Keep Calm & Holiday On: Your Guide to a Stress-Free Holiday

The holiday season is filled with joy & excitement but it can also be a very stressful time for many! Looking after gifts for loved ones, preparing the home for guests, and entertaining can certainly take a toll. Here are our TOP 8 ways to unwind this season to help keep your season merry & less scary.

1. Plan Ahead. Stay on top of all you need to get done by making a list & checking it twice! This applies to grocery shopping, gift purchasing, and chores. No one wants to take precious holiday time away from their lives by making unnecessary trips to the grocery store or to the mall for things you missed the first time around.

2. Buy in bulk. Attending lots of parties over the holidays? Figure out what you will bring for a host/hostess gift & purchase all the items you will need in one go!

3. Ask for Help. You are not alone! It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle & bustle and believe you can do it ALL but the reality is, holiday prep can be A LOT of work. Ask family & friends to pitch in on decorating, cooking, and gathering supplies. You may even have some fun along the way doing these “chores” together.

4. Shop on Slow Days. If you are able to do your shopping during the less busy hours (daytimes/weekdays) then take advantage of this! You’ll find you enjoy your experience more when you aren’t being trampled by shoppers and waiting in long checkout lines.

5. Accept the uncontrollable. For those who have to travel over the holidays, you know that things don’t always go according to plan. Weather delays, traffic, and mass amounts of travelers can cause added stress on your schedule. Accept that this is a reality of this time of year and find ways to enjoy it! Bring a book, magazine, and your favourite podcasts to get you through long lines & delays.

6. Take time for Yourself. This is a big one! Prioritize yourself even when you feel like you can’t. Sip a tea & read your book, cozy up with a holiday movie, or visit the spa for some pampering! Letting go of stress & worry, even in short bursts, will help keep you energized through the holidays.

7. Maintain Healthy Habits. It’s SO easy to slide into some unhealthy holiday habits: eating sweets, drinking festive cocktails, and skipping workouts can throw you off track and make you feel sluggish. As much as possible, try to stick to your healthy eating and exercise regimen to keep you on the right track moving into the new year.

8. Savour traditions. We all have our favourite holiday traditions with our loved ones. Enjoy these precious moments together & the memories will keep you feeling warm and fuzzy even through the busy and stressful times.

Masque No. 1

My Love for Masque No. 1

As the weather gets colder, our skin’s needs often change from what they were during the warm, humid months. The fall and winter become more crisp and cool and, therefore, more drying to the skin. One of my favourite products to protect the skin from dryness is Yonka’s Masque No. 1. The Masque No. 1 contains many hydrating ingredients such as; imperative cylindrica, aloe vera, sodium PCA, jojoba and sandalwood. It also contains ingredients such as vitamin A, vitamin B5, and barley to smooth and repair the skin’s natural lipid barrier. Ingredients such as vitamin E and C as well as bacopa monniera give this beautiful masque a wonderful “anti-aging” property. Masque No. 1 contains time-release technology:  the longer you leave it on, the more hydrated you will be! The results are amazing; leaving it on overnight will maximize your skin’s comfort and hydration. If you’re finding your skin is extremely dehydrated, after a long trip, in the dead of winter or after an illness, you may use this as your night cream until you are feeling more hydrated.

The popularity and efficacy of Masque No. 1 led Yonka to create an entire No. 1 line for those who need more hydration in their day-to-day skincare regime. If  you’re struggling to find the right balance of hydration for your oily skin type, the Hydra No. 1 Fluide is for you. This product is hydrating and mattifying – perfect for those who are concerned with skin becoming “oily” or “greasy” throughout the day. This product is proven to increase the hydration levels of your skin by 110% immediately and an additional 59% after 8 hours.

The Hydra No. 1 Cream is excellent for those who have a dry/dehydrated skin type (lacking oil & water). This moisturizer is an intense long-lasting boost of hydration as well as extremely repairing for the skin. Proven to increase your hydration levels by 138% immediately and an additional 86% after 8 hours.

If these products still do not offer your skin enough hydration (maybe throughout the driest months or during a long stay in the hospital or possibly from genetics), the Hydra No. 1 Serum is a great option: giving your skin a long-lasting boost of moisture, this creamy gel is perfect for hydration emergencies. The Hydra No. 1 Serum can be applied and layered under any moisturizer to provide that extra boost of hydration. For optimal hydration, layer under the Hydra No. 1 Cream (boosting the hydration level of your skin by 144% immediately and an additional 102% after 8 hours) or the Hydra N 1 Fluide (boosting the hydration levels of your skin by 122% immediately and an additional 76% after 8 hours.

