Back with a Fresh Perspective and New Inspiration

Sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need to kickstart your creativity and breathe new life into your businesses. I recently adventured to the beautiful Greek island of Crete with my *mom and business partner at Better Than Yia Yia’s Mediterranean Catering.

We spent one food and adventure-filled week exploring the island, sampling local cuisine, and seeing some of the most incredible natural phenomena imaginable. Crete is one of the most unique places in Greece and, in my opinion, the island produces some of the most delicious food in the whole country. They are probably best known for their mountain honeys, olive oil, and local cheeses, which are always featured in their traditional dishes.

I will be posting more details about our trip, including where to stay, how to get around, and (most importantly) what to eat when you are there. For now, here are some highlights of the Better than Yia Yia’s Tasting Tour #btyytastingtour.

*Special applause to my mom who, at 58 years of age, decided to launch her own catering business, and at 59, joined me to travel across the largest island in Greece; jump off pirate ships; walk across rock landscapes and climb mountains.

DIY Facials with Greek Yogurt Face Masks

I love finding natural beauty treatments and remedies that work just as well (if not better!) than store bought cosmetics. Earlier this year I experimented with the effects of Raw Honey Face Masks and was blown away by the results! It made me think about other simple, natural products and I remembered my experience with Greek Yogurt.

I learned about the skin healing and beauty benefits of yogurt years ago in Greece. Back then, a local brand called Korres was being sold in pharmacies and specializing in natural and holistic remedies, creams and cosmetics.

The first Korres product I tried was their Yogurt Face Cream. It was supposed to soothe the skin, help minimize breakouts, and have anti-aging effects. Lucky for me, the cream delivered on everything it promised.

(More than a decade later, Korres is now available all over the world and they are still using unique ingredients and plants in their lines. Check them out on Amazon.)

Korres was definitely on to something, but you do not need to visit a cosmetics counter to benefit from the effects of yogurt – instead, shop your refrigerator for some plain Greek yogurt.

Yogurt is full of proteins and enzymes that help soothe, heal and treat your skin.

Gently apply a thin layer of plain Greek yogurt to clean skin for 10 to 30 minutes 2 to 3 times per week. On its own, it will moisturize, exfoliate, minimize acnesoothe sunburns and brighten your skin. For more intense all natural masks, try the following:

  1. Intense Moisture
  2. Exfoliator and Acne Healer
    • 2 tsp Greek Yogurt + 1 tsp Organic Raw Honey + 1/2 tsp Organic Coconut Oil
      • Yogurt is Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal which helps destroy acne-causing bacteria.
      • The Alpha-Hydroxy Acid gently exfoliates by dissolving dead skin cells to give you a youthful, glowing appearance.
  3. Sunburn Soother
    • 1 tbsp Greek Yogurt + 1 tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
      • The Zinc in Yogurt helps heal the skin and removes the sting.
  4. Skin Brightener
    • 1 tbsp Greek Yogurt + 1/2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Which is your favourite Greek Yogurt Mask? Do you have any special concoctions of your own for other skin concerns?

Four Essential Honey Masks

I love using natural products in lieu of store bought beauty products, and I love honey! Honey is known for its health benefits but is often underrated for its cosmetic uses.

Honey has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and healing properties that give you healthy skin and hair. It is also rich in enzymes that calm your skin, and draws moisture into the skin. I recommend using raw honey for beauty treatments since it has not been heat-treated and contains the most enzymes.

Tip: If you do not have time for a full mask, use a dab of raw honey as a spot treatment to heal blemishes.

The next time you are treating yourself to a spa day, try one of these all natural masks. Which one is your favourite?


Happy Earth Day! Pass the Olive Oil…

As you know, I am always looking for natural cosmetics and moisturizers. In the spirit of Earth Day, I am shining a light on the cosmetic applications of olive oil.

Many people use olive oil for cooking because it is rich in vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants and can even help lower cholesterol. It is also found in many cosmetics and hair products because its ability to hydrate, cleanse, condition, and protect hair and skin.

Here are some of my favourite cosmetic applications for olive oil.

