love today. 

Both England and the States set up their own cotton mills to produce the fabric in the 18th Century, and by the 19th Century, it was widely used for everything from home furnishings to clothing, and even toys and school uniforms for children. But textile history aside, gingham really secured its place in the  conscious collective in the 1930's thanks to Dorothy's iconic, blue-and-white checked dress in The Wizard of Oz, and then again in the 50's with Patsy Clein's rockabilly look and Brigitte Bardot's famed pink-gingham wedding dress in 1959. The fabric had a real moment moving into the 1960's with the Mod movement where it became synonymous with youth culture, then it took the backseat to other popular trends over the next couple of decades, coming back into focus in the 1990's. 

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

summer accessories

Enter the 21st Century, and gingham enjoys continued popularity, especially when summer rolls around each year. It has come to symbolize nostalgia and youth, and the classic fabric is used to sell everything from sun dresses and trousers, to popular off-the-shoulder tops like this one from Forever 21. Now I don't know what tomorrow holds for gingham, but after learning all about this iconic textile, I have a pretty good feeling it's future will be as lengthy as its past.

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

summer accessories

Oh, and since we're going down the fashion history road, did you know that bamboo bags almost identical to this 'it' bag (above) from Cult Gaia originally gained popularity in the 1960's, as did sunglasses like these white ones, which later became iconic all over again thanks to Kurt Cobain in the 90's? #TheMoreYouKnow

A Brief History Lesson on Gingham

Photos by Anton Atienza

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

A few months back, I had the life-changing experience of getting my eyebrows microbladed. Now I know it might seem hyperbolic to use the words "life changing" in the context of a beauty treatment, but for all my ladies out there who also waxed, trimmed and plucked the you-know-what out of their eyebrows only to have them never return (#thestruggle), you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Imagine waking up each morning with full, shapely brows without the need for powders, pencils or gels; it's honestly the most liberating feeling, second only to what I imagine girls with eyelash extensions must feel when they wake up in the morning— you know, put-together and effortless, minus the pesky morning mad-dash to get ready. It really is a game-changer, and because it's such a hot topic of discussion these days (I know many of you are curious based on the conversations we've had on social), I wanted to break down microblading and share my experience with you in today's post. Read on for what the treatment is, what you can expect in terms of healing, and most importantly, what to look for when selecting a brow artist for yourself.

In my case, I was lucky enough to connect with one of the best microblading artists Edmonton has to offer, Natalia Wong of Studio N (located in Studio Mi, 10403 122 Avenue). She came highly recommended by one of my girlfriends who now has amazing brows thanks to her, and after scrolling through all the impressive before and after photos on her Instagram account, I knew I could trust my eyebrows to Natalia. And if that wasn't enough, her brows are the ultimate testament to how awesome her work is— homegirl microbladed them all by herself, which is nothing short of impressive! If you're not based in the area and lucky enough to see Natalia yourself, just be sure to do your research and look through any potential artist's work, specifically at their immediately-after and healed photos to get a good idea of what you can expect. Ask questions about cleanliness during your consultation (oh-so important), and always make sure the artist is licensed/certified based on your country's health regulations. After all, we're talking about getting a tattoo on your face here, so be sure to do your due diligence.

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

WHAT IS MICROBLADING?



Microblading is a cosmetic-tattoo technique that fills-in and builds-up sparse brows through a series of realistic-looking hair strokes. After a numbing cream is applied to the area (bless!), a small, hand-held tool is used— as opposed a traditional tattoo gun— to create micro-cuts in the skin, onto which carefully-selected pigment is applied to mimic the look of hair. Your brow artist will work with you to determine the right shade of pigment for your complexion and desired look. 

When you go in for your first treatment, the artist will spend the bulk of the appointment determining brow shape, thickness and colour with you, measuring for symmetry along the way. Natalia painstakingly mapped out my brows after listening to all my thoughts and concerns, which involved a lot of back and forth until I was comfortable with how my brows were going to look. Be sure your artist does the same for you and that you're 100% happy with what your getting before they start the process— there's no going back!

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

{ A typical appointment can last anywhere from one-and-a-half to three hours, depending on how much your brow needs to be built up, and— if you're anything like me— how picky you are in finalizing the design... bet you can guess how long my appointment took!  }

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

DOES IT HURT?



The most common question I was asked after getting my brows done is probably the one you're thinking right now— 'Does it hurt?!' And in my case, the answer is complicated. I honestly didn't feel a thing during my first treatment... literally nothing. That's how good Natalia's numbing cream is. The only way I even knew anything was happening apart from the faint scraping sound of the blade against my skin was a slight stinging sensation every now and then when the pigment was applied— so basically it was a breeze. During my follow-up appointment, however, I definitely experienced a lot more discomfort, likely because we were dealing with newly-healed skin, but having gone eight weeks with awesome-looking brows by that point, I knew that pain was beauty (so worth it). If this aspect of the treatment is a concern for you, just know that any pain you may experience is very manageable, and that topical anesthetics are a girl's best friend.


HOW LONG WILL MY BROWS LAST?



Unlike regular tattoos, cosmetic tattoos are semi-permanent. There's no definitive answer to how long your brows will last unfortunately, because various factors play a role in this. Your skin type affects the longevity of your brows (ie- oilier skin tends to not retain pigment as well as other skin types), while your lifestyle can play a role as well. Frequent sun exposure, exfoliation (especially in terms of things like chemical peels and facials) and iron deficiencies can also cause your brows to fade faster. But as a general rule, you can expect to enjoy your brows anywhere from one to three years post-microblading.

