Category Archives: Review

Dove Dry Shampoo FAIL, and Shoppers Drugmart Rant

Dry Shampoo & me

I’m a big huge dry shampoo fan.  I’ve probably tried every drugstore, to mid-range dry shampoo out there – Tresemme, Klorane, Suave, Batiste, Oscar Blandi, Ojon.  I haven’t tried to Bumble & Bumble one, because I couldn’t wrap my head around a $50 dry shampoo.  [If you ladies attest to it, then I may try it out.  Maybe.]

Dove Dry Shampoo Quasi Review

Anyway, when I saw that Dove had come out with their own for only $7.99 and Nouveau Cheap’s rave review, I was excited to give it a try.  So, I skipped, hopped and danced over Shoppers Drugmart  (a very popular Canadian pharmacy chain similar to RiteAid, Walgreens, or CVS) and picked me up a bottle.

I tried it out right away, and my first thoughts were this:

  • strong smell (which I didn’t like)
  • not as much “dry shampoo” was dispersed from the pump as I would have liked

I used it again on the Monday following the weekend I bought it, and in addition to the above, the dry shampoo felt kind of like hair spray (similar to my experience with the Tresemme dry shampoo).

I like to try a product a few times before I deliver my verdict, because, you never know, right?  Well, I will never know, because the third time I picked up the Dove Dry Shampoo, it stopped working.

I knew something was wrong when I shook the bottle and it sounded like it was empty.  When I went to test spray the dry shampoo on my hand, a clump of wet powdery stuff came out, and that was it.  FYI: This has happened to me before on a defective bottle of Ojon, which I took back to Sephora, and they happily gave me a new bottle.

Shoppers Drugmart Rant

I wanted to take it back right away to Shoppers Drugmart to get my refund (or a new bottle), but I didn’t get around to it until a week later.

I brought back the bottle to a cashier and explained what happened.  I also told her that the bottle is defective and the product is likely all clumped together at the bottom of the can.

The cashier checked my receipt, and the bottle.  Then she tried to spray the bottle – which of course, nothing came out.

Cashier: It’s empty.

Me:  No, it’s not.  I just explained to you why it sounds like it’s empty.  The product is clumped together at the bottom of the bottle. You can’t get it out.  This has happened to me before with a defective bottle of aerosol dry shampoo.

Cashier: No, it’s empty.

Me:  No, that’s impossible, because I just bought it last week, and I only used it twice.

Cashier:  It’s empty.  Plus, you got it at another location.  I can’t refund this. 

I know she was just trying to do her job, but at this point, I should have asked to speak to her manager – someone who had authority and cared about customer service.  But, instead, I lost my cool because she was basically calling me a liar.  I raised my voice and said told her this was ridiculous, the product was defective, and stormed out.   What did it matter that I got it at another location – there are a GAZILLION locations for a reason.

I know, I know.  It was only 8 bucks.  It wasn’t very mature of me.  I just wasn’t expecting this kind of service from Shoppers Drugmart, and I don’t appreciate being treated like a liar, when I was the victim. 

Well, now I know better.  In the future, I will try not to lose my cool, and not take comments personally.

Readers, have you ever had a similar customer service experience?  Do you have any suggestions for how I can better deal with situations like these in the future?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Update:

I was still very dissatisfied with the customer service I received, so I decided to go back to the Shoppers Drugmart and talk to the store manager.   I calmly explained what happened, and said that I was taken aback from the refusal to process my refund request, when it was a defective item, which I clearly explained to the cashier.  I also admitted that I took the comment as a personal attack (that the cashier basically told me I was lying), and I left very angry, leaving behind my receipt and defective product. 

The item itself was not very expensive, but I felt that it was the principle of the matter, and wanted to bring it to her attention.  I also brought with me printed reviews I found online with other people who also had the same problem as me and provided her with a copy of these reviews.  I explained to the manager, I understood the cashier was trying to do her job, but it was a frustrating experience.  The store manager apologized, and refunded me my money, even without a receipt, and said that her staff should have asked for another assessment before making such a judgement call. 

So, even though I felt I was “wronged”, I am glad that I went back to talk to the store manager.  I have always received great customer service from Shoppers Drugmart, and now I feel better when I go back to the store.  On another note, it would be hard to boycott Shoppers as they are just so convenient and have some great sales! 🙂

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Warranty Fail (Part I): The Source

It seems today that you can get an extended warranty for anything and everything.  I swear I’ve walked out with an extension chord and the cashier asked if I would like an extended 3 year warranty for only another $5.  Ummm, no thanks.

I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with warranties – mostly bad experiences.  I didn’t lose too much money either time, but I sure was pissed off.

