The Yorkville kid sister to King West’s Her Majesty’s Pleasure opened not with a bang, but with a whimper. The expansive space nestled around the corner, behind, and up 3 flights up stairs from Versace hit the scene without much fanfare. That said, it’s well worth visiting.
I never thought I’d describe a veritable instagram dream-house in such a manner. It’s almost like a more sophisticated HideSeek with the added bonus of an upscale bar and some hair and nail services. It’s certainly my new happy place.
The décor at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in Yorkville is much more vibrant than its King West pretty in pink counterpart. It reminded me of the daring mix of colours combined by Flack Studio (an interior design studio from Australia) for Caravan Seoul.
No dialing for champagne here, it’s a cocktail-lover’s dream. The menu is a great mix of smoothies, kombucha, and items a little more spirit-forward for the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” crowd. I tried the Purple Plane (a play on the classic Aviation). It was made of gin, Luxardo maraschino, Cointreau, lemon, and blueberry bitters. On a Sunday afternoon after a haircut and a manicure, one was enough for me. I’d love to come back and give a few others a try.
The real star of the show was Shamara, a junior stylist (seriously? My luck!) at Her Majesty’s Pleasure Yorkville. She turned my massive, messy mop into trendy, tamed tresses. I was promised no judgment (I just went from blonde to brunette and my locks aren’t the only thing damaged in my world). No judgment (and a great cut) was what I got.
We shared plenty of giggles trying to chop off as much of the dead weight as possible (my goal for life in general, this season). My polish change (quick shape and polish) was fine, although after a couple of days the polish was nearly all scratched off. Give it a pass unless you’re getting shellac.
I’m trying to grow in my natural colour, so I’ll definitely be back to Shamara. She will tone the red out and keep this fantastic shape up. Her rates are probably the most reasonable in Yorkville right now ($65 for cut and style). She won’t be considered a Junior Stylist for long. I can’t recommend her enough!
The website for Her Majesty’s Pleasure Yorkville only shows the King West location’s menu. Click the individual images above to pick your poison well in advance of your visit.
How to Get to Her Majesty’s Pleasure Yorkville
Address: 102 Yorkville Avenue, Unit 5, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 1B9
Phone: +1 416-546-4991
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 AM – 8 PM, Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM
Planning a Bachelorette party is no easy task. In Toronto, there are so many options it’s a challenge to whittle it down to what the bride will actually love. There’s paddleboarding, but that’s weather dependent. Escape rooms, unless the bride has anxiety. Pole dancing, unless someone in the bridal party used to be a stripper. Axe-throwing, but that’s far out by the docks. A bachelorette party is supposed to be fun for the bride and her closest friends. Here’s how the best laid (and expensive!) plans completely unraveled.
In advance of the big night, I had Bride/ Bridesmaid t-shirts made up and I scoured the internet for the best decor and games which wouldn’t be too lewd. Eventually, I traveled to Oshawa to pick up all the goodies at Party City since the local ones didn’t have the balloons I wanted. Not wanting the bride to have to lift a finger, I sent an UBER to pick her up and transport her to a secret location for blow-outs. Bride has hella long, thick, wavy hair, whereas mine is much shorter and more manageable.
I booked 2 long hair/ extensions blow outs thinking it would be plenty of time. It was absolutely not. Our blow-outs at Body Love Inc. made us want to curl up and dye – er, die. I looked decent when I rocked up, but definitely needed to have my hair washed and styled. The area for hair-styling is quite cramped with 1 washing station and 4 chair stations. We each opted for curly locks with a pulled-out fishtail braid. As you can see above, it was clearly not what we were expecting! Disappointment #1 on a day full of high hopes.
Louix Louis St. Regis Hotel Toronto Free-flow, Bottomless Brunch
No disappointments here! The St. Regis Hotel Toronto was absolutely magnificent. Even though we were late due to the horrendous hair incident, the staff made us feel cool, calm, and collected as we were escorted to our booth. The decor at Louix Louis is nothing short of regal, and we felt like royalty with our sparkling wine topped up by prosecco fairies (or ninjas – the service was exquisite, but the details covered without spectacle). We were also given the choice of orange or peach juice which were left at our table to be poured at our discretion.
Our appetizers were just perfect! Bride and I had Crispy Pork Belly snow pea & mint, pancetta, parmesan, red wine jus. Across the table, there was a lime Kale Caesar sourdough, lime yogurt dressing, smoked bacon, parmesan (there was no kale in this salad, though. Kind of weird, right?). My neighbour tried the beef Tartar pickled mushroom, grain mustard, spicy tomato jam, whole grain crostini. Everyone was thrilled with their choices and we were excited for the main courses.
