Posts filed under Road Test

Road Test Suki's Part 2: Colour Me Happy

I've been musing with the title "Straw Into Gold" for this, part two of the Suki's Saga.  I didn't mind my hair colour I was currently sporting but I knew it could be way better.  There was something too ashy and khaki-toned about it and it didn't show off my blonde DNA as well as it could.  So, as some of you dear readers remember from Part 1 of this Road Test feature, I had made an appointment with the technician Morgan at Suki's for the rest of my hair makeover.  Needless to say, I could not wait for the blessed day to arrive.

...and arrive it did, in a spectacular downpour of biblical proportions.  Really not conducive to arriving to the salon in style.  In fact, once I stepped into the hallowed place, I noticed that it was like being inside the "Enchanted Cottage" of movie fame (kids you might have to Google this), where everyone who worked there looked like a million bucks; flawlessly groomed with perfect long as they didn't step outside.....


Once I had changed and was instantly handed my coffee, Morgan was waiting for me.  Incidentally, her hair has been different each time I've seen her including on the Suki's website, and I really need to be on my toes to recognize her right off (#fabuloushair).    Note to self:  dig out my flat iron....

For this appointment we went upstairs to a naturally lit area where the colour magic takes place.  This is a cool area.  Although there are clients and it's busy with everyone in various stages of foils and shampooing, it still retains a calm and semi-private feel.  In short, you don't mind looking homely and letting complete strangers see you with your hair like a haystack and not much makeup.  No judgement here at Suki's, only infinite politeness and more coffee.

After a brief recap of my previous hair colour consult with her,  Morgan got down to the business of "bringing sexy back".  She and her assistant Jung ho started foiling my hair at a dizzying speed, all the while answering my questions about the procedure, chatting and laughing at my jokes.   I flipped through my magazines and even managed to get a few tweets off as they toiled above.  It's an amazing thing having your hair foiled.  Things take on a slightly hushed quality like being in your own bubble.  If I was reclining I might have fallen asleep...very Zen without the work of raking.

Foil Hands

I kept glancing at my watch, more out of idle curiosity than angst.  Things were happening very professionally and at a clipped pace, yet still the feeling that time had been suspended remained.  There was an ease and relaxed atmosphere at all times.  It seemed like it should have been much later in the day...

Once again, I was treated to a wonderful shampoo and this time, a toner/gloss treatment to help seal in the colour, complete with scalp and neck massage.  It really is the best part of the appointment!

Again, fascinating as this procedure is to me, I could have drifted off.  Jung ho kept reminding me gently to lift my chin up so she could shampoo me properly.  Gone are the days of harsh chemical smells and hours of dryer time.  I couldn't wait to see the results of the L'Oreal Professional Colour which Suki's uses!  Even better when Morgan would pop by now and then to check it's progress with a "looking beautiful!".

Once my hair was dried off, it was back to the chair for a comb out and a blow dry.  I could see the difference already and the effect was shine, shimmer and best of all, the blonde of my DNA as nature intended.  The glorious Hollywood version of me which is in my head.

My new and enhanced colour was a complete complement to and optimized by the excellent hair cut Candice had given me the week prior.  Just as the ladies of Suki's had assured me, they are an excellent match for services and rest assured, they are both on my speed dial.  Thank you ladies!!

Oh, and remember that fabulous Shu Uemura golden blonde conditioner I purchased the week before?  It's a great product to help intensify your blonde.  If you want to ease back on the gold after a while, simply stop using it for a bit and substitute an everyday conditioner.

The final endorsement?  The next day I was shopping with my husband.  As we waited by the counter to pay, the male clerk leaned toward me and said earnestly "You...have VERY nice hair...".

Well played Candice, Morgan and Suki's, well played.


Suki's is located at 3157 Granville Street, Vancouver.  To book an appointment call 604-738-7713.


 Image © 2014  Helena McMurdo

Image © 2014 Helena McMurdo

Posted on January 18, 2014 and filed under Road Test.

Road Test Suki's - Part One: A Cut Above Others

The time had come to have an affair of the hair

and it's never an easy decision.

I had weathered the short, the long and the lob,

but was craving a cut with precision. (a poem).

Researching a new stylist is hard.  Maybe first world country hard, but a pain in the ass nevertheless.  But, the time had come to freshen my do.  Flobie my locks in a new direction, so to speak.

Leaving a perfectly straight and hot stylist because "I have to be me" takes a lot of time, thought and extensive looking at celebrity haircuts, preferably on company time.  I dug out my notes from about a year ago on Suki's and revisited their website with a new vengeance.  I kept going back to the same stylists I had noted previously and still liked what I read.  I was looking for a great cut and an even greater blonde and this, according to my gut, would be the place.

Enter Candice.

