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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Five Steps to Recreate a Salon Pedicure at Home!

How to do a pedicure

I don't often go for a pedicure at a salon, but when I do, I always take notes. I like being able to recreate a salon pedicure at home - enjoying a pampering experience while using things I already own. Here are the five steps I take:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

1) SOAK:
Remove any existing polish. Fill a shallow tub with Epsom Salt, scented body wash and warm water. Soak your feet in the tub and flip through a magazine while the warm water softens your skin.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Rest one foot on the edge of the tub and apply cuticle remover to each toe. Massage it in and scrape the cuticle pusher along the base of your toe nails to remove any loose dead skin. Place foot back in water and repeat on the other foot.

Take your time and massage a creamy scrub onto each foot. Use circular movements to soften dry patches, covering all areas from your ankles to the soles of your feet. Dip your feet back in the tub to rinse them, and use a pumice stone or foot file on any calloused areas. (At some salons, they repeat the cuticle work after this step - do this if you have a hard time getting your cuticles in shape.)

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Rinse feet under running water and rest them on a towel to dry. Cut toenails and file them to desired shape (I cut them short and file them straight across the top.) Apply a rich moisturizer all over your feet, you can add a coat of Vaseline over the moisturizer to seal in the softness.

Place a toe separator on each foot. Go over nails with nail polish remover to clear off any oily residue. Apply a base coat and let it dry (this Orly one is my fave!) Dip brush in colour, carefully wiping off excess polish on the sides of the bottle. Press the colour on to the nail, leaving an adequate distance from the cuticle so that it doesn't get flooded with polish. If you get the first coat placed properly, it will be easy to apply the next two coats in the right place. Use a brush dipped in remover (or your fingernail) to clean up any mistakes. Apply a top coat - I like using Seche Vite because it blends away any streakiness and leaves a gel-like finish.


Do you like doing pedicures at home or do you prefer going to the salon?

How to give yourself a pedicure

Saturday, July 12, 2014

There's No Shame in my Sun Game....

Coolibar Ruche Jacket, Tropicana Sun Hat, Gloves

Over the years, I've become more committed to protecting my skin from the sun. After years of beauty blogging and reading about the aging effects of sun damage, I've realized that sunscreen is not sufficient to truly shield my skin from the sun...I need physical protection too!

These days I have no shame in wearing a large hat while outdoors. Yes, I felt self-conscious the first time - just like I felt conspicuous the first time I wore red lipstick. But I realized that it only looks odd if you feel uncomfortable - nobody else really cares, and now, it's become second nature.

I've heard that the face, neck and hands are the first places to show signs of aging, so I wanted to figure out a way to physically protect them from the sun. I remembered reading about Coolibar and their range of sun protective clothing on The Skiny, so I reached out to the company and asked if they were interested in working with me on a "Sun Kit" - an easy and stylish way to transition any summer outfit for a day in the sun.

Coolibar uses UPF50 SUNTECT fabric to create sun protection clothing that block 98% of UVA and UVB rays. Their name comes from Eucalyptus Coolabah, an Australian tree that provides shade and protection from the sun. I picked 3 Coolibar items to create my instant Sun Kit: the Ruche Water Jacket, Tropicana Sun Hat & Fingerless Gloves.

Before & After: Ready for the sun

The jacket is such a pretty shade of pink. It looks like a yoga jacket and can be worn casually with jeans or even over a swimsuit at the beach (it's saltwater and chlorine resistant). The sunhat has a generous 4-inch brim and tightly woven straw fabric to effectively shield my face. I love the structured brim - floppy sun hats that block visibility are one of my pet peeves! It comes with a removable black sash - I threaded in a pink ponytail scarf to make it more me. The gloves are perfect for any long days out driving, hiking or at the beach. It's so important to protect your hands from the sun...when it's extra hot out, I can feel my skin getting shriveled up!

Tropicana Sun Hat Giveaway:

Get a head start on your Sun Kit! Coolibar has generously offered a Tropicana Sun Hat ($49.50) for one Ella Pretty Blog follower (US & Canada only). Please use the rafflecopter form below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find Coolibar here: Website / Twitter / Facebook.  
Click here to learn more about why you should wear sun protection clothing

How do you protect your skin from the sun?