Our entrees appeared on the smaller side, but were served up with incredibly rich ingredients. The Nova Scotia Lobster Rolls came with grainy mustard, lemon aioli, crispy lettuce, and saffron pickled fennel. My Steak & Egg Florentine was New York steak, poached egg, garlic spinach, lemon hollandaise, and toasted pumpkin. The Fried Chicken & Waffle was huge with pepper jack cheese, maple syrup, chicory leaves. I’d definitely go back for the Croque Madame made with black forest ham, Quebec gruyère, creamy cheese sauce, and a poached egg.
Four of us tried, and failed, to demolish The King’s Cake, a thirteen-layer chocolate cake made of 64% Guayaquil ganache, and served with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce!
When we got to The Westin Harbour Castle, we checked in and went up to the 34th floor penthouses to decorate. It was my understanding that we’d have 1 bedroom with a living room, but we ended up getting 2 bedrooms with two living rooms. Amazing since we had 4 bathrooms, but for us all to socialize we had to squish all the guests into one room. Disappointment? Certainly not, but definitely a little bit of an unexpected surprise.
We got to work decorating the suite and adding goodies so graciously sent by Miracle 10 (have you heard about their new cosmetics collection? We had the perfect nude for all skintypes), Repiel sheetmasks c/o Brill Communications, and skincare goodies from my friends at CosRX.
In each of the 4 rooms there was a massive flatscreen TV (bring your Netflix credentials for viewing pleasure), and in 2 of the 4 bathrooms there were showers. We had plenty of water and tons of coffee, thankfully, as I was already feeling pretty exhausted from a full morning!
Sheer pleasure? The set-up the Westin Harbour Castle provided for dinner. We had had a few more ladies join us for champagne and chill time before going out and popped on the Raptors game as the dishes rolled in. The hot wings were perfectly meaty, the thin crust pizza had a fantastic sauce and plenty of cheese on a doughy crust, and the nachos were actually loaded high. Again – 8 women couldn’t finish this spread!
I may be dancing and looking like I was having a good time, but El Convento Rico was a big ole bust. I had arranged for a table and some photos of the bride and her fiance to be displayed on a loop with other bachelorette parties that night. After our party got settled, it was demanded that we buy a bottle. Yeesh – no a la carte here, we bought a crappy bottle of tequila for the better part of $200. No images were displayed to the best of my knowledge at all.
Being that this is the typical spot for parties like these in Toronto, you’d expect more than a few bathrooms in a dank corner. Waiting for 45 minutes well away from the party in a dirty, stinky place was not my idea of a good idea, and after I has returned some of the drinks and gone outside for some air it was time for bed. Yayyy what a great night, eh?
Ultimately, some of the best laid plans go awry. No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong. Your hair might fall flat. Heck – your friendship might be hair today, gone tomorrow! The hotel might not be exactly the room you bargained for. The guests might get unruly and destructive. When it comes down to it, all you can do is give it your heart, soul, time, and wallet, and hope your hard work is appreciated. If/ when it isn’t, give me a call and we’ll commiserate!
Contact Louix Louis at the St. Regis Hotel Toronto
* This article has elements which were included in unpaid partnership in exchange for an honest review of products and/or services. ThatGirlCartier.com only features products or services I genuinely adore and would repurchase again and again.
More and more on social media I’m seeing the word “Influencer” tossed around like absolute filth. Whether it’s disdain for those who flaunt their lives like they’ve been sponsored to take their next breath (you know who you are) or annoyance that content isn’t authentic, there’s a real hate on these days for people who make a dolla dolla bill or two from content creation.
a person or thing that influences another.
“he was a champion of the arts and a huge influencer of taste”
a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media.
“influencers can add serious credibility to your brand”
Influencers – They’re Just Like You!
This idea that the common person is like a celebrity is an interesting shift in the makeup of our society. They haven’t done anything particularly spectacular, or so most people think. From my view, someone of influence finds beauty in the mundane. This is a new(ish) form of art combining the written word (yes, captions can be poetry), photography (okay – hiring photographers for your OOTD is a little much), and graphic design (you know how much editing goes into some of these ‘grams). Most of these people are also crafty AF in the way they live their lives. They’ve carved out a niche where (well, the successful ones) can follow their bliss daily. It doesn’t happen overnight, however. Building a business, even if your brand is yourself, is hard work. The competition is bloody fierce.
I get it – going to a restaurant with friends and having your dining companion make the table wait until the food is cold is incredibly obnoxious. When the food arrives and everyone scrambles to create a table with the greatest aesthetic standing up on a chair with a portable flash in one hand and their phone in the other, it’s obnoxious. This behaviour really takes a toll on the guest experience of every other person in the restaurant. This detracts from the carefully prepared and plated meal they restaurant’s team has put together. As someone who has worked in the hospitality industry for many, many years and has worked with chefs and bartenders passionate about their craft, I wonder if the food even tastes good or if it’s just pretty. I wonder if these “influencers” can tell the difference between tarragon and turmeric.
Influencers – They Shop!
