As a beauty expert for The Globe & Mail, and regular contributor on The Marilyn Denis Show, Bahar Niramwalla regularly dispenses advice on the latest beauty trends and techniques. Here the Toronto-based beauty takes us behind the scenes and shares her skin care must-haves.
What’s a regular day like for you?
That all depends on what hat I happen to be wearing: makeup artist, presenter, beauty expert, beauty writer, travel writer, fashion writer, project manager and yes, the list actually goes on. Some days, they all melt into one gig too.
Best part about the job?
I get a chance to do what I want and see the results of my work, in all its forms. I’m very lucky to be in this industry and to have met all the people I have come across.
Why the obsession with beauty?
When I was a kid, I used to sit and watch my mom in front of the mirror for hours. Applying makeup, nail polish, curling her super long hair…the whole beauty gamut, really. That probably started it all, and I’m still a fan of some of the product lines she used way back then. Estee Lauder’s rich lipstick shades, Clinique’s simplified skin care and Lancome’s incredible mascaras still rank really high with me.
Person who has most influenced your approach to beauty?
I’ve come across a lot in these 30 some odd years and incorporated it all into my take on beauty and what is beautiful. Being a travel writer, too, I have been to other parts of the world where what it is that we in North America consider to be beautiful is questionable in comparison to how other cultures present themselves to the world. We focus a great deal on some sort of perfection or unattainable standard here and, elsewhere, emphasis is put less on the size of one’s nose or derriere and more so on how healthy they appear or how big their smile is. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and instead of trying to reach something which is unrealistic (and frankyly, somewhat frightening), it would be wonderful if we actually embraced what makes us different from this “standard” of beauty.
What’s your beauty routine?
Consonant Body’s Organic Foaming Face Wash is my daily go-to for cleansed skin without the stripping effect. My new favourite toner is the Mary Kay Botanical Effects Freshen Formula (for normal skin). It’s gentle and smells almost fragrance free, which is a big deal for me when it comes to skin care. Lush Cosmetics Full of Grace serum is my hands-down fave. I took it on a trip to the north of Greece in April last year, which meant sunny days and very cool nights. It saved me in both situations. For moisturizer, I’ve been using a new product (for me, at least) from a Canadian company called Olivier Soapery: The Femme Day Cream. It’s rather remarkable. The ingredient list reads short and sweet, with orange flower water, virgin coconut oil and olive oil listed. I’ve not felt my skin to be too oily or too dry after use, and the price point is rather impressive for what it does. For eye cream, I’ve recently been using L’Oreal Paris’ Collagen Micro Pulse Eye, which helps to instantly de-puff my eyes in the a.m. The only facial I’ve ever had done where I walked out feeling incredible was at Dermalogica in Toronto. I was educated mentally and taken care of physically, which I appreciated a great deal. I don’t go as often as I’d like to, but my routine at home tries to make up for the lack of visits.
I adore anything that gives you instant results (who doesn’t) and a few products have made that list. Soya Boutique’s anti-aging moisturizer instantly brightens your skin and leaves it hydrated so well, you’ll want to slap it on all the time. Laboratoire Dr Renaud‘s Colour Glow Complexion Creator is a great way to make your own tinted moisturizer, based on your skin tone and the level of coverage you want to attain, and is certified organic. Neutrogena Microdermabrasion System is a power exfoliator that doesn’t rip your skin apart, which I appreciate, as aggressive treatments and tools are never the way to go when it comes to taking care of your skin. This allows for a step-by-step process that you’ll instantly feel the results of and, within a few weeks, see the results of smoother looking skin.
What about hair?
I find it’s a lot easier to deal with reviving straight hair the next day than curly hair, so I’ve been a slave to my ceramic straightening iron for over 6 years now, since I realized I could smooth out my huge mane of curls in half the time it took to blow them out. It’s only recently that I’ve started sporting my hair curly again and beginning to appreciate it for what it is. Fighting with it every other day was not worth the damage and energy it all took. If I can say anything to curly haired girls out there looking to tame their curls straight, it would be to do so in moderation. Girls who don’t have curls ALWAYS want them. Keep that in mind.
When my hair is straight, Dove Style+Care Dry Shampoo is my go-to. It smells divine and works like a charm without the chalky white residue left behind by others (important for my black hair), and it’s totally affordable. When my hair is curly, it’s all about using Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco for both styling and reviving. It’s not too heavy and provides my hair with much needed nourishment.
I must admit, I don’t think I’ve ever been to see a stylist more than once. I like being able to see what different artists in the city can do. I know I’ll be scolded for saying this, but I have been known to lop off my own ends from time to time, while figuring out where to go next. I have discovered a few go-to people in the city for their attitudes and approach to hair, however. One of them is Sean Spence. Easygoing, relaxed and knows what he is doing without all the attitude that some people in the industry have acquired over the years.
What’s your regular beauty indulgence?
A manicure can really change your week. It’s like not having any makeup on, but if your hair is perfect, you can don a pair of sunglasses and feel fabulous. The one place in Toronto that I’ve never been disappointed with is Tips Nail Bar. I’ve had a couple Axxium manicures there and the ladies who run it are incredibly fun to hang with and down to earth.
Best beauty advice?
Work with what you’ve got instead of trying to make yourself into something you’re not. If you’ve got great skin, skip the foundation. If you’ve got thick brows, brush them into place and go with it. You’ll wind up spending less time in front of the mirror and more time enjoying your life.
Also, random breakouts occur at the worst times. We all get them and the best solution: Leave them alone! Don’t try to smother them in anything until you know what you are using. I’ve heard a thousand times over that toothpaste is the way to go when it comes to blemishes that pop up overnight and that couldn’t be further from the truth. That’ll end up causing more irritation and exacerbating the problem. If you don’t have a go-to blemish buster on-hand, just keep calm and conceal on.