Forget about bar or Santa crawls, a beauty bar crawl is the best new option for a girls’ night out since your mother told you to simmer down at a pajama party. Gal pal Beatrice Aidin and I hit New York City streets near Union Square for some hair, brow, and facial pampering, and, of course, female bonding.
First stop was DryBar at 4 West 16th Street. All blowouts here cost only $40, and the location is part of the “No cuts No Color Just blowouts for only $40” phenomenon that has blown eastward from California, where the concept originated in 2008. The salons have a delightful formula—each location looks like a girlish lounge with whimsical mirrors, cute lights, and a glass of champagne at the ready. Styles are chosen from a menu that brings home the bar lounge theme: Straight Up, Manhattan, The Cosmo, The Mai Tai, Cosmo-Tai, Southern Comfort, Hot Toddy, and Up-Tini.
My stylist Stephanie gave me a combo of the Straight Up and Manhattan—straight, slightly turned under, with volume at the top. Working with stylist Matt, Beatrice went for Southern Comfort, volume with curls, which looked great on her normally straight do.
With hair in place, we headed over to Clear Clinic at 21 19th Street for a microdermabrasion treatment. This center, the brainchild of dermatologist Eric Schweiger, MD, is a one-stop shop for acne and acne scar treatment. It really tries to reduce the trauma of acne by encouraging walk-ins, offering late appointments, and teaming patients with a Personal Acne Coach, a physician assistant who guides them through the process of finding the right solution for their condition. The place is a veritable play yard of lasers and light-based devices, which aim to target acne at its core source. From deep cleansing, blue and red light seassions, lasers that kill acne causing bacteria, to a whole swath of devices that minimize scars, the Clear Clinic menu is a no nonsense approach to acne treatment.
Luckily, my blemish days are behind me, so I opted for the microdermabrasion treatment, a professional mechanical exfoliation process that stimulates collagen production and left my skin smooth and glowing. Many thanks to Jillian Cirillo, the licensed aesthetician who explained every step, and much to my surprise, said I had good skin. For chronic acne sufferers, the clinic recommends its Clear Club™, amembership program that bundles services for more cost effective treatment.
For the finishing touch, Beatrice and I ended our evening’s prep at Boom Boom Brow Bar, 35 7th Avenue in Greenwich Village. Even at 8PM, the place was hopping with regulars getting their brows and lashes tinted, and brows waxed. As every makeup artist advises, brows really frame and open up the face, and I’m a firm believer of this. What I didn’t know was the benefit of brow tinting—it actually makes your brow hairs look thicker and remarkably fills in the sparse areas, requiring much less powder to get a full brow look. My technician Danielle sized up my color and applied the dye, which sits for only 10 minutes. After a wipe down, she gave me the wax over and a trim, shaping my brows in a natural looking way—more full than thin, but tamed. And to my surprise, she showed me the correct way to apply brow powder (never pencil, mon dieu). Sweep a thin line of powder at the bottom ledge of the brow then brush it upward and follow with gel.
Boom Boom is a small slip of a shop—girly, dainty, and definitely fun. Book an appointment online for a full range of tweezing and waxing for the body and face. If you go during a weekday, you might even meet Boom Boom, aka Malynda Vigliotti, the shop’s founder. And don’t forget to check out her specially created products, including the new Brow Job ($49), which contains peptides, vitamins, and amino acids to beef up scrawny brows in just one month.
Blownout, scrubbed, and waxed, Bea and I were off on an art opening adventure. But that’s another story.
Have you ever dreamed about winning the lottery and fantasized about how you would spend the money? Would you buy a mansion, diamonds, yacht, or an island? Whatever your pleasure, it’s sure to include a luxury item.
But is luxury just for the very rich? Definitely not, according to the speakers at the Beauty’s Luxury Lift-Off panel, sponsored by The Fashion Group International in New York City.
Even though nearly 94% of the 18 to 34 age group is in debt, according to Laura McEwen, vice president and publisher of Self magazine, a sponsor of the event, these children of baby boomers crave the luxury experience. “They want Dior mascara, hair done by Fekkai, and are generally eager for luxury products and treatments. They’re paying attention to their appearance constantly,” she said.
“Coco Chanel believed that luxury is a necessity that starts where necessity ends,” said panelist Ava Huang, senior vice president, fragrance and skincare marketing, Chanel. “Some people think that poverty is the opposite of luxury. It’s actually vulgarity.” That said, maybe it’s time to rethink your appointment to have diamonds imbedded in your nail tips.