Don’t let dry, dull skin bring you down this winter. Stay hydrated, and glowing with Yonka!

Michelle d’Entremont, Clinical Esthetician

New at Willow: Toacara Jewelry!

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of a new jewelry line to Willow: Tocara! This Montreal-based company creates classic & trendy jewelry at very affordable prices. The collections feature genuine gemstones, rhodium plated Sterling Silver, hypoallergenic Stainless Steel and are all nickel-free. Founder & President, Randall Markus, first created artisanal jewelry to sell on the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal. He has since grown his passion into a beautiful, and elegant jewelry line for women & men of all ages and tastes. The name “Tocara” is of Spanish & Italian origin meaning “to touch”. The essence of the brand is to touch the lives of those who wear the pieces and empower them to live their best, most beautiful life.

Tocara is available to order online or in-store at Willow. Enjoy a free gift with EVERY Tocara order and different monthly promotions. Drop by to try on select pieces and view the catalogue. If you are interested in hosting a Tocara party for you and your family & friends please let us know! OR, if you’d like to become a Tocara stylist you can learn more here. There are so many opportunities to connect with Tocara, we hope you’ll enjoy this new line as much as we do!

Willow’s Guide to Proper Exfolation

Exfoliation is one of the best ways to achieve smooth, glowing skin. Regular exfoliation (2-3x/week) removes surface dead skin cells, unclogs pores, promotes circulation within the skin, and allows for better absorption of creams & serums. This benefits the skin on all areas of the body; from your face to your feet. All skin types require an exfoliation process whether they are dry, oil, sensitive, or acneic. The difference is choosing the proper treatment method for your skin type & concerns. As we move towards the colder months, our skin certainly becomes dryer and the need to slough off extra dead skin cells increases.

There are many different types of exfoliants:

Mechanical: scrubs (non-hazardous micro-beads and small grains) that physically lift and break down surface dead skin cells through manual manipulation (jojoba beads, guarana seeds). Best for: thick, oily skin. Keep an eye out for products containing plastic beads. These are now banned in Canada for their harmful environmental impact. Willow recommends: Vivier Vitamin C Scrub.

Soft Peel: non-abrasive gel/cream that attaches and gently lifts dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. Best for: all skin types. Willow recommends: Yonka Gommage.

Enzymatic: enzymes that work to break down the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together (Pumpkin, pineapple, papaya). Best for: sensitive, dehydrated skin. Willow recommends: One Love Organics Brand New Day Scrub.

Acid Peels: concentrated acid extracts that penetrate deeper into the skin and remain active after initial application to aid in cell regeneration and speed up cellular turnover (AHAs, BHAs, Glycolic, Lactic). Best for: all skin types dependent upon the acid, particularly mature/aging. Willow recommends: a professional peel treatment.

For exfoliation of the body we recommend a more abrasive exfoliator (as long as it is not irritating to sensitive skin). Try an exfoliating glove (like the Renaissance glove), or a sugar/salt scrub (like LoveFresh). Scrubs that contain hydrating oils are an excellent way to remove dead skin cells while also providing the skin with some extra moisture. Exfoliation of the feet can also be done with a scrub or mitt but tough calluses should be treated with a foot paddle.

Be aware of over-exfoliating the skin; when this happens the skin tends to produce more oil or can become irritated or chaffed. And of course, wherever you are exfoliating be sure to apply moisturizer, lotion, and/or serum to achieve silky smooth hydrated skin. All facials & skincare treatments performed by a skincare therapist include exfoliation. Some of Willow’s best “re-surfacing” treatments include the Vivier Brilliance Facial, Oxygeneo treatment, and IPL Skin Rejuvenation. Expect brighter, smoother, and more radiant skin with all of these services!

Willow’s Must-Have Fall Products

The cooler weather is fast-approaching and that means the change of season is upon us! Switching up your products to best suit each season is the best way to ensure you’re looking after your skin, beauty & bodycare needs. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite must-have products for fall to have you rocking the new season!

Jane Iredale PureMoist Lipstick in Gwen – The brightest, boldest red we’ve ever seen from Jane Iredale! Gwen is a must-have fall makeup item to keep your beauty game on point. Creamy, hydrating, and filled with anti-oxidants, Jane lipsticks not only look good, but feel great too. Pair with a neutral eye palette, and pink cheeks for the perfect fall look.

