Fall-ish Polish

I don’t paint my nails all that often – I’m just too hard on my nails and the maintenance usually feels like too much work. For some reason, though, the beginning of fall always makes me want to play with polish. Maybe it’s the return of rich, highly pigmented shades, or my appreciation for the way a well-manicured hand looks peeking out from the sleeve of a cozy fall sweater. Whatever it is, every year I become obsessed with a fall-ish polish and go a little manicure crazy.
Essie Dress to Kilt
This year, it all started when I spotted the new Olivia Palermo x Ciate London Nail Collection. That blue! That deliciously dark red! Right away I started jonesing for some wine-colored nails of my own, so I scanned my nail polish collection and was happy to find a perfect pick from last year’s fall lineup: Essie Dress to Kilt. It gave me the deep, glossy red I was after, at a much more reasonable price point. I managed to keep this manicure in tact for 5 days, during which time I received a ton of compliments. Apparently, I’m not the only one loving this dark red for fall.
Trust Fund Beauty Elegantly Wasted
I had no sooner removed that manicure when I received my September Ipsy bag in the mail. To my delight, it contained a fun new polish, Trust Fund Beauty Nail Polish in Elegantly Wasted. This lilac purple shade looks surprisingly great with my skin tone. The polish dried super fast, and I’ve only had it on for a day and a half, but so far it has lasted beautifully through some intense housework and general carelessness (did I mention I’m hard on my nails?). It’s not the traditional plum that you normally see this time of year, but I’m kind of loving that.

What nail colors are you loving for fall?

Lady or Tramp?

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My favorite look this season is decidedly ladylike but not too nice; it’s all about clean lines and classic shades, just a little rough around the edges. A lot of fall fashions are jumping on this naughty-lady bandwagon, and, not surprisingly, I’m embracing it in my makeup routine. Here, my guide to achieving this look on your own:

1. First things first: you want to start with clear skin and a smooth canvas. I keep it simple with a tinted moisturizer or BB cream and some concealer under the eyes and on any blemishes. Then, to give myself a very pretty, very ladylike glow, I blend By Terry Color Skin Enhancer in Glowing Rose into my cheek and brow bones. It smells heavenly and gives a pretty light pink sheen to the skin. Finish with a light dusting of loose powder just where you need it – nose, chin, forehead.

2. Gloss your lips with a sheer nude or light pink gloss. The trick is to find a shade that looks demure and classy, without washing you out. As I recently mentioned, I love Korres Lip Butter in Jasmine (a soft pink), and Korres Lip Glaze in the same shade is a great on-the-go version, as it comes in a tube instead of a jar. I’ve also always liked Victoria’s Secret Beauty Rush Lip Gloss in Slice of Heaven (a shimmery nude).

3. Play up those eyes! Curl your lashes and line your upper lash line with black liner. I’m currently obsessed with Noir Long Wear Eyeliner in Forever Noir. It’s a fat black liner that glides easily and smudges well. I like to wing up a bit at the outer corners for a bit of a cat eye; smudge the line a little or a lot to achieve your desired level of naughtiness. Finish with a generous application of Benefit They’re Real! Mascara. This wonder product thickens, lengthens, curls and lasts all day. It’s an easy way to give your eyes some oomph.

4. The final step in the process, and one of my favorite fall beauty trends, is to pair this mostly-prim face with a super-chic, super-dark nail polish. This looks best with shorter nails, and you have to be diligent about touch-ups, but a nice, dark manicure is perfect with this look. I’m hooked on Essie’s Power Clutch, a dark greenish-gray. Essie’s Wicked (a deep, blood red) is another good choice. Pair with your sassiest pencil skirt, your sexiest heels, and your most conservative pearls and you’ll have everybody wondering: lady, or tramp?

Orange Crush

Throughout the majority of the year, it’s unlikely that you’ll find me with brightly colored nails. I generally stick to a routine of classic red pedicures and sheer pinks or nudes on my fingernails. But during the hot, sunny, energizing summer months, I’m usually inspired to spice it up a bit. Normally I buy myself a bottle of hot pink polish and go nuts, but this year I’ve been drawn to a variety of brighter shades, and oranges in particular. It’s such an optimistic color, looks great with a tan, and is surprisingly easy to wear. I’ve been switching it up, moving from coral to tangerine, and each shade has earned me compliments. Even my orange-hating boss was inspired to pick a peachy shade during her last manicure! If she can learn to love this cheery shade, so can you.

