Travel products

Willow’s Travel Must-Have Products

Travelling south this winter or spring? While most of us are trying to pack lighter these days, there are a few essentials we recommend bringing along to help you look & feel your best!

  1. Sunscreen. This is a pretty obvious one! We definitely recommend bringing your favourite & most trusted sunscreen with you for your sun-cation. We suggest TiZo mineral sunscreen for your face as it is a broad-spectrum physical sunscreen which provides instant protection from UVA & UVB. For a feathery-light sunscreen, we choose Jane Iredale Powder-Me-SPF for quick touch-ups and broad-spectrum protection.
  2. Cleanser. Sunscreen, chlorine, makeup, and sea water are sure to do a number on your skin. Ensure you’re getting a thorough double cleanse in at the end of every day with your favourite cleanser. We recommend Yonka Cleansing Gel to really remove everything from the skin & for a squeaky clean feeling OR One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil as it expertly removes anything oil-based from the skin while leaving you feeling silky smooth.
  3. Bend Capsules. Travel can cause great disruptions in your health & wellness routine. Taking your daily dose of Bend anti-aging formula is easy when you bring your capsules along with you. Not to mention, they provide an added layer of SPF protection that works from the inside out.
  4. Natural Deodorant. Smell sweet all day long without worrying about harsh chemicals and aluminum-based products touching your skin. Bring along LoveFresh travel size natural deodorant in your favourite scent to keep on hand in your beach bag for quick & easy touch ups as needed!
  5. Lip Protection. Hydrate & protect your lips with a lip balm containing SPF. We often forget our lips can be just as vulnerable to burning and sun damage as the rest of our skin so it’s important to keep them protected! We recommend TiZo Liptect for maximum sun safety (SPF 45) or Jane Iredale Lip Drink (SPF 15) for extra hydration and a hint of colour.
  6. Foot Cream. Sun-cations equal LOTS of time in bare feet! When we’re in warmer climates our feet can sweat more causing blistering and discomfort. Try Footlogix Sweaty Feet Formulation to balance out the moisture in the feet and keep your toes happy!
self-care & women

Willow’s Self-Care Series Pt. III: Women & Care

Why is self-care especially important for women?

As the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th approaches, I’m going to discuss the importance of self-care for women in this week’s blog entry!

In the last hundred or so years, women’s societal roles and expectations have radically shifted.
As we became legally recognized as persons In Canada (In October 1929!), passed milestones such as gaining the right to vote (1916-1940 for white women, 1964 for Indigenous women!), and participated in women’s liberation movements and activism, women have made incredible strides to work toward gender equity.

As we’ve made these cultural shifts to improve equality, gender roles have been challenged, but many gendered expectations, such as being a mother and wife, still remain ingrained in the cultural consciousness. When these multiple roles become expectations, women struggle with “having it all”. Rearing and caring for children, taking care of aging family members, maintaining a successful career, resisting sexual harassment and violence, and adhering to beauty and behavioural expectations make achieving a work-life balance more difficult than ever.

A large component of these expectations can be explained by a phenomenon that has become somewhat of a buzzword lately: Emotional Labour.
What is emotional labour?

Author Savannah Weiss sums it up beautifully,

“Emotional labor is the exertion of energy for the purpose of addressing people’s feelings, making people comfortable, or living up to social expectations. It’s called “emotional labor” because it ends up using – and often draining – our emotional resources.”

In the context of women and work, emotional labour refers to the often invisible, expected tasks that women perform in all aspects of life. This can range from the expectation that women must always be polite and friendly, to juggling multiple caring roles or a caring profession, to keeping life moving smoothly by maintaining family members’ schedules and chores. As a side note, I acknowledge that while relationship, family, and work dynamics differ greatly across the board, emotional labour is disproportionately performed by women due to gender stereotypes that tell us that women are more caring and nurturing than men.

As we are expected to drain our emotional resources regularly to accommodate the comfort and needs of others, self-care becomes incredibly important for women. Taking the time to care for ourselves can seem pretty radical in a world where we are always caring for others! This can even lead to feelings of guilt for putting our own needs first. The truth is that there is no shame in taking the time to care for ourselves, and our self-care MATTERS! In fact, in order to continue performing emotional labour, we must take the time to re-up our emotional resources when they become drained. It’s incredibly important to remember that we deserve to care for ourselves, treat ourselves, and love ourselves. Though emotional labour often comes with little to no compensation, we can take measures daily to ensure we are well-charged and well-cared for.

