Review of CurlShoppe Products

Throughout the entirety of my curly hair life, I have been used to routine. Routine is important when dealing with all hair types, but with curly hair it is especially important. With curly hair, there is simply no option of just waking up, brushing through some tangles and going out the door. We cannot shower quickly and let it air dry without doing anything. NO— easy maintenance is just not a luxury that people with curly hair have. Unless we are pulling everything back into a hat or a bun, we have things timed out to the exact point such as  when and how to add EACH product (there are always multiple) and the exact moment when you should use the defuser (the appropriate time slot is similar to that of an avocado reaching it’s preferred ripeness after a week and then it becoming too late to consume after only one day of perfection).

Since I have started embracing my curls (after years of straightening or pulling into a tight bun), my routine has been something I have had problems with. Unless I have optimal time to add product, defuse, add more product, and then go over the non-perfect strands with a wand, I have accepted that my hair will just not look so hot. Without this routine, my hair is bland and frizzy.

Enter CurlShoppe! After getting the chance to do a Q and A with owners, Natty and Row about curly hair maintenance and tricks (check it out here) I was excited to use their advice and products in my daily routine. One key tip that they said for those with curly hair is to only wash hair once a week. This  made a huge difference to the over all health and quality of my hair, it is now less dry and takes in product with little fuss. They also suggest buying a wide tooth comb for going through knots. I have always had problems brushing through my hair at the end of the day because it is painful and I also find it rips a lot of hair out—the wide tooth comb was a huge help!

Aside from giving me me their amazing advice, they also let me try out their products to use in my daily routine. Each product that I tried did something new for my hair, which is hard to come buy in generic, drug store brands! Here is how each product worked for me…


Photo provided by

Coconut Deep Conditioner

Deep conditioner (sometimes known as a hair mask), is hard to come by for curly hair. I have always found that any deep hair conditioner that I’ve used is meant for medium hair as it weighs down my curls once they are dry! After using this once a week my hair stays soft long after use but still feels light and bouncy!

Photo provided by

Leave-In Conditioner

Leave in conditioner has always been a big deal to me. Curly hair nix leave in conditioner is frizzy and often body-less. I have tried EVERYTHING. From leave-in conditioners made for horse manes, normal hair, curly hair to just putting regular conditioner in my hair and leaving it in (this has always been my best option but creates a ton of build up). This product has been by far my favourite product in their collection and possibly ever in my experience of wearing curly hair! Not only is it refreshing but it brings life into my hair, which so many products lack as they weigh the curls down. This is a must have that I will continue to use and recommend!


Photo provided by

Hold Jelly

I think that this product made the biggest difference to my over all hair health over the month that I used it. This is because I used this to define my curls instead of adding extra heat from defusing and using a wand! It gave my curls that extra bounce and spiral that I often have problems achieving when just letting my hair dry on its own.

Photo provided by

Coconut Water Refresher

I love this product! I have never used anything like this before and now I will never stop! If I am not resetting my hair in the morning or just need some oomph at the end of the day, a few sprays of this and  my curls have life again. It also smells amazing (with added rosemary) and I get many compliments on how fresh I smell when I’m wearing this!

Without these products and without any routine (left) you can see my hair lacks anything substantial. It is limp and tired. On the right is freshly washed and set using all CurlShoppe products! I am so surprised by the body my hair has achieved without any heat or manipulation. These products have definitely brought my curls to their all time best. One of my favourite things about trying these  out is the time I have saved working on my hair routine because my curls require no fuss once the products are applied. I can honestly say that using these have been a life saver during the busy month that I’ve had! I recommend to everyone with curls!

To find these products and also to see the other products and lines that CurlShoppe has to offer, check out their website

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The Chief — A Conversation with Isabelle Charest, Team Canada’s Chef de Mission

Isabelle Charest, chef de mission to 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee

TEXT: Abdalla Youssef

Born in Rimouski, Quebec, Isabelle Charest rose to the international short track speed skating scene in the early 1990s. She was named Canada’s Female Short Track Skater of the Year for three straight years from 95 to 97. In March 96, Isabelle broke the 500m world record for the first time and won the world championship gold in the same event. Combined with her bronze medal in the 1000m, she claimed the overall world championship bronze. Isabelle was announced as chef de mission — the overall leader — for team Canada for the upcoming PyeongChang Olympics. Considering her passion and experience, Isabelle will most definitely be a positive source of knowledge and encouragement for the team and country. Novella recently had a chance to chat with Isabelle, who lives in Montreal.

Abdalla Youssef: Did you fantasize about being in the Olympics when you were little?