Bright colors always look great peeking out of a strappy sandal, but the trick to wearing a neon shade on your hands is giving (or getting) yourself a quality manicure. Trim and shape your nails – I like a medium-short length and a softly rounded tip – push back your cuticles, and clean up any snags or hangnails that you might have. I always swipe each nail with nail polish remover before painting them – it removes any dirt or oil from your nails and allows the polish to stick better.

If you are painting your nails yourself, be prepared to take your time and be patient. You don’t want to spend all that time perfectly painting each nail, only to smudge one because you didn’t wait long enough for them to dry. I do one heavy coat of color on each nail – I find that two coats take longer to dry than I’m willing to wait, and the thick double coat of polish tends to peel off much easier. I do not use a base coat because, again, I find the color sticks better to the nail without it. I let the coat of color dry for approximately five minutes before applying a generous layer of top coat (I like Essie top coat). Make sure each nail is completely covered with the top coat – it smooths the nail, seals in the color, gives your nails a glassy shine and makes your manicure last.

Don’t worry if you goofed up a little and painted outside the lines – it’s easy to clean up! Approximately 10 to 15 minutes after applying the top coat, I dip a Q-tip in nail polish remover and use it to carefully clean up the edges of my nails. After that, I take it easy and resist the urge to use my fingers for as long as I possibly can – the longer you can wait, the better!

If you’re looking for a pretty, flattering, orange-y shade, here are my two favorites:

Essie Nail Polish in Clam Bake: This red-orange hue is the color responsible for inspiring my boss to try coral. It’s on the reddish side, making it a little less scary than full-on orange. I’d recommend trying this if you’re comfortable with reds but not quite sure about orange.

Sephora by OPI Nail Colour in Hi Def: I’m currently wearing this bright tangerine shade. It’s a very orange-y orange, and it’s absolutely perfect for summer. Better still, it’s currently on sale at Sephora.com for $5!

I dare you to try it.

Foot Fetish

It seems like most people either love feet or hate them. I know people who grimace at the mere mention of toes. I know others that live to flaunt their peds and accessorize them with sexy sandals, jewelry, and polish. And we all know that some people really love feet. Scandalous foot fetish videos, hilarious Sex and the City reruns, and creepy rumors keep us all aware of that fact.

Regardless of your personal stance on feet, I think we all can agree that we want ours to look nice. For some reason, being told I have pretty feet is a particularly confidence-boosting compliment.

If your feet are in really bad shape, get thee to a nail salon and get yourself a pedicure. If, like me, you just need a little maintenance to get yourself sandal-ready, here are some tips to keep your feet looking ridiculously pretty:

1. Trim your nails. Having talon-like toenails is sure to perpetuate the feet-are-ugly myth and will turn off even the most hardcore fetishist. Keep your nails trimmed, straight across, and on the short side.

2. Scrub-a-dub-dub. A good foot scrub is key to having soft, delicate-looking soles. I recommend giving yourself a foot soak once a week. After soaking your feet for 5 to 10 minutes in hot water (foot soak or salt optional), pat them dry and scrub them with a generous dollop of foot scrub. Right now I’m using Toe the Line, from the Bath & Body Works True Blue Spa line. Massage the scrub into your feet, paying extra attention to especially dry areas. I find using my fingernails to scrape off dead skin is the most effective way to get my feet soft and smooth – it’s kinda gross, but it really, really works.

3. Lotion up. Feet need extra moisture to keep them smooth. I follow every foot scrub with a healthy dose of foot cream. Bliss Foot Patrol contains aloe and peppermint and leaves freshly scrubbed feet feeling tingly and rejuvenated. To keep my feet soft between scrubs, I slather on a thick foot cream each night before bed. I’m currently obsessed with Ahava Dermud Enriched Intensive Foot Cream. It has a sweet scent and my feet still feel moisturized when I wake up. An alternative: try moisturizing gel socks. My grandmother, who appreciates a pretty foot as much as I do, gave me a pair for my birthday. The insides of these little gems are coated with a softening gel, and while it feels weird to slide your feet into a little gel sleeve, just 20 minutes gets your feet surprisingly smooth.

4. Pick a pretty paint. In the heat of summer I tend to spice up my pedicure with hot pink polish, but when I’m just trying to get pretty feet, I like soft nude shades. They look clean, lovely, and sophisticated. I’m still hooked on Essie nail color in Innocent, a soft nude pink, but I occasionally switch it out for Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Peachy Keen, a one-step light peach (it looks great on hands, too).

Who’s that Lady?

Sometime’s a girl just needs a change. With my birthday fast approaching and a new job just around the corner, it feels like a good time to get a new look. I’m starting to feel like a grown up, and as such, I want to look like a lady.

