April 26, 2013

Canvas Salon (Mani/Pedis, Eyelash Extensions and more!)

Canvas Salon is a bustling hair and nail salon located in the heart of Kitsilano on West 4th Avenue. I happen to live nearby so when they invited me in to review some of their services I jumped at the chance of possibly finding a new go-to in my neighbourhood.

After meeting with the lovely Quyen, who runs the salon, I was offered a drink and then seated in one of the comfortable massage pedicure chairs. Quyen suggested trying a gel manicure since I've never had one before and I was given the task of selecting a colour from one of the many options.

The salon uses OPI GelColor, which wears like a gel but looks and feels like a lacquer. My nails required no drying time after they were cured and resulted in a glossy, chip-free finish. I'm super impressed with how well they've held up and they're a great option for those who are hard on their hands/nails. However, since I like to change my nail polish frequently, gel nails will probably be reserved for special occasions like if I'm going on an extended trip or vacation.

With sandal season almost upon us, my feet were also in need of some major TLC. Canvas Salon's pedicure services were just what I needed and were nothing short of luxurious. I even received a hot stone massage - talk about pampering!

I wanted to try some colours that I don't already have in my collection so I opted for OPI GelColor in On Her Majesty's Secret Service on my nails and OPI Cuckoo For This Color on my toes. These ended up being great picks as I've already gotten quite a few compliments!

In addition to their hair and nail services, Canvas Salon offers waxing and eyelash extensions. I've always been curious about eyelash extensions because my lashes grow straight and are virtually non-existent if not curled.

Jesse, the lash technician, first went over the different kinds of lashes with me and we decided on "hard" lashes, which hold a curl longer, at a natural length (I didn't want anything too crazy or dramatic). He meticulously applied each individual lash and the result was exactly what I wanted. Here's a "before" and "after" comparison so you can see how sad my natural eyelashes look:

After Jesse's hard work, this is what my lashes now look like when my eyes are closed. Can you believe how full they are? The lash extensions basically doubled my natural eyelash hairs.

And when my eyes are open, it looks like I'm wearing mascara... but I'm not! I love being able to skip that step in the morning.

All in all, I had an amazing time at Canvas and can't wait to go back with my friends for pedicures in a few weeks. If you're in the Vancouver area, you should definitely stop by. Everyone is super friendly, the services were great, and they also stock products from brands like Moroccanoil, bumble & bumble, Kevin Murphy, and Davines.

Address: 2254 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC
Website: http://www.canvassalon.ca

April 24, 2013

Same Skirt, Different Outfit

The last time this skirt appeared on the blog I showed how I typically wear it to work (see here). However, as I mentioned in that post, one of the main reasons I purchased it (aside from what is now embarrassingly known as the "dressing room incident") was because it could do double duty for my more casual ensembles... like this one!

Tee: Wilfred Free (Aritzia) / Skirt: Club Monaco (colour-blocked, tweed & python options)
Jacket: Mackage (similar) / Booties: Report (in sand) / Bag: Chanel
Necklace: Charles & Grace (c/o)

April 22, 2013

Beauty Box 5

Beauty Box 5 is a fairly new subscription beauty box service (they celebrated their 1 year anniversary in February) which aims to deliver 4-5 beauty samples to your door every month. I've read some good reviews about this box on other blogs so when Beauty Box 5 offered to send me a sampler I decided to see if the hype was worth it.

Let's see what I received...

1. Model Co SHINE Ultra Lipgloss in "Strip Tease" (Full Size) - 0.14 fl. oz./$16.00
Model Co is an Australian cosmetics brand which seems to show up in various beauty boxes on a regular basis. This gloss is quite sheer but very reflective and is perfect for layering over a lipstick for some extra shine. It smells delicious and the tube also comes with a built-in mirror for easy application.

2. Bodyography Makeup Primer (0.53 oz.) - 1 oz./$30.00
This oil-free primer is formulated with anti-oxidants, vitamins A and E, green tea and Grape Seed extract to give skin a silky smooth base. I received this sample in Clear and am looking forward to seeing how it compares to my usual Smashbox Photo Finish Primer.

3. Demeter Roll On Perfume Oil in "Cherry Blossom" (Full Size) - 0.29 fl. oz./$10.00
Does anyone else remember how popular Demeter was like 10 years ago? Girls I know used to collect (or hoard) and trade bottles of their classic scents. This roll-on in "Cherry Blossom" doesn't smell like the typical sakura scents I'm used to... it's very fruity and playful. I like it a lot.

4. The Brush Guard Variety Pack (Sample Pack) - 4 pack/$5.50
This sample pack of brush guards contains 3 different sizes (extra small, small, and medium) and will be great for drying my makeup brushes when I wash them. You just slip them on and the guard will reshape the bristles while ensuring that water doesn't drip back into the ferrule.