I popped into Suki's and inquired about "how things were done" and found that you see a technician for colour and a different stylist for a cut.  And like fine wine and cheese or shoes and handbags, the two are expertly paired here at Suki's.  I had chosen Morgan for the colour (stay tuned for part two!) but I needed a hair cut first.   The woman at the front desk took one look at me, calmly and efficiently paraphrased my needs wants and stammering, and immediately suggested Candice for the cut, to the affirmative nods of the others around the reception desk.  I was assured that she and Morgan worked well together and were a good fit.  Exhale nervous energy.  Plus, she was one of the candidates who I had researched!  Yay for me!!

As luck would have it, she was available right away for a consult (people, factor this into your appointment.  It makes things easier and adds to your overall satisfaction with the experience.  Meet and greets are a great way to test the chemistry between you and your stylist and pretty much start the bonding procedure.  You'll thank me).

After a 15 minute consult, I KNEW I'd be in good hands.  I booked my appointment for the following weekend with Candice and I left the salon in excited anticipation.

Day of....

A well-oiled machine, crossed with a mid-70's international Jumbo Jet flight to anywhere...Hello, and welcome to Suki's!


  Photo © 2013  Helena McMurdo 

 Photo © 2013 Helena McMurdo 

I was checked in and escorted to the back of the salon where I was shown to the change room and asked if I'd like a beverage.  Seriously, the lighting, soft and calming voice of the beautiful woman working there, the long and flatteringly lit corridor and space....Jumbo Jet (hot towels to come).

I had a 15 minute consult with Morgan before the cut, to determine my colour needs and concerns.  This was helpful, and of course we bonded over photos of celebrity cuts, bangs, blonde trends and which would suit me best.  I made my appointment for colour for the following week.

Enter Solmaz.

It's good to know that the art of the shampoo is alive and well at Suki's in the gentle hands of Solmaz, who used wonderful products with the most delicate fragrance and feel, explaining each one.  Oh, and a neck and scalp massage.  The pressure and water temperature were perfect throughout and she would ask now and again if each was to my liking.  She also used hot towels to help the conditioner along, which was a relaxing and calming experience.  Really, I hated to leave the sink...Lovely.

After Solmaz refreshed my coffee, I was finally seated before Candice, ready to begin the cut.  Her precision was a thing to behold, and as she expertly snipped away dead ends and hair bulk, I swear I could see even my tired colour coming back to life.  She talked about what I was looking for in a cut, based on what we had discussed and pictures we had looked at priorShe was able to take the very things I wanted from each tiny picture and translate them perfectly. 

The best part of my new do is that it looks fantastic either air dried or blow dried straight.  It works with or without styling products.  It shines again and looks healthy.  I have my hair back.

Naturally, I loved the products she used.  At the time of payment I bought two:  Color Lustre Shades Reviving Balm Infinite Gloss Linseed Oil - Golden Blonde, and Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Oil Camellia Oil, both from Shu Uemura.  I think the names are long so that when you say them out loud three times, they release a spell.

They won't make me a geisha, but don't tell that to my hair....


Suki's is located at 3157 Granville Street, Vancouver.  To book an appointment call 604-738-7713.

Posted on January 7, 2014 and filed under Road Test.

Road Test - Spa Boutique Store

The Skin Whisperer
Facial. The very word conjures images of secret European getaways, potions, practical manhandling women in starched whites with stern expressions and vague accents. Frightening, yet titillating.  Sort of James Bond meets Charlie's Angels under cover (and yes, that is a real episode and I've seen it).

Not so at the brand new Spa Boutique Store at 14th and Granville. Upon first entering this lovely space, I was greeted by the staff and made to feel welcome. I had popped in a few times to check out the various spa lines, many of which I've used and loved in years past. If you love good quality face products then this is like that candy store on 4th Ave.  It's all there and it won't rot your teeth.


 Of course, I booked a facial to road test the service. Taking a look at the Service Menu, I asked which one would be good for me. I expressed an interest in anything anti-aging related with Glycolic type benefits.  

Saturday morning came early and I was still pretty tired as I arrived for my appointment at 10 am.

The facial services are performed in the back of the store, in a quiet and semi-private area away from other shoppers, to where I was escorted and comfortably seated in one of Spa Boutique Store's new state-of-the-art massage chairs. I felt the need to sheepishly explain my lackluster tired face to my esthetician Shirley;  I hadn't slept well the previous week, hormonal skin, blah blah blah. In an instant she calmed me down, tucked a blankie around me and turned on "the chair". 

Well. This chair had it all and practically sang me a lullaby at the same time. My legs, arms and back were enveloped with warmth and a gentle undulating massage cycle began to ease away my reservations about facials.

