Photo Credit: beautyinthebag.com
Iâ€™ve been committed to weekly manicures for as long as I can remember. In fact, I used to say that having a standing appointment was one of my life goals, once work and parenting duties no longer constrained my schedule. (I grew up with this manicure mentality, as my mom had her standing appointment at 11am on Thursdays for as long as I can remember.) But between my weekly calendar reminder to make my next appointment, trying to carve out the hour to get there and back to my desk, and forking over $21 each time (including tip), manicures started to feel like more of a chore than a treat. (In case youâ€™re wondering, gel manicures were reserved for vacations and business trips because they wrecked my nails.)
About three months ago, I ran into a friend and was amazed at how fantastic her nails looked. They were so long and strong I had to compliment her, and thatâ€™s when she said, â€œItâ€™s the NexGen manicure. How do you not know about this?â€ (I didnâ€™t know about this because I had been going to the same nail tech for over five years who doesnâ€™t do it.) Then I started asking other friends if they had heard of it, and alas, one has been getting NexGens for years, and another had just recently started. (Both were addicted.) I brought it up at Pilates and my instructor gave me a recommendation, so I called to make an appointment from my car after class.
I had absolutely NO idea what to expect, but hereâ€™s how it went down:
- I was given about 100 color swatches to choose from. I wanted to go natural so I chose â€œA14,â€ which is a cross between â€œFunny Bunnyâ€ and â€œBallet Slippers.â€
- My old â€œregularâ€ polish was removed and my nails were shaped and buffed a bit to give them a little texture.
- A clear polish was painted on, and my fingers were dipped into a jar of powder. (This step was repeated three times.)
- At this point, I got a little nervous because my nails looked really dull and super-thick, but then they were thinned out and contoured with a filing drillâ€”and a clear, shiny topcoat was applied.
- After about 40 minutes I was done. My nails were completely dry and I was in awe of how good they looked. Where had NexGen been all of my life?
And hereâ€™s the best part: YOU ONLY HAVE TO GO EVERY THREE WEEKS. No chipping. No peeling. No dulling. The only change you see between leaving your appointment and going back for your next one is the growth at the base. (Another reason I like to stick with a pale shade.) One big surprise has been the cuticle situation. They havenâ€™t actually been cut in three months, yet they look better than ever. Iâ€™m assuming the file drill cleans them up without me even realizingâ€”and I havenâ€™t had ANY cuticle issues since my first NexGen. (I always struggled with jagged cuticles, the subsequent picking and resulting boo-boos in the past.)
Another major takeaway here is that you can expect your nails to get LONG. My nails never got beyond a certain length before breaking or splitting (or me biting) before NexGen. After about a month, I basically had to relearn how to type. I also came to discover that it can be really hard to pick things up with these nails. But with that said, I love them so much Iâ€™m dealing with it.
You may be wondering how it comes offâ€¦ Similar to a gel manicure, you either soak or wrap your fingers in foil with acetone. The main difference is that once the polish is soft, the nail tech uses the file drill to get it all off (because it wonâ€™t just scrape off).
Are you thinking to yourself, Yeah, but what does a NexGen do to your natural nails? In the fleeting moments Iâ€™ve actually seen mine over the past few months, Iâ€™m here to tell you that they are in better shape than ever. Theyâ€™re strong and look beyond healthy. Frankly, itâ€™s shocking.
All and all, Iâ€™m only sort of exaggerating when I say that the NexGen manicure changed my life (and no, I do not have any financial interest in the company whatsoever). Iâ€™ve even starting convincing the ladies next to me at the salon to try it, and I sing its praises to anyone who will listen. Are you convinced?
Photo Credit: COLORWOWHAIR.COM
Nothing beats a freshly colored do without grays, dark roots, or regrowth. But if you just can’t get into your salon at the 4 or 5 week mark, those telltale signs of a dye job can make you feel like donning a fedora to hide.
Color Wow Root Cover Up ($34.50) is the brainchild of John Frieda co-founder Gail Federici. It’s like hair makeup. If you can baste a turkey or paint your nails, you can use this idiot-proof system to flawlessly cover anything that comes up between salon visits. The simplicity is brilliantâ€”open compact, use small end of brush to apply colored powder into part or hairline, brush lightly, and voila! Color Wow has got you covered.
As a not-so-natural blonde myself, this little lifesaver is a Godsend. It comes is 6 shadesâ€”Platinum, Blonde, Light Brown, Medium Brown, Dark Brown, and Black. At first, I was doubtful that the Blonde shade would really cover my roots sufficiently, but it definitely softened the dark shadows and made my roots look less noticeable. You can also use it to extend the life of your highlights, if needed. And the best part is that it takes literally 2 minutes to apply and it’s rainproof!