5. Coolway Boost (1 oz.) - 8 oz./$39.95
The Coolway System is designed to allow you to heat style your hair at much lower temperatures and cut blow drying time in half because it infuses your locks with moisture. Unfortunately it seems a lot of product is required per use so this sample will probably only last me a week.

Having tried a few other subscription beauty boxes in the past, I was really impressed with Beauty Box 5. Unlike Glossybox Canada, which costs $21/month, Beauty Box 5 is a much more reasonable $12/month and seems to contain better samples. You can also sign up for a quarterly subscription of $30 (and save $6) or a yearly subscription of $100 (and get two months free).

April 18, 2013

FASHION Magazine Beauty Panel: Music Festival Makeup (with MAC Cosmetics Baking Beauties Collection)

With the second weekend of Coachella only one day away, us members of the FASHION Magazine Beauty Panel were tasked with the fun challenge of creating festival-inspired hair & makeup looks. Be sure to check out the full post here!

Conveniently, MAC Cosmetics just released Baking Beauties, its Summer 2013 Collection, which is full of gorgeous cupcake-inspired pastels that look good enough to eat. While I'll be nowhere near Indio, California this weekend, I thought the light colours were perfect for the subtle but glowy look I picture faring well at a music festival. After all, you don't want to spend too much time slapping on products and worrying about your makeup when you should be enjoying yourself.

Nail Lacquer in Confectionary, Pearlmatte Face Powder in In For A Treat
Mineralize Tinted Lip Balm in Sweet Tooth, Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Éclair

In addition to the Baking Beauties products I was sent from MAC, here's what else I used to complete my look: Garnier BB Cream Oil-Free Miracle Skin Perfector in Light, Lise Watier Dramatique Intense 3D Volume Mascara, NARS Orgasm Blush, and Rimmel Airy Fairy Lipstick.

As for my hair, I followed all of the same steps in my beachy wave tutorial, using LUSH Sea Spray to add texture, and topped with a DIY flower crown.

April 16, 2013

On My Mind

Although it was rather chilly in Vancouver this past weekend, I've got much warmer temperatures on my mind. You know, the types of temperatures you might find in a place like Hawaii... because that's where I'm going next month! 

My boyfriend and I will be staying in Kona on the Big Island and I've already started looking up fun things to do while we're there. I've never been to Hawaii before so if you have any tips or must-sees, please do let me know!

T-shirt: Ribbon Luxe (similar) / Cardigan: Zara (similar) / Vest: Club Monaco
Skirt: Oonagh by Nanette Lepore / Booties: Rachel Comey (here)
Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (here) / Bracelet: Alden Rae

April 14, 2013

Currently Coveting: Charlotte Olympia Zodiac Shoes

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my excited tweets over Charlotte Olympia's new Cosmic Collection, a line of Birthday Shoes and Zodiac Pandora perspex clutches inspired by what else? Star signs!

The clutches are definite statement pieces but I've personally got my eyes on the shoes (now on sale at Net-a-Porter). I'm loving the rainbow of colours, all topped with sparkly Swarovski crystal and enamel ornaments.

What's even better is that the Virgo flats (here) are actually cute. I feel like some zodiac signs often get the short end of the stick when it comes to horoscope-inspired items (my sign being one of them). They also happen to match my Miu Miu mini bow bag perfectly.

The question is: can I really justify another trendy flats purchase? My Charlotte Olympia Kitty Flats have certainly become a closet staple but it looks like these will have to go on the wishlist... for now.

April 11, 2013

Welcome to my Closet... Chanel M/L Classic Flap!

I recently added something to my closet that has been on my wishlist for years... the Chanel M/L Classic Flap. Chanel's price increases are killer so I do regret not purchasing this sooner but at least it's finally mine!

Since Twitter's Vine app has been languishing unused on my iPhone (does anyone actually use Vine?), I figured this would also be the perfect occasion to make my first video. With Chanel, the unboxing process is always quite fun since there's lots of ribbon and tissue paper to get through.

As you can see, I opted for the caviar leather with silver hardware. Not only does this combination suit my style best but it can be worn with all kinds of outfits, like this more casual one from a few weekends ago when I went for a walk around Steveston.

Deep V Tee: American Apparel (similar) / Jacket: T. Babaton (Aritzia)
Jeans: Citizens of Humanity (different wash) / Shoes: Charlotte Olympia (here)
Bag: Chanel / Sunglasses: Vogue (c/o) / Shamballa Bracelets: Cutey (c/o)

April 8, 2013

GIVEAWAY: Aquaphor #PerfectlyPolished Spring Challenge {CLOSED}

Aquaphor Healing Ointment is a gentle skin protectant that provides effective care to chapped and irritated skin. What you might not know, however, is that it's one of the most valuable products in my nail kit. Why? Because Aquaphor can also be used to prevent your nail polish from smudging!

1. Use a Q-Tip to apply the ointment on the skin around the nails being careful not to get it on the actual nail.
2. Apply nail polish.
3. While nail polish is still wet, wipe off the smudges with an orange stick.
4. Once your nails are dry, rub the excess into your cuticles to keep them nice and moisturized.