Isabelle Charest: It’s hard to say. I remember as a kid I was watching documentaries about the great athletes back in the 50’s and I was really impressed with that and I dreamt to be among them one day. Then I started involving myself in sports and I practiced two sports: Soccer and short track speed skating. Soccer was in the Olympics but not for women. I never told myself I am going to be an Olympian.

A: Who inspired and encouraged you to pursue short track skating?

I: It is actually my sister Natalie who wanted to play hockey. There wasn’t a women’s hockey team at the time and it was suggested to her to start speed skating and that’s how I got introduced to the sport.

A: In your perspective, what makes an Olympic athlete?

I: It requires a lot of dedication and devotion to your sport as well as coming back from failures. It needs a lot of determination and I don’t know any Olympic athlete who hasn’t had a failure — the ones who can bounce back from those failures are the only ones who succeed. Some people say, ‘When I was young I was really good but I quit, but if I didn’t quit I would have been an Olympic athlete.’ But that’s the thing that defines an Olympic athlete — someone who doesn’t quit.

Canada’s Isabelle Charest at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Games. Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee

A: What are some differences between your position as chef de mission and your role as an athlete?

I: The workload is really different. It’s a journey, it’s the goal and getting prepared for your role. It is the reward for all your hard work. When you are an Olympic athlete, you are the center of attention and everyone is helping you focus to reach your goal and be ready for your games. As a leader, it’s the opposite: you are working in the background facilitating and helping athletes rather than being helped and looked at as an athlete. The focus is on all the athletes. In my position, it is not about my goals: It’s about what I can do for my athletes and staff to keep them focused.

A: In previous interviews you mentioned that back when you were competing, athletes weren’t close to the chef de mission and you plan on changing that. How are you going to go about it?

I: I will be meeting them in person. There are going to be a bunch of events like seminars for the athletes to prepare them before competing. I am also going to see them train so I can build a relationship with my athletes. One of the big differences between the chef de mission back in the day and now, is that now it’s an Olympian filling the position. There is a natural connection because I am one of them and I have been through the same experiences. I find that to be the main difference.

Credit: Canadian Olympic Committee

A: What do you think would be the biggest challenge for a chef de mission?

I: Making a valuable connection with all the athletes so that they feel comfortable talking to me, which is very important for me. Not only the athletes but also the mission staff and volunteers. I intend to have a significant and authentic relationships with them.

What makes the Olympic games very different is that all the athletes who compete locally go as a team. They all share the same goals and passions.

A: Do extra media coverage distract athletes from performing well during practices and games?

I: This is something we manage and take seriously. We do have media training and make sure it won’t affect their focus. But, of course, for some athletes it becomes a distraction and that’s why we plan and manage the window of opportunity for interviews, so it doesn’t disrupt their focus.

A: Do you think the political scene might affect the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics?

I: Not really. There are always tensions between countries and political ones as well. And I always go back to the story where I competed in Salt Lake, U.S., right after 9/11. The Olympic games is one event that is pacific where you put your beliefs and political views aside and go compete. So, I don’t think it is going to affect the Olympics.

A: How do you think the fan support affects team Canada?

I: This is a topic where the Canadian Olympic committee is working really hard on, promoting the athletes not only during the Olympic year but also during the cycles so that we hear about the athletes, see them, know their results. Since we have a lot of records and good results, it is easier to get to know the athletes. Of course, we need Canadians to be watching the sports and getting involved with watching and connecting with the players and team Canada. We always count on Canadians to be there at the Olympics, to be there for us and support us. We want to introduce the athletes to Canadians so they can know them and follow them before they see them. There is a lot of competition in other sports, but the Olympic team is the team that all Canadians support.

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Barber and Co. Where Precision Meets Style

Barber & Co. Style Kit

TEXT: Alexander Sauve

Handcrafted in Vancouver, Barber & Co. sets the bar high with their superior line of grooming, shaving, and hair care products guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed, invigorated, and uber-masculine without the visit to your favourite barber.

For the ultimate shaving experience, Barber & Co.’s No.07 Shave Oil ($20) deeply conditions and moisturizes, leaving your skin incredibly smooth and polished. Lightweight but dense, it’s ideal for all skin types and works well for clean-shaven guys and those of the bearded variety.

For the lumberjack set, the No.7 shave oil works well along the beard and moustache line where precision is key. For guys who like to keep their face looking smooth and distinguished, this highly versatile product delivers the goods for an extra close shave every time. The oil preps the face, keeping it free from embarrassing nicks, cuts, and irritation. Use sparingly — due to its density, shave oils require only 3 t0 5 drops for a perfect shave.