I also learned an important lesson.  The warranty is marketed as protection for the customer, but really, it’s protection for the retailer.  Whenever I think of a warranty in those terms, I can more accurately gauge if I really need a warranty – most times, the answer is no.

Since my earlier days as a naive and gullible customer, I have learned a few lessons.  I wanted to share with my readers 2 of my worst warranty experiences with the above mentioned retailer (Part 2 featuring Best Buy is coming up – it was too long for one post!).

The Source

I bought my 3-year contract $0 phone while browsing The Source.  Silly? Probably.

I was with my sister and I remember asking the sales rep a gazillion questions.  The one I remember most clearly, was the question regarding what the extended warranty covered for my phone.

The Source sales rep told me my warranty covered everything except water damage. He said, if I dropped my phone on the road, and a car ran over it, bring in the peices in a Ziploc bag and The Source will replace it for me.

I can’t make this stuff up.  I was sold. So, I signed up for my extended warranty (with a picture of a smashed up cellphone in my mind) and feeling complete peace of mind.

2 Years Later…

Fast forward two years, and the button for music player on my cell phone is broken.  No biggie.  In my head, I thought that if  The Source was willing to fix my runned down cell phone, for sure, they could fix a simple button.

Wrong.

The sales rep took half a glance at my phone and told me it wasn’t covered.  He didn’t even bother checking my file or anything. I asked to speak with his manager.  The manager took one look at my phone and told me the same thing.

Of course, I was confused.  I asked him how he knew it wasn’t covered and asked if he could be please check my file.  He tells me that there is no need to check my file because their general warranty does not cover “physical damage.”

Ummm.  What?!

I told him that I was told my warranty covered everything except water damage.  And what did he mean by “physical damage’?

Apparently, “physical damage” is wear and tear and general deterioration from just using your phone.  (Umm.  Duh.  That’s why I bought a warranty, right?!)  Apparently, what the warranty does cover, is if your phone just suddenly died.

I was very angry at this point.  I told the manager the sales rep told me that if my phone got run over by a car, I could bring in the pieces and I could get a new one.  The manager then asked me to find the sales associate.

W.T.F.?! Right??

At that point, I realized what had happened.  I was duped.  The sales associate had simply lied to me about the warranty, two years ago.  The warranty is worthless. There was nothing that I could do now.  I called them a bunch of liars and stormed out of the store – vowing never to return.

Then I went home and just super glued my buttons back together.  Yay, me.

Conversation with an Ex-Futureshop/Best Buy Employee

A friend of a friend used to work at one of the big box electronic stores and pretty much laughed in my face when I told him my sob story. (I guess it was pretty stupid.)

He then explained that sales associates make a huge commission (up to 40%) on the sale of a warranty and that’s why most of them will say anything to make the sale.  Yep, even lie.

His advice was to only get a warranty if a touch screen was involved.  Likely, the screen will malfunction before the warranty is up and then you can get a new one.  I haven’t tried this, though.

Conclusion

Luckily, this wasn’t a super expensive lesson.  In fact, since I got a $100 instant rebate, I used $50 of that towards the warranty itself.  And I learned that warranties likely protect the retailer more than it protects the customer.  I learned to always get things in writing and to read the fine print, and never take anything verbal as the final agreement.

I’m sure that if I did those things, I would have realized sooner rather than later, that I was being scammed.

Having said that, that is NO EXCUSE for The Source (and other retailers who are doing the same thing) to outright LIE to their customers.  That is unacceptable to me and I have not gone back to The Source since.  I have decided to boycott them and go elsewhere for my electronic needs.

What are you warranty experiences?  I would love to hear both good and bad experiences.  And do you have any tips to share?

Cheers,

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Review: Helpful iPod/iPhone Apps

Ever since BF got me my iPod Touch in April, we have been inseparable.  (My iPod and I, that is.) 🙂

Why I love my iPod

I use it as my mini-computer to check my e-mail, read and approve comments, Twitter (although, I still don’t really get Twitter), read all my RSS feeds, update my personal calender, write down random lists/notes to myself, and play useless mind games (like Angry Birds).

I really prefer having the iPod Touch vs the iPhone because I don’t have to worry about battery life for a phone.  The iPod Touch has so many great features, but battery life is not one of them.

Now, onto those apps!

Awesome Notes ($3.99 USD)

After reading Everyday Minimalist’s fabulous review on this, I had to try it out for myself.

It’s like having an old school agenda on you, that’s squeezed into a little icon.

I make lists, write down random ideas/information.  I can sort my notes into different folders with various security settings. I can view all my notes in calender view or each separately.