DISCLAIMER: The sun kit items were provided by Coolibar - but I initiated contact because I truly believe in the effectiveness of their products.

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

ZARA Sale, Express Midi Skirts & Recent Outfits

Have you guys checked out the ZARA sale? I stopped by this weekend and found the cutest peplum blouse (similar) - the print is so pretty and I adore the green colour - I plan on wearing this on my birthday.

Express sequin midi skirt
peplum (similar) / jacket / sequin skirt / floral skirt

I also loved the frayed green tweed jacket - but they were sold out of my size. I like longer skirts so I stopped by Express to try on their pencil midi skirts. I'm obsessed with the sequin skirt - it's perfect for parties. The floral skirt is very pretty too - I'm just waiting for a sale and I'll definitely be buying them.

Now on to some recent outfits - here's what I wore on Canada Day - my whole family wore themed shirts to celebrate our love for Canada!

Shirt: Old Navy, Necklace: H&M (similar), Sandals: Aeropostale (similar), Bag: LV Speedy 25

Chevron Maxi Dress:

Dress: GAP 4-in-1 dress, Jacket: American Eagle, Sandals: Sam Edelman Gigi, Bag: Minkoff, Necklace: F21 (similar)

Pink Button Down:

Shirt: H&M, Necklace: JoeFresh (similar), Jeans: GAP, Sandals: Sam Edelman Gigi

By the way  - I've received a lot of emails asking about the Forever 21 shirt I'm wearing in the second picture here - and it's finally back in stock in case you were looking to buy one!

Have you shopped the ZARA sale? Did you dress up for Canada Day and/or the 4th of July?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Blue Suede Shoes & $20 Maxi Dress Love!

Dupe for J.Crew Everly Pumps

These suede heels from Old Navy are my new favorite shoe. I bought the hot pink pair first - and after wearing it to a blog event with no stumbling or discomfort, I knew I needed the blue pair too. They remind me of the J.Crew Everly Suede pumps, but at a tenth of the price!

Shirt: Old Navy, Skirt: J.Crew Factory (similar), Clutch: LOFT, Shoes: Old Navy, Necklace: Forever21 (Photo Credit: Elaine)

I love how the bright heels add a pop of colour to my outfit - and with ON sale prices - you can't go wrong (I got mine for $24-$29). I've always found Old Navy shoes to be super comfortable - and these pumps are no exception. To see how versatile bright shoes are, check out how Noelle styles her J.Crew cobalt heels. By the way, if you love chambray shirts as much as I do - check out the sales racks in store - I've seen the Pin-dot Chambray Shirt I'm wearing above marked down to $9!

Dress: Old Navy, Cardigan: GAP, Bag: Minkoff, Necklace: H&M (want this version so badly!)

Another recent Old Navy find is this floral maxi dress that I picked up during their $20 dress sale. The blue and white print is so fresh for summer - and would look great with either cognac or gold accessories. Another bonus is that this dress is made of rayon rather than jersey - so it will not fade or pill with washing.

Have you found any great summer deals recently?

Thank you to everyone who entered my LOFT contest - here are the winners:

Giftcard: Fiona Man
Clutch: Kate McLean

I'll be sending you an email shortly! And to everyone who didn't win - stay tuned for another exciting giveaway in the next couple of weeks :-)

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nude Lips, Manga Lashes and More...

I've been trying a lot of exciting make-up products recently - so I thought it was a good time to share some mini-reviews.  Stay tuned for lots of swatches!

L'Oreal Paris Collection Exclusive Nudes (launched June 2014)

Following the popularity of L'Oreal Paris' Collection Privee, L'Oreal Paris has released this lipstick and nailpolish collection featuring nude shades inspired by 6 of their spokesmodels.

