How to create your own Dolce Vita look! Madonna’s Chic Italian Riviera Look

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Who doesn’t want to step up the glam and add some Italian flair to their look? I’m starting to feel the dull winter weather blues, so let’s call on spring early with some fresh fashion!  If you’d like to live “The Sweet Life” than try this “Dolce Vita” look at home!

It’s all about creating dramatic eyes, loving the black liner, and creating the softest and most beautiful glowing skin. Here are my tips and simple steps for this look. Then watch this video featuring Madonna’s makeup artist, Gina Brooke, and see how she does it!
Below I’ve included links to my favourite natural products as well, just click on the coloured words. These are safer options that are toxic free and have great performance.
Madonna’s Chic Italian Riviera Look with Gina Brooke Makeup Artist:
How to Create This Look Simply and Naturally:
  • Remember to care for your skin, keep it silky and radiant by regularly exfoliating, keep it clean with gentle cleansers, and of course, before you start, make sure to use a nourishing All Natural Moisturizer.
  • Next use an all natural Tinted Moisturizer for a nice even glow. With this look, we want to see your beautiful skin, not the foundation.
  • Use a matte or cream eye shadow for a soft luminous look (non-shimmering powder)
  • It’s all about the black liner. You can use your favourite black liner or you can use a loose black paraben free loose Mineral Powder with your eye definer brush and a little water to create your own dramatic liner and paint it on. Remember to apply the colour right at and right into your upper lashes to get a perfect line that becomes one with your eye lashes.
  • Curling your eye lashes is an easy step that can immediately make you look bright eyed and bushy tailed!
  • Use your favourite paraben free Mascara. Apply directly at the lash line, wiggle side to side at the base of your lashes then move through the rest of your lashes.
  • Lastly, finish with a great neutral Lip Gloss.
Be bright by getting to know what ingredients are hazardous so you can start moving toward a less toxic regimen.  Here’s a great list from a trustworthy source Skin Essence Organics of what ingredients to avoid.
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Nail Polish Toxicity & Better Choices

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Many of my dear friends have been asking me over the holidays,”What is most important for me to know?” and “What should I stay away from?”  I usually start by saying “Nail Polish” is at the top of the list. As I think about it, there are a few things at the top of the list (ie: Fragrances, and Parabens) but today I would like to give you a synopsis on nail products.

The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics has been a leader along with the Breast Cancer Action Network, in putting heat on companies to make their products less carcinogenic. Nail polish has an extensive host of chemicals. The three most dangerous ingredients are what we call the “Toxic Trio” or we would say “3 Free” if it is free of the toxic trio.

This is the Toxic Trio:

1. Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP:
  • Adds flexibility and a moisturizing sheen. Helps dissolve other cosmetic ingredients
  • Reproductive and developmental toxin linked to feminizing effects in baby boys
2. Tolune:
  • Helps suspend the colour and form a smooth finish
  • Affects the central nervous system
  • Can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue
  • A possible reproductive and developmental toxin
3. Formaldehyde:
  • Nail hardener
  • A known human carcinogen
  • Eye, nose and throat irritant
  • Can lead to skin irritation, and allergic rash called dermatitis.
  • Can irritate the respiratory system
  • Can trigger heart palpitations
  • Can trigger asthma
*Here’s a great article from GreenLiving If you scroll down, it also has a full list of nail polish companies now that are 3-free based on “Phasing Out the Toxic Trio Report” (thanks to The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics)There is no such thing as all-natural or totally non-toxic nail polish, but there are “less toxic” options.
Easy and Safer Nail Polish Choices:
You can make healthier choices! Don’t worry!
1. Choose to buy nail polish that is free from the toxic trio. Here are some of the companies that are 3 Free:
  • Butter London (a little more pricey, but fabulous stuff! I’ve purchased it at Pistachio in Toronto)
  • No-Miss Nail Care (affordable prices, consistency is a little thick but it’s smooth and nice, you can find in your health food store)
  • OPI, Orly, and Sally Hansen (note: these changes have been recent so the older products from these companies still include the toxic trio).
  • Also check your health food store for new nail products that are 3 Free.
2. Choose to just do one or the other, toes or fingernails, manicure or pedicure. Remember, not only are you inhaling the fumes but you are absorbing them through your nails too.
3. BYOP – Bring your own polish when going to the salon.
4. Always apply and remove nail polish in a well ventilated area.
5. Limit use for children and pregnant women.
For more information feel free to read up on this yourself, here are a couple articles:

Our Skin’s Absorption & Chemicals (Part 2)



Because there are so many toxins, carcinogens and synthetic fillers in most cosmetics, there is really a lot to look for in your product ingredients labels.  So let’s just look at a couple of common cosmetic ingredients that are harmful that we should be aware of:


1. Parabens

These are preservatives that are in almost all cosmetics. It has been found in breast cancer tissue. Parabens mimic estrogen when absorbed. Parabens kill 100% of bacteria. It’s common knowledge that they absorb very quickly into the skin and I’m sadly amazed that we haven’t challenged cosmetic companies to rid them from their products (because there are many safe and other natural preservatives however they will never have as long of a shelf life as products with parabens). Look for words that end in paraben (ie: propylparaben). The most common paraben and one that has been found in studies (in urine and breast cancer tissue etc) is methylparaben. On average women are exposed to 50mg of parabens per day from cosmetics.
Most products that are paraben free have a short shelf life, usually the bottle is marked “6M” for 6 months once opened or sometimes 12M or 24M at the most.  Cosmetics and skin care from Drug Stores, and Department Stores all purchase products from mass manufacturers who pay huge to get ‘shelf space’ in those stores and they require long shelf lives (usually 5 years), about the same shelf life as Avon and Mary Kay as well. There are other 100% natural essential oils or tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E) that can be used as safe preservatives in products.
2. Petroleum (fossil fuels)
Many cosmetic ingredients are derived from or are byproducts of petroleum. Petroleum refineries break it down into it’s smaller components called hydrocarbons. We are surrounded by products made from petroleum, ie: gasoline, styrofoam, lubricating oils etc.
Ingredients that come from petroleum: 
*Mineral Oil – derived from petroleum as well. Blocks pores. Also the skin becomes dependent on it – highly addictive.
*Propylene Glycol (Also an ingredient in: anti-freeze, laundry detergent, paint, shampoo, conditioner) Research links it to serious health problems: liver and kidney damage, respiratory irritation, nausea if swallowed.
*Isopropyl Alcohol – kills bacteria on your skin (usually found in cleansers, toners etc) Also derived from petroleum. Dries the skin. May cause miniature cracks in the skin that allow bacteria to enter; causing irritations or pimples.
*Fragrances – Many many products are made of aromatic hydrocarbons. Perfumes can contain hundreds of chemicals to create it’s unique scent. Many of the aromas are derived from petroleum. Also there are parabens in fragrances but we do not get to see it on the ingredients list because the recipes are considered to be “trade secrets” so manufacturers are not required to disclose fragrance chemicals.

Our Skin’s Absorption & Chemicals (Part 1)





The cosmetic industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and, unfortunately, the FDA does not do “recalls” on cosmetic products, however, they can make recalls on foods. According their FDA Recall on Cosmetis, they keep their hands clean from this messy work: “FDA has no authority under the FD&C Act to order a recall of cosmetic”. If there is a serious health problem such as “seizures” then they are willing to suggest to the company or firm to recall it. However, they have no authority to recall it themselves.  What they can do is recalls on products on drugs and food with a number, however this is not cosmetics and our daily body care products.  Health Canada has regulations on the levels of naturally found heavy metals in products but they do not regulate any of the other ingredients that are in our products.


Did you know that your skin absorbs anywhere from 60-80% and chemicals are directly absorbed into your bloodstream? Our skin really is an amazing organ! We even have medications now that are commonly administered through skin patches since we absorb so well right into our blood stream.