Delectable Punjabi-style roasted eggplant bharta

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On the hunt for an aromatic, delicious & exotic dish to make your tastebuds smile ?  Not only is Delectable Punjabi-style eggplant bharta so surprisingly easy to make, the flavour you get from the roasted eggplant coupled with the other ingredients are sure to be individual & crowd pleasers.  Out of the many curried dishes we like, it has to be one of our fave’s.

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Ingredients :

1 head of garlic ( or about 5-6 cloves )

1 chunk of ginger ( about the size of your baby finger )

1 chunk of fresh turmeric ( about the size of your baby finger.  Fresh turmeric can be found in the fresh produce section of your grocery store right where you find your ginger and it makes a noticeable delicious difference in your recipes.  We highly suggest you try it! )

1 whole medium – large white onion

2 medium sized eggplant

5 medium tomatoes

1 whole bunch of cilantro ( we love cilantro )

4 red chili peppers ( more or less to liking )

1 heaping tbsp cumin seeds

1 heaping tbsp garam masala

1 heaping tbsp coriander

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup veggie broth or water

Suggested Base: Brown basmati rice, wild rice or whatever kind of rice you like ( make as much as you will need for as many servings as you like.  The eggplant bharta makes enough for about 2-3 servings ).  Or serve with roti.

Protip option : If you want to be a bit more adventurous with the spice levels, make a little extra rice or roti on the side to give you some insurance to balance the spices with.   That way, you can vary the levels of spices with each bite, and adjust to taste.

 

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Step 1 :

Get your rice started because by the time it’s done your curry will be done!

Step 2 : Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees and put your eggplants on a bake sheet.  Bake at for 25-30 minutes or until the skin looks shrivelled and eggplant is collapsed.

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Step 3 :

Add your cumin seeds to your frying pan with a few table spoons of water or veggie broth.  Let them simmer for a few mins.

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Step 3:

Chop your whole onion and add to the frying pan.  Add a few more table spoons of water and let the onion cook until see through & soft.

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Step 4:

Chop your garlic, ginger, red chilis & turmeric and place in the frying pan.  Add about a quarter cup of veggie broth and cook on medium heat for at least 10 minutes.

Step 5 :

Chop all of your tomatoes finely and add them to the frying pan.  Stir them in the mixture on medium heat and let them simmer for at least 20- 25 minutes.  Next, add your garam masala and coriander.  The mixture of all of these ingredients needs to become like a paste so the liquid of the tomatoes will slowly cook off and they will disappear into the mix.  This is how you know its done, this procedure cannot be rushed.  It’s truly labour of love – it will be worth it!

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Step 6 :

Take your eggplant out of the oven, remove the skins and chop it very finely so there are no chunks whatsoever.  Then add the eggplant to the frying pan.

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Step 7 :

Let the eggplant really mix into the rest of the paste so that the flavours all blend together beautifully.

Step 8 : Chop your entire bunch of cilantro ( leave a little for the garnish on top ) and add the rest into the frying pan.  Stir in for a few minutes and serve on or with rice or with roti and voila!

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Eggplants are known to improve digestion and aid in weight management so no need to hold back with portion sizes on this dish.  They also help with sleeping better so eat better, feel better, sleep better.  Like all whole food, plant based, oil free recipes you are healing your body with every bite – so splurge & enjoy.

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A special thank you to Simer for the making of this recipe.

Namaste,  my muse and I.

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dry brushing benefits.

Ever wondered what the whole dry brushing craze is over or even what dry brushing is?! Us too.  Dry brushing has actually been practiced for over thousands of years and after doing this for a few months we can see why.  Adding 5 minutes to your morning routine may seem like a lot when sleep time is precious but once you start to see the results, you’ll be glad you started.

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What is dry brushing & how do I do it?  Dry brushing is when you take a natural haired brush and you brush your skin in upward motions, starting at your ankles and working your way up to your neck.

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Benefits of dry brushing are : stimulates the lymphatic system, gives your skin a gorgeous glow, creates smoother looking skin, removes cellulite over time, helps digestion, prevents premature aging ( very antiaging!! ), tones the muscles, stimulates circulation, increases cell renewal, strengthens the immune system, removes dead skin, helps the skin absorb more nutrients by eliminating clogged pores,  and the list could go on and on…

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Directions :

1. Right when you wake up, before you go pee ( if you can ) dry brush on a dry skin.  Doing it before you go to the washroom is important because you are removing a lot of toxins that will be released when you go pee so it’s even more effective.

2. Start brushing in firm ( but not too hard ) circular, upward motions rather than long & smooth strokes.  This will be more stimulating.