I can have different types of notes (to do, general notes, tasks with deadlines, etc), and choose different backgrounds for my notes, too.

I used to write down my purchases in the calender mode (to be transferred to my budget spreadsheet), until I recently discovered…

Piggie (free)

My nickname for this app is miss Piggie because this app is co cute!

I use this to input my expenses right away and then transfer the information to my overall budget spreadsheet.  The interface is super easy to use, you enter the amount you spent, pick you category, date and any notes.  You also get to choose cute emoticons for your category shortcuts.

This app will also allow you to compare your day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month spending.  My favourite part of the app is the bar charts and pie charts it puts together for you!

Mobile RSS (free)

I’ve tried a few other readers, and this one if my favourite.

The interface looks very similar to the Google Reader interface, and sorts your feeds into the same folders and tags (starred items, shared items, comment view, etc).

When you read individual posts, the app allows you the same capabilities in Google Reader, as well.  You can: like, star, keep as unread, share, add a note, retweet, share on Facebook, Delicious, Evernote, ReaditLater or Instapaper.  You also get the full article, and images.

I like to update my feeds and then read them when I don’t have Wifi.  Their most recent update allow you to view images in articles even without access to Wifi (after you have already “downloaded” your feeds).

Talkatone (free)

I’ve only used this app on occasion that my cell phone has died since the quality of the call is unreliable.

Basically, this app connects via GMail and you are able to make calls from an iPod or iPhone through Wifi.  You are also able to receive and send text messages through it.  Although, I thought it was a bit sketchy that they changed my GMail status to “Message me at LINK”, which was how I found about the texting capability.

I’m not sure how this will change if calls are not free (within Canada) through GMail, anymore.

WordPress (free)

If you blog through WordPress, this app is great for moderating comments, replying to comments and checking your stats.

I find it difficult to write a post (limited editing tools) in this app, so I don’t use it for that much.  I prefer to make my headings bold and add images, which is difficult to do in their app.

Sephora (free)

I haven’t played around with this app much, but I love browsing the “sale” section.  I never see this kind of sale in Sephora, and would love to shop here (after my shopping ban, of course!).

I have to limit my browsing around on this app, so not to tempt myself.  You can browse their items, and save things in your cart.  Super user friendly. You can also browse tutorials, virtually try on nail polish (not sure about other make-up), and everything looks so pretty!

Free shipping in Canada after $50 purchase?  Yes, please.

I’m surprised I haven’t cheated on my shopping ban with this app! Really, I haven’t. 🙂

That’s it for me

Those are the apps I use on a regular basis and I love them!

Do you have any app suggestions?  Please share in the comments.

Cheers,

Note: All photos above are stock photos taken from the iTune app store, with the exception of the Awesome Notes taken from the app website.

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Review: Dry Shampoo (a girl’s best friend)

(Photo source)

I have a confession to make: I have washed my hair everyday, since grade 5. My hair gets super oily the next day, and it’s really yucky. And so I wash it, and the cycle continues. Oh, and don’t you just love Katie’s hair above? It’s so chic and fun!

It wasn’t until about a 2 years ago when I started reading about all the chemicals that is found in shampoo’s, soaps, body washes, and the “no ‘poo movement” , that I wanted to really break my habit. I have since switches to a paraben and sulfate free shampoo (Kiss My Face), but I wanted to break my habit of washing my hair everyday.

I have tried numerous times to break out of my habit, but failed. Until I discovered dry shampoo about 2 months ago. I have tried 3 so far.

#1 Batiste – original scent ($8 – on sale)

I got this one on sale at Shoppers Drugmart. It’s an aerosol spray and it lasted me for about 2 months.

It is very easy to comb through and does great job making my hair nice and fluffy. I comb it out with a boar bristled brush and it has worked out great. It has a very stronger baby powder scent which is my least favourite part about it.

#2 Ojon ($15)

I got this from Sephora, and this came highly recommended from a friend.

Unfortunately, my first bottle was defected and I exchanged it. What I didn’t realize was the blue bottles are the new formulation, and the original (white bottle) are no longer available.

When I used this the first few times, my hair still felt and looked very oily. I later learned that the contents is actually wet and I was supposed to wait for it to dry before brushing it through my hair. I didn’t want to be bothered, so I didn’t really give this a try and just returned it. The SA I spoke with at Sephora said they preferred the old formulation, as well.

The smell is also strange and the bottle leaked easily. It smelt like herbal bitter medicine. :S

#3 Tresemme ($9)

This is the cheapest regular priced dry shampoo out there and it is awful! Do not get it!

It felt like a weird mix of hair spray and powder in an aerosol can. The smell is very strong and my hair looked like it was oily and had hair spray. Not a good combination. I returned this, as well.