Whether you prefer your hairstyle clean-cut or hassle free, Barber & Co.’s No.13 Matte Pomade ($28) guarantees to leave you with James Dean-worthy hair. Wet or dry, this lightly scented rich-in-texture pomade gives hair a strong, natural all-day hold.  To use, work well until the pomade is warm, applying evenly throughout the hair. Moisture-enhancing wax, castor oil and purified water round out its ingredients.

Barber and Co.’s No. 2 Matte Putty ($28) will add depth to the hair while keeping it pliable all day long. Its texture is dense and works well on those pesky flyaways that never seem to keep their place in an otherwise perfect style. Similar to the pomade, work it well until warm and apply evenly throughout wet or dry hair. The putty gives a soft flexible hold and clean, matte finish.

Modern and highly versatile, matte putty will give your hair the desired look and hold without the added weight or oily residue. This product works well on hair of varying lengths, textures, and thicknesses. For the guy on the go, all three products are also available in the I’m Faded Style Kit ($50).

For the bearded guy, Barber & Co. also carries the I’m Faded Beard Kit ($40), guaranteed to keep your beard game up to par. Beard oil keeps your whiskers healthy and conditioned with natural oils and its key ingredients: Argan oil, Jojoba oil, Bergamot orange oil, Rosewood oil, and Vitamin E.

Also included in this convenient grooming bundle is No.12 Beard Balm. Beard balms and waxes work similar to pomades and matte putty’s — they add depth, control, and shine to the hair or beard. Packed with conditioning oils of Shea butter, Argan and Jojoba oil, Himalayan cedarwood oil, Guar gum, and Vitamin E.

Whether your grooming game is laid-back or impeccable to a fault, the company’s line of shaving, beard, and hair care products is guaranteed to give you unbeatable style at a fraction of the cost. It is easier than it has ever been to look your best. So go ahead and leave your mark with Barber and Co.

Barber & Co. full service barbershops can be found throughout the Vancouver area. Their newest location in Toronto — which hides Gift Shop, a warm, full cocktail bar, in the back — is at 89 Ossington Ave. Grooming and hair products can be found online ( and in-shop.

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Spring Break Packing Essentials

It’s that time again where you leave your books and papers behind and jump on a plane to a beach or the mountains. You’ve booked your flight, bought 10 swimsuits, and the only thing left to do is pack. If you’re someone who overpacks but is also prone to forgetting something, we’ve created a list of packing essentials. Now these are only the basics that you really need on a vacation. It’s easy to overpack clothing, and shoes that take up valuable suitcase space. When I was packing things “just in case”, I was only creating more unnecessary baggage I had to lug around. Now I stick to basics. I usually bring a carry on suitcase, and either a backpack (if I need to bring my laptop) or a really big tote, which doubles as a beach bag. You won’t be worried about all the things you didn’t bring when you’re living hakuna matata on the beach anyway. So here it is, my packing essentials for spring break:

In your backpack/tote:

  • Laptop and Charger: Only if you really need it. There’s really no reason you would unless the internet is your job.
  • Phone and Charger: You should probably save all your photos and videos to your laptop before you go.
  • Earphones: Also great for when you don’t want to talk to strangers on the plane.
  • Makeup Bag: You don’t want to overpack your makeup either. Give your skin a vacation too and leave the contour kit behind. You’ll be bronzed in no time anyway.
  • Sunscreen and Skin Care: Sunscreen is important. You know that. Also try and get travel sized skin care products or buy travel sized bottles so you can transfer some in there and bring those instead.
  • Any Medication: You might need a doctor’s prescription or a note just in case.
  • Wallet: Most preferably the wristlet variety for the nights out
  • Passport and a Copy of Your Passport: It’s important to have your passport on you at all times when travelling, but we all know you’ll lose it so lock the real thing in your hotel and carry around a copy. Better safe than sorry.

