Nailed It

Sometimes the smallest things make all the difference. Point in case? Nails. I can’t help but notice when someone has neat and colorful nails: they’re eye-catching and can make even the most disheveled moments look a little more polished. Spring and summer are even more fun because there’s the added fun of sandals and pedicures, which are just an excuse to put more amusing colors to use. I rounded up my favorite polishes along with a handy guide (click photo for link) from Cupcakes and Cashmere on how to do the best at-home manicure, which proves useful here in Germany. 
 
mani1_0Nailed It
 
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There is a nearly endless selection of colors and polishes to choose from on the market. To help sort through the good and the bad, I listed what brands I think are the very best, in some colors that I’m excited to wear all spring and summer. 
  • OPI  makes great polishes in terms of formula and colors at a really affordable price. They’re not indestructible, but if well cared for, they’ll last for days. 
  • Deborah Lippmann  makes some of the best colors on the market, and definitely the best selection of sparkly polishes. The sparkly options tend to last longer, but the creme colors don’t have as much staying power. 
  • Esteé Lauder polishes are hyper-pigmented, which means a little bit goes a long way in terms of coats. Their color selection isn’t as expansive, but the formula holds up beautifully over time. 
  • Chanel Le Vernis makes some of the best colors on the market, which is part of the reason they have a cult following. Seriously, go look up discontinued polish colors on amazon.com and you’ll realize Chanel polishers mean business. However, I don’t have as much luck getting these polishes to stay for long, so they’re best suited to wear for that day and night. 
  • YSL polishes come in a smaller selection of beautiful colors at a higher price, but they last. They’re also incredibly easy to apply yourself because the brush is especially easy to use. 
  • Tom Ford hands down the best overall polish in terms of colors and staying power. The collection of colors is very simple: just the best of the basics (think red, dark plum, fuchsia, blush, etc)  you could ever imagine and they last at least five days. I’m debating between this polish and a gel manicure for my wedding because it’s that reliable and that effective. 

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In terms of manicure maintenance you’ll want a strong base coat and an effective top-coat. My favorites are this for the base coat because it helps my nails grow quickly and healthy, and either this or this for my top coat.  Finally, nail-expert Robin Campbell at Laurentius Salon gave me some sage advice when it comes to nails: don’t pick, don’t cut your cuticles unless absolutely necessary, and remember that different polishes hold up differently for different people because the oils in our skin are all different and react with polishes in a variety of ways. So just because Chanel doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be a sure winner for you and vice versa with Tom Ford.
Now excuse me while I lovingly and obsessively reorganized my polishes in color order! Happy polishing!20140310-100001.jpg

The Hair Necessities

Look for these hair necessities. They’re simple and they’ll help you forget about your hair worries and strife. While they’re not all  mother nature’s recipes, they’ll definitely keep your hair looking–and feeling–perfect.  Wherever I wander, and wherever roam, I couldn’t be fonder of these products to make all the difference in my hair condition and style. Look for most of these hair necessities online, or in stores like Blue Mercury and Neiman Marcus, which also carry an excellent selection of the Oribe products. When you look at the enviable locks of some celebrities, the truth is most of them were styled using Oribe products which have become the go-to for red carpet hair stylists, for a reason.  Take a glance at their fancy hair, and then maybe try a few of the hair necessities yourself. So just relax, if you’re having hair troubles ….don’t spend your time just looking around, for hair you want, but can’t seem to find. When you realize you can solve it, you’ll move on, no more stressing about it. I’ll tell you something true, the hair necessities of life will work for you.

Also, on the off chance you missed the theme that just played out above, take a listen down memory lane. And if you never saw the Jungle Book, know that I’m crying, just a little, for your incomplete childhood. The Hair Necessities

Step 1: Prepping your hair with good products is essential to styling it beautifully later. Look at it as if you’re laying a foundation for great hair. If your hair is dry, damaged, brittle, or thin, this is the step that is potentially most important for you. Wella makes excellent products that protect your hair,  keep it looking glossy and healthy, and improve the quality of it over time. Additionally, Oribe’s deep conditioner masques can be used once a week (or more depending on how thick your hair is) to really make a big impact. After one conditioning treatment  I immediately see a difference in the quality, condition, texture, and appearance of my hair. And all the products smell addictively like heaven and happiness.

