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Woman of the Week: Linda Stephenson

How often do you look at the ingredients of your beauty products?  It’s not a common practice. Most people are unaware of the chemical names of toxins that linger in popular beauty products. If you’re fairly good at looking at ingredients in the foods you eat, it’s time to become more aware of what you put on your body. That’s where Linda Stephenson comes in. Stephenson is the CEO and the brains behind Mereadesso skincare products, a luxury brand of plant-based products that are targeted to cover a range of skin issues in a one-step approach.

It only took a few minutes of chatting with Stephenson to know she’s a ‘chemically aware’ beauty guru who cares about the health of her skin — and my skin as well. While enrolled at the University of Toronto, Stephenson studied Chemistry and Biology with a minor in Botany. After landing successful positions at Mary-Kay cosmetics and MAC in the mid-90’s, Stephenson moved on to a purely technical position at  Estee Lauder. Stephenson left her corporate roles to work privately with clients and to study brand acquisition, focusing on how beauty products are positioned in the industry.

Stephenson was always on the go and working tirelessly to market well-known beauty products with a reinvented look. When Stephenson started her family and have birth to her son, she barely had time to think. She was used to being the person that was good at branding and helping people, but it became time to do it for herself.

Stephenson loves to travel, and got used to compressing all of her beauty products to fit into her tiny travel bag. As a busy mom. she noticed all her friends had similar lifestyles — working moms, travellers or even guys who are minimalists. That’s why around eight years ago, Stephenson made use of her educational background ,as well as her corporate directory of contacts, to launch Mereadesso, her own skincare line.

“For me it was a natural evolution from a technical background with over 20 years of experience.” said Stephenson “My products are pretty much plant based— I don’t believe in the ‘magic’ ingredient theory. Our skin is an organ, we live and we work, we need vitamins and minerals.”

With this idea in mind, Stephenson set out to nourish the skin by using natural and real ingredients to calm, heal, and soften the skin by supplying the skin with vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, botanical extracts and minerals that our bodies can extract.

Unlike many water-based beauty products, Mereadesso is over 30 per cent aloe based with infused minerals and vitamins. One of the things Stephenson wants customers who shop in the beauty industry to be aware of is the ingredient list of products. Look for paraben-free products with real ingredients that are easy to understand. For instance, if you want more Vitamin A, the chemical name is beta-carotene or retinyl palmitate, so look for that listing in your ingredients lineup. The highest percentages will be listed first eg: water and the lowest ingredient of percentage will be listed last eg: fragrance.

“Look for the selling point, not the label claim. Take awareness to your own skin, look for what you need and what you can manage.” said Stephenson.

One of Mereadesso’s best selling products is the original one-step and all in one moisturizer. This moisturizer is aloe based and is a combination of a day cream, night cream, serum, primer and moisturizer. It is also a product designed for all skin types. As Stephenson said, most clients would come to her saying they have sensitive skin, but what does that mean ? Stephenson says to look for the commonality in the products you use that can cause redness and rash and most often this is linked to fragrance. Mereadesso products are fragrance-free in addition to being free of sulfates or artificial colours. Over all, there are about seven different product categories that users can enjoy with Mereadesso, including another best seller — the face and neck cleanser. This cleanser was designed to come with a gentle exfoliating cloth for easy cleansing.

” People need to exfoliate. Cell renewal rate slows down as we age and by removing the dead layer of skin cells, this prompts our skin to renew.” Stephenson said.

Stephenson pays a lot of attention to packaging. For instance, the travel kit comes with a reusable pouch. This kit was actually one of the selling points for landing Stephenson’s products in luxury retailer, Nordstrom. Most products don’t have a secondary purpose, but Stephenson plans to utilize her packaging.

In fact, Stephenson let me in on another skincare secret — avoid buying anything in a jar. The blanket rule is that the preservative system in a jar is there to kill mould and bacteria from forming on your moisturizer, but after being exposed to air and the constant dipping of your hands, the preservative system has to be more aggressive, which is no use to your skin. Mereadesso uses pressurized products in metered dose pumps to protect the product and keep out bacteria.