In your Carry-on:


  • 3 Tops:  This includes any variation of tanks and tees.
  • 3 Bottoms: This includes any combination of cute shorts, versatile baggy pants, and maybe even a skirt. Remember, comfort is key.
  • A Jumpsuit: Speaking of comfort, a lightweight jumpsuit is the easiest thing to wear — it looks great, and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
  • A Dress: A colourful lightweight number or even an LBD could come in handy.
  • Bathing Suits: You can bring a couple, obviously. They don’t take up a lot of room and even if you’re not going to the beach, having one on hand doesn’t hurt if there’s a pool where you’re going.
  • A cover-up
  • Undergarments: No. Don’t pack 15 pairs of underwear.
  • A Hat: This is good as cover up for unflattering beach hair as well as keeping your face from getting sunburnt.
  • Shoes: I usually bring flip-flops, which are easy to wear, and going out shoes — you could bring a pair of comfortable heels or some flats which are easy to transport. I also usually bring a pair of running shoes and wear them on the way to wherever I’m going. This way, I don’t have to worry about making it fit in my luggage.
  • Travel Sized Hair Products
  • Hair Tools: I try to only bring a straightener.
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste

On you:

I usually travel wearing a comfortable t-shirt, some baggy pants, and the pair of running shoes I mentioned before. I also bring a hoodie with me just in case it’s cold in the plane. There may be some chilly nights as well so it’ll come in handy then. Safe and fun travels!


Curly Q’s: Interview with Toronto brand “Curlshoppe”


Photo provided from Curlshoppe (Left:Natty, Right: Row)

Having curly hair is like being in an exclusive club — it is a form of bonding, fosters (trade) secrets, and provides sympathy for when times get rough (i.e, humidity and bad haircuts that seem to affect curly hair more than any other). I’ve tried straightening it — both permanently and with an iron —, cutting it, growing it, putting it into a tight bun, and all attempts at having soft straight locks have failed me. There was only one thing left to do — accept it.

When I came across the CurlShoppe on Instagram, it was initially to take a look at their products that could get my curls into a (consistent) shape. However, after scrolling through their feed for longer than I’d like to admit, I developed an admiration for their passion for and ownership of the beauty that is their curly hair. I met with the owners of CurlShoppe, Natty and Row, to ask about their products as well as tips that they can share for myself and my fellow curly haired ladies. About two minutes into our conversation, I realized that these girls can share not only their wisdom behind their fabulous hair but also their story on how just two girls created a business with multiple products, a wide following, and have become inspiration for embracing ourselves in our truest forms. They have true #GIRLBOSS potential!

Here, I ask Natty and Row some questions on starting their business, their products, and some tips for having healthy and beautiful curls!

Photo provided from Curlshoppe (Left: Natty, Right: Row)

On the Company…

Meg: Can you share a bit about how your company came about? What inspired it and what was the process like?

Natty: While I was “transitioning” my hair, which means going back to natural hair by no longer chemically processing it, I had to learn a LOT about curly hair. I started doing a lot of research and really started looking at hair products differently. I started to analyze ingredient lists and really understand what it was I was putting into my hair. So I started formulating products in my kitchen, using my best friend and now business partner Row to test them out and give me feedback. At first I was formulating for myself but then figured, why not become a Canadian, curly hair focused brand, and here CurlShoppe was born. 

M: What has been the greatest challenge when getting your brand started? Greatest reward?

Natty: We’re still a small, growing business so of course there are many challenges that comes with that. I think the greatest challenge is genuinely getting people to trust our brand. People don’t easily give up their coins for just anything. People research brands, search for a bargain, and want quality. Through our Instagram, blog posts, and now YouTube, we’re really trying to show who we are, the two girls behind the brand. However, having said that, one of the greatest rewards is when you have people support you by making a purchase, because it shows they’re putting their trust in us. It’s even sweeter when they become loyal customers because it lets us know we’re doing something right!

M: What do you feel are the things that larger companies that provide products for curly hair have been doing wrong? Did this help spark the desire to start your own line of products?

Natty: There’s a lot of great companies in the U.S. that started off as small businesses just like us and are now in big box retailers like Target and CVS (pretty much the U.S. version of Shoppers DrugMart lol). I think the reason why they were successful is because people believed in the brand and knew they catered to them (curly hair people). I think the larger companies that now make curly hair products are just doing it because they see that women are starting to embrace their curls and there’s money to be made in the market. But it doesn’t mean that they UNDERSTAND what a curly girl needs. Row and I know first hand what it takes to care of curly hair and we HAVE curly hair. We’re the real deal lol, not just a company.

M: CurlShoppe includes more than one line of product for different types of curls. Can you share how your specific products cater to certain hair type  needs?