This is the thing about “aspiring influencers” that drives me up the wall. Influencers Faking Brand Deals is nothing new. I knew of plenty of people doing this while I was in Korea in an attempt to secure new business. I also knew of desperate women who would be given discarded goods from influencers within the Korean Beauty Space who would put “#gifted” on everything. No, you weren’t gifted sh*t, little girl. Your friend who spent hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars becoming a skincare expert gave you the crap she no longer wanted, and you gave it a glowing review.
Making Money Blogging
Building blog and a brand costs money. Most of the people I knew when I started blogging were trying to share the latest and greatest spots in the city giving directions in the process. Heck – I made a whole video about how to get to the Raccoon Cafe in Seoul when I was still living in Busan. I shared restaurant reviews where I spent a pretty penny and felt I got great value. I was never “doing it for the ‘gram”, and the friends I met through the blogging community (at first) weren’t either. We just wanted to share cool things we found in English for people who might not be having the easiest time navigating in Korean. The secret to making money blogging? HARD WORK.
Passion Projects Put to Work
That’s the thing – most content creators turned influencers built a website and started writing about life hacks, amazing products and fantastic deals they genuine adore and want to share. I began my blog, The Toronto Seoulcialite, while in Korea because I was leaving the marketing world and didn’t want to become irrelevant and undesirable as a potential hire upon my return. Now I work as a writer for a law firm because:
I was a teacher – I taught spelling, grammar, syntax, and flow. These are essential skills in my daily tasks at work.
I learned about my audience, SEO, link-building, social media marketing, and wordpress. These are desirable skills within my industry.
Once I realised that there were companies who wanted to partner with me, I amped up the business of blogging. Creating pitches and proposals for companies with whom I desired to work became necessary. Paying for for products and experiences was normal. Sometimes I could organize a partnership to offset the costs of running my blog. I wasn’t a hack job with my mouth wide open hawking a food product I would never eat, if you know what I mean. Now, I research companies and write marketing materials to show how our team is the best fit for a particular project.
Influencers – The Hate is Real
The problem with influencers in our 2019 society is that thing have gotten out of control. What used to be an industry of finding cool things, expressing honest emotions (This Crazy Thing Called Life isn’t sunshine and roses. Sometimes sh*t gets real) is now a forcefield of gritting a smile and showing no weakness. The glossy, glamorous lives of aspiring influencers aren’t real. These people in Facebook groups trying to get you to join pyramid schemes so you can “travel the world for free” are conning you. The reason content creators had influence was because they weren’t perfect, they were passionate. The start-up nature of sharing your life’s ups and downs was real; authentic.
Now, “engagement” is easy to fake. You can pump some money into Facebook to promote or pay off a bot farm to like the image for you. It’s infuriating that PR companies – people who are supposed to be professionals in this field – don’t see through the fake followers and inauthetic content. It’s sad to see companies partner with “influencers” who are guaranteed to bring no reach, engagement, or revenue from the rates they charge. I can totally understand and respect why the every man or woman gets a hate on for the influencer life. The hate is real.
When it comes down to it, there will always be people of influence. When genuine, and not pay for play, an influencer is someone honest who gives a review you can trust. With cost of living at an all-time high, that trust should be sacred. Influencer isn’t a dirty word, we’ve just forgotten the meaning.
Week 1 of the F45 8-week Challenge started off with a bang! Learning about the F45 Challenge 45-point system seemed daunting, but I made it through! I worked out both Saturday and Sunday and used that energy as fuel for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I had an event Thursday night and my Korean class Friday night, but I was back up and at ’em for “Hollywood” Saturday morning (crushing 700 calories before breakfast!)
As I mentioned, I’ve been getting my food delivered through a Toronto meal delivery service called SelFit Fresh Meals. Realistically, I’d rather cook the meals myself so they’re to my flavour preference (and so that they’re really, really fresh). That said, I’ve tried a few meal delivery services in Toronto and in Korea, and these meals pack a punch as far as flavour goes. I don’t really process fish/ seafood very well, so they send me the vegetarian meals (they have vegan too) in lieu when there’s a recipe that calls for tuna or salmon. Not having to think about what to eat makes this process a LOT easier. It almost evens out my commitment to no coffee (or caffeinated beverages) for the first 2 weeks!
The first week hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve limited myself to between 1,200 and 1,300 calories daily so that I have at least a 1,000 calorie deficit daily. I also cut out caffeine. By day 4, I was hungry, exhausted, menstruating, and dealing with some guy’s BS. I was beyond emotional. I was a total mess, to be candid. Friday the fog seemed to clear and I was back in the game mentally. This week, my hope is to get into a lower weight category and actually see some of this work pay off.