3.  Use the diagram above to guide you as you need to follow the lymphatic system.  Always move in movements towards the heart as this is the way your lymphatic system flows so you will want to flow in the same way for maximum results.

4.  On your lower back you can brush up but on the upper you can add your handle to reach all the spots you couldn’t reach without it. ( see above picture the brush with the handle and without – they come with a removable handle for easy use )

5.  Make sure you brush everywhere and be a little more gentle on your delicate areas like the chest and neck.

6.  Hop in the shower and wash away all of the dead skin cells & impurities and then add a nice moisturizer after and your skin will feel invigorated, smooth and soft.

7.  Quick tip!  Natural haired body brushes can be found at Winners, drug stores, Walmart etc.  The best deals I’ve seen are at Winners! $10-$15 you’re set and they last a very long time.

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Try this every day for a month and you will be surprised in how amazing your skin feels and how much smoother it will look.  Don’t take our word for it, go ahead and try!  Happy brushing.

Namaste.  My muse and I.

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a natural way to soft & smoother hair

The use of Apple cider vinegar for various cosmetic purposes can be traced back to the Roman times.  Today we are using it for the hair as a treatment.  I was really skeptical about this but wow, it really works and there are many benefits besides making your hair soft, smooth and voluminous!  It also simulates scalp to promote hair growth, cleanses the hair without stripping natural oils, removes build up from chemical products, helps hair retain moisture for future conditioning, antibacterial and antifungal properties to help with flaky and itchy scalps and closes the hair cuticle allowing for shine and fewer tangles.

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Here are the simple steps to the treatment :

Bring 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar in a cup or any kind of container with you when you shower (A plastic container is safer in case you drop it).  If your hair is dry use a little less vinegar.  If your hair is oily use a little more.  First wash your hair & then rinse.  Then take the vinegar and pour over all of your hair and scalp making sure it’s all saturated.  Leave it in for a few minutes, rinse and voila!  Your hair will feel very squeaky and clean and you may think oh my I need to add conditioner but don’t.  Just dry your hair and you’ll be amazed at how soft, smooth and especially voluminous your hair is!!  I have no volume in my hair and hate adding volumizing products because they always leave my hair feeling weighed down or grimy so this was really amazing.  My hair was left feeling light, soft and had the most volume I’ve ever had naturally.

This isn’t a treatment for every wash but I’m definitely going to add this into my routine once every month or two.  It really does get rid of any product build up and my hair felt so healthy after.  It’s a must try!!

For the regular weekly washes I like to use Davines and Kevin Murphy which are paraben, sulphate & cruelty free and use a lot of natural ingredients.

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The new repair me line has natural pineapple extract, smells like a dream and leaves your hair feeling so soft yet not weighed down.  Love, love, love.  The blonde angel is also amazing for keeping the blonde looking nice and ashy ( I’m not a fan of brassy blonde ) and the young again infused treatment oil is awesome to apply on the ends of your hair when it’s wet.  You won’t be left with any oil feeling in your locks & your hair will feel nourished.  Great for little fly aways too.

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My hair routine steps : first wash with repair me wash, second wash with blonde angel wash & leave on for a few mins ( I have to wash twice as my hair is very oily ).  Rinse, then condition with repair me rinse.  Towel dry, then I spray in the oi all in one milk, add a few pumps of the young again oil to the ends and then a quick blow dry.  After it’s dry I add a bit of the Kevin Murphy fresh hair to the roots as even after I wash & dry I have no volume and this adds amazing volume without feeling like I have product in my hair.  It also absorbs oil throughout the day which is a big thing for me.

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Please note – after the apple cider vinegar treatment I did not add any styling products as there was so much volume and softness so there was no need!

I hope this inspires you to try a very simple, yet effective at home beauty treatment that I think you will love!

Namaste.  My muse and I.

Select photographs by Iulia Agnew, of Vancouver, BC.

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putting natural deodorants to the test!

I have always equated the thought of natural deodorants with the lingering scent of stinky BO.  Doing Yoga, and as a generally active person, I sweat a lot and I’ve always thought I needed something more powerful and the only kinds out there that were powerful enough were the “Secrets” and “Doves” of the world.  Well, I’ve recently learned that this is not true…and I’m so happy about it!  I never liked the idea of what the mass deodorants and anti perspirants really do – in a nutshell – they try to stop the sweat by clogging your pores full of chemicals . So the fact that I’ve found a few things that actually work.