Step 2: So you’re washed, you’re conditioned, and now the fun begins. I detangle my hair with the milkshake leave in conditioner and a wide tooth comb. This brand isn’t  huge, but I was introduced to it at my hair salon and have been using this particular product since high school. It gets rid of any knots without a struggle, and it adds just a little more conditioning to my hair before styling. Next I do a few mists of Oribe’s foundation mist, which acts as a thermal and UV protectant. Then comes possibly my absolute favorite product: Oribe’s Royal Blowout Spray. This speeds up the dry time–both naturally and with a blowdryer–of my hair and helps me gets a smooth and shiny finish. It is an absolute dream to use. Finally, I put a little Argan oil on my ends to keep them healthy and avoid splitting.

Step 3: These are by no means all necessary for every person. However, depending on how you want to style your hair, they’re all game changers.  If you’re looking for extra thick hair or curls, Oribe mousse is the crème de la crème, and will help you achieve a beautiful finished look. If sleek and shiny hair is more your tempo, the cream and nourishing hair oil will make that a reality for you.

Step 4: These are the finishing touches. Again, use whichever product suits your style and hair type. The Oribe superfine hairspray is a winner for individuals with thinner hair because it doesn’t weigh it down or look greasy over time. Oribe soft laquer spray makes hair look shiny and smooth, but still very touchable and natural. Meanwhile, the Àpres beach spray maintains curled locks, while preventing them from seeming ‘too perfect’ and childish, think Victoria’s Secret model hair, with clothing. The mini impermeable spray is perfect for a purse or gym bag to freshen up hair, both in style and scent, and the anti-humidity spray is the only thing that I’ve ever used that works in high humidity.

I realize these products are pricey but invest in steps 1 & 2, and choose only a few from 3 & 4 to really make your hair picture perfect. They last quite a while for me, even with pretty thick and long hair. Once you start using these hair necessities though, I regret to inform you, that nothing else will ever match their quality and effectiveness. So get ready to get addicted and enjoy the hairrrr necessities, the simple hair necessities….and I’ll stop reliving my childhood movie favorites.

Note: To learn more about Oribe as a brand, its products, and salons near you that carry/use them pop over to their website.

A Beauty Event

So every once in a while, a store will offer up a measly token of their appreciation when you make a purchase…and generally, it’s nothing to get worked up about or fawn over. However, Neiman Marcus hosts an annual ‘Beauty Event’ where brands they carry offer major gifts for purchases, in addition to a gift from Neiman Marcus. The event runs until March 2nd. I rounded up the best offers so that you can make an informed purchase, and reap extra rewards for something you probably wanted to buy anyways.