Nude Lipsticks ($10.99) - True to their nudes name, these colours are all very natural and easy to wear. The shades closest to my own lip colour are Eva and Jennifer's - they're both beautiful brownish pinks. Frieda and Doutzen's are a bit pale and milky on my lips, while Liya's coppery brown is very pigmented. My favourite is Julianne's peachy pink - it doesn't look like I'm wearing lipstick, it just makes my lips look like they're a soft pink colour.

Nude Couture Swatches Frieda, Jennifer, Doutzen, Eva, Julianne, Liya

Nude Nailpolishes ($6.99) - Liya's purpley grey polish reminds me of the type of colour I like to wear in the fall. Although I love Julianne's lipstick, I'm not a huge fan of how her terracota-coloured polish looks against my skintone. Eva's shimmery champagne polish has tiny flecks of gold, which is so pretty. But my favourite of these 4 polishes is Doutzen's dusty pink shade - it's such a dainty colour.

The Body Shop Lipstick and Arbonne Mascara

The Body Shop Colour Crush Lipstick Review

Arbonne It's A Long Story Mascara ($40) - You can tell that this is a luxe product because it provides perfect results from the very first use. The super-bendy brush head makes it easy to get close to your lash line, while the no-clump formula makes each lash look long and volumized. It's also really good at keeping your curl locked in all day. I do have to note that this mascara is quite pricey...my usual mascara budget is around $12 a tube!

The Body Shop Colour Crush Shine Lipstick ($13) in #18 Sunset Romance - I'd forgotten how much I loved lipsticks from the Body Shop - they're all I used during my University years! The Colour Crush Shine Lipsticks provide a sheer tint of glossy colour combined with a light and moisturizing formula. And bonus..they smell like roses!  My shade is #18, a fresh and pretty coral colour. It's the perfect product to keep in your bag, as it provides a noticeable wash of colour - but you don't need a mirror to apply it! 

L'Oreal Miss Manga by Voluminous

The latest addition to the L'Oreal Voluminous range is the adorable miss manga mascara ($10.99). The collagen-infused formula aims to create doll-like top AND bottom lashes. The range carries black and brown shades, and has 3 limited edition colours (purple, turquoise and electric blue) available in August 2014.

L'Oreal Paris Canada miss manga Voluminous Mascara Purple Swatch

I don't usually wear a lot of colourful eye makeup, so it was fun to try the purple mascara. The formula is dry, which resulted in thick, feathery lashes (my favorite look!) and reminded me of another Voluminous formula that I love: the Power 24H Black Smoke reviewed here. The brush is very flexible and gradually deposits the mascara so that you can work up to the intensity you want - I applied 3 coats in this picture. The purple colour is surprisingly wearable - it's definitely noticeable in direct sunlight, but would probably be undetectable under indoor lighting.

Have you tried any of these products? Which one is your favourite?

DISCLAIMER: These products were sent to me for review but all opinions are 100% my own.  

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Prettiest Pink: LOFT Striped Maxi Dress + $100 LOFT Giftcard & Clutch Giveaway!

For the third and final item in our #LovePrettyXLOFT collaboration with LOFT, we chose the Striped Keyhole Maxi Dress.

Maxi Dress with Denim Jacket
jacket / LOFT Striped Keyhole Maxi Dress / bag / sandals / necklace (similar)

Elaine and I loved it from the moment we spotted it - the rosy stripes were so pretty, and the elegant style made it perfect for everything from evening parties to a day wandering through the city!

I paired my dress with a denim jacket, cross-body clutch and metallic sandals (the perfect outfit for a family holiday!) while Elaine got summer-wedding-ready with dangly gold earrings, salon styled hair and a bright pink clutch. Click here to see her outfit post!

Casually Styled Maxi Dress

We've loved collaborating with LOFT on these posts - their clothes are so beautiful and well-made - they work perfectly with my casual outfits AND Elaine's dressy style! We're super-excited to announce a special giveaway for our readers....we're EACH giving away a $100 LOFT giftcard AND a summer clutch to our Canadian readers! Enter my contest below and then double your chances of winning by clicking over to Elaine's blog and entering her contest too!