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Here’s what they are :

First step is to get rid of any smell.  Freshening in the AM is important.  The simple way to do this is to take a cotton pad or the edge of your wash cloth and saturate with white vinegar.  Yup, simple, white vinegar.  Yes it’s smelly but vinegar is an anti bacterial substance and instantly gets rid of any smell you may have under your pits!  The scent goes away within minutes and you literally will feel fresher, for real.

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Next is to put on your natual deoderant.  The 2 brands I have been trying are :  Saje, the peacful warrior  &  Mamalani, olu olu that we picked during a recent trip to Hawaii .

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The Saje one is in a spray form and I do about 5 sprays per side, let it dry and I’m good to go!  I really do find the tea tree oil in this one helps you smell fresh throughout the day I’ve been loving it.  I sometimes take it with me if I know I’m going to have an extra long day and do a refresher spray half way through the day and it really works.

Ingredients : potassium alum, essential oils of palmarosa, rosewood, sandalwood, lavender, lime, patchouli, fennel and vetiver.

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The Mamalani is in a powder form and I take about a pea to dime size in my palm and place it over my entire under arm and kind of pat it so that it stays in place.  There is a little that falls but it just brushes away easily.  This one has rosemary, sage & peppermint and again I really feel like these combat the smells throughout the day as they really smell fresh!

Ingredients : baking soda, pia ( arrowroot ), kaolin clay, olena ( Hawaiian turmeric ), organic essential oils of rosemary, sage and peppermint.

I have been a hard core “sweater” since a young age and I don’t even want to think about how many shirts I’ve ruined from using the “other” deodorants.  They leave this film that is eventually impossible to get off and therefore, shirts are ruined.  They also leave these horrible yellow stains that unless you’re wearing a yellow shirt…are literally impossible to get out.  Now with these natural deodorants I sometimes still get a little yellow under there but I can easily get them out with a natural stain remover and I find the yellow is less – if that makes sense.  In the past, after one wear, bam. Yellow, stinky and slimy!  Like gross.  But not anymore…

So for someone who really puts these natural deodorants to the test, I find that these work and I feel like I’m detoxing my armpits.  They feel so free and like they can breathe….If armpits could speak, I’m sure this is what they would say.  In fact, I think they whispered that to me in my last Yoga class.

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I’ve only named the few of positive impacts for me but I know that there are also a lot of other health and environmental benefits to going au natural.  I’ve heard of so many of the mass deoderants being linked to bad things so I just feel a lot better about letting my pits breathe at last.  Hope you’ll give it a shot and let us know what you think!

Namaste.  My muse and I.

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how to choose the right shade of blush…

Choosing the right blush…It can be overwhelming at the best of times. The right blush can make you look younger, brighten any skin tone & even create the illusion of cheekbones!  Here are some tips to find the perfect one for you.

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To keep things as simple as possible I’m going to choose the main 3 skin tones ; fair, medium & dark that of course have many shades in between but with these 3 you can guide your way around to find which tone you are most comfortable with.

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Fair.  A lot of ladies with fair skin tones are afraid of wearing blush for fear of looking like a clown.  Understandable, but for the fair skinned ladies it is more  important for them to wear it as they have the tendancy to look very pale and washed out without it.  A little can go a long way.  If you’re fair, they key thing to remember is to stick with soft pink and peachy shades.  Both of these tones will be super flattering and if you’re wondering which tone to go with just remember if you are a more pinky undertone stick with a soft pink tone and if you are a more yellowy undertone stick with peachy tones.  The direct picture below is a blush by Cargo in shade Tonga, one of my personal faves for everyday wear.  It flatters every look and just really enhances ones natural skin tone.

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Medium.  In the medium skin tone range there are a wide rang of shades to choose from.  This tone could go from a soft apricot, to mauve…to soft berry.  For me the key when choosing a medium skin toned blush is to choose a medium tone, nothing too dark.  That sounds really obvious, but for example a full out deep berry toned blush would be way too harsh looking.  But a softer berry would look stunning. “Mauvey” & berry tones will give depth to medium skin and a soft apricot will give warmth.  You choose depending on the look you are going for.  If you chose a warmer apricot shade you could go heavier on the rest of your makeup as the warmth of this blush would give a soft & fresh look.  If you chose mauve or berry you could do a beautiful cat eye with a soft berry lip.  Beautiful.

The shade in the picture below is by Nars in Amore and I love it on a warmer skin tone to really bring out the cheekbones and freshen up any look.