A Beauty Event

  • Kiehls is giving customers a travel bag loaded with goodies, like that midnight recovery serum I mentioned in an earlier post here .
  • Clarisonic is giving you a travel bag to tote your clarisonic brush in, and if you’re finally jumping on the bandwagon and purchasing one of these handy cleansing brushes, you might as well get more bang for your buck!
  • Laura Mercier makes excellent makeup and when you make a purchase of $135, she’s adding a makeup bag with her primer, soufflé body lotion, eye basics, eyeliner and eye cream. It’s a great way to add some new favorites to your routine without having to invest in a full sized version!
  • Molton Brown’s bath and body products are incredible, and I am obsessed with my ginger lilly shower gel. So much so that I ration it for months. Do yourself a favor and pick up some of their products, and get rewarded with standard size version of the Ylang Ylang body wash.
  • NARS is an industry favorite–spotted everywhere at New York Fashion Week–because their long-lasting products come in a wide variety of colors, and look great all day and night. They’re gifting their pro-prime smudge proof eyeshadow base and soft touch shadow pencil.
  • Bobbi Brown makes beautiful and natural looking makeup that aims to highlight your features without overdoing it.  One of the very best offers of the Beauty Event, when you make a $150 purchase at Bobbi Brown (which is easy to do considering their extra repair balm is amazing, but pricey) you also get the Bobbi to Go classic eye palette with eight shadows in an array of finishes and textures, plus a miniature brush, mascara, and extra repair eye cream.
  • Glamglow (also shown in an earlier post) is giving away the Tinglexfoliate Treatment Mask with any Glamglow purchase. Think of it as a two for one deal!
  • A lot of people swear by neuLASH‘s formula for thickening their natural lashes. If you want to try it out, you can get extra serum with any purchase.
  • Jo Malone is offering a sleek leather travel case loaded with a duo of her best scents–Nectarine Blossom & Honey, and Wild Bluebell. The Nectarine Blossom alone is worth it, but combined with the Wild Bluebell you’ll be seriously pleased with how wonderful you smell. Her perfumes and colognes are my absolute favorite and now you can take them wherever you go!
Lastly, when you spend $125 on cosmetics or fragrances at Neiman Marcus (online or in stores) they’re giving out a pretty tote loaded with samples like Tory Burch’s perfume, Oribe travel sized shampoo and conditioners (another favorite), Molton Brown body wash, YSL foundation samples, Fresh eye creams, and more. If you’re thinking about stocking up on your favorite products, you might as well do it when there are so many bonuses (ones you’d actually like) to grab! Happy shopping!

Back to basics: Skincare

I am by no means a licensed esthetician, but I do suffer from a mild to moderate case of obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to skincare. I’ve tried way too many products and the ones listed below are the clear winners when it comes to keeping my skin in check and looking fresh.

Let's get beautiful

Some of these products are cult favorites. The Clarisonic brush is the go-to for getting skin extra clean. I use my Clarisonic with two different M-61 cleansers, one that fights break outs and does intensive cleaning, and another that brightens skin and is a gentler formula. Sometimes I mix in Josie Maran’s cleansing oil. Face oils are the trend du jour because they’re versatile and effective. If you have oily or combination skin, using a face oil can actually help regulate your skin’s oil production, which is to say that oily and acne prone skin-types can benefit from cleansing oil because it reduces your skin’s production of oil that causes breakouts. A ‘fight fire with fire’ approach to skincare, if you will. If all else fails, Clinique’s spot treatment is also handy for breakouts and I have been using it for years. Its extra high concentration of salicylic acid effectively delivers a hefty dose to troublesome spots.

Moisturizing is probably the most important part of skincare. It helps skin regenerate and heal from marks, burns and breakouts, fights fine lines and wrinkles, and keeps you looking young and ‘glowy.’ While there are hundreds of option some are standout products. The La Mer line is notoriously pricey but you can believe the hype-it really does work wonders. If you end up like me, with an unexpected rewards gift card to a store that carries La Mer (Bloomingdales for one) and a rapidly approaching expiration date, bite the bullet and do it. Your skin will thank you. I went with the ‘soft cream’ because it absorbs into skin faster and isn’t as thick as the original formula. Having said that, the Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Balm is ridiculously thick but used overnight, it makes all the difference by morning. I layer it under my Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which is another extra popular item, with good reason.

Another product I recently became a huge fan of is Estée Lauder’s Idealist even skintone illuminator. Just as the title suggests, it evens out skintone and helps eliminate dark spots and scarring with effects apparent in as little as  two weeks. I use one tiny pump morning and night and I don’t think I can live without it at this point.

Finally, GlamGlow is a relatively new product line but I won’t be surprised if it becomes a staple in most every store. Sephora is a huge retailer, and Neiman Marcus just started carrying it, so you know it’s good stuff. My two favorites are the clearing mask and the hydrating mask. They’re not cheap either, but you don’t need much for each use (1-2 times a week). Plus, they’re highly effective. The clearing mask leaves you with a tingly sensation and it changes color as it clears out your skin, while the hydrating mask smells awesome and leaves your skin feeling amazing.

Better skin means less need for coverup, foundation and makeup in general and makes everyone feel just a tiny bit better. A fun way to get started is to grab a friend, make some drinks, pick a movie or TV show and slap some mudmasks on your faces and feel pretty…or at least a little silly.

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