As Mereadesso continues to grow, Stephenson keeps her team small, but mighty, as her products are mostly available to order online in the United States; although it is also being featured on The Shopping Channel and is available at Nordstorm.

If you are wondering about the name Mereadesso, it was simple. ‘Mere’ means mother in French and ‘adesso’ means ‘now’ in Italian. When Stephenson became a mother, this was when her life changed and she decided to put all her beauty steps into well-rounded and unisex products for minimalists. Because of this, and more, this name will always be close to her heart.

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5 things you can do to keep your skin healthy

The secret to healthy and youthful skin can seem like a mystery . There are countless beauty products and companies that claim to know the secret. While our skin can benefit from extra hydration, moisture, and certain mineral boosts that beauty products offer, there are a few things you can do as a base that will help you achieve your best natural glow. Follow these five tips for healthy and beautiful skin, no matter your age.

Let your skin breathe.

Starting this off simple, you should know your skin is an organ. In fact, it it the largest organ of the human body. It protects us from microbes, it regulates internal temperature, and permits various sensations. When you get in the habit of wearing heavy makeup daily, you are suffocating your face! Essentially, the key is to let your skin breathe. By all means wear your make-up ( especially if you are a makeup addict like me ), but keep it minimal and save the extra glow highlighter for special occasions.

Sunscreen is your friend

UV rays and sun damage are your enemies! While it feels good to have the warm sunshine caress our faces, it is also essential to have some sort of barrier or protection. Having a good moisturizer, or even a bb cream with included SPF can do wonders. Try looking for a moisturizer with a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or higher.

Go get that facial !

We all know a little bit of self-care and love goes a long way. With our day to day lives, we can experience lack of sleep, stress, imbalanced hormones, and pollution.  All of these thing (and more) have a negative impact on our skin. It is recommended that you get a deep cleansing/moisturizing facial done by a professional about once a month. While our budgets may not allow this luxury, you can also take matters into your own hands by doing an exfoliating treatment at least once a week, or trying out a ready to use sheet-mask to target your problem areas. Remember to keep your skin type in mind so you don’t harm yourself.

Develop a proper cleansing routine

Repeat after me: cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer…

At the end of a long day, the best thing you can do is wash off your makeup and baby your skin. Once you get into this habit, it will become a routine for you, It is essential you find products that are wholesome and alcohol-free to take care of your face.

Hydrate Hydrate

Water is my best-friend ( not actually ). I always have a large bottle of water by my side to ensure that I am hydrated during the day. Water is the ultimate hydrator to your skin and can instantly make your skin looked refreshed, starting from the inside out. Our bodies are already about 55 per cent water, so when we re-hydrate what we lose, we are maintaining the balance. Water flushes the toxins out of your body and can also be used to help symptoms of acne.

Are you thirsty for better skin ? Comment below and let us know what your skincare routine is like!

5 natural immunity boosters to prevent sickness

Cold and flu season can be tough, especially during the change in seasons. Generally, our immune systems adapt to the extra exposure in the the environment, but some immune boosters can also help. Women’s Post recommends these five natural remedies to boost your immunity or help you battle a cold.

Ginger-Lemon Flu Shot

When you are feeling a little under the weather or you are just looking for a little booster, you can start your day off my making your own flu “shot”. No, this isn’t something you inject into yourself – instead think tequila, but healthier! Ginger is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and lemon is also known to help you build up your resistance to colds. Together these two make the perfect mix. Simple blend these ingredients together and add an extra touch of honey for taste.

 

Oil of Oregano

Oregano oil is extracted from the oregano plant and had been promoted in many health stores for the prevention of colds and flus. The oregano oil has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties and can be used for many different things including your skin— but most importantly, a few drops is known to help ease a sore throat. Even if you are feeling stuffy, add a few drops to a vaporizer and inhale deeply. If you already have a cold, two drops, three times a day, can help reduce the duration and severity of your illness.