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Dark.  Dark skin tones are really quite simple & easy.  Just remember those with dark skin tones shouldn’t be intimidated by deep blush shades.  This tone needs highly pigmented, bold shades or they will look muddy and won’t even show up.  I love using a deep rose tone in a cream to really enhance their glow and the below blush in the picture is one of my faves.  It’s Stila convertible lip and cheek in Rose.  It adds a stunning pop of colour on the cheeks and lips and really ties together any look in minutes.  Throw it in your purse for quick touch ups when you’re on the go as they are also finger friendly.  I find they actually work better with the fingers as the product really melts into the skin and looks more natural.

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So give your apprehensions about blush shades a vacation & get excited about trying something new.  I have a few more last tips before you go on your blushing journeys.  Remember that not all shimmer is bad.  Shimmer and sparkle are not the same and a slight shimmer can actually look beautiful and really add a flattering glow to any skin tone.  Fair to dark!  Also make sure you feel the texture before purchasing.  I really love a soft, buttery, glowing texture & look as it will read the same on your skin.  If it feels chalky, it will look chalky.  While you might be used to going with what you are most comfortable with, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone a little & have a few shades on the go but deep down if you know you are never going to wear it, don’t buy it.  We all have those products in our makeup cases that we had good intentions of wearing but never have and never will.  Being wasteful, well that’s neither conscious or in good taste.  c15

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Happy blushing ladies.

Namaste, my muse and I.

Select photographs by Iulia Agnew, of Vancouver, BC.

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conscious classic fashion…

Fashion has always been a huge part of my life… And it would definitely be an understatement to say that my style has evolved drastically over the years.  I would say now I consciously choose to buy less & more classic pieces that last and never go out of style.  I never used to think about how buying trendy things was not only bad for the environment but how having so much clutter around us effects our energy every day as well.

Here are a few key things I live by when making a purchase and a few key things that I think are must haves in every closet…

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There are 5 important pieces that I will have in my closets at all times.  They are :  A good sweater that can work as a jacket for our Vancouver weather, a good pair of nice fitting black pants, interchangeable t-shirts, classic gold jewlery ( I love gold ) and a wicked pair of flats & booties.

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T-shirts are really important to me.  I find over the years they are what I wear the most as they are always in style, they are comfy and you can layer on top of them.  I am on the go a lot and need to be able to take off and put on layers in the car, in stores etc and they really make my life a lot more comfortable because lets admit, as we get older…this is more and more important.  I’m all about the comfort.  I usually have about 5-8 t-shirts on the go in different colours and textures as the material really matters.  I buy quality over quantity and I am honest when I say some of them last me 5-10 years.  I take really good care of them and figure why buy new ones if they still work and if I still love them…no one needs to know hehe.

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Sweaters, oh sweaters.  I love them because I’ve realized over the years that I hate wearing bulky jackets.  Sweaters are just so cozy and if you get ones that can act as jackets well then you’ve scored.  I have a few on the go all year round in neutral colours because even in the summer there can be some cool nights where a sweater is all you need to keep you warm on your long beach walks by the stars.

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Jewelry is one of my favourite ways to glam up a look.  Adding something really simple can completely change your outfit in a subtle, beautiful way.  I love gold everything and I absolutely love to layer my jewelry.  I love chic pieces that never go out of style and go with everything I love to wear.  Statement rings with mesmerizing gemstones are my most favourite pieces to wear. The more the better!

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Black pants…  I probably wear black pants 5 out of the 7 days in the week.  I’ll switch my tops, but I don’t switch my pant colours as they are just easy and who says black is boring? I think it’s classic & beautiful as it features other colours & gold perfectly.  I love a skinny black jean or a looser style fit that is fitted at the waist and the ankles.  Both comfy and both go with pretty much everything I own.

Flats & booties.  Most of the time, I’m in comfy black flats…but if I feel like changing it up a bit, I’ll wear comfy booties – high or low.  I’m not a shoe addict.  I know, you girls out there are probably like WTF.  No, never have been.  I just really like to have about 3-5 shoes on the go all year round that I rotate and I’m happy with that.  All my shoes / boots / sandals are classic so they go with everything.   I think having thousands to choose from would just really stress me out so I’ll stick with having less options.  Saves time in the morning anyways & less goes in the landfill when their time is done.

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I have come to the place in my life where I consider what the impact of every purchase I make will have on the environment.  Fashion is included in this because all of our purchases end up somewhere at the end of their useful lives.  I don’t want to just buy something and a few months later decide I don’t like it so it ends up in a landfill which is why I choose to buy classic, quality pieces that last years and years.

These kinds of things keep me up at night. Everything we do has a cause and effect & I don’t want to ever be supporting something that is harmful to the planet.  wherever possible, i try to  I can make a difference, no matter how small.  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” – Margaret Mead

Sweater : Vince,  Black pants : JBrand,  T-shirts : Vince,  Jewelry : Kvbijou,  Booties : Rag & Bone.