Natty: Our first collection that we released was Coconut Is Everything. This is a collection that is for all curl types. It’s lightweight so it doesn’t weigh down the curls and it’s moisturizing yet strengthening to keep the curls healthy. But when releasing this collection, we knew that we wanted to offer more by catering to different types of curls. Although Coconut Is Everything is for all curl types, we know that women with thicker, kinkier hair need extra love and care because their curls need extra moisture. In the last few years, more and more black women have been ditching the relaxer (damaging chemical to make hair permanently straight) so that they can “return to natural” hair. With that in mind, we made our second collection, Butter’d Up. As the name suggests, the collection is made with heavily moisturizing butters and oils that make your hair feel decadent. With these 2 collections, we feel confident that everyone can find a CurlShoppe product for their curls 🙂 But there are more collections to come, shhhh

Do’s and Don’ts of Curly Hair…

Photo provided from Curlshoppe (Left:Natty, Right: Row)

M: Will using different products and brands at random without forming a regular routine (like some people also do with skin care) be damaging to my hair or detrimental to its overall appearance?

Natty: I wouldn’t necessarily say that using all different types of products at random would be damaging or anything BUT certain products don’t “play well” together. For example, you may be using a pretty serious hold gel, but not using the right moisturizing leave-in conditioner with it, or not using the right cleanser to remove the buildup. We like to recommend our products based on someone’s current hair health. For example, if someone dyes their hair, they’re breaking down the protein in their hair so it’s not as strong. In this case we would recommend our Coconut Deep Conditioner (with Mint) that has keratin protein to help restore the hair’s strength and keep it looking beautiful 🙂 Because we focus on curl health, we will recommend the right products and we do encourage people to reach out to us with their current “hair struggle” or goal so we can help them love their curls through our products and regimen suggestions.

M: How often should I REALLY wash my hair?

Row: Hey everyone! Row here answering the next few questions 🙂 The thicker and tighter your curls, the less frequent you should be washing your curls with a clarifying shampoo. This is because thicker hair types needs as much moisture as possible and every time you cleanse your hair, you’re stripping it from its natural oils. Looser curl patterns can get away with cleansing their hair a little more frequently as it is usually not as dry. A good time frame for all curl types should be once a week to every 10 days. Again, if your curls are tighter you can probably even push that to two weeks or whenever you notice heavy product build-up. Try using a co-wash instead, in between using your clarifying cleanser when you need help resetting your curls.

M: Does bleaching affect curly hair?

Row: Unfortunately, yes. There is no way around that. There are definitely ways to decrease the amount of potential damage bleaching can cause, but at the end of the day it will always affect your curl pattern. In order to combat any potential damage, make sure to treat your hair before and after getting your hair bleached with a good quality Deep Conditioner. You might also want to consider taking your bleaching journey slowly. If you’re looking to go blonde, try doing phases of highlights instead of bleaching your whole head at once. (This is coming from personal experience as I am now a Blonde Curly Girl!)

M: What are some tips for preventing split ends?

Row: Split ends can be caused by many factors, such as how you detangle, how you sleep, and how you care for your hair. Some quick tips that will help decrease split ends include:

  • Using a wide tooth comb to detangle instead of a brush and only detangle when your hair is wet! This will reduce pulling on your hair which can eventually cause breakage (including split ends).
  • Use a microfibre towel or even a 100% cotton t-shirt to dry your hair. These fabrics are softer on your hair and will be less likely to pull your hair, which can cause breakage.
  • When sleeping, try using a silk/satin pillowcase. This works in the same way as the microfibre towel. When you’re sleeping, the fibres of your pillowcase won’t pull on your curls, thereby reducing the amount of potential breakage.
  • Moisture! Curls need moisture, and the less moisturized they are the more prone to damage, breakage, and split ends they are.
  • Trim your hair. I know, this may be scary but when I say trim I mean trim, not a hair cut! Split ends are bound to happen, and one way to keep them from getting worse is by cutting them off before they can grow deeper up the hair shaft. Aim to trim your hair every 3-4 months. This will still give your hair a chance to grow, I promise.

M: Is brushing through my curls at all damaging?

Row: Not at all! Not detangling your hair will eventually be more damaging for your curls, especially if you have tighter curls. With that said, it definitely matters how you detangle your hair. You should be using a wide tooth comb and detangling only when your hair is wet. To make it even easier, try detangling your hair in the shower when you have your conditioner in before you rinse it out.

M: What is a huge misconception about curly hair in terms of treatment and care?

Row: That all curly hair is the same! This couldn’t be any farther from the truth (unfortunately). Don’t get me wrong, it would be a whole lot easier if all curls could follow the exact same regime and end up just as popping as the other, but there are many different curl types and each type needs to be cared for a little differently. Just take the time to figure out your particular curl needs and fall in love with your own unique curls instead of lusting over someone else’s and trying to mimic what they do.

*After learning these tips, please stay tuned for a followup article where I test out what I’ve learned while also using products from the Curlshoppe! You can check out my weekly progress @NovellaMagazine on Instagram*

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