The formula contains kaolin, talc, mica, zinc stearate, silica, and starch to soak up oil and cling to hair so it stays put. It has a subtle sheen and does not clump up or feel waxy or sticky. For me, I would reapply it daily, but some lucky women can get away with a few days. It only washes off completely when you shampoo your hair.
Color Wow has 12 other problem-solving hair styling products in the range, including Color Security Shampoo and Conditioner to extend your color even further ($9 – 24).
Photo Credit: neimanmarcus.com
I admit it. I can’t resist luxe beauty and would rather treat myself to one drop dead fabulous lipstick than a makeup bag full of uninspiring shades in Plain Jane cases.
Tom Ford never disappoints. His cosmetics collection is exquisite in every way – beginning with the glorious black packaging with matte gold accents engraved with TF. The sensuous experience of opening the glossy box to find a little black velvet pouch will make your heart quiver. Every minute detail is flawlessly executed.
Take the eye shadows for example. Each Eye Color Quad ($78) is pure perfection. The 7 shade combinations are thoughtfully matched to create the most beautifully dressed eyelids. With names like Titanium Smoke and Golden Mink, the looks are timeless and elegant. Each quad has a touch of glamorous shimmer along with silky matte shades to dress your eyes up or down as desired.
The Eye Defining Pen ($55) is a double-sided liquid liner in black lets you can choose the look you want – from subdued and subtle to all out drama. It glides on flawlessly.
The Lip Colors ($49) are equally brilliant. The texture is creamy and they go on super smoothly. They are infused with soja seed extract, Brazilian murumuru butter and chamomilla flower oil to add hydration and conditioning. The colors are flattering and wearable for all skin tones and lip shapes – even thin lips can benefit from the lighter beautifying shades in the collection. Among my favorite neutrals are Blush Nude and Spanish Pink, but the deeper pigments are equally gorgeous. Try Crimson Noir for a stunning oxblood lip look or Casablanca for a dark mauve tone. For a moister lip with a glossy sheen, there are also 10 sultry shades of Lip Color Shine.
Like his coveted fragrance collection, Tom Ford’s cosmetics are an ideal marriage of fashion, form and function. Unlike some designers who dabble in beauty or merely license their name out, the statement his pieces make is one of seductive opulence. Wear them and feel instantly confident and feminine.
Find Tom Ford Cosmetics at prestige retailers including neimanmarcus.com
Photo Credit: eyeko.com
Alexa Chung has been called a lot of things in her 30 years. Beautiful is one word that springs to mind; global style icon has been thrown around, and of course she is a model,Â photographer, fashion muse, and fashionista. Her newest role is as Creative Consultant for Eyeko, the quirky indie British eye themed makeup brand launched in 1999 by Max and Nina Leykind.
Alexa’s first limited edition collection for Eyeko has already been lauded as a brilliant success on both sides of the pond. It is made up of just mascara and eyeliner in jet black to duplicate her signature feline flick look. While the thought of emulating Alexa’s homage to the 1960’s surely appeals, most of us need more than a dab of mascara and eyeliner to get there.
We love the Eye Do Mascara ($26). It comes in a little silver tube with a huge brush and goes on very thick and lasts really well. It also promises to condition your lashes and promote growth while you have it on for an added bonus. Ingredients include ginkgo biloba, shea butter, vitamins, antioxidants, and botanical proteins. It takes a bit of work to get it off, however; but it is manageable.Â
The Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner ($19) is not exactly idiot proof but easier than many others we have tried. There is a little learning curve but when you get it right, it is well worth the effort and looks amazing. The tip is thin enough to give you the control needed to draw smooth curvy lines, and it is waterproof so it stays in place.Â
This look is sexy, it makes your eyes pop, and will get you noticed, but it’s not for every girl. In fact, if you have a normal job like a lawyer, stock broker, or marketing director, you may have to save this duo for evening wear only. It is very dark blackâ€”called carbon or pitchâ€”and can be slightly overpowering, especially if you are not blessed with the fresh bold style of Alexa.
The packaging is fun, upbeat and clever. Alexa is credited with the design of that as well. I was excited to open the tube to see what was inside.
At $45 for the set, it’s a great value and delivers on all of its promises. A lot of diehard Eyeko fans will probably be campaigning hard for this to become part of the permanent collection.
We can’t wait to see what will be coming out next from the Eyeko-Chung collaboration.