  • Olive Oil as Makeup Remover
    • Add a few drops of olive oil to a cotton ball. Gently remove make up and rinse face with warm water.
  • Olive Oil and Honey Hair Mask and Scalp Treatment
    • A healthy scalp is important to healthy hair. In addition to promoting hair growth, having a moisturized scalp will help reduce oil buildup on your hair. A weekly hair and scalp treatment will help your scalp and hair feel and look better.
    • Mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons honey, and the oil from 3 Vitamin E capsules together. If mixture is too sticky, add some more olive oil.
    • Use a paint brush or basting brush to distribute the mixture over damp hair.
    • Wrap hair in a plastic bag. Leave for 90 mins before rinsing with warm water. Use a gentle shampoo and conditioner.
    • Hair will feel smooth and supple.
    • Depending on your hair texture, too much olive oil on your scalp may weigh your hair down. Try adding a few drops on the crown of your head and spreading it with your fingers. Leave on for 90 minutes, and shampoo as needed.
  • Olive Oil “Cuticle Cream”
    • Gently massage nails and cuticles with a  few drops of olive oil.
  • Olive Oil Bath
    • The fastest way to smooth, supple skin is with an olive oil bath.
    • Add 5 tablespoons of olive oil to a warm bath, and soak.
    • The warm water will open your pores and allow you to absorb the moisturizing oil.
    • Indulge your skin  post-bath by using a light application of olive oil as a full body moisturizer.
  • Olive Oil on Salad
    • To get all the benefits of olive oil, make sure you take it internally, as well. Use it in raw applications such as on salads or finishing a pasta dish. Having olive oil raw ensures you are getting all the good nutrients that can otherwise be destroyed when oil is heated during cooking.

I hope this inspires you to incorporate olive oil into your beauty routine. Your skin will love you for it.

Switch up your regular moisturizer with olive oil! Your skin is drinking up the products you use - what better than something you eat?

Switch up your regular moisturizer with olive oil! Your skin is drinking up the products you use – what better than something you eat?


Oscar 2015 Beauty: On the Carpet and at Home

Below are some of my favourite beauty looks from the 2015 Oscars. You can easily re-create the looks at home with my tips and product recommendations.

“No Make Up” Make Up

One of my favourite beauty looks for every day is the “no make up” trend. It has been all over the NYFW runways, so it was no surprise that many starlets, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Lopez, opted for the trend.

Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Lopez let their natural beauty shine through with a natural make up look.

Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Jennifer Lopez let their natural beauty shine through with a natural make up look.

Showstopping Lips

For evenings, I love bold lips and sultry eyes. This look is a classic for the Red Carpet and a definite nod to Old Hollywood. Margot Robbie, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jena Dewan all looked confident and beautiful with their statement make up.

Margot Robbie, Lupita Nyong'o, and Jena Dewan exuded confidence and glamour with their sultry eyes and bold lips.

Margot Robbie, Lupita Nyong’o, and Jena Dewan exuded confidence and glamour with their sultry eyes and bold lips.

Get the Look

Every look you see on the red carpet has one thing in common: a foundation of healthy, glowing skin.

When prepping your skin for a flawless face, what you put into your body is just as important as what you put on. A healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise (sweating out the toxins!), SPF, and proper nutrition is the best place to start.

1.   When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Lemon Water: Cleaning from the Inside Out

Having suffered from acne as a teenager and still having my occasional struggles, I now have the healthiest skin I have ever had in my life. I start each morning by drinking a glass of warm water and lemon juice. Among its many benefits, lemon water helps to cleanse your system of toxins, and maintain skin’s radiance with its antioxidant benefits. Start your day with lemon water, and then eat your greens (if you prefer, have them as a juice or shake) half an hour after drinking your lemon water. Your body will be prepped for digesting and metabolizing all the healthy vitamins they have to offer.

Make sure you are getting all the necessary vitamins. Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin, eyes and immune system. I always make sure to take my Vitamin E supplement with my Vitamin D (to promote a healthy immune system, bones and teeth). Unless you live in a sunny climate, chances are you are not getting enough Vitamin D from moderate sun exposure.

Vitamin supplements are the second best way of making sure you are getting all your necessary daily vitamins. It is always best to consume the natural vitamin source by enjoying a balanced and colourful diet. The more colour, the more natural vitamins. Kale, spinach, broccoli, beets, red bell peppers, nuts and lean proteins are staples to my daily diet and include a wide range of necessary vitamins.

Please note, the above diet and supplement regimen has helped my skin, but may not be for everyone. Please consult a physician prior to taking supplements or making dietary changes.

2.   Water, Water Everywhere

Staying hydrated is incredibly important to maintain a healthy body, immune system, and flushing out toxins (toxins that can inevitably cause acne). Wherever you are, no matter what time of day, you should always be drinking water. While you should be drinking your 2 Litres throughout the day, I start each morning with 1 L, including my lemon water, so I do not forget. It is easier to drink 1 L than you might think, especially if you prepare a full teapot for personal consumption. Coconut water can also substitute some of your water intake for the day.

3.   Start with a Blank Canvas

Now that you have thoroughly cleansed and purified your body, your skin is surely looking radiant. To create the perfect canvas for your make up, wash your face with a gentle cleanser (or if you have very dry skin, plain water). Pat your face dry with a soft towel making sure not to scrub. You do not want to irritate your skin or spread oils if acne is a concern.

Once skin is cleansed, it is time to moisturize. I start by lightly patting an eye cream onto the eye lid, around the orbital bone, and under the eye.

Use your fourth finger to apply in soft taps so you do not pull the gentle skin around the eye. Next apply your moisturizer and SPF in that order. If using multiple moisturizers, apply them from lightest, to richest formulas.

