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A VERY Late Xmas Wishlist & Gift Ideas pt. 1

23 Dec

The older I get, the less I buy for myself and the more I buy for others. I’ll buy you what I think you’ll like or need, or I won’t buy you anything at all. If I see something I think you’ll like, I probably won’t be able to wait till your birthday/anniversary/Christmas – it’ll just show up at your door. I’ve bought stuff for everyone else but myself this year, but think I’ll start my wishlist around Xmas and hopefully acquire it throughout the year.

Here are a few things I’m lemming, and hoping that if you’re stuck for some last minute Xmas gifts, my list will give you a few ideas.

  1) CHOCOLATE – you can NEVER go wrong with chocolate, unless it’s Black Magic or Ferrero Rocher (not that I’m a chocolate snob, but these are GIFTS, you see). I always go local (no Godiva) because the local stuff are more artisan and tend to be fresher (there IS a difference). My go-to places for impressive, unique, local artisan chocolates are Thomas Haas (they also have the most buttery pastries) and Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France (new on the chocolate scene). Like last year, order a day or 2 ahead at Thomas Haas (they’re closed on Sundays and Mondays, unfortunately), but I spotted their gift boxes at Whole Foods on West 8th and Cambie Street. If you want to impress someone, the Earl Grey chocolate at Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France is to die for.  

2) LOLLIA WISH PARFUM – I’ve always loved the Lollia line, especially their Shea Butter handcremes (the perfect hostess gift) and their candles. I was in a store the other day and overheard 3 different people inquire and rave about the Wish parfum (which were conveniently sold out, by the way) and they were added to the waitlist. I have the Wish handcreme, and it dawned on me how dreamy it would be in a parfum (a sweet bouquet of sugarcane, vanilla bean and jasmine). Now on the hunt for it. Get on the list at Beautybar, U Life and Nikaido Gifts. Or online at Anthropologie.

3) URBAN DECAY NAKED PALETTE – This gorgeous neutral palette has sparked a lemming and buying frenzy almost as crazy as Chanel Vamp (’94)and Black Satin (’06) which went international. No, it’s more of an underground lemming craze a la Bobbi Brown’s Shimmering Nudes Palette (’08) that’s not based on the current fashion craze or fad but because it’s timeless. This palette was released at the end of summer and is completely SOLD OUT.

I have to admit I’ve lapsed on this beauty thing, but when I saw Jen from FrmHeadToToe.com use it (I’ll write a post on her later – she’s my newest makeup guru), I just HAD to have it, only to add myself to the waitlist of 300 at Sephora at Pacific Centre. Want to know how many people want it? I posted on Twitter that I was going to look for it and 4 girls joined in on the conversation – everyone wants it! I stood in the UD section just looking over the collection when the salesperson approached me and said “let me guess, you’re looking for the Naked palette too. Let me add you to the list, we should have some coming in after Christmas.” The proof is in the pudding. If I ever get my hands on it I’m buying 2. I can’t review it because I’ve never held it in me hands (there wasn’t even a tester at Sephora! Guess someone pried it out of the case and swiped it!) but Temptalia, Makeupgeek, MusingsOfAMuse and many other beauty sites gave it full marks, no cons and pretty much a must have in everyone’s collection!

Wax on, wax off

27 May

I believe that an aesthetician who is a pro at waxing should receive the same level of reverence as a hairstylist.  I don’t know what it is about hair (maybe because it is such a large part of our identity), but when you find ‘the one’ that you trust and who understands your needs, they inspire fervent loyalty. Though you see them every 4 or 6-8 weeks, you spill the beans about everything in the 20 minutes or the 3 hours that you spend with them. They know all your secrets – things about your family, significant other, dating history, what your real haircolour is etc. … from that ‘scar’ behind your ear down to your netherregions. They won’t judge if you had a mishap with at-home bleach or have an ingrown – they’re there to hold your hand as they make it all better.  