Shirley then started in with her recommendation for my treatment, the GM Collin AHA Peel  She explained each step of my facial, and the many benefits of the products she applied. Also, she welcomed any questions I had along the way. Her explanations were clear, educational and clearly demonstrated not only a professionalism but a passion for what she was doing. Oh, and her hands were very warm. I was already planning my next appointment with Shirley the Skin Whisperer.

There were four steps in the course of my facial, all outlined in a handy menu Prescription which was given to me at the end of my session, with each product checked off and itemized as it pertained to my skin needs (this is great for those of you who wish to purchase said products or remember for next time).  At the end, I had to be pried out of the massage chair, but more treats awaited as we moved toward the front of the store in a naturally lit area where the Jane Iredale makeup awaited...the final part of my facial experience. 



In Shirley's capable hands, I had an expert makeup touch up including a full run-down of the makeup line and all its benefits,  which complemented my skin needs and was the final touch to my Road Test experience.  I have read lots about Jane Iredale products and have been eager to try them.  Again, Shirley wrote down each product she used on my prescription for easy reference.  I must admit, I was like a kid in a candy store looking at the array of lip glosses!  The colour I chose was Sugar Plum and trust me, visions of that particular Sugar Plum will be dancing in my head come Christmas Eve....

The entire facial took about an hour, and yet it was relaxing and informative and never rushed.  My kind of experience.  I encourage you to visit and treat yourself to a blissful getaway - whatever your schedule throws at you, Shirley to deserve a break!

My facial was $65, including the mineral makeup touch up.  Make an appointment with yourself for this easy and pleasant indulgence!  The staff is warm, knowledgeable and able to answer all your questions about each and every product.  Uncover your best skin today!

Spa Boutique Store is located at 2997 Granville Street, Vancouver

Posted on November 9, 2013 and filed under Road Test.

Road Test - Adorn Nail & Spa

Where did the summer go….and whose feet are these? My feet were a royal mess and my nails looked like I’d been bathing in lye.
Somehow time got away on me, right about when things started to get busy socially at the end of summer.  Although I pride myself on my manicures and pedicures and have every imaginable product at home to produce such, I just got too busy.  I even lugged my polish and stuff back home to NB, thinking that I’d have time to do them there…..but no.   Then when I returned after my holiday and STILL had a week off, I didn’t “find the time”.   

 Sketch: Heather Phillips - Color:  Zenija Esmits

Sketch: Heather Phillips - Color: Zenija Esmits

It took an early fall dinner at a friend’s place to light a fire under my ass and in the space of an hour, I had “McGuyver’d” a semblance of pedi by hoisting one foot up at a time in the bathroom sink and hastily scrubbing each foot with my trusty HAND scrub,  then trimming my hooves.  I finished with a slathering of very expensive Chanel FACE cream (and yes, I rinse my hair in Perrier) and cuticle cream, then painted my toenails with one coat of a decent Chanel beige.  Phew.  Subterfuge at its best.  Although I’m sure no one was noticing my feet, I knew.  And so did a “higher authority”.

Enough is enough.  I finally made my way to a neighbourhood joint which recently made a transition to new ownership over the summer while I was away, from Pure Nail Bar to Adorn Nail and Spa.  I was eager to check it out.
I walked in on my day off and was able to get an appointment for a mani-pedi right away.  I was relieved to see that some things had not changed, mainly the wall mounted TVs playing endless loops of “Modern Family” re-runs, and a few of the same employees who I recognized.  So far so good...
I usually take my own nail polish with me rather than paw through the boxes of OPI (although I love the colours and longevity of OPI and some may argue that OPI has a better brush).  So I presented both my colours.  A Nude Chanel for my feet (very European) and the very trendy Chanel Rouge Noir for my mani.
I was in good hands.  While Kim tended to my feet, Olivia ministered to my abused and neglected nails.  I couldn’t help noticing the receptionist Day’s own lovely nails in the meantime.  They were a perfect and on trend cement shade.  She kindly wrote down the name for me which, for your information, is Svelte Suede by the brand CND.  Needless to say, I changed my mind and had my toes done in said shade.
After the restoration of my feet and the “Adorn-ing” of fresh polish, I left the salon feeling renewed in spirit also.  The name might be different, but some of the same friendly staff remain.  I even received a sample of rich foot cream from Kim, “Gehwol Med Salve for cracked skin”…..bless…..a gentle and kindly hint.  I took the liberty of letting her know that some of that line is now available just a block away at the new Spa Boutique Store (see Road Test - Spa Boutique Store).
What the heck took me so long….
PS – check their sign outside for deals.  My mani-pedi was $50 well spent.  And although walk-ins happen all the time, I’d recommend calling for an appointment in summer.

Adorn Nail & Spa
3061 Granville Street Vancouver BC
604 730 1178




Posted on October 30, 2013 and filed under Road Test.