A few ideas for self-care this week:

1.       As Spring approaches and the weather is warming up, take a stroll and visit one of our fabulous local parks. Bring a hot tea or coffee and soak in the nature, hop on the swings and go for a swing, or bring your favourite canine pal for a jaunt! My favourite spots around town for gorgeous ocean views and top-notch swingsets are Flinn Park and Fort Needham Park.

2.       Take some time before bed to journal three good things that happened in your day, three things you love about yourself, and three things you’re looking forward to tomorrow.

3.       Buy yourself a cupcake. Eat the entire cupcake. Do not for one second feel guilty about eating said cupcake. Indulging in pleasure is self-affirming, and you deserve it! ©

Improving Heart Health with Dawn Baker, RHN

February is Heart Health Month; how are you taking care of your heart? Cardiovascular disease affects approximately 2.4 million Canadian adults. There are many ways in which we can have a positive impact on our heart health to help reduce our risk of heart disease. Here are some helpful tips on how you can take control of your health & reduce your risk as well as a handy 3-day heart healthy meal plan.

Stress Management

  • Exercise – brisk walking 15-30 minutes a day at least 3 times per week or a trip to your local fitness club
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff! Keeping in check the curveballs life throws at us.
  • Breathe! We tend to breath more shallow when stressed. Upon waking, take 3-5 deep inhalations with slow exhalations. It works!
  • Do something nice for yourself. Have a massage, go for a walk in nature, visit your local spa to unwind.
  • Get enough sleep. Turn off all electronics 30-60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Take a bath. Add your favorite essential oils or Epsom salts to help reduce tension in your body.


  • Cut the crap. Avoid refined/processed foods. Most contain added sugar, salt and preservatives that don’t benefit you.
  • Heart healthy foods
  • Essential fatty Acids Omega 3- Salmon or other cold water fatty fish such as mackerel and sardines.
  • Ground flax seeds or oil, Chia, Hemp or Pumpkin seeds and Walnuts
  • Avocado- as a stand-alone, added to a salad or smoothie or as a cooking oil
  • Fibre-rich foods- beans, legumes, fruit and vegetables
  • Phytonutrient rich- dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard, bok choy, broccoli, Swiss chard and romaine) Red, orange and yellow vegetables/fruit (peppers, tomatoes, carrots, squash, melons, citrus and berries) garlic, onion, chives and leeks.
  • Anti-oxidant rich foods such high in carotenoids, lycopene and vitamin c will keep those arteries clear of plaques, reduce inflammation and aid in detoxification support. These foods include berries, herbs and spices and teas. Blueberries, Blackberries, Cranberries, Goji berries, pecans, artichokes, kidney beans and cilantro are all foods extremely high in anti-oxidants.


  • Quit smoking
  • Consume alcohol in moderation
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Reduce mental environmental clutter

3 Day Heart Healthy Meal Plan

  • stay well hydrated throughout the day Breakfast
  • Start each day with 6-8 oz glass of water with ½ squeezed lemon or 1 oz. of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lunch: Try to avoid heavy to digest lunches. They can drain your energy and tempt you to go for sugar or caffeine
  • Dinner: Eat at least 3 hours before bedtime
  • Non-caffeinated teas are great post dinner such as peppermint, chamomile and ginger
  • Snacks: Veggie sticks, seed crackers, smoothies, nuts

Day 1

Breakfast: Cup of Green Tea, Cooked Oatmeal with cinnamon & pure maple syrup or honey for added sweetness
Lunch: Spinach Salad with chopped walnuts, chopped apple and shredded carrot.
Dinner: Baked Salmon with steamed vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus sprinkled with olive oil and sesame seeds
Snack: Carrot and celery sticks with Hummus

Day 2

Breakfast: Green Smoothie with scrambled eggs
Lunch: Vegetable or lentil soup with seed crackers
Dinner: Vegetarian Chilli, guacamole with a few tortilla chips (this can be a snack on its own as well)
Snack: ½ cup of nuts such as almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios or macadamia

Day 3

Breakfast: Yogurt Parfait with berries and granola. Greek or non-dairy yogurt such as almond or coconut.
Lunch: Quinoa and Chickpea Salad with your favorite veggies and *Easy Salad Dressing
Dinner: Vegetable Stir Fry (protein: could add sliced chicken breast, prawns or firm tofu)
Snack: Fruit: apple, orange, pear, banana. Seed crackers with nut or seed butter

*Make extra dinner servings to have for lunch or dinner the next day.
*Easy Salad dressing- 1/2 cup of Olive, Avocado, Flax, Walnut or Hemp oil
2 tbsp. of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, balsamic or red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (you can also add a dash of your favourite herbs)

Willow’s Self-Care Series Part II: Pal-entine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, Celebrate Pal-entine’s Day! ?