If you find ‘the one’, the relationship and friendship that you develop with them can last longer (and could be more fulfiling) than the one with your significant other. And unlike your significant partner, they will know if you’ve cheated. =)

I will never go to another as she is the best:

Amy Luong
Aesthetician, Som Visao Spa
8-3195 Granville St.
Vancouver BC
604-732-9901

Getting Lashed – where to get your lash fix in Vancouver

17 May

THE places for lashes:

  1. Wink Beauty Lounge is the original Vancouver lash lounge. Focuses on lashes but has other services as add ons. Your go-to place if you want to have everything done at the same time for a night out on the town: lashes, facial, wax, spray tan, mani/pedi. I am slightly dismayed by the ‘U.S.-type’ pricing for the lashes, as in ‘per lash’ though. *shudders* Edit: After some thought, they are just being honest and giving you an idea about the number of lashes applied as a half or a full set or more. But it gets us thinking: are you really counting the number of lashes being applied? (Gastown)
  2. Noir Lash Lounge – This is a successful local company that has given new life and new hype to lashes. It’s quite obvious that the proprietor is an addict herself, as her marketing, services and pricing reflect years of experience of being a lash extensions customer. Borrowing the business model and marketing tactic from Blo, Noir offers a menu of lash styles, so it’s a no-brainer.  Pick what you want, and get what you expect. Prices are $35 for a half set, $65 for a variety of full sets. Quality at a reasonable price, but I am somewhat sensitive to the lash glue and the removal solution that they use.  (Yaletown, South Granville)
  3. Tiffany’s Spa – I’m all about the deal, as well as the quick and dirty. This was my go-to place when I had my lash extensions for a year. You might want to communicate to the owner of how you want your lashes (the curl, length, volume, flare) if you’re picky, or just let her go at it for a natural look, but at $35 for a full set, it’s a steal. Like Noir, She to Shic and a couple of other places, a ‘set’ means as many lashes as it takes to get the look. Get a massage and your nails done while you’re at it as well. (Vancouver)

Places to try: (I welcome your reviews!)

  1. She to Shic Beauty Lounge  – Might try this place because it’s a 10 minute walk away and it’s all eco-friendly. Full set synthetic $55. Silk set (ooh!) $70, mink $80. I’ve never seen Mink lashes so affordable before! And get my nails done as well. (Kerrisdale). Sign up for the Kitty Card and you get 50% off your 2nd service.
  2. Elan Beauty is more of an ‘cosmeceutical spa’ offering permanent makeup (aka permanent eyebrow/eyeliner tattooing), laser hair removal, lasers and peels and teeth whitening. Uses US-made NovaLash’s premium products, notably the Platinum Bond Lash Adhesive, the only eyelash extension bond that is U.S. Pharmaceutical Grade tested (U.S.P. Class VI / ISO 10993 Certified), formaldehyde-free, and physician formulated for safety. No more red eye for me! Pretty pricey at $99.95 for a full set (as in doubles your lashes), but offers student discounts.
  3. Sweet Nail Salon Also sorta does the per-lash thing, but also has a menu of lash styles so prices vary. (Richmond)

Notes:

  1. I also highly recommend using some sort of lash conditioner when you have your extensions in. My product of choice is Rapidlash. Though I haven’t noticed a growth spurt of lashes, they look healthier and don’t fall out as much. It’s important to maintain your lashes when they’re under so much stress with the extensions on! Found at Shoppers Drug Mart.
  2. If you want to remove your lashes, first rule of thumb is DO NOT REMOVE THEM YOURSELF. With the obvious said, because different places use different glue, the removal solution is different. So go back to the same place. Most places offer free removal, but call and check. If you get a new set at the same time, full removal should be free. But don’t take my word for it. Hey – I still don’t understand why some places charge for a blowdry when you go in for a colour or cut – so I should walk out with wet hair if I don’t want to pay the extra $30-45? But that’s another rant/entry in the making.