Namaste, my muse and I.

Photographs by Iulia Agnew, of Vancouver, BC.

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the secrets to glowing summer skin…

Sitting by the ocean with the wind blowing in your hair, late summer nights when the air is so warm, walks along the water… take me there.  Summer is right around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited.  Scratch that – excited about all of it except the dreaded sun damage.  Sometimes it happens when we forget we’ve been in the sun too long and those harsh rays can do some fierce damage.  I’ve got some favourite products that will keep your skin damage free and your skin looking smooth & glowing all spring and summer long.

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Smooth skin starts with exfoliation.  And there are so many ways to do that… Right now my favourite routine is using my sea sponge with my fave body wash.

Some cool facts about sea sponges are that when they are harvested they are trimmed on the outer edges ( like pruning trees ) and this actually makes them regenerate!  I love that.  They are also hyp0 -allergenic and toxin – free.   Synthetic sponges are often made from petroleum bi-products and are normally treated with toxic substances. Organic sea sponges are actually filled with natural enzymes that inhibit the growth of mold, mildew and bacteria.  All of these features are huge bonuses on top of the fact that they gently exfoliate your skin every time you use them…they are little ocean gems.

The body wash that I love using with my sea sponge is the Korres shower gel in “fig”.  The scent is intoxicating and it is free of mineral oil, silicones, ethanolamines, parabens and propylene glycol.  It has moisturizing ingredients, emollients and humectants to keep your skin feeling soft, smooth and moisturized.  I love it in my bath too!

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Next step to your summer glow is St. Tropez self tanners.  Self tanning at its finest.  I have been using this line for many years and the results are consistently amazing.  They have really nailed the formula down so perfectly so that your skin will never look orange like an oompa loompa or come out looking streaky.  It will just look natural and gorgeous.   Another big thing for me is the smell.  So many of the other brands out there wreak once they are on your skin and trying to sleep with a stench steaming off your body is not pleasant to say the least!

Some of my other favourite features is that it dries quickly after you apply so that you can put your clothes on shortly after.  I’ve put a white shirt on right after and it’s been totally fine.  If you’re ever scared because you see that some of the colour has rubbed off onto your clothes if you’ve sweated or had a long day, don’t be alarmed because it’s an all natural product and it washes out no problem.  I actually spilled an entire bottle on white sheets one time and of course I had a freak out but to my surprise it washed right out!  Pretty cool.

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The two products in the above picture are my two favourite products from the line.  They are the Gradual tan everyday body moisturizer and the Gradual tan tinted everyday body lotion.

I love being able to just jump out of the shower, quickly rub one of these on, put my clothes on and run out the door.  After I do my makeup and hair of course… The tinted moisturizer is new and I’m in love with the fact that you can see where your putting it on & how quickly it gives results.  The tinted one will give more colour, more quickly.

The gradual moisturizer is actually just a great moisturizer to use a few times a week to keep up that slight golden glow.  It doesn’t give a ton of colour but is just makes your skin look super pretty and it’s great if you’re fair and are scared to use the darker ones.  All of the St. Tropez products go on beautifully and fade beautifully.  You’ll never be left with ugly blotches everywhere.

Now ladies, I know if feels nice to lay out in the sun…but let’s be serious.  The damaging rays are just getting worse and worse and our skin is not getting any younger..A real tan may look & feel amazing for a few months but the long term results of sun damage can be pretty horrific.  We can all read between the lines.  St. Tropez is an amazing alternative to beautiful looking skin all year round without acquiring any of the negative effects of the sun.

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Last but not least.  Moisturizer.  Such an important part of our skins health.  My absolute favourite moisturizer is from Harlow.  Harlow is a Vancouver based clean beauty brand that uses all natural ingredients that are ethically sourced from all over the world, free from preservatives and other unnecessary additives and chemicals.   The brand is all about health and well being, which completely aligns with conscious beauty and health awareness.  My absolute favourite product from the line is the body whip.  It’s the most amazing texture that melts once you start rubbing it into your skin and oh my you won’t want to stop.  The smells are intoxicating & so relaxing I could sniff them all day, no joke.  Your skin will be left feeling soft, smooth and so nourished.  I really could go on and on about how much I love them but you get the point…

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Are you craving the ocean yet?  I am.  Imagine yourself sitting under a big umbrella with a beach hat, sunglasses and looking like a bronzed, glowing goddess without laying in the sun.  No one will know our secrets…wink wink.

Namaste.  My muse and I.

Lovely photography by Iulia Agnew, of Vancouver,  BC.

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