 

Probiotics

Probiotics — or the good bacteria often found in foods such as yogurts or kefir – help to strengthen the immune system. Diet and lifestyle is a major part of keeping our immune system healthy. While probiotics are often recommended to treat abdominal issues, a new study found that strains of the bacteria is also good against the common cold and flu virus.

 

Garlic

While this choice may not be so friendly on your breath, turns out garlic not only serves in keeping vampires away, but colds as well.  Eating a spoonful of raw garlic is said to knock a cold out in the beginning, but if you want a softer, yet still powerful option, boil three cloves of garlic in a medium saucepan with water. Lemon and honey can also be added to cover the smell and improve the taste. Garlic has a popular property called allicin, which is an antibacterial component found in fresh garlic before it is heated.

 

Vitamin D

While we are all familiar with using vitamin C to boost our immune system, studies have shown that vitamin D, is also good for fighting colds and flu. The vitamin D helps the immune cells in your body to make antibodies, to gear up for defence. The best and most natural source of Vitamin D is from the sunshine but it can also be found in milk, or vitamin drops.

 

Stay strong this winter and keep your immune system strong. Comment below if you have any other tips!

5 tips to dress for a sweltering hot day

Dressing for hot weather can seem impossible — running makeup, frizzy hair, sore feet, and of course, all of the clothing clings that to your body. It’s gross and can really ruin your day.

But, Women’s Post is here to tell you that it’s NOT impossible to dress to impress in the summer heat. In fact, the key is embracing your natural beauty and having a bit of fun with your summer choices.

Here are our top five tips to dress for a scorching summer day:

Natural makeup: I don’t know about you, but in extreme warm weather, the mere thought of foundation, eyeshadow, and lipstick makes me cringe. All I can picture is my face melting off as I’m walking outside with friends. It’s not even worth it. Instead, go for a more natural look. Stick to a bit of cover up if you have dark circles under your eyes and a bit of mascara. If you really want to go crazy, add some eyeliner on your top lids. Lipstick (or preferably a light coloured gloss) should be fine — just make sure you do a teeth check with a friend after that first glass of wine.

Updos: Do you ever feel like the simplest thing to do in the summer is to chop off all your hair? While short hair looks good on some people, others may want to keep their long locks despite the frizzy mess the humidity creates. In those cases, the easiest thing you can do with your hair is to put it up. Whether it’s a lazy bun or a braid, just get it off your face. Sure, curling your hair or straightening it may look professional and sexy, but once the humidity or head sweat attacks, those luscious curls will turn into a crimped monstrosity.

The best part is that updos can be equally fun. My biggest piece of advice is not to pull your hair back into a really tight ponytail or bun, as it may give you a headache throughout the day. Instead, put your hair up as you normally would and then tug at the ends to create volume. Add a headband if you want some texture. Let a few pieces hang down around your ears. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay! Perfection in an updo is overrated. Play around with braids and hair twists until you find something that works for everyday wear. If putting all your hair up is simply too horrifying to imagine, try the half bun. This hairstyle is very trendy this year and still allows you to get your sticky hair off your face while having the rest of your hair down.

Wear comfortable and loose clothing: Ditch the spanx and wear what’s comfortable. No one needs extra layers on when the humidity hits. Luckily, the trend this year is to embrace the baggy and bohemian — lots of colours and patterns. Tops are flowy with peek-a-boo shoulders and can be paired with shorts or a comfortable skirt. Try to find dresses that flatter your natural body shape. The trend this year is to have a dress with sleeves, which is perfect to protect your shoulders from the harsh UV rays of the sun. Dress these outfits up with a pair of cute laced sandles and a hat or dress it down with a pair of converse or walking shoes (see below).

