Summer Essentials

As I started to write and compile this post, the Canadian east coast has been in a heatwave constantly for well over a month, which wouldn’t be so bad if, a, I actually enjoyed this level of heat and if, b, it wasn’t accompanied with the constant mugginess of entering a sauna. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a blog post — make that a hot and humid minute — but here are the products I’ve been loving most recently:

Editors note: It may almost officially be Autumn, however, the weather hadn’t leaned at all that way until the present week.

Ouai Cleansing Scalp & Body Sugar Scrub ($50 CDN | 250g)

This was a product that I chose to try from FabFitFun. It was an obvious choice once I knew it was sulfate free — I occasionally have multiple site allergic reactions and get horrific scalp eczema when I use either sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate — and had that signature warm rose floral ‘melrose’ scent that several Ouai products have. It did not disappoint. I actually really enjoy using the scalp scrubby cleanser when I want a gentle cleanse but need some scalp TLC — especially in this weather, with a fairly sweaty yoga regime and a scalp with a general tendency to become unhappy — or as a first cleanse before following with a gentle shampoo. I say this because, the cleansing agents are gentler and it’s not much of a latherer on its own, and I kind of appreciate that, not having an oily scalp. I will say that it’s an oil enriched gritty scrub texture so I can see many people not loving it as much as I do, but I quite like the nourishing sweet almond oil, coconut oil and fermented ingredients. It’s also a gorgeous oily body scrub that doesn’t irritate my eczema.

Curlsmith Core Strength Shampoo ($34.99 CDN | 355 mL)

Another product really contributing to my scalp not lashing out at me was/is this gentle slippery clear shampoo. It’s sulfate free but contains ingredients that remove silicones and other forms of buildup, which has been helpful because having fine-ish high porosity hair in this kind of humidity, I’ve had to go to town on humidity-blocking ingredients like polyquats, oils and I’ve been using some silicones– gasp.Not only does this keep me from getting any buildup on my scalp — in combination with using a clarifying shampoo every little bit –, it has enough slip, letting me detangle my hair with ease, even after washing. I like that there’s some protein as well, as every little bit helps (although it would help more in a leave-in product). It’s also gentle and moisturizing, without heaviness.

Curlsmith In-Shower Style Fixer ($35.99 CDN | 237 mL)

As someone who has the kind of hair that requires lots of product or hold to maintain its structure, high porosity hair that seems to absorb everything in sight and high density hair, I love a good potent humidity-blocking gel. Did I mention that I live in a humid east coast climate with hair that is very impacted by humidity?; In fact, my hair’s reaction to humidity was why I embraced my wavy curls in the first place. With high-hold and humidity-blocking polyquaternium-69 as the second ingredient in this gel, followed by sealing oils and the film-forming humectant, aloe, this has been a god-send for lending maximum control to my hair. True to its name, it has to be used with lots of water, provided you want to be able to distribute its super thick and sticky texture — unless you are refreshing a super-stubborn piece of hair and don’t mind the concentration, that is. It’s very moisturizing and is medium-heavy in weight, but my density and porosity can support heavier products. It’s not the most curl enhancing gel I’ve ever tried, but it holds clumps together beautifully through humidity, sweat and even getting rained on slightly. And it gives the hair some grit, which I enjoy but it can destroy curl clumps if over-used.

Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle ($35.99 CDN | 237 mL)

I couldn’t go without mentioning my holy grail gel that — happily for me — works well in my high porosity waves in every season, even though I will combine it with the former gel to get extra control, hold, and humidity-resistance, to get hair that lasts for 4-5 days with minimal refreshing, even in borderline-repulsive humidity. This gel is moisturizing but is lighter in weight and has much more slip, offering lots of curl enhancement and bouncy curl clumps. It contains a number of film-forming humectants which I’m sure is why I love this gel so much (irish moss, aloe and flaxseed to name a few); film forming humectants prevent moisture loss in my hair and minimizes the frizz and loss of hold in a humid climate. It’s really flexible too, with medium-strong hold, working well in both soaking wet hair, damp hair to refresh and on dry hair to fix wonky curls.

Pattern Beauty Styling Custard ($32 CDN | 443.6 mL)

While I don’t find this true liquid-y custard to have enough hold on it’s own in my humid climate, I’ve found this huge tub of product to be great as a curl-enhancer to sandwich between cream and gel for some extra help in encouraging clumps and ringlets and adding control. It has some polyquaternium for humidity protection, curl enhancing flaxseed and film-forming irish moss. It’s also a great refresher when you get to the point of needing more product without adding crunch when you aren’t completely drenching your hair. It’s super slippery too, which is a help with fine to medium tangly hair, especially when refreshing on less-than-fresh hair.

Banila Co Clean It Zero Purifying Cleansing Balm for Sensitive Skin ($31 CDN | 100 mL)

I’ve been happily relying on this balm cleanser to remove sunscreen and makeup (on the off-chance that I was wearing it) and to just cleanse my face. It has a light kind of spa-like scent that I find rather calming and doesn’t irritate my skin, even around my eyes when I’m using it to melt down tenacious eye makeup. It’s great at removing waterproof makeup and water-resistant sunscreen and leaves my skin feeling soothed and hydrated afterwards. I have been known to just splash it off and not even follow it with another cleanser when I can’t be bothered — it has not been a summer with a lot of complex skincare rituals in the equation. The evening primrose oil, argan oil, centella, green tea and licorice root are a nice (albeit unnecessary) touch, as is the non-greasy texture.

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($19.25-$35.25 CDN | 100 mL)

After finishing up some other serums, I’ve been reunited with this snail-based humectant serum. This has been an essential, especially as the weather has been so muggy that I haven’t craved layering more occlusive products and I’ve been really slacking on the skincare in general. The snail itself is very soothing and plumping and is enriched with allantoin, panthenol and sodium hyaluronate, leaving dewy and bright skin. I love this as a humectant serum that really helps to support the skin barrier.

Natasha Denona Zendo Eyeshadow Palette ($87 CDN | 19.25g)

Given that I have been minimally bothered even with skincare in the summer we’ve had here, it shouldn’t be a shocker that I haven’t worn a whole lot of makeup, either. When I’ve been wearing makeup, I’ve exclusively reached for this palette. I have discovered that particularly love when doing basic 2-3 eye shadow looks with this palette, as the finishes and subtle nuances of the shades really stand out with a more pared-down palette. The shimmers have gorgeous sheens that can lean somewhat metallic but the payoff is buildable and the mattes have that muted buildable quality as well. That is not to say that there aren’t bolder buttery metallics in the teal section of the palette, but in all honesty, I’ve been enjoying the more muted warm tones of the palette with a bit of winged liner.