Valentine’s day is fast approaching. This week’s self-care article is about Gal-entine’s Day (or Pal-entine’s day)! In this entry, I hope to explore the most wonderful kind of romance of all: friendship! While romantic partnerships take the spotlight on this holiday, and couples indulge in romantic gestures, gift-giving, and extra-special dates, it’s important to keep in mind that other relationships in our lives, namely friendships, are just as worthy of the recognition and romance that Valentine’s day celebrates. That being said, romantic relationships are often seen as the be-all-end-all of true love. Even differentiating them as “romantic” relationships allows us put the romance of true friendship on the back burner in our minds.

Every year, even when I’ve been partnered, my friends and I make a point to celebrate Pal-entine’s Day. The idea originates from an episode of the sitcom Parks and Recreation, in which the lead female characters, frustrated with being single, proclaim that February 13th be known as Gal-entine’s day! Whether you’re single or Valentine’d up, celebrating our best friends for this holiday can be a great opportunity to show them how much they mean to us.

Creating and maintaining our support networks is vital to practicing self-care. Knowing we have friends who love and support us without judgment allows us freedom and the peace of mind that we are not alone. Caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we don’t always have the time and energy to nurture our closest friendships. Vulnerability and truth-telling affirm intimacy and support among pals, and keeps the love going; even when you can’t see one another often.

This February 13th, I challenge all of you to be extra romantic with your friends. Here are a few ideas:

  • Get a bouquet of roses and give one to each of your close friends!
  • Tell your gal pal how proud you are of her for everything she’s accomplished. Let her know that you’ll be there for her no matter what, and that she will always find love and support in you.
  • Plan a romantic dinner date, spa date, or wine date with your bestie!
  • Recall a time your pal helped you out, and hit them back with a token of your appreciation, whether it be a small gift or just a phone call to let them know how much their support meant to you in that time.
  • Write a cute, romantic, snail mail love letter (the more glitter and hearts the better!) to a favourite friend who isn’t in town anymore.

Willow’s Self-Care Series Part I: What is Self-Care?

Hi all, Sophia here! I’m so excited to start sharing a whole blog series about a very near and dear topic: self-care! This can be just about any act that furthers your mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing; from taking a luxurious bubble bath to filling your belly with a nutritious meal, to ending toxic relationships, breaking bad habits, or taking care of your beauty needs and feeling fabulous! So, let’s get started with a little introduction to our series with more in-depth and varied blogs to follow.

Every act of self-care we perform becomes embodied as an act of resistance against negative energy that can run us down and burn us out. Throughout our lives, we encounter various traumas, stresses, and uncertainties that test our resilience and strength. Taking care of ourselves is an integral part of a life-long process of healing from our past and building strength and resilience in the present and for the future. Self-care, tailored to your specific needs and values, can reduce the impact of stress. Taking “me” time, actively making decisions that further your happiness and success, and feeling confident and beautiful inside and out, is actually good for your health!

When life is hectic, and we are often faced with the obligation of caring for others (children, friends, aging family members, etc) it can be easy to put caring for ourselves on the back burner. When balancing the everyday stresses that work, family, relationships, and health can bring, a self-care routine is paramount to keeping our bodies and minds in check.

This year, I’m going to explore a new topic in self-care monthly on the Willow blog. My goal is to encourage everyone to indulge themselves in new acts of self-care, guilt-free. Your well-being matters!

Here at Willow, we are dedicated to delivering top-notch care to our clients, and encouraging them to incorporate it into their everyday life. I’m excited to see where this self-care journey takes us!
Throughout this blog series, here are some of the topics I plan to explore within self-care:

  • Working with affirmations
  • Grounding oneself in the five senses
  • Creating a personalized self-care toolkit
  • Why self-care is especially important for women
  • The Radical Notion of Self-Love

Feel free to share any and all of your thoughts, questions, and comments about this topic with us! And of course, if you have any particular areas of interest you’d like us to explore in an article, let us know!

Start 2018 Right by Taking Care of YOU!

Here’s a resolution we should all have on our minds for 2018: self-care! We talk about this a lot at Willow, but what do we really mean? Self-care is the art of mindfully prioritizing your personal well-being. This can manifest in SO many ways so we are looking forward to bringing you a blog series all about self-care to help you get the most out of life. For now, we want to share some of our favourite ways to practice self-care in our own neighbourhood!