The biggest tip: stay away from black (however slimming). This summer, embrace light colours and breezy materials. You won’t regret it.

shoes

Walking sandals: What used to be old and clunky has been reborn.They come in multiple styles and colours, including ones with laces and funky straps. I recently bought a pair of walking sandals that I love, and received a compliment at work about how they looked. The plus side? They were incredibly comfortable. Most walking sandals have cushioning and an incredible amount of support around the ankle — perfect to avoid those nasty falls. No blisters for me this summer! With all of these new styles, walking sandals can be worn to work or a night out on the town.

Photo courtesy of @SI_Swimsuit

Hit the beach proud: Worried your body may not be “beach ready”? Screw that! If you have a body, and you go to the beach, it is beach ready! When I went to Mexico on vacation, I was really worried that I would look terrible in a bikini. But, when I got there, it was so hot that I decided to ignore what everyone else thought and I rocked the two-piece. I was able to survive the excruciating hot week thanks to that decision. The best part? I wasn’t the only one. Everyone on that beach, no matter their size, was wearing a bikini. Some were even going topless! If it’s a hot day, wear as little clothes as is legally allowed and be proud of your amazing body.

How are you going to dress this summer? Let us know in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Jennifer Febel

“You are not broken.”

That is Jennifer Febel’s personal, and professional, mantra. When she was 19, Febel was diagnosed with a multitude of mental disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, suicidal ideation and self-harm. “In other words: broken,” she says. In fact, one of the many doctors Febel saw on her road to recovery actually used that term to describe her condition.

Those words had a deep impact. For years, Febel thought she had to live with “being broken”. She was given medications and coping options — but nothing helped. Eventually, her anxiety grew until she couldn’t leave the house.

That’s when she took a chance on a wellness coach, who was able to convince her to look past her scepticism and try some alternative mind-body tools. “The most powerful moment from me was when my coach told me “You are not broken”. To have someone say that was profound.”

“After 13 years of struggling and medication and therapy, I was able to come off meds and I never looked back. I was able to feel how I wanted to feel.”

Febel has an incredibly bubbly personality and a genuine smile. Invite her to your party and she may bring her hula hoop and perform an impressive dance routine. Her fast wit and positive outlook on life is contagious — and if she didn’t open up about her past, no one would know how much she struggled.

Her decision to see a wellness coach shaped the rest of her life and inspired her to go into the field herself. Febel is now a certified wellness coach and master hypnotherapist operating out of Bradford, Ont., with clients across Simcoe, York, and the GTHA. Her business, whose name Live Life Unbroken is inspired by her own personal experiences, helps those with phobias, anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, and general wellness goals. She emphasizes that she is not a medical doctor and cannot treat these disorders, but she can help relieve the symptoms.

“Basically, my job is to help people figure out what they actually want and then chart a path to get to it,” she said. “We often know what we don’t want –  I don’t want to be anxious or stressed all the time – my role is to help them find out what they actually want and how to go about getting that.”

How does she do that? Febel likes to think of the mind like a computer, and her job is cognitive tech support.

“Nothing needs to be fixed. Sometimes, over the course of your life, you download a virus. You call in the geek squad — that’s me! Someone who can manoeuvre the system.”

The current medical model sees mental health as a hardware program, Febel says. Instead, she thinks of things like anxiety and depression as software programs that need to be uninstalled. To do that, she uses advanced mind-body tools that are practiced in 38 countries around the world to find out what’s happening at the subconscious level.

“The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know. The problems are at the unconscious level,” she says. While most cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the “why”, Febel focuses more on the “how” in order to relieve the symptoms of the “virus”. “In my mind, who cares about the why. It just satisfies curiosity. We focus on how the problem is created– then we can change it.”

Febel respects and encourages the skepticism associated with hypnosis and personal coaching. “That was me,” she said. “When I saw my coach I thought it was a hoax.”