Yonka Gommage – As the weather starts to cool off, dehydrated skin becomes a reality. Prevent dryness by using Yonka’s Gommage to infuse the skin with hydration while also providing a gentle exfoliation. Gommage can be used every day for a week as an intensive treatment/cure or every 2-3 days for regular maintenance. Gommage can be a tricky product to work with at first, but fear not! Once you get the hang of it you will never go back.

OPI Iceland Collection – The latest collection from OPI has got to be one of the best ever. We couldn’t even pick our favourite so we’re recommending the entire collection. There’s something for everyone from deep dark greys, to light blues and pinks. These colours are sure to wow through the fall and winter months.

Bend Marine Collagen + Co-Factors – Collagen is an essential building block for skin’s firmness, elasticity, and tone. Protect, repair, and build healthy collagen with Bend’s latest product: Marine Collagen + Co-Factors. Simply mix 1 tablespoon into your beverage of choice daily to see great results.

Earth Heart Aromas Rosehip Oil – Are those little dry, flakey, and irritated areas of skin starting to emerge? Treat everything from cuticles, to eczema, to dry scalp with Earth Heart Aromas’ wildcrafted Rosehip Oil. A delightful blend using rosehips from right here in Nova Scotia!

Footlogix Mousse – As sandal season winds down we tend to forget about our footcare. Most of us have quite dry feet by the end of summer so it’s time to incorporate a more hydrating Footlogix mousse to combat this. Quickly absorbed, and deeply penetrating, Footlogix mousse is an ideal choice for dehydrated feet without any fuss!

Vivier Vitamin C Scrub – Exfoliation is key in the fall. Vivier Vitamin C scrub is safe to use on the face and entire body and can be easily kept in the shower. Use 2-3 times a week to slough off dead skin cells with a light refreshing scent and slightly gritty texture. Don’t be surprised if everyone else in your family starts using it too!

Finding Balance in a Busy World

Life is constantly about bargaining. If I do this, then I can’t do that. If I go here, I can’t go there. If I choose this, I won’t choose that. We make decisions all day every day that shape and impact who we are and how we live our lives. But very often our choices don’t feel like our own. We have obligations, responsibilities and commitments that fill up our schedules and our minds. Many of these things are unavoidable: work, parenting, and school to name a few. Our lives can become so easily controlled by the “should-dos” and “have-tos” that we lose sight of the opportunities we DO have to make positive, personal choices that help to give balance and meaning to our lives. Here are a few of our favourite ways to seek balance in a busy world.

  1. Know yourself & your limits. It’s easy to get caught up with work or a special project. However, we all have a limit, and we need to recognize that limit to avoid burning out. In the long run, overdoing it will have more harm than good. If something on your to-do list can wait, let it be. Prioritize your workload and take pride in knowing when you’ve reached your maximum effort.
  2. Schedule free time. It’s not selfish to make a point setting aside time just for yourself to do whatever you please! Just because you appear to be “free” doesn’t mean you need to fill this time with anything specific. This is time you can use for re-connecting with yourself in any way that seems meaningful to you. Reading, taking a bath, enjoying a hike, or listening to music are all great ways to enjoy some self-care.
  3. Eat well & meal prep. Fueling your body with healthy meals and snacks will give you the energy you need to power through your day. Meal prepping is a great way to reduce the strain on your time so that you’re not rushing on busy evenings to get a meal on the table. Meal prepping also takes the stress out of the dreaded daily “what are we having for dinner” question.
  4. Stay inspired. When we focus on our passions and the core of what drives us we are able to live a much more fulfilling and enjoyable life. Keep that fire by staying inspired. Read uplifting literature, enjoy favourite quotes and podcasts, and make choices that fuel your passions.
  5. Exercise. Find joy in the capacity your body has to move! Try different workouts and styles of exercise until you find the right one for you. Before long, your body & mind will come to love the training you’re doing. Exercise also releases endorphins which boost your mood. Better mood, better balance.
  6. Find your tribe. Surround yourself with people who genuinely love and care for you! Maintaining positive and healthy relationships  can be very uplifting and supporting. Time spent with people you choose to spend time with should give you energy and peace. Know who you can turn to for these things and you’ll always be grounded.
  7. Practice, practice, practice. A healthy, balanced, lifestyle isn’t something that you can suddenly attain. It’s fluid, and changeable, and a daily process. Be mindful in your choices and reflect on how you can live your best life. Don’t be too hard on yourself & let yourself live authentically!