The F45 Challenge 45-point Plan
The F45 Challengefollows a 45 point plan, where the target is to hit at least 30 (so on your rest days you’re supposed to hit all of the other points areas):
Did I follow the *no alcohol* rule to plan? Er – not quite, but I didn’t go to town getting late night eats so – win! I also don’t know anyone who really and truly gets 8 hours of quality sleep a night, but I’m making every effort to go to sleep early. Wearing my Fitbit to sleep, I average about 7.5 hours per night. Sadly, my neighbours consistently wake me up at insane hours of night, so it’s not ideal. The meal plan is included with the F45 Challenge, and I’ve been using SelFit Fresh Meals to keep me on the straight and narrow. The cost is about $140 per week for 10 meals. It’s not cheap, but it keeps me from buying snacks and meals which add up financially and calorically anyway. I’ve lost about 3 Kg since I first started the plan, and have another 19 kg to go to get to my ultimate goal weight (which won’t happen during the challenge – that would be too much, too quickly!)
Let me know all your tips and tricks to keep this challenge up in the comments!
My weight has fluctuated most of my life. I’ve never had a very healthy relationship with food; either controlling my consumption obsessively or going to town on whatever’s available. Taking fitness seriously has been a successful, but solitary adventure up until this year. When I was in Korea, I didn’t take classes all that often because of the language barrier and because I didn’t feel like they were all that effective. The same goes forclassesanywhere, in my experience – they just don’t burn as many calories (or so I thought).
This year I have ventured into various studios across the city in an attempt to meet people with whom I have common interests. If you’ve seen my instagram stories then you’ll know just how well Tinder has been going for me (spoiler alert: it’s a nightmare). Even just meeting new friends can be challenging. Most of my friends moved on without me, which one should expect having spent 3 years abroad. So – I like working out. Sometimes I think that I’m the fittest fat person in Toronto. That’s just it, though. My aesthetic isn’t what it once was. In Korea, I was thriving on 1,200 – 1,400 calories a day and working out an hour or two most days. I was only getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night managing 2 blogs in a competitive market while working 45 hours a week. Supercharged, I looked good and felt invincible. Now, I’m not the fit foreigner that gyms feature on their instagram. Hell, I’m not even featured on my partners’ feeds. I’m not quite so confident walking into a new workout environment.
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Is F45 the New Starbucks?
A couple of months ago I noticed a new phenomenon in the city. Rather than Starbucks popping up on every corner, I was seeing people get their sweat on in every nook and cranny of downtown Toronto. These aren’t your grandmother’s zumba classes, though. Through steamy windows I was seeing people of all shapes and sizes crush workouts with kettle-bells, stationary bikes, rowers, and their own body weight. It looked all kinds of intimidating.
The first time I walked into F45 at St. Clair West, the bubbly trainer asked me if it was my first time. I always advocate to communicate with your coach and get friendly with your teammates, but I felt apprehensive. As it was, she raised my hand way over my head and yelled that I was looking for new friends ’cause it was my first class. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die…until all my “new friends” cheered in a cascade of whoops and hollers and gave me high fives after my first Functional 45 workout. I’ve come to crave the knowing nod at the door, the coaches suggesting variations based on my lower back issues, and the encouragement from coaches and teammates alike making sure we finish the whole dang labyrinth of sets! The idea is for your body to burn the maximum number of calories in short spurts with a modest amount of recovery time in between (ie. running to the next station). One could say it’s similar to crossfit, but you’re not competing against others for the highest reps in shortest time, you’re competing against yourself and against previous goals.
There are 17 days until the next F45 Challenge. This 45 point plan with its own separate app helps people achieve their fitness goals by kickstarting the process over the course of 8 weeks. 8 weeks from February 4, 2019 I’ll be on a beach in the Philippines. You had better bet your bottom dollar that I want the kind of results I’ve been seeing from the F45 Challenge! With daily meal plans, alternating various workouts focused on cardio and weights, and the support of the online and in house communities, I can’t wait to see my body change in healthy ways. Keep an eye out here for my meal prep, my workouts, and my results. I’m dancing with F45 St. Clair West now, but in 17 days it’s about to get real. I challenge you to take on the challenge with me!
Don’t you want results like these? I know I do! Let me know in the comments or on instagram if you’ll be joining me for this F45 Challenge (and if you’ll be coming to the F45 St. Clair West location in Toronto!)
I’ve come to understand that fitness will always be a journey for me. I will always have ups and downs and times of amazing confidence or, like now, times where I just don’t feel like I’m at my peak. There are a gazillion reasons to get close to the person (or people, in my case) helping you on your fitness journey. When I started with Big Hit Kickboxing Studios, I was in pretty peak physical condition for my own standards. Beyond the obvious attention to my new additions, there wasn’t anything I was afraid to do nor was there much that could knock the wind out of me. Now that I’m well into my re-patriation, I’m not as confident or fearless. Plus I’m certainly not in the best shape anymore. I do, however, have help – and I want to encourage you to seek out allies on your fitness journey as well.