PLEASE NOTE: The giftcard is for LOFT Canada - so the contest is only open to Canadian residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Which is your favourite piece from #LovePrettyXLOFT? The necklace, shirt or dress?

Photo Credit: Elaine

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Catching up & Hair-mergency!

Life has been so busy - I feel like I have so much to catch up on! I haven't had the chance to share some of my recent Yummy Mummy posts:

Like this one on how to dress like Kate Middleton - without the designer price tag!

Kate Middleton Look For Less
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

And this one about our first visit to the American Girl Doll store. I'll be giving an American Girl Doll away to one lucky Canadian reader - be sure to enter my contest!

And finally this post with my Beach Day staples!

J.Crew Factory Cover Up
hat / sunglasses / swimsuit / sandals / bag / cover-up (similar)

Three recent outfits: I've continued to wear a lot of prints from Forever21:

Sunglasses: F21, Necklace: Wantable, Shirt: F21, Sandals: Target (similar), Bag: Pashli

This outfit is head-to-toe Forever21!

Shirt / Necklace (similar) / Leggings / Sandals (similar) / Pashli

Today's outfit was all denim:

Necklace: H&M (similar), Shirt & Jeans: Garage, Flats: Old Navy (similar & super-cute), Bag: Pashli

And now on to my hair-mergency story...I went to get my hair coloured today, but instead of my usual highlights, I ended up with a chunky ombre! I left the salon unhappy, resigned to letting the colour grow out. But then I thought...I spent a lot of money on my hair, I shouldn't leave feeling this unhappy. So I went back and spoke to the manager. She called in the colourist and we were able to pinpoint exactly what needed to be done to fix my hair (toning down the blonde and adding in partial highlights).

I'm so glad I spoke up instead of feeling embarrassed - the manager and stylist were both so sweet and helpful, and this time I left the salon with EXACTLY what I wanted !

Bleached Out Ombre / Happy Highlights

Have you had a hair-mergency & how did you fix it?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Friday, June 6, 2014

My Top 6 Summer Trends + Giving Away 5 Ella Pretty/Wantable Boxes!

I've really enjoyed being Wantable's Guest Accessories Stylist. I've tried on a lot of Wantable Accessories this month, and I got to pick out my favorites and create FIVE Ella Pretty/Wantable boxes to give away to my readers!!!

Before I post about the giveaway, I thought it would be fun to share my Top 6 Style Trends for Summer 2014 - the first 3 are posted here, and the last 3 are over on the Wantable blog.

1) Lightweight printed scarves with slouchy tees and distressed jeans:

Wantable Bella Blue Scarf / GAP Jeans / Pashli Bag

2) White & Turquoise - always a fresh combination!

Wantable Helena Necklace / Wantable Coralia Watch

3) Pink and Gold - so pretty - and looks equally elegant with hot pink AND baby pink.

Pink Chanel Jacket
WHBM Jacket/ Pashli Bag
Wantable Jonnie Necklace / Wantable Ainslie Watch/ Target Sandals (similar)/ Selma Bag

For the rest of the trends - click here! And now, on to the giveaway. I'll be giving away 5 Ella Pretty/Wantable boxes containing my favorite picks from this month's accessories: Bella Blue Scarf ($24), Coralia Watch ($28), Tyson Ring ($15) and Helena Necklace ($24). For the chance to win one of these boxes, please enter here!

Which of these 6 summer trends is your favorite?

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

2014 World Oceans Day with Biotherm Water Lovers

June 8, 2014 is World Oceans Day - a global celebration honoring the impact oceans have on our lives, and focusing on ways to keep the oceans clean and healthy for future generations.

Biotherm's skincare philosophy is rooted in the healing powers of water, thus the company is a natural supporter of World Oceans Day. To enhance their involvement in ocean protection, Biotherm Water Lovers have partnered up with Mission Blue to focus on creating marine-protected areas, which "helps maintain biodiversity, provides a carbon sink, generates oxygen, preserves critical habitats and allows low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive."