FAQ: Am I a Candidate for Laser Hair Removal?

One of the most commonly asked questions we hear at Willow is “Am I a candidate for laser hair removal?” Lasers have steadily been gaining in popularity and accessibility over the last decade or so. Most people are familiar with IPL/Laser technology which allows us to treat a variety of different skincare concerns with minimal invasiveness & downtime. Lasers are used for everything from tattoo removal, to skin rejuvenation, and permanent hair reduction. While laser treatments still come with a relatively high price tag, more and more often we are looking for a quick, long-term solution which makes the cost of treatments less important than the value we derive from them.

When it comes to permanent hair removal solutions IPL/laser is a great option for targeting large areas of the body as well as some small areas of the face. Laser is a much more permanent solution than waxing and takes many fewer treatments than electrolysis. Over time, there is a significant reduction in the amount and density of hair in the area being treated. So, how do you know if laser hair removal is for you? First and foremost, a consultation with a laser technician is the best way to determine whether your hair removal goals are achievable. However, the best candidates for laser hair removal are those with dark hair and lighter skin. This is because the technology targets the pigment of the hair to destroy the growth. If the pigment is not “visible” to the laser (such as very light coloured hair) it is not able to be treated as easily. In general, the greater the contrast in colour from skin to hair, the easier it is to treat.

It is important to be aware that permanent laser/IPL hair reduction can take up to 8 treatments (or sometimes more) to achieve desired results. Maintenance treatments may be necessary over time as we can only treat the hair follicles that exist at the time of treatment. Committing to any IPL/Laser treatments requires adherence to post-care procedures including practicing excellent sun safety.

What’s New with Yonka Skincare

Our signature product line, Yonka, is going through some exciting new changes and additions! We’ll be sure to share all the news with you as these changes take place but for now we’d like to introduce you to some NEW products from Yonka!

Time Resist Day – an anti-aging plant stem cell moisturizer for day time use. It is anti-wrinkle, protecting for daytime, hydrating (contains hyaluronic acid), smoothing & will restore tone.

Time Resist Night – an anti-aging plant stem cell moisturizer for night. While we sleep the skin goes into restoring mode. This cream will help that process by repairing & fighting damage from the day. It is nourishing and hydrating. Replenish & re-energize while you sleep!

Boosters are facial oils or serums that enhance the moisture level in the skin as well as treat specific skincare needs. These works in synergy with the appropriate moisturizer for your particular skincare concerns/conditions.

Defense + Booster – anti-oxidant, anti-pollution, improves dullness, and minimizes fine lines
Hydra + Booster – for very dry/dehydrated skin, improves roughness and discomfort caused by dry skin, increases radiance
Lift+ Booster – excellent for firming and re-energizing skin, improves tone, adds definition to facial & neck contours (great for post-weight loss)
Nutri + Booster – nourishes & revitalizes weakened or compromised skin, good for dull, dry skin

Willow’s Top Must-Have Summer Products

Summer is such a wonderful, refreshing time of year! As we strip away those winter layers and indulge in outdoor activities and vacations, our skin & bodies’ needs change as well. We’ve put together a list of our MUST-HAVE summer products to help you get the most out of the season without completely abandoning your wellness plan.

