Feel-good Friday: Pirelli Calendar 2016 by Annie Leibovitz

It’s about feeling good as you are and embracing beauty in all its glory by sidestepping overt sexiness and replacing it with beautiful women of various shapes, sizes, age, background and ethnicity.

Actress Yao Chen, the first Chinese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Pirelli Calendar
Actress Yao Chen, the first Chinese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Pirelli Calendar

Photographer Annie Leibovitz took a simple and natural approach to the portraits this year.  Famous women “as themselves with no touchups.”  The women who were photographed (including Yoko Ono) and many others find it to be quite empowering especially for a calendar normally famous for it’s sleek sexy look.

Showing Strength. Tennis player Serena Williams. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Pirelli Calendar
Showing Strength. Tennis player Serena Williams. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Pirelli Calendar

If these images give you a *Vanity Fair vibe (see my comment below), there’s a few reasons why. Not only is Leibovitz a frequent contributor to the magazine (she photographed Caitlyn Jenner’s cover this year, for example), but the calendar was styled by the magazine’s fashion and style director, Jessica Diehl, and Senior Photo Producer Kathryn Macleod served as creative consultant.

Singer Patti Smith. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Pirelli Calendar
Singer Patti Smith. Photo: Annie Leibovitz/Pirelli Calendar

About time!

To see the whole Pirelli Calendar shot by Annie Leibowitz please visit:


 *I was lucky to be given a private tour of the Vanity Fair offices at Condé Nast in New York for a research project once.  The magazine is so creative in not only covering fashion and movie people but also popular culture and current affairs in an interesting and evocative way.  The artistically shot covers never fail to capture my attention.



beauty: Anti anti-aging!

Are you as tired as I am of hearing all the buzz surrounding anti-aging marketing?

All the advertising in magazines, newspapers and the internet implies that most of us are not content to imagesage gracefully.

While this advertising is aimed at women primarily, lots of men are paying attention too, but I find the ads are misleading. No product on earth should make these claims unless they can actually back it up with proven research (without those cheesy re-touched before & after pictures).  How many of them can?

It’s not so much the fact of getting older but rather, looking older. If there was a magic pill to turn back the clock I’m sure everyone would take it.  In the meantime, and eventually, aging is going to happen – deal with it! The notion that age can and should be transcended underlies an industry that has profits in the billions in the United States alone. Paired with the spending power and consumer habits of a characteristically youth-oriented generation, the search for a means of taking control of and ultimately conquering age has been met with a surge in available products and procedures to meet this demand.

Photo: huffington post-uk
Photo: huffington post.uk

While I’m not against those who opt for plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures, the numbers of those choosing to have them frighten me.

How about good old natural measures? We can age gracefully and stay youthful depending on how well we treat ourselves and our surrounding environment.  What about using common sense and doing the best we can to stay strong and healthy.  What we should most be concerned about is avoiding stress. If you have a lot of stress it will age you faster than anything.

Naturally good genes are a bonus, but you can eat well, exercise in moderation, try to get enough sleep, don’t drink too much, be nice to yourself, treat others well, find humour in life and use good products. (My conscience tells me not to use those tested on animals)  There is no compromising in these areas. Not only will you feel better but it will make you look good on the outside too.

Some skincare products can help prevent further wrinkles from forming and certain vitamins can help further the aging process but they can’t do all the work. You have to work together.  But no matter what you do, the facts show that having a lot of stress (which we all do at times) in life weakens your system and in turn can contribute to sickness and aging. I suppose this is where meditation comes in handy (for those who know how to do it properly) and taking time out for yourself.

I don’t think anyone truly has all the answers but for me personally I find taking a long walk in fresh air helps to clear up thinking.  Lately I’ve gone back to yoga (or semi-yoga, semi-workout since I’ve been breaking out a sweat) classes to help me work on my “core” issues. Seeing the results makes me feel better and makes me want to continue to get in the best shape I possibly can.  Listening to music while cooking is another relaxer and dancing is always lots of fun.  Anything that lifts your spirits is good for you. Shouldn’t we be concentrating on that.

mind you, there's something about his ad I like
Speaking of lifting your spirits, there’s something about this ad I like

What do you do to look after yourself?