“If you want to freak people out at a party, tell them you are a hypnotherapist. You get two reactions –‘ cool, can you hypnotize’ me or ‘I can’t be hypnotized. ‘I see it as my job to educate. Skepticism is the doorway to the wonder of change – just avoid letting it get in your way.”

In addition to one-on-one coaching, Febel runs a number of workshops through Live Life Unbroken, the most popular being a one-day workshop called “Reboot Your Inner Spark.” This course allows participants to tap into their own intuition and learn how to start healing naturally.

Last year, Febel began a new program called “Leadership Alchemy,” which touches upon communication and connections in personal and professional situations, or how Febel describes it, “how to be a true leader in your life.” She is also co-running a women’s wellness weekend where she will be leading some classes on revitalizing your chakras. During that weekend, women will be taught to find balance and centering in their daily lives, as well as participate in other wellness activities like yoga and magnified healing.

In addition to her workshops, Febel is also a regular presenter at a number of conferences and events. She is currently working on a presentation that will encourage women to stop being so nice. “When I’m “nice”, I have no boundaries. I’m doing what everyone else wants,” she says. “It creates “angry nice girls” who on the surface doing well, but on the inside they are angry and sad. Banish [the word nice] from your vocabulary. Be compassionate. Be kind. Nice doesn’t help anyone.”

When Febel isn’t working, she sings with York Harmony Chorus, an award-winning acappella group of over 40 women that sing in four-part harmony. The chorus competes regionally once a year and Febel helps with choreography and PR, as well as performs. “Every week I get to spend a few hours with these wonderful women and that nourishes my life in so many ways.”

Febel is someone who constantly loves to learn and try new things. She works with her own coaches and uses her own mind-body tools on a regular basis, starting each day with a grounding or energy-balancing exercise like tai chi. She loves to curl and is constantly reading or ordering books online. The one book she returns to on a regular basis is Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine by Deepak Chopra.

 

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Cycling in Toronto: nature routes in the city

Toronto is a city of cyclists. Every corner seems to sport a bike-repair shop or a hang out catered to the cycling community. Urban cycling has become a part of the regular landscape of the city, even in the dead of winter. The war between vehicles and cyclists often leaves me craving a ride that doesn’t include competing with cars or nearly getting your hair buzzed off by some crazed driver passing by. The challenge begins: what is the best nature bike route in the big smoke?

By Maury Markowitz
By Maury Markowitz

There are many worthy contenders, ranging from a mid-town ride to a waterfront adventure. Enjoy the Ontarian scenery with the Martin Goodman Trail, a good choice for nature bike route of the year. Downtown construction on the route was completed in the summer of 2015. It is a beautiful route along Lake Ontario and spans into the eastern quadrant of the waterfront. It is 56 km long so don’t forget to bring some water and protein bars!

If you are looking for a shorter, but similarly challenging bike route that leads further into the recesses of nature, the Don Valley Parkway is the answer. This parkway extends from the Martin Goodman Trail at Cherry St. and works northward nearly all the way to Eglinton Ave. E. It is a hidden gem in the Toronto landscape because the valley is much lower than the highway and is much quieter than one would expect for a nature route in the middle of the city. The 15 km route includes sightseeing of wetlands, water crossings, and greenery for miles.

Photo by Ontario Trails
Photo by Ontario Trails

If you want to explore the western half of the city, the Humber Valley Trail system is another natural area in the city that has a variety of great biking routes. By taking the Martin Goodman Trail westwards, it is possible to cut northwards onto the Humber trails. It leads into magnificent natural areas in the western half of the city. Both the northern and southern nature routes have their beauties, but the Humber trails are often more secluded and natural than the Don Valley Parkway. This bike path is 27 km long, but can extend northwards quite far into other jurisdictions.