As part of the Aquaphor #PerfectlyPolished Spring Challenge, I have also been following a 5-step program to keep my nails in tip-top condition:
  • Apply Aquaphor to cuticles before going to bed to help replenish and condition the skin
  • Trim and prep nails to get manicure-ready
  • Apply Aquaphor to keep polish from smudging
  • Create a nail art design that reflects your personal style
  • Share a pic of the manicure showcasing the inspiration

My latest manicure was actually inspired by my silk polka dot blouse (previously seen in this post):

Essie A Crewed Interest and Madison Ave-Hue

And now thanks to Aquaphor one of you will get to take part in the #PerfectlyPolished Spring Challenge with me! The winner will receive two bottles of Aquaphor Healing Ointment, a variety of Essie and Pueen goodies to set you up for the perfect manicure, and a $25 Visa Gift Card to be spent on anything your heart desires.

This is a Facebook-exclusive giveaway so to enter you must "Like" alison*elle on Facebook and leave a comment on the giveaway photo post answering the following question: What would your inspiration be for a manicure design?

For an extra entry, follow me on Twitter and tweet the following: I want to get #PerfectlyPolished with @AquaphorUS and @alison_elle (+ goodies from Essie and a $25 VISA giftcard) - http://bit.ly/ZxpS9M

Open to US residents only.

Giveaway closes April 19. Winner will be chosen randomly. Good luck!

Congratulations to the winner - Lullatoned of Sumeoseo!

April 6, 2013

The Socializer Spotlight Exfoliator and Porefection

With temperatures warming up, I've been phasing out my usage of heavy moisturizers and thick serums in favour of some lighter formulas. Cue: The Socializer, a fun line of face & body care with a playful message that's matched in all of its packaging. Being a sucker for aesthetics, I was particularly pleased with the two products I received from the kind folks at Elizabeth Grant and Vervegirl.

First up is the Spotlight Exfoliator, a targeted exfoliating treatment with a built-in sponge that allows you to zero in on hard-to-reach problem areas, such as the nose, chin, and forehead.

To use, I simply squeeze a bit of product from the tube and apply it in a circular motion to my face and neck before rinsing off. The product is creamy with very fine granules that thankfully haven't caused my skin any irritation.

The only thing I'm unsure about is the sponge applicator, which seems slightly unsanitary to me since there's no real way of cleaning it after each use. So far mine doesn't seem dirty but who knows what kind of germs it might be harbouring!

In conjunction with the Spotlight Exfoliator, I've also been testing out Porefection, an overnight-use serum that targets your pores while you sleep. I apply it to my nose, chin, and forehead after exfoliating and before moisturizing (recommended by The Socializer for best results).

The serum applies clear and the formula is lightweight on the skin. It's also quite hydrating and does seem to reduce the look of my pores (initially; pores do become more noticeable throughout the day). I've yet to find a pore minimizing product that eliminates the look of pores completely but this product works best out of all the ones I've tried. Too bad it's only temporary!

As you can see, the tube features a series of three metal ball rollers... I'm not really sure what their purpose is but I assume they provide some massaging effect?

Spotlight Exfoliator retails for $26 CAD and Porefection retails for $22 CAD. You can find both online.

April 4, 2013

A Giant Lion Face

Given all that chit-chat last post about the evolution of my personal style, it seems fitting that I recently reintroduced a certain item of clothing into my wardrobe: the graphic t-shirt.

Designers and retailers have been coming out with all sorts of fun designs lately; for example, this Zoe Karssen "You, Me, Oui" tee (on sale!) or this Wildfox Guide to the Universe Boy Tee. If you're like me, however, perhaps nothing more than a giant lion face will do.

Bag: Marc By Marc Jacobs (here) / Socks: J. Crew (Men's) / Boots: Aldo (similar)
Sunglasses: Michael Kors (c/o) (different colour)

April 1, 2013

Musings on Personal Style (& March Must-Reads)

Question of the month: How would you describe your own personal style? How has it evolved over the years?

I always find it hard to put a definitive label on my personal style but some of my friends have described it as "downtown-chic" - so I'm going to go with that! I tend to prefer more understated looks with lots of layers, neutral/monochromatic colour palettes, leather details, and a designer piece (or two) thrown in here and there.

When it comes to the evolution of my personal style, however, I would say that my tastes have stayed fairly constant for a number of years. My most recent style "phase" (previously mentioned this post) occurred about 6-7 years ago when I preferred to purchase the bulk of my clothing on trips to Asia or from Asian boutiques. 

I was actually able to find some evidence of this phase via some photos I posted on My Style Diary back in the day. Crazy to think that I've been documenting my outfits for that long! As you can see, my style was more girly than it is now (I was obsessed with lace), and I also gravitated towards large statement graphics.

P.S. Don't forget to check out the other girls' answers to this question and their must-reads for the month of March.

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