In addition to shopping for new work clothes, and developing a real appreciation for nice jewelry, I’ve recently discovered some new makeup that makes me feel fresh, pretty and, most of all, classy.

Before meeting with some VPs about the job I’m going to be doing, I decided I’d better do my nails so I could feel put together and confident about my handshake. I swiped on Essie nail color in Innocent, and lovely nude pink that looks clean, subtle, and unbelievably ladylike. It’s absolutely my new favorite nail color.

Every pretty lady needs to powder her nose, and my latest powder obsession is Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Powder Makeup. This luxurious powder comes in a pretty blue and gold compact, glides on easily, and really does stay in place, all through the work day. It blends effortlessly, keeps my cheeks from getting too rosy, and even keeps my chin from getting shiny, even after a busy day of running around.

Face freshly powdered, nails cleanly shining, and a new wardrobe ready to be worn… I’ll soon be a year older, but thanks to a few secret beauty weapons and a fabulous new job, I feel like a new woman. Or, perhaps more appropriately, a new lady.

Nailed it.

Loyal readers!! I must first apologize for falling off the blog bandwagon this past month and letting you all go so long without a new post to read. My behavior has been unacceptable. There’s just no excuse.

My latest beauty obsession has been on manicures, as I periodically decide that I can, in fact, pull off painted nails. Really, it all boils down to whether or not I can be ladylike enough to not chip off my manicure within the same hour I complete it.

A couple of weeks ago one of my coworkers came in sporting an amazing orange shade on her nails. Inspired, I decided to try a color I have long admired – Essie’s Hard to Get. It’s a pastel pink that, turns out, looks a little princessy on me. I took my time, did a good job, painted on two even coats. The manicure, miraculously, lasted for 5 days before I saw a chip. At which point I naturally started furiously picking the polish away from each nail.

A couple of days later, I decided to paint a gorgeous red on my nails (OPI’s An Affair in Red Square) to wear to an evening wedding. I got many compliments on my pretty nails that night, but by the next day the chips were already apparent. Why the difference?

In my opinion, OPI and Essie are comparable in quality, though if pressed to pick one I’d vote for OPI as the slightly superior polish. I believe the secret to the longer lasting manicure lies in both technique and a great top coat. With my OPI painjob, I only applied one layer and no top coat. With my Essie manicure, I was very careful, took plenty of time between layers, and finished with a coat of Essie 3-Way Glaze. I usually use the clear polish by itself to give my nails some shine and strength, but used as a top coat, it really added life to my manicure.

I’m currently back to naked nails. I found the burden of having to maintain a manicure too stressful. But if you want to try to rock an awesome manicure this summer, do yourself a favor and buy some 3-Way Glaze. And be prepared to put in some effort.

Resolutions

It’s that time of year, when countless magazines, websites and television shows remind us that we are not perfect and encourage us to resolve to do better. Like the rest of America, I’m planning on finally getting that gym membership and eating more fruits and veggies. But the resolutions I’m most excited about are those that involve looking fantastically beautiful and perfectly put together.

Time for beauty resolutions.

I thought of many, but I think my main focus will be on two areas: great skin and pretty hands.

I’ve been blessed with some pretty good skin. Occasional volcanic pimple aside, I don’t really break out and I have small pores. I do get rather dry in the winter but that has always been curable with moisturizer. So I can get by on little effort and still have okay looking skin, but I can also try a little more and have fantastic skin. So my number one beauty resolution this year is to cleanse and moisturize every day.

It seems simple, but just making sure you wash your makeup off at night can make a huge difference in tone and brightness of your skin. Not to mention it’s a lot easier to avoid bumps and blemishes if your pores aren’t clogged with yesterday’s foundation.

In honor of this resolution, I surfed my way over to the Clarins website (www.clarins.com) and completed the beauty prescription survey. It only took a few moments, and matched me with a slew of covetable products. I ordered the Water Purify One-Step Cleanser as my new year’s treat. I can’t wait to see how it works.

My second resolution is to achieve beautiful hands. This will be a harder task, because I’m a nail biter, have really dry hands, and currently have about 47 hangnails.

To stop biting my nails I have enlisted my boyfriend’s help. (He scolds me loudly when he catches me doing it; I now know how our dog feels when he sternly tells her to stop her incessant barking.) Where scolding falls short, I’m hoping a good manicure will pick up the slack, so I also plan to keep my nails trimmed and painted with a clear nail strengthening top coat. My current favorite comes from Essie.

I’m still on the lookout for the perfect hand lotion, so please feel free to let me know if any of you have found the miracle cure for dry hands.

I figure concentration on a nice complexion and repairing my damaged hands will be enough to keep me busy for a while. Now if I could only find time for the gym…