Taken from Toronto Savy
Taken from Toronto Savy

If you are looking for a good mid-town biking option, the Kay Beltline Park is an unpaved trail with beautiful trees. Beginning at Allen Rd., it is nine km and follows Eglinton Rd.  The route ends near Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, which also has beautiful cycling routes and then connects back to the Don Valley Parkway. It is a nice alternative to biking along heavy service roads such as Eglinton if you are traveling across town.

The city is full of cycling routes that will fulfill any nature lover’s desire to escape the city without even having to leave the urban landscape. Each of these routes offers something unique about Toronto’s topography, befitting of this unique, quirky, and beautiful Canadian city.

What are your favourite bike routes in the city? Comment below and let us know!

 

Sick of cough syrups? Try the holistic approach to rid a cold

Curing the common cold would be a miracle, but for now, we would all settle for preventing and getting rid of the symptoms it’s associated with. For many people, pumping our bodies with over-the-counter drugs isn’t an ideal option. Finding natural remedies to alleviating symptoms and using a holistic approach may be for you.

Natural medicines have been used as a powerful healing tool for thousands of years. This natural method uses a holistic approach that embraces the body as an interconnected network of symptoms rather than focusing on specific medical issue to be addressed.

The Textbook of Natural Medicine, written by Joseph E. Pizzorno Jr., one of the world’s leading authorities on science-based natural/integrative medicine, discusses five doctrines that help patients from a holistic standpoint: Do no harm, find the cause, doctors as teachers, treating the whole person, and preventative medicine.

Pizzorno suggestions that doctors recognize the cause of illnesses and that they can be linked to individual choices or lifestyles, such as nutrition and mental health. Treating the whole person rather than simply stifling symptoms is vital to a holistic approach. This includes the physical aspect of the body, as well as the diet, genetic factors, the environment, and other causes. Natural medicines can tackle various areas of the body at once and can help prevent illness.

Read below for suggestions on combatting the common cold using natural medicines:

Mint-leaves-2007

Peppermint

Peppermint is a combination of spearmint and water mint that creates a hybrid plant with medicinal properties. It can help treat the common cold, indigestion, fever, and headaches. The essential oils from the peppermint can relieve respiratory issues and make it easier to breath. A good option is to inhale the vapours to directly access the breathing pathways.

Peppermint tea also acts as an antiviral medicine and helps to fight immune infection while soothing the throat. The tea contains high levels of polyphenols, which are micronutrients that help to strengthen the system and fight infection.

Echinacea_3

Echinacea

Echinacea is a popular herb for the common cold and grows throughout North America. According to the Textbook of Natural Medicines, the herb is a useful immune system booster because it increase the ability of macrophages to destroy diseased cells. Macrophages are a particular type of white blood cell that destroys bacteria that infects the immune system. Echinacea helps macrophages recognize the foreign bodies in the blood and alerts other parts of the network within the immune system to destroy unwanted bacterial matter. It is also a safe product for children.

Garlic_Press_and_Garlic

Garlic

Garlic’s properties include antibacterial components that can help alleviate certain cold symptoms. Garlic is shown to fight against the toughest type of bacteria — Gram-Negative. Gram-Negative bacteria has an outer membrane that makes them more stubborn than their counterpart, Gram-Positive. Luckily, Garlic attacks both equally.

800px-Capsicum_frutescens

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne Pepper is actually a tropical fruit that can grow up to three feet high. It is produced in South America and helps with sore throats and sinus congestion. Cayenne Pepper is a powerful medicinal that can also be used as an aid for mouth and throat soreness during chemotherapy.

VitaminC

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important medicine in the onset of a cold, but it has a limited role to stop a cold that has already engulfed the immune system. A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that vitamin C can lower the change of a cold by eight per cent in adults and 13 per cent in children, which makes it a great preventative vitamin for children who are constantly around illness during the winter months at a daycare or school.

Taking the time to understand how and why natural products and medicines can help prevent illness can lead to a stronger connection and understanding of the human body. The added plus of the holistic method is a healthy and wholesome life without over-the-counter medications. Here’s hoping your January is free of the common cold!