If it’s your first time walking into a gym or walking into the ring, letting someone know you’re new isn’t embarrassing – it’s essential. More often than not, it’s expected that you’ll jump into a class and go with the flow. If your coach knows that it’s your first (or second, or even third time) they’ll make sure to give you that little extra bit of attention to ensure your technique is just right so you won’t get hurt. You may have signed a waiver before your class, but you’re part of the team now and nobody wants to see you injured!
Speaking of injuries, if you’re just getting back to fitness you have to let your coach know. Hopefully you’ve given your body enough time to heal, but you might be a little rusty getting back in the game. I find a lot of coaches want to push you right to your limit. When I had my surgery anything chest related (from push-ups to lat pull-downs) was not on the menu. If your coach is aware of your limits, he or she will be more likely to give you an alternative motion to complete.
Hesitation is one of the most common causes of injury in sports and physical fitness. In an instance where your timing is off because of jitters you could really hurt yourself. Taking a step back and asking for help will sharpen your focus and take you out of a fog of confusion which could cause an injury or give you an ineffective workout (be it once or as a pattern).
If you commit yourself to the community at your gym/ studio (or create one – especially if it involves Tanya Kim – duh!) then there will be a give and take with your workouts. When your coach knows you, he or she will be able to tell when you need to get out of your funk, or even if you need to be left alone. Sometimes when I’m at Big Hit, my instructor will get out the pads and work with people one on one. My energy is revved up to the max. I feel like I’m actually good at what we’re working on and I’m being rewarded for good work. On the flip side, when I’m not giving it my all you know nobody’s bringing those pads my way!
You may not be best friends with your coach/ yogi/ mentor/ instructor, but there’s a level of unspoken but always shown respect and discipline between the student and the master. Showing a little interest and a lot of initiative goes a long way. As it says on the wall of every Big Hit, “in 2 weeks you’ll feel it, in 4 weeks you’ll see it, in 8 weeks you’ll be it”.
I’ve mentioned Big Hit Kickboxing Studios a few times over the course of this article (and shared some pictures of some, not all, of my favourite coaches) because I’ve committed to a 3-month partnership with them to get back into fit fighting shape! For more Toronto Gym Alternatives, click here. For more on Big Hit:
Time Commitment: 30 – 60 Minutes (most classes are 45 Minutes)
Cost: $30/ Drop-in Class, packages vary, and $59 gets you gloves, wraps, and 2 weeks of unlimited classes!
Buckle your seat belts and take out your chips and salsa, ’cause it’s about to get real cheesy up in hurr. If you follow The Toronto Seoulcialite (my other “less sarcastic” blog), you’ll have read about my issues finding a job, finding a man, and finding my figure through the mess of moving back to Canada. I’ve finally found something which could be the makings of a career, and a date with myself 3 times a week which gives me structure and an outlet. Coming back home is like picking up an old, ear-marked book. The characters are the same and the setting hasn’t changed, but you’re still not exactly sure what will happen to the protagonist next.
Someone Else’s Story
My biggest fear returning to Toronto was that I would be reliving the same old story. While I was away, several of my friends partnered up, a couple had kids, many got promotions, some went back to school, and my nightmare boss was finally arrested. Beyond that? A lot of the people I’ve left are ear-marked – frozen in time right where I left them doing the same old things and just banging their heads against the wall calling it happiness. I knew I wasn’t happy back in 2014 when I made the decision to begin the arduous application (okay – it was long, but not that tough) to move to Korea. I couldn’t come home and return to old habits.
Die Hard: With a Vengeance
Old habits die hard. I ended up moving back to Queen St. West and was working in the events industry when, at last, I found work. Getting into a rhythm took time, and my physical and emotional health took a hit. I decided to hit back. I bought myself a 2 week unlimited introductory pass at Big Hit Kickboxing Studios. At that time, I was living with a disrespectful roommate who was a neglectful pet owner. I had no autonomy in my own life. Looking back, I think that I was committed to my 2 week membership, but not so much to myself.
Be Your Own Boss (Without Working for Yourself)
I once read that you should treat yourself like the CEO of your own life, and that fitness was a meeting you set with your employees. Good bosses don’t reschedule again and again. I wasn’t managing my life properly, nor was I being a good boss to my mental and physical health. At this point I needed to hit back, but not just for 2 weeks. Big Hit Kickboxing Studios in Toronto has given me the schedule I need to succeed.
Be a Good Boss
Proper preparation prevents poor performance. I’ve set meetings with my very important sanity at least 3 times a week, which is honestly pretty manageable! After work on weekdays I leave the office between 5 PM and 5:30 PM (I know – my job offers work/ life balance <3) and walk for about 35 – 40 minutes from the office to Big Hit Kickboxing Queen West. The walk enables me to just zone out and enjoy constant, steady movement while listening to music. The workout to follow is full of different combinations which challenge my mind and various muscle groups. Over the next 3 months I’ll be sharing my highs, lows, pounds, and measurements. Stay tuned for preparation and progress, not perfection.