  1. Have a float at the Floatation Centre. The Floatation Centre is home to Atlantic Canada’s only sensory deprivation tanks. These salt-filled pools are a destination for wellness, meditation, and self-reflection – sure to bring the wellness & calmness you need after the holidays!
  2. Enjoy a night out at Bar Kismet. A bumping new spot in Halifax’s North End! Bar Kismet is a primarily seafood restaurant and cocktail bar. Treat yourself to a night away from the kitchen over one of their delightfully named cocktails such as “Stranger Than Fig-Gin”.
  3. Take a class at RIO. Our neighbourhood yoga & pilates studio is a cozy community where you can strengthen your body as well as your mind. This studio aims to challenge the status quo of workout classes and brings a fresh new flavor to the industry. NEWLY opened is their sister studio, ROGUE. You can find more upbeat workouts at this gym such as kickboxing, TRX, and circuit training. Let’s face it, self-care starts with taking care of your body.
  4. Sip a pint (& read?) at Good Robot. Our neighbours over at Good Robot are serving up local craft beer with a smile and wicked sense of humour! These guys are all about good times and you can feel the vibe as soon as you walk in. There’s lots of theme nights to enjoy but one of the coolest has to be Silent Reading. Bring your book, grab a pint, and enjoy a quiet night out.
  5. Grab some healthy groceries at Foxhill Market. We were thrilled when Foxhill Cheese House moved in next door and brought with them a FRESH produce, dairy, and meat market! Cook inspired, healthy meals with local ingredients after your next visit to Foxhill.
  6. Stretch & strengthen at Synergy PhysioPilates. The women across the hall from Willow at Synergy are not only the best neighbours ever but they are also experts in physiotherapy, pelvic health physio, and physiopilates. We highly recommend a visit to Synergy if you are dealing with any injuries, pain, or are looking to strengthen during pre/post pregnancy.
  7. Relax at Willow. Our final self-care recommendation is to make time for yourself at Willow! A spa treatment will help you relax, unwind, and enhance your natural beauty. It’s a chance for you to let go & allow someone else to take care of your needs.

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List!

The time left to shop for holiday gifts is running out but we have some great last minute gift ideas! We’ve put together a list of, what we think, would make for a very merry holiday season. These are gifts that can be enjoyed yourself or shared with loved ones! Have we missed your favourites? Let us know!

  1. Bend Anti-aging formula & Marine Collagen supplements. Bend is a local company creating trail-blazing beauty products that are quickly gaining national & international recognition. Both of these products are supplements and are taken orally, daily. The anti-aging formula, at it’s core, is an omega-3 supplement with amazing active ingredients that are specific to skin health. Read more about the benefits here. The Marine Collagen supplement is a new product designed to build, protect, and strengthen the skin’s collagen. Both of these products are great for someone with difficult-to-shop-for skin! They are designed for any and all skin types and can benefit literally anyone taking them. Anti-aging formula: $80. Marine Collagen: $40.
  2. One Love Organics 3-2-1 Facial Kit. This adorable gift set from OLO includes the mini sizes of 2 of their most popular products: Skin Saviour & Brand New Day in an adorable cosmetic bag. Both of these products are multi-use. Skin Saviour can be used as a cleanser as well as a moisturizer, while Brand New Day can be used as an exfoliant and a masque. This makes a great gift for the frequent traveler who truly believes less is more! 3-2-1 Kit: $55.  
  3. LoveFresh Products. Washes, Lotions, Sugar Scrubs, Body Butter, Natural Deodorant, and even a BABY line make up our selection of LoveFresh body products. Mix & match scents for a lovely gift. These products are natural, handcrafted in small batches, and available in a variety of different scents. These make great teacher or hostess gifts! Prices range from $22-$34.
  4. Jane Iredale Lip Drink. The ultimate stocking stuffer! Lip Drink is a hydrating lip balm that contains an SPF. Perfect for the outdoor-enthusiast on your list! This product is deeply hydrating as well as protecting and is available in 4 different shades. Lip Drink: $20.
  5. Yonka Lotion. A true favourite of Yonka lovers, Yonka Lotion (toner) is a delightful aromatic blend of essential oils that comes in 2 formulations: Normal to Dry & Normal to Oily. A few sprays in the morning and evening after cleansing help to re-balance the skin’s pH after cleansing, refresh the complexion, and help to purify the pores. A great gift for anyone who believes in good skincare and loves the scent of Yonka. Yonka Lotions: $49.
  6. Gift of Spa. A spa gift card is a great option for everyone on your list! Allow your loved one to choose their own services or products that you know they’ll love. All denominations are available and can be picked up in store or ordered over the phone.

We hope our list has given you some ideas to simplify last minute shopping for you and your loved ones! Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays from all of us at Willow.

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!