Summary

With the help of dry shampoos, I have been able to go from washing my hair every day to every other day.

Please note that I am using the dry shampoo as a crutch to wean myself off of washing my hair everyday, and still look presentable for work. I do not intend to use dry shampoo as a permanent solution.

I’ve noticed that my hair is slowly (but surely) producing less oils, and I hope to “train” my hair to be washed once every 3 to 4 days. This is probably better for my hair in the long run – my stylist cringes when I tell him I wash my hair every day. And I get to save a bit on shampoo 😉

Disclaimer:  I paid for all the above products with my own money.  I was able to return the Sephora and Tresemme dry shampoo.

Have you tried dry shampoo? Have you hopped on the “no shampoo” movement?

Cheers,

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Review: Bridesmaids

This weekend BF and I decided to go splurge and see a movie in theatre (gasp)!

I’m not a huge movie buff, but I usually like seeing a few a year.  There is something really nice and simple about sitting in a big, dark room and being entertained.

I originally was not too thrilled about the movie, “Bridesmaids.”  It looked like a girl version of “The Hangover,” and kinda stupid.  After reading a few very positive reviews (and a 90% rating from Rotten Tomatoes – yay!), I was convinced and even managed to get BF to see it with me 🙂

I’m glad I went to see it, even though it’s not exactly a “big screen” movie.  (I consider “big screen” movies to be explosions and action movies.)  Kristen Wiig stars as Annie, our heroine, and she also co-wrote the movie.

The movie was funny and smart.  It dealt with the superficial issues to real issues of loneliness and self esteem.  And, it was done in a cheeky and hilarious manner.  I seriously laughed and cried during this movie (more laughing than crying, though).

Even BF enjoyed it.  Though, he won’t admit it – I saw the way he laughed through it :)

Verdict: I think it is the perfect movie for a date night or a girl’s night.  How often can you say that? 😉

On a personal finance note, we really should have used a coupon (Rainbow Cinema – $6 each) instead of paying full price at AMC ($13.50 each).  It was a last minute decision, and we don’t do this often, so I’m okay with it, but we will be thrifty about our next movie.

Are you a movie buff?  Any good movies lately that you’ve seen?  Would you go watch Bridesmaids?

Cheers,

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Review: iPod Touch, Playbook, smartphone or netbook?

Last week, BF got me both the iPod Touch and the Rim Playbook for my birthday! He knew that I wanted to get an iPod Touch to use a “mini computer”, but many talks and figuring out what I needed it for, he got them both for me to try before making my decision. (Side note: Up to this point, I have been using the iPod Touch to type up this post.)

Here is my non-techie review of the Playbook, iPod Touch, and other products I considered.

What I Want the Device to do

This is coming back to the “first principle” of why I want a “mini computer” in the first place.

I spend a lot of time away from home and I miss having my laptop with me, especially on weekends. Usually, I am either at BF’s or my parents. It would be nice to have something to check email, review comments or read my favorite blogs while on the go.  (I don’t feel super comfortable doing that on anything other than my own devices.)

Last year, I bought a backpack with a special laptop sleeve which I have been using for the past year to lug my laptop back and forth. It was working out great, but these past few months, I’ve been feeling the toll on my back.

I know there is a plethora of “mini computers” to choose from.  I was looking at netbooks last year at this time, but hadn’t taken the plunge.  This year, I tried out all the “mini computers” I could think of, including the Playbook, the iPod Touch, and even contemplated several “smartphones.”

Factors in my Decision

I prefer Wifi over data.  I primarily want to use the data available from Wifi,and would rather not have a data plan added to my monthly phone plan.  I know that I must be last dinosaur to not own a smartphone… but I really think that I have so much access to the internet via my laptop, at work and via Wifi, and that’s enough for me, for now.

Portability.  I would like the device to be portable.  Something that I could bring in a purse or bag.

Reading and typing.  Even though I’d like the device to be small, I would still like the screen to be big enough to read, and whatever mechanism typing mechanism it had, it should be easy to use.  Picture me in a coffee shop on a beautiful afternoon working on a blog post.

Battery life.  I know that the bigger the screen, the more juice the device will use.  One of the main reasons why I don’t want to go with a smartphone – if my primary phone is also my mini-computer, I would have to charge it almost every night.  My current “dumb phone” lasts me 4 – 5 days a charge, and I love it.

Extras.  Some extras would be to have something like a personal planner with me to write down notes or check me calendar.

In a nutshell, those are the factors influencing my decision.  Onto the product reviews 🙂

RIM Playbook

Being the techie that he is, my BF just couldn’t wait to get his hands on the Playbook.  😉  So, he got it for my birthday for me (and him) to try.