Since getting back on a regular schedule with Big Hit Kickboxing Studios, I haven’t actually lost any weight, but the rest of my body and my life has changed pretty drastically. My clothes have started to feel different – better. I don’t crave sweets like I did throughout my unsettled period between my old job and old apartment and now. I have been on several dates with not one, not two, but 3 different men who actually want to see me again.
When you start physical activity with dedication, dedication spreads throughout your life in different ways. My posture exudes confidence rather than that fear of failure with which I started. I’m back to caring about a connection rather than having a fear that I won’t be liked (word to the wise – fear of someone not liking you crushes a connection right off the start). I don’t really have time for people who aren’t adding to my life in a positive way, so when I make time to see my friends we’re connecting on a much deeper and more enjoyable level. I also always seem to come back to that old adage: “You can do naked back-flips across his lawn, but if you’re not the one he wants, honey, you’re just not the one he wants”.
Strength, determination, and hope fill the pages of my novel. I know what comes next in that old, worn out, dog-eared story because I’m writing it now.
When I came back to Canada after my 3-year stint in Korea I was in a bit of a pickle. Several of my Korean beauty products had been confiscated from my carry-on at the airport in Bali. With the heat, I had used up all of my hydrating toner pads. Granted, I clumsily packed in an attempt to avoid overweight charges. My toners and essences took the hit and I was stuck waiting for my slow shipment from Seoul. I went to Shoppers Drug Mart in search of some local goodies to test out. It was especially exciting because, for the first time in 3 years, the ingredients would be in English (and French! – sometimes). My eyes grew wide and glazed over as I saw the ever increasing prices. What had I done? What a mistake I had made leaving all that liquid gold in Indonesia.
Battle of the Hydrating Toner Pads
Both of these pads claim to have hydrating and exfoliating properties. One left my skin feeling like a rough astringent had been applied. It made my more viscous products tough to apply. The other makes my skin feel clean, but soft and supple, too. We all have different kinds of skin, but in my experience the value of one one of these hydrating toner pads far outweighs the other. Read through for my verdict in Buy This, Not That: The Battle of the Hydrating Toner Pads!
Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic To-Go
Regular price $24.00
“Everything you love about the Glow Tonic, TO GO! Travel-friendly pads pre-soaked in Glow Tonic to tone, brighten, hydrate and gently exfoliate for clean renewed skin.”
The best routine is the one you’ll actually repeat, so toner pads are a no-brainer for a lazy K-Beauty lover like me! These were the only ones under $50 at Shoppers, and since I needed something that day, I decided to suck it up and hope my pension came through sooner than later. I picked out the Pixi Beauty brand based on their clean, feminine packaging and prices which I thought were high for the product type, but better than the others. I looked them up online and found that a number of other beauty bloggers and influencers had featured the products in their feed, so I should give them a fair shot. What exactly was in these products, though? What was I really putting on my skin? Is it the right product for my skin type? Why did I spend nearly $110 on 3 itty bitty items which would probably have cost me $30 in Korea? These hydrating toner pads cost me $24 plus tax. A lot of the time we skim over certain products assuming because the price is low the product must not be good quality. Now, I feel far more inclined than ever to buy Korean beauty products online.
These pre-soaked pads tone, brighten, hydrate, and gently exfoliate.
• Skin looks clearer & feels smoother.
• The ultimate travel-friendly, gentle skin renewal
• Formulated with 5% Glycolic Acid
• Suited for all skin types
• Alcohol free
• Not tested on animals
Use: Either in the AM and PM or when needed
• Step 1: Cleanse your face
• Step 2: Sweep pre-soaked pads across face , neck and décolletage after cleansing, avoiding eye area.
• Step 3: Follow with a serum or moisturizer. (no need to rinse off)
“It is a daily moisturizing pad presoaked in a toner of Propolis Extract and Hyaluronic Acid. It helps to fight against main features of dehydrated, delicate and flaky skin. TIP: It is convenient to wipe off and fix makeups during the day. You can also use as a mini sheet mask on specific dry areas such as cheek or chin. Do not use BHA products if you are allergic to aspirin.”
HOW TO USE
Swipe the embossing side across the face avoiding eye area after cleansing.
Swipe the softer side across the face to pick up the remaining debris.
Replace the lid tightly to make sure the pads stay wet and clean.
I first tried the Cosrx One Step Moisture Up Pads at the Novotel in Seoul. Cosrx partnered up with the Novotel Ambassador Seoul Yongsan (Seoul Dragon City) and placed their Korean skincare goodies in the uber luxurious bathrooms. What a genius idea! I was hooked on several of their products right away, including these hydrating toner pads! You’ve seen Cosrx on my site before. They have the most fabulous cleanser which isn’t on the market quite yet. This cleanser is gentle and doesn’t leave a residue. The same can be said for these hydrating moisture pads (the Cosrx One Step Moisture Up Pads). You can use them for spot treating, prepping for more viscous parts of your skincare routine, or tidying up makeup gone wrong. After trying the Pixi Glow To-Go pads, there’s just no comparison. Cosrx Moisture up pads are a big BUY THIS.