  1. Tizo Mineral Sunscreen: Sunscreen. Every. Day. Tizo makes it easy to stay protected by offering instant sun protection through it’s physical (as opposed to chemical) formula. Not only is it top-notch for protection but it also feels like a silky dream on the skin! It won’t clog pores or increase oiliness, and is available in a tinted formulation to give you a little colour. We recommend saving this wonder-product for the face & using something else for all over.
  2. Powder-Me SPF: Again, a sunscreen! This product from Jane Iredale is a powder-based mineral sunscreen. It is also a physical sunblock which means you are protected as soon as you have applied it. This product is GREAT for using in your hairline, on the face, shoulders, and chest. We love it for those outdoor summer events where a full sunscreen application may mess up or stain clothing.
  3. Lip Drink: We can’t forget about our lips! Jane Iredale Lip Drink is suuuuuper hydrating for dry lips & also offers sun protection. Bring this with you for all your outdoor summer activities from hiking, to swimming, to golfing, or gardening.
  4. Bend Anti-Aging Formula: Bend omega-3 supplement will help keep your skin hydrated, firm, and free of redness/inflammation. By treating the skin from the inside out we are able to improve the skin climate and protect against free radical damage. Bend is also clinically proven to provide sun protection giving you even more security for sun exposure!
  5. LoveFresh Natural Deodorant: We’re usually perspiring a lot more in the summer and regular deodorant applications are necessary! Why not use one that is chemical-free & will actually work?! We love LoveFresh Natural Deodorant for keeping us protected & smelling sweet while offering peace of mind that we’re using something safe for this delicate area.
  6. Yonka Defense + Booster: This brand new serum or “booster” from Yonka is ideal for protecting the skin from environmental damage and pollution. Layer under your moisturizer to help keep the skin glowing & healthy.
  7. Footlogix Mousse: It’s flip flop season! But did you know that life in bare feet can cause dryness, sweating, or fungal infections? The appropriate Footlogix mousse for your particular footcare concerns will help balance the moisture level in your feet, keep them feeling soft & smooth, and prevent fungus.
  8. One Love Organics Skin Saviour Balm: If you’re doing any travelling this summer you know that less is more! Try the ultimate in multi-use products: Skin Saviour, to cleanse, and hydrate the skin. This can also be used in the hair to tame fly-aways, on blemishes or bites as a spot treatment to reduce inflammation, or as a great treatment for redness & sensitive skin.
  9. Renaissance Glove: You’re bound to build up some extra dead skin during the summer so keep your skin feeling smooth & silky by exfoliating regularly! The Renaissance glove can be used all over (except for the face) in the shower to gently slough off dead skin. Use a few times a week & follow up with hydrating body lotion to have the softest skin ever! Plus: it can go in the washing machine!
  10. Epsom Salts: If you’re getting outdoors to do some physical activity then you are likely feeling the ache of tired and sore muscles. Help reduce the inflammation with an Epsom salt soak! This is a great way to ease any muscle pain to keep your body functioning at its best!

You’ve read our list now it’s time to let us know what YOUR favourite summer products are! We’d love to hear from you.

Happy, Healthy, & Glowing Skin All Summer Long

There’s so much to love about the summer – especially living on the East Coast where our warm weather days are short-lived. We take every chance we can get to go outside and soak up every last drop of sunshine and warmth. As wonderful as this time of year is, it also can be detrimental to your skincare & health goals – particularly when it comes to sun exposure! Here’s a few ways you can be mindful during the summer to keep you living your best and brightest life when the days are warm!

  1. Limit sun exposure – We all want to be outside as much as possible but try to limit the number of hours you spend in direct sunlight. Sit in the shade, avoid peak sunshine hours (mid-day), and keep covered with a hat & protective clothing.
  2. Wear sunscreen – All day, every day! Apply your sunscreen first thing in the morning and make it a habit. Re-apply every few hours especially if you are outdoors, swimming, or perspiring. Practicing sun safety will prevent the appearance of age spots/hyperpigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, and even more importantly it will prevent serious DNA damage and skin cancer.
  3. Switch up your skincare routine – Usually our skin is much oilier during the summer as the humidity is increased. Most of us need to switch to a lighter moisturizer when the weather is warmer to avoid overly oily skin & congested pores.
  4. Eat right – It’s easy to slip into a pattern of BBQ foods day after day. Make sure you are still getting lots of fruits and veggies in especially considering the abundance of local produce that is available this time of year. When you’re eating right your skin naturally glows!
  5. Build in exercise – Don’t let your fitness goals slip in the summer! Instead, maintain a healthy balance by partaking in your usual favourite activities or try some new outdoor-themed ones! Swimming, hiking, tennis, and golf are all great ways to stay active while still enjoying the weather.
  6. Keep essential oils on hand – Essential oils are life-savers for summer-time woes. Treat everything from burns to bites with natural plant essences.
  7. Hydrate – Between perspiring and prolonged sun exposure we lose lots of water in the summer. This can lead to headaches, heat stroke, and fatigue – not to mention dull, and dry skin! Drink lots of water all day to keep yourself happily hydrated & be sure to drink a bit extra when you are doing outdoor activities.
  8. Practice Self-care – It can be easy in the summer to agree to every BBQ, party, and day trip. As fun as it can be to fit it all in remember to take the time YOU need for yourself to do the things that make you happiest & most care-free. Remember that it’s okay to put yourself & your needs first!