Tablet. The Playbook is a great tablet device.  It was perfect for reading my favourite blogs and had a really intuitive interface.  The swipe motion was pretty easy for me to use and the it used the same “pinching” motions to zoom as the iPod Touch and other Apple products.

The keyboard.  The keyboard was big enough and typing was easier than I anticipated.  The touch screen keys were responsive and spaced far enough apart that typo’s weren’t too big a deal.  However, I was still finger pecking away, and my pinky got tired after a while.

Battery Life.  I got a solid 6 – 7 hours of battery life from this little guy and was pretty happy with that.  That’s with some gaming (Tetris), surfing the web, and generally playing around with my new toy.

Cost.  BF bought it but I’m pretty sure it cost $499 + taxes.

Shortfalls.  I’m sure that real techie review sites have more.  These are just the things that I noticed.

  • Gmail. For some reason, my GMail never worked whenever I tried to login on the Playbook.
  • Drop down menu responsiveness.  When I tried to check my WordPress dashboard, I couldn’t get the little arrow to drop down.  It kept activating the “My Blog” big button next to it.  I wish RIM paid more attention to details like this.
  • Tethering.  I don’t have a Blackberry, but BF did, and could not get his to sync, properly.  Not sure if it’s just his, because it worked well for his roommate’s Blackberry.  (Update: I think it only works for the later versions of the Blackberry, or you need to update your older Blackberry)
  • Not too  many apps.  This isn’t a huge deal for me, since I don’t have a smartphone, but it’s just something I noticed.

Apple iPod Touch

I have been drooling over the iPod Touch since reading Fabulously Broke’s review on this nifty little device and playing with my sister’s.  I was really excited and hoping that it could do what I wanted as my “mini computer.”

Screen size.  As I was reading my emails and Google reader feeds, I realized that the screen was a little small for me.  (I know, I know, I did want a mini computer.)

Keyboard.  I typed the first portion of this post using the Touch to see what it was like.  I know that the touch screen takes some getting used to, but I  was making a tonne of typos, and the “suggestions” Apple had were hit or miss.  It’s also a lot easier typing when I turn it lengthwise.

Camera.  Camera was pretty cool and sharp, but I doubt that I will use it much.  It’s got the two faced camera, which seems to be all the rage.

Battery Life.  The battery life was decent.  Not sure how long this lasted me since I used it on and off for most of the week.  I also turned off wifi when I wasn’t using it.

Portability.  I LOVE this pint size of the iPod Touch.  I just picture myself carrying it with me everywhere, and checking my calender or playing Sodoku on it.

Cost. BF got this for me, but it costs $249 + taxes.

Camera.  Pretty cool. It’s got the two faced camera, as well.  I will probably end up using this camera more than the Playbook, just snapping pictures out and about.  I have a Canon point and shoot that I usually carry with me, so this isn’t a deal breaker, just a bonus.

WordPress & Internet.  I tried writing a post in WordPress and it was not the greatest interface.  The formatting was off, and I couldn’t figure out how to change the formats for heading vs paragraph texts.  On the other hand, it was great for commenting and reading other blogs – I could easily switch from the mobile site to the full site.

Extras and accessories.  I’m not gonne lie.  The plethora of cute cases for the iPod Touch makes me do a little happy dance.   I also love that I can have my calender and notepad in one device.  Kinda like the paper agenda I carried around with me throughout high school, but cooler.

Netbook

I hadn’t thought about this for a while, but am re-evaluating as I am typing out this post on BF’s Acer netbook.  After all, it’s literally a “mini computer”.

Screen.  The screen is the perfect size. I can do and see everything the way that I would with a computer.  No more mobile sites for me :).  I think this one is 10 inches.

Keyboard.  I love that I get to type on a real keyboard and use a touch pad.  Enough said.

Battery Life.  The juice is pretty good.  This netbook is a 6 cell battery and has at least 5- 6 hours of life on it.  Even with me typing this long post and playing music at the same time.

Portability.  This is definitely not the size I was picturing when I thought about my “mini computer”.  It still weighs about 2-3lbs, and I can’t just toss it in my purse, like I can with the iPod Touch or smart phone.

Cost. $349 plus taxes for a netbook with a 6 cell battery.  Not bad at all, much better value that the Playbook, IMHO.

No extra features.  I wouldn’t be able to use it “on the go”, such as checking my calender or using the camera.

Smartphones

I will lumping these all together as I’ve not fully reviewed a smartphone.  I have searched and inquired about various data plans, and also played with friends’ and co-workers’ smart and asked them questions about their phones.