Beauty biz – from your PANTRY

Skincare that you can literally eat…..

from my pantry
from my pantry

Double Duty Beauty. From the oatmeal you eat for breakfast to the turmeric in your curries, these kitchen ingredients  can work wonders for various skin issues.


Such as….


Worth a try: Coconut Oil

Eczema is an immunological abnormality of the barrier of the skin being deficient. Skin affected by eczema is very dry, red and itchy.  Restoring moisture is key, and coconut oil is an excellent moisturizer.  It acts as a shield on the epidermis.  While some moisturizers and face oils contain coconut oil, you can apply the oil – which can be purchased at health food (and most grocery) stores straight to skin using your fingertips.  You can also layer your regular moisturizer on top of coconut oil.  Side note: a brow threader said that we can apply coconut oil to help grow the hairs back on eyebrows.


Worth a try: Oatmeal

Brimming with Vitamin A and E, oatmeal is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse that helps calm irritated skin.  It’s also packed with skin-soothing starches and beta-glucans which provide a protective barrier for the skin.  Oatmeal that is featured in commercial redness-fighting beauty products is usually the colloidal variety (meaning it has been ground into an extremely fine powder). But you can use regular oatmeal for a homemade mask.  Mix ¾ cup (175 ml) of dry oatmeal with ¼ cup (75 ml) of warm water to get a nice, thick paste, and then smooth it onto your face.  The mask may not look pretty, but it should feel quite soothing.  Once it dries, it will feel itchy – your cue to remove it by rinsing with cold water.


Worth a try: Tumeric

Darkened areas on the skin, called hyperpigmentation, can be a sign of internal inflammation.  At the root is a biomarker called NF-kappaB (according to Gaetano Morello, a Vancouver naturopathic doctor) which is produced in the body.  The more NF-kappaB in your system, the more inflammatory reactions you have.  Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, reduces NF-kappaB when taken orally.  And a recent study cited in the Australian Journal of Herbal Medicine concluded that “curcumin” has the potential to be used as a whitening agent in treating hyperpigmentation disorders.  In the study, consuming curcumin was found to significantly reduce the melanin content in melanin-producing skin cells.  While curcumin extracts are most effective (for instance, in the form of a capsule), there is no question that consuming turmeric – and lots of it – daily has positive benefits for those affected by hyperpigmentation.  This according to Dr. Morello.


Worth a try: Manuka Honey

I did not do my homework when I asked my sister to bring some back for me from her recent trip to Hawaii.  I thought it was from there, but it’s actually derived from a plant native to New Zealand and Australia.  It is thick and slightly bitter with powerful antibacterial properties.  The bacterium that causes acne, (propionibacterium acne) is very sensitive to the antibacterial activity of manuka honey.  Research shows that Manuka has a more powerful anti-inflammatory activity than other types of honey.  Its unusual antibacterial activity can diffuse across skin and get down into the infection that is causing the acne spots, according to Peter Molan, a professor in biological sciences at the University of Waikato in New Zealand.  Molan recommends soaking the pad of an adhesive dressing in the honey and placing this on a single pimple or a small area of pimples.  For wide-spread acne, he recommends blending manuka honey with coconut oil (one third honey to two thirds coconut oil); for example 1/3 Tbsp (5 ml) to 2/3 T (10ml), which makes for a healing skin cream.  Manuka honey can be purchased at many health food stores, and is typically more expensive than regular honey.  It also tastes great on toast, in teas or in yogurt.

For the Body: 

Coffee body Scrub – caffeine tightens loose skin, so this scrub acts as an instant slimmer and also helps to slough off dead skin cells to create smoother skin. Recipe: ¼ cup raw sugar, ¼ cup ground coffee, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, 1 Tbsp. sea salt. Blend all ingredients and place in an air-tight container.  Keep in the fridge.

Disclaimer: Just want you  to know that I don’t keep all of these food items to use only for my skin.  I also enjoy eating them.  The Girl Who Would be KING.

Credit for recipes: Stacey Stein for best health magazine



Beauty biz – what’s preserving your products?

cosmetics3The good news and the bad on what’s keeping your cosmetics.cosmetics2

For the purpose of keeping this post fairly short I will omit the other (mostly unpronounceable) family names like “Imidazolidynyl urea” that are also used to name the various preservatives mentioned.  If you need to know, you’ll have to google “what other names does “said” preservative go by,” because the list can be unfortunately extensive.