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE HEALING PROCESS?



Your brows will take about two weeks to fully heal, during which time you will experience flaking and scabbing. It may sound off-putting, but because it's all happening under your pre-existing brow hair, it's really more something that you can feel rather than see, so don't worry too much about that. Immediately after your appointment you may experience redness (I did, big time) and a constant itch, but that's about it. From there, you just have to keep your brows clean by dabbing them the first few days to help prevent excessive scabbing, then apply a daily ointment for the duration of your healing time. Avoid touching or sleeping on your brows during that two-week period, and remember— no brow makeup allowed!

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

FINAL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND



It's totally normal for the pigment applied to your brows at your first appointment to fade slightly during the 6-10 week period between sessions. That's due to the scabbing and peeling associated with the initial healing process, and is the reason why this form of cosmetic tattooing is performed in two separate sessions (generally eight weeks apart). This free touch up gives you a chance to fill in any gaps created by the healing process of your first session (where most of the scabbing occurs), ensures that you're happy with your pigment colour (I went slightly darker the second time around), and addresses any other concerns you may have about your brows. Natalia is big on customer satisfaction, so this step is as crucial to her as it is to you, and I'm sure that any good artist would feel the same.

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

{ A cool thing to note is that in additional to eyebrows, Natalia (pictured above in the Studio Mi salon space) also specializes in nipple areola tattooing, which she offers to breast cancer survivors as part of her cosmetic tattoo portfolio. Oh, and when she's not busy working in her studio, she also teaches students the art of microblading itself— now that's one impressive lady! }

And now for a look at the progression of my brows— it's hard to believe how thin and sparse they once were! 

Everything You Need to Know About Microblading

If you live in the Edmonton area and want to see if microblading is right for you, Natalia offers free consultations— definitely take her up on that, and if you mention this post, she'll give you 10% off the cost of your treatment! For more information or to book your appointment, visit studiobeauty.com.

4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

Off-the-shoulder top- Forever 21 | culottes- H&M (similar) | mules- Oak + Fort (available in grey and black) | bag- Cult Gaia 

4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

Dressing for summer is the best, isn't it? It really doesn't get much easier than throwing on a dress or a couple separates and heading out the door. If you're looking to refresh your summer basics this year, you don't need to go buckwild— the simple addition of a couple carefully-selected pieces is really all it takes to look on trend as temperatures rise (for reals). Now everyone knows to add the S's to their wardrobes each season (you know, shorts, skirts, sundresses), but I would encourage you to invest in a basic pair of culottes (so sophisticated!) and some cute off-the-shoulder tops instead. They're incredibly versatile and likely pair with 90 per cent of your current wardrobe (win!), plus they really are an updated take on classic summer dressing. Here are some of my current favourites...



4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

Similarly, if you can only buy a couple pieces this summer in terms of accessories, opt for a great pair of mules (there are so many awesome styles to choose from on the market now) and a wicker or straw bag. I'm telling you, both items are summer classics, so shop around and invest in pieces that will be durable and stand the test of time, because you're going to want to wear them again... and again. Cult Gaia is undoubtedly the hottest of the bunch right now, but you can find really cool alternatives below or even at your local thrift or consignment stores. And when all else fails, hit up Etsy for a dope circle bag... you're welcome.




4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

4 Things You Need in Your Summer Wardrobe

Photos by Ashley Antonio

3 Ways To Improve Your Blog Over The Weekend

3 Ways To Improve Your Blog Over The Weekend

It's Friday, and if you're anything like me, you're ready to zone out for the next couple of days in blissful ignorance of the upcoming week. You, like, just want to chill, man. I get it. Heck, I live it. But the weekend can actually be a really great time to get ahead of yourself where your blog is concerned, and dedicating little chunks of time here and there can really help move the needle forward and keep you on track without sacrificing your precious time during the week. So with that in mind, here are three simple things you can do to get your site in good shape over the weekend... don't worry, Orange Is The New Black will still be there when you're done. 


1 / AUDIT YOUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS


Social media is the ultimate reflection of your site, as well as a huge way to drive traffic to it, so take some time this weekend to go through all your active platforms. Update your avatars/background images, polish up your bios, and even finesse that (sometimes seemingly useless) LinkedIn account of yours, because you never know what brands may be looking at. I recently spent an entire afternoon updating my Pinterest account, deleting Pins that no longer felt relevant and reorganizing my boards (more Pinterest tips here), and I couldn't believe how cathartic that experience was (not to mention necessary— what was 2012 Vickie thinking?!). Your readers follow you as a package— which very much includes your social media— so be sure it's in tip-top shape.


2 /  UPDATE YOUR ABOUT PAGE


If you check your analytics, I bet you'll find that your About page probably is the most-trafficked page on your site, but for most of us, it's something of an afterthought. So take some time to go through it this weekend and identify any updates it may need. Are there typos? Outdated information? Broken links? How about the photos on it— do they make you want to cringe? Make your About page shine (same goes for your Policies page, if you have one), link to some of your favourite posts for newcomers to discover, then sit back and watch your traffic increase.


3 / LOOK FOR BROKEN LINKS/IMAGES


Here's the thing about your blog— you have no control over which post brings new readers your way. You may have months and months of current content you're super proud of, but blog posts live forever on the Internet, and chances are people are discovering you through that cringe-worthy post you wrote five years ago about what's in your studded Forever 21 bag. Similar to auditing your social, you're going to want to take some time to screen your posts for broken links, images that won't load, or basically anything that would make you want to crawl under a rock if someone saw (definitely on my weekend to-do)... Quality counts!