Battery Life.  The consensus is that if you have a smart phone you will be charging it every night, if it has a nice 4″ display screen (unlike the Blackberries).  Even though smartphones have evolved quickly, the evolution of batteries hasn’t quite kept up.  I don’t like it when my phone is dead (it’s my primary landline, as well), but would find it bothersome to bring the cable with me everywhere (since I’m not always home).

Data plan and $$$.  The way I see it, there’s isn’t much of a point of getting a smart phone without a data plan.  And data plans cost $$$.  The best deal I could find was from Rogers for $53 after taxes and fees, on a 3-year contract.

  • My 5
  • 100 Texts
  • Unlimited evenings and weekends
  • Early evenings at 6pm
  • 500 mb data
  • Caller ID & voicemail

If I didn’t have a data plan, I could probably get away with a plan for about $20 a month, since I will have more leverage after my current contract with Rogers is up.

Contracts.  I hate contracts.  Remember my post on Rogers?  The last thing I want is to be stuck in a 3-year contract with them just to save $500 on a smartphone.

$500 for most smartphones.  I could always buy the smartphone outright and not get trapped in a contract.  I’ve been looking at the Nexus S, HTC, and other Android phones.  But then, I’d still be paying for data.

Get a “tab”.  With Koodo or Wind Mobile.  Again, Koodo is under Bell – aka a worse provider than Rogers.  As much as I rant about Rogers, Bell is worse.  Wind Mobile, I haven’t heard great things about them either.  So, why should I give them my money for data plans which may or may not work?

No need.  I have survived thus far without a smartphone.  Why get one now?

Verdict?

I’m so glad that I typed this all out.  I’m sure that I must be driving BF up the wall with my constant jumping back and forth between which device to keep/choose and discussing to death the pro’s and con’s of each one.

After looking at all the different angles, I think that a smart phone and the Playbook are definitely not for me.  Too many compromises on what I want it to do.

It’s still down to between the iPod Touch and the netbook.  I’m not sure if it’s crucial I be able to type and edits posts in my mini computer, since this will definitely compromise the “mini-ness” of it.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts, as well.  Feel free to chime in, and share your experience with any of the device that you have used.  Verdict coming up… 🙂

Cheers,


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Review: Pure and Simple Spa

Disclosure:  I was not endorsed or compensated by Pure and Simple for this review.  I decided to do this review to share with my readers my experience, which I paid for entirely.  These are my honest opinions.

Pure and Simple is a spa based in the Toronto area and specializes in facials using holistic treatments and natural products.

I first found out about this spa from reading Fabulously Broke’s review of her experience.  If you haven’t already checked her out, you gotta get over there (after this post 🙂 )!

I have never had a facial before.

My skin had also been acting up in the last few months.  My face felt really oily in the middle of the day, and I was breaking out more.  I was also interested in using more natural and holistic methods to treat and repair my skin.  And I was interested in how Pure and Simple could help me.

The Consultation

Prior to going for my first facial, I booked a complimentary consultation at the Yorkville location.  The consultation consisted of meeting with an aesthetician who asked me a few questions, and looked at my skin under a bright light.   She asked me how I was feeling, how I take care of my skin –  including what products I used.

She diagnosed my skin as dehydrated and “congested” around my t-zone area.  She said the dehydration in my skin was causing it to produce more oils, and I was in some dire need of extractions (of old and current blacks heads).

She recommended the “Clear Complexion” facial for me, but told me that if that wasn’t in my budget, even any facial would be better than nothing.  She recommended that I may need at least 3 facials to get my skin re-balanced and that I should be using natural moisturizers (and serums) as they are less irritating on the skin.

I took her advice and booked the Clear Complexion facial.

The Environment

The main foyer had all their skin care products and make-up lined up on shelves and along the walls.  The staff were very knowledgeable and samples were available for most of their products.

The spa spanned several split stories, and the room I was in was in for the facial was in the basement.  When I went in for my facial, they brought me to a clean, dimly lit room.  They had nice heavy blankets and soothing music playing which helped to relax me.  They also had all their products lined up along the counter top.

The Clear Complexion Facial

According to their website, this facial:

Specially designed to help achieve radiant complexions, this facial purifies skin leaving it clear, hydrated + glowing. A combination of intense natural peels as well as the LED light, will help clear skin, revealing its natural beauty. This facial also includes a scalp, decollete + arm massage.

Before the aesthetician started on my facial, she warned me that this facial would not be very relaxing, but it would yield results.  So that’s what I concentrated on.

My facial started off with the aesthetician cleaning my face and using the lactic acid peel. Then came the extractions – and there was a lot of them.