While many people want to avoid chemical preservatives in beauty and personal-care products, manufacturers use them for two crucial reasons: efficacy and consumer protection.  Preservatives aren’t required in all products (e.g., those with no water, such as oil-and wax-based lip balms; hermetically sealed products; and glycolic acid products with low PH). But where they are needed, they extend a product’s shelf life and prevent microbial growth that could lead to infection.  Without preservatives, whether natural or chemical, we’d need to keep products in the fridge (where incidentally, I do have a bunch hiding in the butter compartment – but no butter).

cosmetics1Here’s a glossary of some commonly used chemical preservatives, with information on their safety.  If you check the ingredients list on cosmetics, this post will help you with the latest info.


Found in moisturizers, hair-care products, makeup and shaving products.  They are commonly used as a preservative; effective against a wide range of bacteria, yeast and moulds, thus protecting consumers and extending product shelf life.  All commercially used parabens are produced synthetically (although some also occur naturally as preservatives in certain fruit), and are generally used at concentrations of 0.3% or less.  They come in multiple names like methylparaben and ethylparaben, etc.  What you need to know is that if it ends with paraben then it is paraben. A small scale study in 2004 detected parabens in breast tumours however the study was found to been flawed (?) and there has been no known relationship between exposure to parabens and increased cancer risk. Still, the proverbial horse has left the barn, with many companies opting to go paraben-free.  Why take chances?


Found in eye makeup, foundation, skin-care products, moisturizers, hair-care products, facial cleansers and sunscreen.  It is often used as a carrier or solvent in combination with other chemical preservatives.  Many companies that have turned their backs on parabens use phenoxyethanol instead.  The cost is low.  Health Canada considers it to be safe and does not place restrictions on the levels while Japan’s standards for cosmetics restricts the concentration to one percent.

Formaldehyde Donors:

Found in skin and hair-care products and nail polish. They’re effective against bacteria but weak against yeast and moulds, and are therefore combined with stronger chemical preservatives to assure a long shelf life.  Japan’s standards for cosmetics restricts their use due to safety concerns regarding the release of formaldehyde.  They’re considered safe by the European Union’s Cosmetic Directive and by Health Canada (interesting) at up to 0.2% concentration.  I say you make the decision because regulations are all over the map…literally.


Found in hair products, liquid soaps and some other bath products, some hand creams and sunscreens.  This chemical acts as a strong anti-bacterial, but is weak against yeast and moulds.


Found in anti-bacterial soaps, hand and body washes, mouthwashes, deodorants and toothpastes.  A synthetic ingredient used primarily as an antibacterial in personal care products, but can also be used as a preservative to slow the growth of microbes and to prevent spoilage of the product.  The Government of Canada confirmed in March 2012 that Triclosan in “significant amounts” may pose a risk to the environment. The scientific data is currently being reviewed by the CCTFA (The Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association.

Other preservatives including natural ones:

You might also see ingredients like glyceryl caprylate, caprylate glycols and ethoxydiglycol.  They may be naturally derived or synthetic.  They have limited efficacy on their own, but they might boost the efficacy of other preservatives.

Natural preservatives (e.g., turmeric and rosemary) may have some drawbacks, such as strong odour and colour, or, like orange-seed extract, have low efficacy.

Another group is the acidic preservatives such as benzoic acid and sorbic acid.  These two molecules are found in nature.  The weak preservative properties of these two acids are improved whenever the PH of the product is low, but there is a drawback: the lower the PH, the higher the potential for irritation to skin.

This in part was taken from an article written by Ann Chandler for “Look Great.”

I’d like to share some kitchen ingredients that can work wonders for various skin issues in another upcoming post. You’ll be surprised at what manuka honey, oatmeal, coconut oil and turmeric (all good for you to ingest) can do to combat skin problems from acne to hyperpigmentation.

Back to regular beauty product reviews next Thursday.

spoiledimage - CopyYou can try http://getspoilednow.com for 100% natural face products that not only do wonders for your skin but smell good too.

 Is there a natural personal care product that you recommend?