BUY THIS: Cosrx One Step Moisture Up Pads, NOT THAT: Pixi Beauty Glow Tonic To-Go Pads
I’ve made a chart for you of the different ingredients in both hydrating toner pads. You’ll notice that there are a few overlapping ingredients. For the most part, the Pixi pads have a lot more colouring (I’m not sure why – they’re white), fragrance, and additives. Personally, I prefer a shorter list of ingredients with elements I actually understand. For example, I know some beauty bloggers work with natural ingredients like lemon which can be extraordinarily drying and damaging to the skin. I prefer to leave that to the professionals (Cosrx). Why Pixi is putting caramel and red dye in their white pads is beyond me. I’ve left the Pixi at my parents’ place to use the couple of times a month I go visit, but for daily use opt for the gentler, more nourishing blend.
It’s been one scorcher of a summer here in humid Toronto. I’ve heard back in Seoul it’s been record-breaking for humidity, too! If you’ve read any of my other skincare articles, you’ll know I’m a “no muss, no fuss” kinda gal. When I moved to Korea, I tried to improve my soap and water habits. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of the best skincare in the world? That said, I didn’t have time for 12 steps including a mask every night. I’m busy and actually have to make time to sleep. I make an effort to keep an hour or more of fitness 5x a week part of my routine. Nobody of sound heart and mind is going to lug 12 bottles and jars to the gym. When it comes to skincare, I want to keep things simple. If there are too many steps, I lose interest and bail.
Toners, Serums, Essences – OH MY!
Back in April (I’m writing this in mid-July), a company called iUNIK reached out to me to review a few products. They’re a 10-year old company located in Paju, which is the city closest to the North Korean border. They claim to make products designed simply and for the whole family. “With minimalism finding skin happiness contrary to the times of excess supply age.” I have no idea what that might mean, but the word “minimalism” drew me right in!
Always on the hunt for the latest and greatest, I was excited to receive their Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum, Vitamin Hyaluronic Acid Vitalizing Toner, and Beta Glucan Daily Moisture Cream. They also sent me their Lime Moisture Mild Peeling Gel, but it was a miss for me and I only want to bring you products I would buy over and over again. The whole time I was in Korea, I admit, I had no idea what the difference was among toners, serums, and essences. All of them felt fairly similar to me. The only thing I knew for certain was that they went on before your moisturizer. The biggest takeaway? All of the above prepare your skin to absorb the lovely little goodies found in your moisturizer or cream, or even other serums and essences if you choose a multi-step routine. Here’s how I apply my favourite iUNIK products.
The Claim: “This gel type toner can help to make powerful vitalizing and moisturizing with Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruits Extract 5% and Hyaluronic acid 45%.”
The Vitamin Hyaluronic Acid Vitalizing Toner has no scent. This toner is really watery and doesn’t have the astringent feeling I tend to associate with others. I’ve been using it for months now and the bottle looks like it’s barely taken a dent, so great value there! In my experience, toner can be exfoliating. This toner is intensely hydrating, instead. If you put it on your hand you might think it will leave a sticky feeling, but it doesn’t at all. You’re left with plump, nourished skin! A lot of people shy away from the word “acid” thinking that it will damage the skin or strip it away. Hyaluronic acid actually acts as a moisture-binding ingredient in skincare – perfect to prep and prime your skin for whats next, right?
The Claim: “This Effective Optimal Synergy Serum includes the unique and optimal ratio, Propolis 70% and Vitamin C (Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Extract) 12% by iUNIK. It can make Calming & Brightening for Sensitive Skin.”
The Propolis Vitamin Synergy Serum actually smells like honey! I’m surprised that other bloggers referred to it as viscous or thick. Like the toner, it wasn’t at all the consistency I expected. In fact, it was also quite watery in my opinion. Maybe my skin is just super thirsty constantly, but it was absorbed quite quickly in a thin layer. My skin immediately feels as though it’s been soothed after application of this skincare product. The look of my skin after application is bright and dewy. There’s a definitely glow-factor with this serum! In this summer heat, I can’t be waiting around for my skincare to settle. The combination of the toner and the serum soak up quite quickly and I’m ready for my third, and final, step.
Skincare Step 3
Beta Glucan Daily Moisture Cream $14.99
The Claim: “Amazing skin moisturizer Beta Glucan, Super Moisture Recharge. This cream can help to make moisturizing dry skin and improve skin barrier function with Beta Glucan. Improve skin barrier function calming and protecting sensitive skin. Moisturizing. Light Skin. Skin clearing. Whitening and wrinkle care.”