There was a brief sea salt microdermabrasion where she went once over my entire face.  The microdermabrasion felt like sand paper with a small vacuum at end, and

Then approximately 30 minutes of LED lights.  The aesthetician explained the blue lights were to kill bacteria, the red lights  and green lights were to help with scaring and pigmentation.  At this time, they also gave me a nice arm and head massage that felt amazing. 

After the lights, I also got a complimentary moisture mask because my aesthetician said that I really needed it! 🙂

At the end of my facial, I was afraid of looking in the mirror because I thought my skin might be all blotchy from the extractions, but this wasn’t the case.  My skin just looked really shiny from all the moisturizing goodness they put on it.

I asked my aesthetician how often I should have these facials, and she said that I needed them more often at the beginning of my treatment to repair my skin, and after that I can just come in for “maintenance” facials – pending I am properly caring for my skin.   She recommended a facial every 2 weeks to start, and then every month thereafter.

Products

The products my aesthetician recommended for me were the ones that she used on me during the treatment.

  • Lactic acid exfoiliator
  • Mild wash (so not to dry my skin)
  • Collagen serum (to seal in moisture right after I wash my face)
  • Blue Mud Mask Moisturizer (for acne prone skin)
  • Physical sunscreen SPF30

I was overwhelmed by the list of products they recommended to me, both during my consultation and after my facial. Although, they did not pressure me to buy anything, I think that it would have been more helpful had they only recommended the top 2 or 3 products.

They did provide me with samples of the mild wash, collagen serum and the blue mud mask to try.

Cost

My Clear Complexion facial costs $149 before tax for a single visit.  Pure and Simple also offers 3-pack, 5-pack and 10-pack facials and that brings the average cost of each facial down.  I decided to buy a 5-pack of the Clear Complexion facial.

From surveying my friends and colleagues, this is not outrageous for a facial, though it is on the higher end of the spectrum.   Personally, I would rather pay a bit more for a good facial from knowledgeable professionals.

The spa also called me back about 4 days after my visit to check on how my skin was doing.  I was really impressed with this part of the service.

Conclusion

Four days later, and my skin has healed from the acne and damage I had right before the facial.  I’ve also noticed there is an improvement in my skin’s pigmentation.  I’ve had a few post facial break outs – and it’s a little annoying, but I’m not sure if this is expected.

I’ve been using the sample products religiously for almost a week now.  And I find that my skin is less oily and more moisturized (I love the way that blue mud mask lotion smells).

Note: I will be researching on the products I am sampling and figure out if it  purchase.  I already use a light cleanser – SpectroJel, and I have been faithfully using my moisturizer (Marcelle) for years.  I will do another post on this.

I would  definitely be going back for a few more treatments.  I think that  my skin needs a few treatments before I can go into “maintenance” mode, however,  I thought that my aesthetician’s recommendation for facial frequency was too frequent for my budget (and schedule).  For me, I would start with a facial every month, and then ease off to about 4 to 6 facials a year.

Recommendation

I would recommend that anyone with a bit of wiggle room in their budget, and would like to try a more holistic approach to skin care with give Pure and Simple a try.

Additional Resources

I also found some great information from their website while I was browsing around for pictures to include in this post.  They also had a book which was available at their spa locations, in addition to the condensed forms of information online.   I really enjoyed reading about acne here.

I hope this was helpful for my Toronto readers.  Please feel free to share your recommendations or thoughts in the comments of what you’d like to see in my reviews.

Cheers,

All photographs are from the Pure and Simple website (or taken by me).

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Review: Magic Bullet

Remember how I talked about getting a Magic Bullet in my March Budget?  I’ve actually been thinking about getting it since last November but I kept waiting for it to go on sale.  But since it seems to refuse to, I decided to just fork over the $39.99 + taxes for it.

Why I Wanted One

I am not a morning person.  I have to pack my lunch and my overnight bag (if needed), the night before, because in the mornings, I am a zombie.  Until I have my shower.  And after my shower, I’m out the door.

My breakfasts aren’t the greatest things in the world, is putting it lightly.  Usually it consist of toast and peanut butter.  Not very nutritious, and definitely not very filling.  I am usually hungry by before 11:00am.  I also don’t really eat enough fruits.  And like almost every other North American, I never feel like I have enough time in the morning.

So, I decided a Magic Bullet would be a great addition to my home. I imagined I would prepare my cut fruit and whatever mix is required in a smoothie the night before, and then in the morning after my shower, ZAP ZAP (10 seconds is all I need, right?), and my smoothie is ready.  I don’t need to wash a blender, just put on a lid and go.  (I do rinse the blade right after).

