Growing up Pretty : Rachel M.

February 26, 2020By stephanie No Comments

Meet Rachel! I met Rachel way WAY back … early 2000’s I think. We met when she was dating my younger brother and I instantly took a liking to her – which if you were to ask any of my brothers/brothers-in-law – didn’t happen all that frequently. But I adored (still do!) Rachel and I remember countless family parties with her “taste-testing” desserts with my husband, and also, making her try on and take all the clothes I purchased at sales, but didn’t want (she was still a student while I was already adulting hard core.)

Now Rachel is a teacher in Toronto. She’s the middle sister in a pack of three, an auntie, and both my husband‘s and son’s favourite person to “taste test” things with … i.e., eat food in general.

This post marks the first in a series of posts that focus on beauty as we age. Every Wednesday, I’ll be featuring a beauty and her story behind growing up pretty! I thought Rachel was a great person to start with because she knew me before I was a mom, before I was a makeup artist, and before the me that I am now. After almost 20 years of friendship … we’ve definitely grown up …

What did beauty mean to you growing up, and what or whom were your major influences?

I think when I was in my early teens, external beauty was something I wanted to have, but it wasn’t something I was willing to showcase. I didn’t want to be “just pretty”; I think I worried a lot about not being viewed as smart or funny or athletic or musical … so beauty took a backseat. I really envied girls my age who didn’t wear any makeup (or who at least appeared to not be wearing any), and they were beautiful anyway. I didn’t want to look as though I was trying to be beautiful, and I looked up to girls who I saw as having natural beauty. 90’s Mariah Carey was a big influencer – I loved her natural curly hair and fresh-faced look. TLC’s Chili – another natural beauty. As I grew older, I became more comfortable with my own brand of natural beauty, and started believing that I could make more of an effort to look beautiful and still be noticed for other parts of who I was.

What role does beauty play in your life at this moment? How has it changed over the years? What do you focus on to feel like your most beautiful self? (e.g. skincare, makeup, hair, mental well-being, physical well-being?

Right now, I’ve been focusing on keeping a better skin care regimen. I had bad acne as a late teen and into my early 20s, and since then I’ve always been self-conscious about my acne scars and skin. I tried different makeup to cover it up, but that didn’t feel right to me. Nowadays, I think I feel like my most beautiful self when I have a fresh, clean face that feels soft and healthy. I focus on drinking a lot more water, and I’ve been working on improving my diet so that the things going into my body help to make me feel healthier, cleaner, and more natural. I’ve always been pretty active, but recent sports injuries have meant that I can’t exercise the way that I’m used to. I’ve really noticed the effect it’s had on my overall well-being, which includes the way I look and feel. So I’m trying to find ways to remain active so that I still feel strong, health and beautiful.

Explain your current beauty routine, and please feel free to provide examples of looks you want to learn, procedures you want to try, or treatments you are curious about!)

I use Arbonne’s products exclusively for my skin care:

  • Calm Gentle Daily Cleanser (morning and night)
  • Intelligence Genius Nightly Resurfacing Pads (night only)
  • RE9 Advanced Intensive Renewal Serum (morning and night)
  • Calm Gentle Daily Moisturizer (morning only)
  • RE9 Advanced Night Repair Cream (night only)

I also use Skin Ceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50. I would love to learn about makeup application – I have such uneven skin tone, as well as scars from teenage acne. I want to learn how to choose and apply overall coverage that is right for my skin, which doesn’t leave my skin feeling too covered.

And to finish off, answer these five questions …

Beauty Muse : Penelope Cruz
Favourite Product : Arbonne’s Calm Gentle Daily Cleanser
Your Splurge Item : Skin Ceuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
Best Beauty Skill : I honestly don’t think I have one
Worst Beauty Skill : Applying lipstick/gloss/liner

Growing up pretty beauty secrets

Tips and Tricks : Getting your Best Hair on your Big Day …

February 18, 2020By stephanie No Comments

Just like a trip to the hair salon for a new cut and colour can make you anxious and leave you feeling stressed, so can getting your hair styled for your wedding day by a mobile hair artist. When you’re day to day life is filled with ponytails and topknots, trying to imagine yourself in the prettiest and most perfect updo can be overwhelming.

It’s important for a bride-to-be to understand that your hair trial run is exactly that – a trial run – a preview of what can be achieved. It’s the opportunity to go over your inspiration photos and ideas, and for you to communicate with your artist what you’re looking for. A great artist will also help you manage your expectations : she or he will let you know what will work and not work with your hair type and face shape and also provide suggestions on how to tweak your chosen hairstyle to flatter your unique self. The key to a successful trial run is to understand that the end result is never set in stone. It can be adjusted and tweaked and changed up right up until the wedding day itself.