In 2014, Biotherm Water Lovers is raising funds to protect the ocean around the Galapagos Islands from ecological stress. They are launching a Facebook "Water Lovers" campaign - for every Water-based photo uploaded by fans, Biotherm will donate $1 to Mission Blue. Additionally, for ANY online purchase made during the weekend of June 8th, Biotherm will be donating $10 to Mission Blue.

Do you want to get involved? Here's how you can help:

1) Became a fan of Biotherm's Facebook page and upload a photo showing a love for water (I'll be using this picture I took last weekend of a peaceful spot along the lakeshore). The Photo Gallery will be live on June 6 - and EVERY photo submitted will generate a $1 donation from Biotherm to Mission Blue.

2) Shop online on Biotherm's website on June 8. ANY purchase will result in a $10 donation from Biotherm to Mission Blue. Additionally, if you use the code ELLA while checking out you will receive THREE products for free (Aquasource Gel 20ml, Aquasource Deep Serum 7ml and Biosource Lotion 30ml, estimated value of $30).

If you do submit any photos to the Biotherm Water Lovers Gallery, I'd love to see them! Please leave a link below after you upload your photo!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Favorite Forever21 Maxi Dresses

I have a tendency to hoard maxi dresses...I'm always worried they'll go out of style so I stock up when I can!

Jacket / Dress / Wantable Necklace

My current favorite is this Cutout Rose Maxi Dress from Forever21. I can't help but love the floral print (though I worry that I owned something like this in the late 90s...) and the rayon material is super-soft and comfortable. It also comes in a pretty white print version:

I thought I'd share some of my top maxi dress picks from Forever21 before they sell out. I adore their maxi dresses because they're under $30 but are so well-made and pretty!

1) Love the bold color and ruffle detail on this blue maxi dress - it also comes in a bright coral.

2) This Salmon Maxi dress is a classic choice - the shade is so flattering and would look amazing paired with gold accessories.

3) This scarf print dress is so bright and vivid - it's definitely the type of dress you'd pack if you were going on a beach holiday!

4) My last pick is more of a midi dress than a maxi dress - but I had to include it because a white cotton dress is a summer essential!

Which of these dresses is YOUR favorite? Do you hoard maxi dresses too?

DISCLAIMER: I purchased my F21 maxi dress myself.

Linking up with More Pieces of Me and On the Daily Express.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Style Sisters: LOFT Collaboration

I'm SO excited to share our collaboration with LOFT (#LovePrettyxLOFT). Elaine and I created the LovePretty series because we gravitate towards the same pieces while out shopping, but we style them completely differently. Elaine has a very chic look with dainty details, while I focus on simple basics and dress them up with sparkly jewelry and luxe accessories.

We both love the classic clothes at LOFT, so we're collaborating with them on a 2-post series featuring 3 items from their Spring/Summer collection. Elaine and I will be wearing the same items - but highlighting their versatility by putting our own twist on them. At the end of our series, we'll be hosting a reader giveaway with grand prizes of two $100 LOFT giftcards and runner-up prizes of LOFT summer clutches!

The first item we picked out was this Red Tile Print Henley blouse. It's a gorgeous lightweight material that is very silky and soft. I've paired it with distressed boyfriend jeans, strappy sandals and a structured bag. It's the perfect outfit for a coffee date!

LOFT Shirt / necklace (similar) / jeans / shoes (similar) / bag

The second piece we picked was this blue flower statement necklace. It has a very tropical feel, so I went into full holiday mode and wore it with leaf-print pants, turquoise sandals and a LOFT straw clutch. The necklace looks substantial but it's very light and comfortable to wear.
LOFT necklace / LOFT clutch / shirt (similar) / leggings / sandals (similar)

To check out how Elaine styled her pieces - click here!


And stay tuned for our second #LovePrettyxLOFT post, featuring our final outfits plus amazing giveaway prizes!

How would you style the LOFT shirt and necklace? Would love to read your outfit ideas!

DISCLAIMER: We selected the LOFT pieces featured here from their Spring/Summer collection, and they were gifted to us by the company. LOFT will also be providing giftcards and summer clutches for our giveaways.

Photo credit: Elaine


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