My preferred moisturizer is Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light, followed by an oil-free SPF. If you are going out at night, skip the SPF so you do not feel the product build-up.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light, available at Sephora.

Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light, available at Sephora.

To perfect your already glowing complexion, use your fingers to apply a thin layer of NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer. Conceal any blemishes and underage dark circles with NARS Creamy Radiant Concealer, gently tapping with your fourth finger. I also blend a small amount of concealer on the upper eye lid to provide a smooth base for eyeshadow, or just to provide a flawless appearance. When you are happy with your blending, use a fluffy brush to dust a sheer translucent powder, like NARS Pressed Powder, over the entire face. This will set your make up base. Keep the pressed powder with you throughout the night for touch ups.

Three steps to a perfect complexion: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer for sheer coverage, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, and NARS Pressed Powder.

Three steps to a perfect complexion: NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer for sheer coverage, NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, and NARS Pressed Powder.

4.   Building the Look

Once your skin and base is complete, the rest of the look is easy. Choose either your eyes, your lips, or your cheeks to emphasize, unless you are going monochromatic for the “No Make Up” trend.

Among the Red Carpet trendsetters, there are subtle differences between each of the women.


Make Up Nudists

Jennifer Aniston – Greek Goddess

Jennifer Aniston has perfected the California-Surfer-Greek-Goddess look like no one else. Growing up Greek, myself, she has been a pinnacle of beauty and elegance that I used to shape my own look. To replicate subtle healthy glow, use to products with a bronze hue keeping the skin matte, lips glossy, and eyes bold. Use a matte bronzer, like NARS Bronzing Powder, and apply highlighter under the brow bone and above cheeks for a glowing look. Use a subtle brown gloss with some shimmer, like Laura Mercier Lip Glace in Bare Beige, and load lashes with a curling mascara like Dior Overcurl.

Reese Witherspoon – Pale Perfection

Reese has perfected the “No Make Up” trend, with the only noticeable colour being on the eyes. The subtle orange-brown showcases her blue eyes, and her muted creamy pink lipstick is meant to look like she is not wearing anything. Using a peachy brown eye shadow hue like MAC Eye Shadow in Texture, sweep the colour onto the upper lid and lightly as a liner on the lower lid. Her cheeks are dusted with an ultra-sheer wash of colour, like Clinique Blushing Blush in Aglow, and the lips have just enough colour and sheen to look healthy. Try Bite Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in Salut.

Jennifer Lopez – Glamour Barbie

Jennifer Lopez’s make up is all about big lashes and a luscious, healthy looking Barbie-pink smile. To get the look, prep the eye by applying a thin line of dark eyeliner like Lancome Le Crayon Eye Kohl in Black Coffee  to help false lashes blend in. Next, glue your band of false lashes as close to the lash base as possible. For a dramatic look, choose a dense set like 156 Genevieve by Make Up For Ever. Complete the look with a light pink lipstick with a blue undertone like Buxom Full Bodied Lipstick in Mistress.


Bold Bombshells

Margot Robbie – Understated in your Face

For going out, Margot Robbie’s look is a personal favourite of mine, and is incredibly easy to pull off. Start with defining your brows with a matte shadow and lightly pulling the colour through the hairs with an angled brush. Lancome Color Design Eyeshadow in Vintage works well for my dark chestnut brows. Load upper lashes up with a black volumizing mascara like Dior Diorshow, and lower lashes with MAC Extended Play. Finish the look with a matte, orangey-poppy red lipstick, like my personal favourite NARS Heat Wave.

Lupita Nyong’o – Dewy Perfection

When applied with a light touch, luminizers can be your best friend and will take your look to new heights. For Lupita’s dewy skin, mix a little bit of luminizer into your foundation or tinted moisturizer (before applying your setting powder). Her make up artist has used it all over, but you can also control the product and just apply under the brow bone, above the cheeks, the bridge of the nose, and lightly on the chin. Try BECCA Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal. Next, create a smokey eye look with a cool icy shade like Make Up For Ever Eye Shadow in ME 116 Silver. Polish your pout with a beautiful glossy and glitter bronze like Buxom Full On Lip Polish in Ava.

Jenna Dewan – Magic Mink

Jenna Dewan’s look is all about lush, soft, mink lashes. Similar to Jennifer Lopez’s lash-ious look, apply a thin line of black eye liner to the upper lash line so the lashes blend seamlessly. Try the Too Faced 3-Way Lash Lining Tool to wiggle colour as close to the lash roots as possible. Apply a band of dense lashes like Make Up Forever Lash Band 30 Zoe. Finish the look with an electric orange-red lip stick like MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger.

By following my easy make up and skin care tips, you can replicate your very own red carpet beauty look at home. The most important thing with make up is to have fun! If you do not like the look, just wash it off and start again.