Beta Glucan is active in cereal and fungus and is found to lower cholesterol. In skincare products, it reduces redness and soothes sensitive skin. I had horrible skin as a child, but throughout my teens and adult years have been fairly lucky. I get quite a bit of dryness/ redness around my t-zone (my nose especially). Since adding the iUNIK Beta-Gulcan Daily Moisture Cream to my routine the redness and sensitivity has reduced significantly, but is still ever-present. My face has a dewy glow and feels supple to the touch without feeling greasy. In the summer especially, I can’t stand that feeling of your moisturizer sweating off. Thankfully I haven’t had to with this product. I’ve been using this moisture cream Monday – Friday mornings since April, and the bottle is only starting to dwindle now. This product is unscented.
My iUNIK Skincare Verdit
Now that I’m back in Toronto, I’m making an effort to live my best life naturally. I had my hair fixed so that moving forward I’ll be letting my natural brown locks grow in – gray and all. We’ll see how long that lasts. I don’t have quite as much time in the morning as I did when I was in Korea. The gym has taken priority over looking entirely polished and put together. Unless I’m client-facing or going out on the town, I’ve stopped wearing make-up entirely. Because of this, I need to treat my skin the best I can. The ease of use, glowy complexion, and unbeatable pricepoint makes iUNIK an exceptional skincare line. My morning routine is a lot easier with this trio of iUNIK tools!
This article was written in unpaid partnership in exchange for an honest review of iUNIK products. ThatGirlCartier.com only features products or services I genuinely adore and would repurchase again and again.
Korean Holy Grail Skincare: Cleansers Available in Canada
Skincare isn’t this mystifying secret combination of product formulas and equations. It’s actually quite simple to have a skincare regimen that works! To have clear, flawless, pore-less skin, we’ve got to get back to basics. This starts with a clean, make-up free face. With winged liners out the wazoo and Fenty foundation a-flutter, how do you actually get that gunk off you face (and out ya dang pores) at the end of the night? …and how do you fix the damage from those dreaded nights when you pass out with a full face on? Love, I have 2 holy grail products for you.
Banila Co. is a cosmetics and skincare shop in Korea much like the others. It’s a bright, airy shop with plenty of cute models shot making goofy faces. I like their liquid eyeliner, but haven’t tried much in the way of makeup there. Banila Co. has one item, however, for which I’d trek all over Seoul. I made sure to pick up the largest container they had before leaving Korea for good. This skincare holy grail item is the one which takes off the majority of my makeup. Many Koreans use a double or triple cleansing system because of the pollution, but also because normal make-up removers just can’t get everything off. I like to begin with the “sorbet” textured product because it takes off the majority of my make-up and cleans out pores. “Lightweight sorbet-like textured makeup removing cleansing balm that whisks away pore-clogging impurities. Use the spatula to take a small amount and massage gently in circular motions. Rinse well with lukewarm water, or use tissue to wipe off the balm with gentle strokes.”
Ingredients: Mineral Oil, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, PEG-20 Glyceryl Triisostearate, PEG -10Isostearate, Polyethylene, Butylene Glycol, Water, Rubus Suavissimus (Raspberry) Leaf Extract, Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Extract, Aspalathus Linearis Leaf Extract, Viscum Album, (Mistletoe) Leaf Extract, Angelica Polymorpha Sinensis Root Extract, Carica Papaya, (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Malpighia Glabra (Acerola) Fruit Extract, Epilobium, Angustifolium Leaf Extract, BHT, Butylparaben, CI 16255, CI 15985, Fragrance
I got to try the series of Cosrx products when I won a 2-night stay at the new Seoul Novotel Ambassador Dragon City near Yongsan. I’m such a fan of Accor Hotels, and this stay was even better because my massive bathroom was fully stocked with Cosrx samples. Some of these samples aren’t even on the market quite yet. I’m hoping that a glowing review (and my glowing skin) will help Cosrx make the choice to start selling Good Night Mild Oil Cleanser in Korea, and hopefully soon in Canada (or at least on iHerb). While Clean it Zero can get most of my mascara off, the Cosrx formula makes certain that any hint of CC cream, liquid eyeliner, or mascara is erased. The formula is really mild. Unlike other oil cleansers I’ve tried. it doesn’t stick around when I go to rinse it off.
Bad News/ Good News
While the Oil Cleanser doesn’t seem to be on the market quite yet, Good Morning Gel Cleanser is available online for shipping to Canada. It is described as: “Start the day right by treating your skin to a mild and gentle cleanser with a low pH that effectively removes excess oil and dead skin. Formulated with tea tree oil and natural BHA to refine skin texture, the Good Morning Gel Cleanser’s pH level is the closest to your skin’s natural pH levels and leaves skin soft, moist and refreshed without stripping it of its natural oils.”
Do you have any cleansers you swear by? Are the available in Canada (or online to ship here)? Let us know in the comments!