And the best way to get there : knowing how to communicate!

One of the biggest obstacles to being happy with a trial run is not knowing how to describe what you want. Here’s a glossary of some of the “hair words” that when used correctly WILL achieve the hair you really want :

Volume : In an updo, volume means the fullness and height you want to achieve in your overall look; if you have straight, fine or flat hair you are most likely looking for lots of volume, and usually you’re looking for this around the crown and the perimeter of the face. Be careful when using this term as “volume” is a scale … it can go from very subtle to beehive proportions. When it comes to trying to figure how much is too much – pictures are better than words. So bring photos to describe your desired fullness.

Body : This can be used interchangeably with volume, but most artists will usually use it more when referring to hair that’s left long and loose. How much movement, bounce and fullness do you want with your hair and curls? It’s the difference between wearing your hair smoother and sleeker (think Kim Kardashian straight) or bold and big (think lush supermodel blowouts of the 90’s)

Smooth/Sleek : These two words are usually used together as “I want it smooth and sleek”. To a hair artist, we understand this to mean clean, polished and very classic. This request is often paired with photos of classic french twists and very structured updos. We will be more likely to use plenty of freeze hairspray for an updo, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll end up with helmet head. Smooth and sleek in an updo might mean less movement in the hair, and with hair left loose, it may mean straight with minimal body or volume. That said, curls can still be “smooth” – your hair artist might leave the curls or waves intact instead of breaking them up or brushing them out (for example, Hollywood glam waves can be smooth and sleek)

Tousled : This is the word every bride who wants perfectly imperfect hair needs to learn. Tousled means you want the hair to have movement, to look windblown, or to be effortlessly swept back. It can be both romantic and bohemian. Tousled and volume usually go hand in hand. Your artist will usually incorporate some teasing and the breaking up or brushing out of curls to achieve this look. Keep in mind, when you ask for tousled, you should expect to see strands of hair that are left loose, or hair that you might think are “flyaways” but are actually part of the “tousled” aesthetic.

Texture : When you ask us for texture, you’re asking us to add to or change your hair type. We might add curls, waves, or crimping to the hair to give it more oomph for a tousled style. We might run a flat iron through it so we can give you that smooth classic french twist. Texture overall refers more to your existing hair type (straight, wavy, kinky) and what texture you actually want.

Knowing how to use the above words will affect how much teasing, curling, straightening and pinning your artist will need to do. It will also help guide them with the products they will use on your hair, and also help them provide you with the right hair prep instructions.

Remember : communication is key! Why not start communicating with us and see if we can help you get the hair you always dreamed of?

When it comes to skincare, the right order matters …

January 16, 2020By stephanie

Skincare can go two ways : minimal … or monumental. Between celebrities’ 38-step skincare routine (looking at you Madelaine Petsch) and Elizabeth Warren’s revelation that she doesn’t wash her face … it’s hard to figure out which method is best for you, especially since everyone seems to have amazing skin regardless of how much or how little they do.

The regimen to you choose for yourself is up to you – you know what works best for your skin type, your budget and your schedule; but what we can tell you is that order of application matters. This point is best emphasized when it comes to treating, hydrating and protecting your skin.

I believe every individual should have at least a serum, a moisturizer and an SPF in their vanity. As long as you’re doing these three steps with these three products in your mega or mini routine – great complexions will follow. After you’ve cleansed … or maybe double cleansed … follow these next steps!

SERUM : Serums contain active ingredients formulated to treat the skin and any problems we are concerned about; whether that’s dark spots, wrinkles, fine lines, etcetera. A thin layer goes a long way, and be sure to get your serum on within 60 seconds of cleansing the skin. It should be the first thing that touches your clean, bare skin.

MOISTURIZER : To keep skin soft, supple and glowing, moisturizers coat the skin cells, which is why your active serums must be applied before moisturizer; once moisturizers have created its barrier around your skin cells, not much else can get through. After giving your serum a moment to do its thing, apply your moisturizer over the whole face in an upward movement. BONUS TIP : If you’re oily, try a lighter lotion formula to keep shine at bay. If you’re dry, a heavier cream will do the trick.