“Whatever the culture, throughout history, women have gone to extraordinary heights for their beauty,” said McEwen. Just think about the Victorian passion for corsets, Japanese Geisha’s use of lead-based foundation, or Cleopatra’s milk baths.
So if luxury today is not over the top indulgence, what is it? “We refer to luxury as having the Three Cs: craft, creativity, and culture,” said Veronique Gabai-Pinsky, global brand president, Aramis &Designer Fragrances, Beauty Bank and IdeaBank, The Estee Lauder Companies. For example, the Cashmere Mist fragrance from Donna Karan gained huge popularity without much marketing support, because women responded to its quality and subtle beauty.
Sometimes luxury involves an experience, not just a product. When panelist Frederic Fekkai, founder of Fekkai hair care and salons, opened his first salon, he included a café, not necessarily a moneymaker, but a warm and authentic touch.
For marketers, “luxury must come from the heart, followed by communication and collaboration,” said moderator Greg Furman, president of the Luxury Marketing Council. The brand’s goal is to include you, the shopper, as a partner in defining luxury.
Partnering with a prestige company sounds inclusive and respectful, but we’re still being marketed something. At least it will be something we love and relate to.
For many, luxury has nothing to do with acquiring objects, such as the luxury of time, perhaps the most valuable commodity in our “gotta have it yesterday” lives. It’s interesting that going to the gym to work out is a necessity, but sleep has become a luxury.
Not merely relative, luxury is a very personal concept. But if you treat yourself to something that is not a necessity, well made, and perhaps a little scarce, you are on the right path.
Recently, I spent a day of pampering at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa flagship in New York City. There are many reasons to indulge in a spa experience—a cleansing facial, a deep-tissue massage, a full-body scrub—but my goal that day, was to get a brand new haircut and groomed eye brows.
The Red Door Spa is one of the most trusted names in the business, and they offer everything from haircuts, coloring services, and styling, to brow waxing, manicures/pedicures, and of course, a good hot stone massage or two. If visiting the flagship location, be sure to get a cut with Zahir Ziani, national creative director of Red Door Spas, and a wizard with his shears. Ziani will take one look at your face and hair and let you know what “look” will suit you best. What’s incredibly fab is that even with such talented hands, a haircut, blow dry, and finish start at only $95!
Since I like to wear my hair long and I’m not terribly fond of bangs, I opted for an edgy yet safe look. Ziani partitioned my hair into three sections, and gave me layers tailored to each section (getting “generic” layers will make your ends more voluminous, but leave the top part of your hair relatively flat). What I ended up getting were layers tailor-made to each section of my hair, including the top. The result was volume both on top and at the bottom.
The result was fabulous and I had a haircut I will be proud to live with, day in and day out. Too often, we forget how comprehensive the offerings of a spa can be, but it’s worth keeping in mind that a good spa offers the following:
Hair Cut/Style/Color Services: You don’t have to rely on a salon to find a brilliant hairdresser. Several top spas hire only the best (Ziani has won several awards for his work, and he is a fixture at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, providing a clear vision and catwalk styling for haute couture designers’ models), and you are in as good hands here as you are with your favorite salon.
Waxing Services: Whether you need a bikini wax or a brow tweeze, the professionals at a top spa will have you covered. My aesthetician, Elena, has been with Red Door Spas for over ten years, and she’s particularly keen on using the shape of your eyes and face to determine your brow shape.
Manicures/Pedicures: Aestheticians at spas are trained to provide a range of services, from waxing to pedicure, so chances are that you’ll meet your waxing specialist again at the mani/pedi bar. But relax—they really know what they’re doing! In the short space of an hour, you can get your brows waxed and your digits draped in new nail lacquer color. How cool is that?
Facials: Let’s not forget the fact that a spa is a haven for facials; I’ve had both facials and massages at the top spas and they are worth every penny. Remember to schedule them regularly: it’s not the best idea to just get one every six months. Good skin takes time and practice.
Massages: Everyone goes to the spa for massages—that’s what they’re all about. Take the time to find the masseuse (or masseur) that is right for you and stick with them. A knowledgeable masseuse really can help relieve the stress of modern life.
Much more than an occasional luxury, spas can help with a whole range or your beauty needs. The U.S. Spa Industry actually grew at a healthy rate in 2012 by 4.5% to 156 million visitors, according to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
How often do you get your spa fix? The next time you plan a spa day, consider booking more than a massage or facial.