My disclaimer: I’m not here to promote or discredit any institution. I’ve been a patron of all and would like to remain that way. Thanks. =)

Secrets of the City: Blow out edition

10 Apr

Blo is *the* place to get your hair blown out in Vancouver – with multiple locations, the convenience of online booking, opens early (by appointment), closes late (even on Fridays – by appointment), a can’t go wrong menu of hairstyles, $30 for 30 minutes and you’re out the door looking like a superstar.

However, I recently discovered the Happy Hour blow out. Every day of the week (except Saturdays), 1-4pm and it’s only $15. Well, plus $5 for a curling or flat iron. So if you’re ever in the South Granville area, taking a late lunch or a break from work, head to Caramel Salon. Just call ahead to make sure this promo is still on and to make an appointment.

Since I’m only a 5 minute walk away, I’ll be taking “extra long” meetings out of office on Friday afternoons.

Blo
multiple locations
varying hours

Caramel Salon
2342 Granville Street
Vancouver, BC Canada
V6H3G3
Phone: 604.731.5112
Hours: Tuesdays 10am-7pm, Wednesdays to Friday 8am-10pm, Saturdays & Sundays 10am-6pm.

Secrets of the City: Eyebrow threading

8 Apr

I haven’t had a chance to make the trek to Yaletown yet to check out the new Bombay Brow Bar. It’s quite a treat at $23 for the Bombshell Brows that is more than just brow shaping, but also includes: brow gossip, calming forehead and eyebrow indian massage, soothing rosewater eye gel application, brow finishing, a complimentary makeup touch-up upon request and chai to sip on.

For those who just want a quick and dirty threading job, I’d recommend my regular place. All I have to say is:

eyebrow threading
Vancouver Westside
$5 $7
…unheard of
I know!

at:

Dona Lucia Esthetics
2813 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC. (at Macdonald St.)
604-736-5460
Hours: Mon to Fri 9AM – 8PM | Sat 9AM – 6PM | Sun 10AM – 6PM

Bombay Brow Bar
1056 Mainland Street (across from Glowbal Restaurant)
604-683-BROW (2769)
Hours: Mon to Sat 10AM – 7PM | Sun 11AM – 5PM |

UPDATE June 7, 2010: The Style Spy and their readers agree too!!

UPDATE November 14th, 2011: one of Dona Lucia’s best eyebrow threaders started her own salon a few blocks away. Ask for Rani at Deux Chic (3216 West Broadway, 604-569-3502) eyebrows are $7 (Tuesdays are $5), threading combos and daily specials. http://www.deuxchic.ca

Manjeet is still at Dona Lucia, Kitsilano.

Secrets of the City – debut post: Muffins

30 Mar

I often wander the city eating, drinking, shopping… but nothing delights me more than sleuthing, as in figuring out who got what from whom and where (and how much cheaper). That’s why I’m starting a ‘Secrets of the City’ category.

What’s today’s secret that I’ve been sitting on for weeks? Muffins. I tend to avoid muffins because they’re usually dry, high in sugar, white flour and all the bad stuff. I stopped by Caffe Artigiano the other morning with a friend for the usual french vanilla steamed milk (the coffee is just WAY too strong for my fragile palate) and picked up a muffin. It looked like a plain blueberry oatmeal muffin but one bite into it it was heavenly – moist yet crumbly, flavourful and savoury with a hint of cinnamon. Side note: delish by itself, maybe even better with a dollop of Devonshire Cream. I finished the whole thing and a second and I resolved to find the source/supplier. Turns out that it’s a little bakery on the Westside near UBC (one thing you must know about me – I LOVE local finds) called Pane e Formaggio. I ventured into this delightfully narrow but immaculately decorated bakery on a cold Tuesday and perused all the artisan breads, cheeses, pastries and of course, muffins. One bite of this gold standard of muffins and you will never look at one from Timmy’s, Costco or Starbucks again.

Pane e Formaggio
4532 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C.
V6R 2J1
Phone: 604-224-1623
Open 7 days a week, 8am-7pm