SUNSCREEN : Here’s the tricky part – so pay attention! Is your sunscreen chemical or physical? If your sunscreen is chemical based, then apply BEFORE your moisturizer … and in some cases, before your serum too. A chemical based sunscreen needs to touch clean skin first before your moisturizer or face oil which create those barriers I spoke about above. If your sunscreen is physical (titanium dioxide, zinc oxide) it can be applied AFTER you’ve applied your serum and moisturizer. Sunscreen is THE key in keeping the complexion healthy, so its the one step that should never be skipped!

So there’s your cheat sheet beauties! Whatever route you take with your skincare – the long way or the shortcut – be sure to optimize your skincare to get the best results. Order of application DOES matter!

Take these three beauty items with you into 2020 …

December 31, 2019By stephanie

It’s a common feeling to want to bring in a whole bunch of “NEW” into the new year. Most people are gung ho to renew, refresh, and reinvent, and often times this comes with the idea of tossing out the old and buying (or adopting) a bunch of new. Unreasonable? No. Cathartic? Absolutely.

This being a beauty blog, new year for me is about bringing in or trying a new look or style; tossing expired or dated makeup; and changing up my routine. It’s fun, and exciting, and gives me a total sense of self-care.

Bit whether you plan to start cracking down on a strict skincare routine, or revamping yourself out of a makeup rut, here are three beauty items to take with you into 2020 …

1. An effective skin serum : I swear by skin serums. I’m currently alternating between two (one for day and one for night) and the results are delightful. My skin has never behaved better. You may be tempted to bring in and try a new skincare system for 2020, but hang on to your serum – especially if you found one that really works for you. Whether you’re about to embark on a seven-step regimen OR plan to Marie Kondo your routine into a simple three items, make sure your serum stays a part of it.
Try : Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum, The Ordinary Buffet Serum

2. A luminizing base : Nothing says a fresh new year of beauty than a base that reflects the same thing – freshness. If you’re the type who hangs on to different formulations, be sure to keep a lightweight, luminizing base in your rotation. It could be a foundation, a BB cream, or a tinted moisturizer, but as long as it makes your skin look dewy and glowing – it’s a keeper. Apply the lightest layer on the days you don’t need much makeup, and dust a setting powder only where you need it most. It’s a softer diffused look that always looks healthy.
Try : Clinique Even Better Glow Foundation, Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer

3. A feel-good lip colour : It can be red, fuchsia, or shimmery pink – the choice is yours. But a feel good lip colour, something that makes you feel like you’re pulled together, is a MUST KEEP. Statement lip colour is a total look on its on and so much easier to achieve than any other look, e.g. liquid liner, a smokey eye, perfectly symmetrical and blended contour and highlight. Right? The trick : make sure the lips are prepped and primed before applying lip colour for the best finished look.
Try : NARS Audacious Lipstick, MAC Lipstick, YSL The Slim Lisptick

Wishing you all a prosperous and beautiful 2020, and a new decade’s worth of growth and amazement!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! It’s a Christmas Giveaway!

December 25, 2019By stephanie

Hopefully by now, you’ve awoken to a wonderful Christmas Day, filled with love, family … and perhaps, a gift or two, maybe ten! HAPPY HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL!

It’s hard to believe the decade has come to an almost end, and as the year winds down for BlushPretty as it does every year, I always realize two things :

1. how much I appreciate every reader, follower, artist, client and bride for their continued support over the years; and
2. how inconsistent I have been in blogging here on the site for the entire year (I’m sorry guys).

So, how do I even begin to reconcile the two? It’s so, so simple : I’m do an appreciation giveaway AND announce it on the blog! #NAILEDIT!

This last Christmas Day of the Decade, I have FIVE digital double passes available for the advanced screening of LIKE A BOSS, starring Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne and Salma Hayek. Tiffany and Rose play Mia and Mel, two besties who run their own cosmetics company! As with any business, working hard does come with some financial troubles. Enter Salma Hayek as Claire Luna with a big buyout offer. Too good to be true?

In theatres January 10, 2020, BlushPretty has access to the ADVANCED SCREENING for January 6, 2020 at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. Five lucky followers can receive a digital double pass for themselves and their beauty BFF.


1. Follow us on Instagram @ms.blushpretty
2. Tag your BEAUTY BFF on our contest post
3. Comment why your BEAUTY BFF is Like a Boss

BONUS ENTRY : Follow our team Instagram Page @blushprettyteam

The contest ends January 1, 2020 and the winners will be announced January 2, 2020. Please note that the screening takes place in Toronto. All contestants and entries will be accepted but the winners are responsible for their own travel/accommodations etc. to Toronto.


Thank you again beauties for a wonderful 2019 and an even more successful decade! Sending happiness to you and yours this holiday season, and wishes for a prosperous new year!

-xo, s