My Magic Bullets

In reality, my first Magic Bullet was defective.  It didn’t even cut a straw berry!!  And then the blade fell off!!  I was fuming.  I spent all that time, cleaning my cups and lids with a huge grin on my face and my Magic Bullet (MB)was a big fail.  The dramatic side of my wanted to bring the magic bullet – failed smoothie and all – back to the store demand a full refund.

The realistic side of me, poured out my unblended smoothie mixture in a cup, and rinsed the MB cup I used, and put everything back in the box.

I listened to my realistic side and exchanged my Magic Bullet – without yelling at anyone.  So, readers, please beware of the possibility of defective ones.  I read about one during my research, but I never thought it would happen to me.  Two of my friends have the Magic Bullet and have no complaints.

Conclusion

I haven’t tried making anything else but smoothies, so I can’t comment too much on anything else.  My new Magic Bullet works great.  It’s just as I imagined, and I have been having much more nutritious breakfasts this week.  I usually have about 2/3 of my smoothie for breakfast, and save the rest for an afternoon pick-me-up.

I highly recommend this Magic Bullet as a great time saver and smoothie maker.  It’s easy to use, easy to clean up, and very efficient.  You only dirty up one cup, and you can use the same cup to prep and drink out of.

Has anyone tried the Magic Bullet?  Any positive or negative experience my readers would like to share?

Cheers,


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Review: Body Blitz Spa

Body Blitz is a women-only spa which incorporates water treatments prior to the massage itself.  It’s located in downtown Toronto.  Please refer to this link here for their water circuit, this link for their health benefits, and this link for their FAQ’s.

According to their website, the therapeutic waters maintains the age-old tradition of communal bathing, where women come together.

I’ve been to about 5 spa’s in the past 3 years, and I haven’t really thought to do a review, but this one was different.  Body blitz was a sanctuary and a really great experience.  Without a doubt, I will be returning.  Here are my thoughts.

Disclosure:  I was not endorsed or compensated by Body Blitz for this review.  I decided to do this review to share with my readers my experience, which I paid for.  These are my personal opinions.

The Environment

The spa environment was really relaxing, and felt like a getaway in the middle of the city.  The set-up of the spa has a common locker/change area, vanity room, washrooms, (many) shower stalls, the pool circuit area (more on that later), sauna, steam room and the massage area.  The facilities are kept clean and tidy with their team of friendly staff.

After your experience in the waters, and your massage, there is a vanity area equipped with blow dryers and body lotions for your use.  I thought this was thoughtful and very homey.

The Experience

Each locker has 2 towels, a robe, slippers, and a laminated sheet detailing the water circuit treatmeant.  There are plenty of showers, as there are several times within the water circuit that calls for a shower. (More on the water circuit below.)  After the circuit, one waits for their name to be called for the massage itself.  I had a 30 minute therapeutic massage.

The Water Circuit

The water circuit takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete and consists of the following:

  • Dead sea salt water pool soak (5-10min)
  • Steam room (5 – 10min)
  • Shower
  • Cold water plunge (1 min)
  • Sauna (5 – 10min)
  • Shower
  • Cold water plunge (1 min)
  • Hot green tea soak (5 – 10min)
  • Shower
  • Cold water plunge (1 min)
  • Massage

My first time taking the cold water plunge was awful, but it got easier with each plunge.  I suggest you go quickly, as opposed to tip-toeing your way in.  The sea salt pool and the green tea soak was amazing, and really really relaxing.  I’m not sure if it was due to the contrast to the cold water plunge, though.

Recommendations

I suggest the ladies who want to check this out to go early.  You really want to relax and spend time exploring the water circuit.

I also suggest you follow the circuit all the way through the first time, and adjust accordingly after your first run through.

Bring your own slippers.  They do provide them, but they aren’t the most comfortable (and I got my toes snagged a couple times).

Be prepared for nudity.

My Conclusion

I am definitely going back with a girl friend, and would recommend this to anyone with a big of wiggle room in their budget or have massages as part of their health benefits.  It was also nice to experience everything myself, first, but it would also be nice to have some girl chats.

I felt really relaxed after the water circuit and massage, and even my skin looked like it was glowing (it could have been the lighting).

A half hour therapeutic massage costs $90 before taxes, so it’s fairly pricey, and my insurance does not cover all of it.  However, if you factor in the time in the water circuits, then I think it’s worth it.  I definitely recommend going early and soaking it all it (literally).

Body Blitz also sells products which I hadn’t tried.  If any of my readers have tried them, please share your thoughts and recommendations.

I hope this was helpful for my Toronto readers.

Cheers,

All photographs are from the Body Blitz website.

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