essie lacquered up

essie lacquered up

this past week in nyc, i was craving a super shiny tomato red manicure  inspired by butter london’s opaque and fiery ladybird, created exclusively for fashion week. knowing that i’d be visiting my favorite manicure spot in the city and that they exclusively stock essie, i reached out to the brand on twitter for a recommendation. the speedy response came back with really red or lacquered up – i was on the case. when i checked them out in person, really red was a rich and gorgeous cherry (a little bluer than i wanted), but lacquered up had exactly the heat that i was looking for.

five days later, my manicure is still glossy and chip free, just two of the reasons why i love essie so much. the stuff wears like iron (hello – who needs gel?), but it goes on smooth and comes off without a ton of effort. while some of this is probably attributed to the professional process at the salon, i find that essie’s manicures wear the longest when i diy them as well. they’re just the best, and you cannot beat the color options.

if your collection is calling for a go-to crimson, i’m giving this one top marks – but just for kicks (and because, who says you only need one red polish?), what’s your favorite classic red?

essie lacquered up, $8.50 >

bubblegum tips

2014-02-01 16.06.03

katy perry wore the sweetest candy pink manicure to the grammys and i haven’t been able to get it out of my head. rumor has it that her nail artist layered covergirl outlast natural blush over forever fawn to do the job. i fell in love with its understated elegance that went perfectly with her frothy valentino music gown.

i recreated the look (correction: the fine people at mani nails on w 37th in nyc recreated the look) with a bit more punch using essie chastity. i struggled to find the right pink, but once i landed on chastity’s pure cotton candy goodness, i knew it was the right call.

my pink katy perry-inspired nails are making me so happy this morning, even as it dumps snow on all of new york, and even after i had to break my cardinal rule of not entering macy’s herald square under any circumstances last night (to buy snow boots – ugh).

wishing you a fab monday, beauties! also – just for fun – what’s on your nails?

tips to nail your holiday manicure

how to nail your holiday manicure

the holidays call for manicures galore and since i like to change things up fairly often, i’ve taken to doing my nails myself more often than sitting down at the salon. here are a few things making my diy manicure routine a little easier this season:

squeaky clean nail beds: in order to make my at-home-polish last through the shuffle, i have learned to start with extra clean nail beds. instead of using a cotton swab soaked in alcohol, i take one of my simple eye make-up remover pads and run it over all ten tips. each wipe is oil free with skin conditioners, so polish sticks but my nails don’t get dry and brittle.

metallic polish: we all know the pain of trying to remove sparkle-licious lacquers. (seriously, who has time for that nonsense?) select a metallic polish that will give you all the glamour of the season without committing you to a lifetime of glitter. from left to right: clinique indie rock ($12.50, ester lauder brushed gold ($20), butter london petrol ($15), rgb copper ($18).

maximize your mileage: i found this tip in january’s instyle and think it’s kind of genius. when, inevitably, your nails start to fade, dip the tip of a bobby pin into gold polish and neatly dot it on. if you love the look of bordeaux, navy, hunter, or black nails but can’t stand when they go drab, this is the perfect trick to keep them looking sharp.

keep it pretty: you can also file this one under “pretty gifty.” anthropologie’s adorable nidus nail care case ($38) holds four polishes perfectly in place. with coated canvas and spill-safe lining, you can tote your favorite lacquers in style. plus, can you imagine gifting this cutie to your best one (packed with a polish or two, naturally)? such a cute concept!

essie jazzy jubilant

essie jazzy jubilant

if the thought of nail art exhausts you, but you’re dying to dress your tips up for the holidays, look no further than essie’s gorgeous luxeffects encrusted topcoat in jazzy jubilant. absolutely packed full of rainbow glitter, this polish all but does the work for you. i’m obsessed with this image that i found on pinterest (the link is broken so i sadly do not know the original source) which features an opaque nude base topped off with something daringly similar to essie’s festive confetti lacquer.

thankfully, a look like this could not be easier to achieve. once your nude nails are dry, take your glitter polish of choice and dab/press the teensy sequins into the tops of your nails. the approach doesn’t have to be precise (the true beauty of this process), nor does the finished product. a couple of good coats of sparkle topped off with a serious top coat (or even a gel coat if you prefer) should hold things in place.

voila! you’ve got quite the nail party going on.

clinique happy heart charity nail enamel

clinique happy nail enamel

in the spirit of giving, i am smitten with clinique’s special edition nail enamel in happy ♥. the beauty of this hot pink red lacquer is that it delivers $3 to the happy hearts fund (on top of the $250,000 clinique has already donated) with every purchase. you can make someone happy by bringing this pretty shade into your nail wardrobe (or by stuffing the stocking of someone you love) through december 31, 2014.

clinique a dfiferent nail enamel in happy ♥ ($12.50) >

zoya pixiedust in dahlia giveaway

zoya pixiedust in dahlia

what’s that you say? you want gorgeously sugar coated nails in a black and silver glitter combo that just won’t quit? well, right this way – and best of luck!

enter to win zoya pixiedust in dahlia!

polish favorites for fall

fall polish favorites


my nails have easily become my favorite accessory and it’s definitely the place where i love to play with color the most. i find that a fresh manicure (even if i diy) can change my whole mood and since i tend to talk with my hands a lot my paint jobs are always one of the first things people notice and comment on. i’m loving many a gorgeous polish tone for fall, here are just a handful of my current go-to’s:

mischo beauty empire state of mind, $18
this stunning line was started by a sweet dc local. her formulas are
gorgeous and the shades are selling out fast, so don’t delay!

essie parka perfect, $8.50
i’m drawn to pale blue grays and i love the slight shimmer in essie’s version,
which goes on like silk and wears like iron (as essie herself once told me).

marc jacobs petra, $18
a multi-toned metallic bronze is festive enough for a holiday party but neutral
enough for daytime. marc’s formula brings high pigment with lots of shine.

tom ford african violet, $32
i know, this one is a splurge, but can you really put a price on gorgeous
plum perfection that will keep your nails chic for seasons to come?

zoya dahlia, $9
if you haven’t tried zoya’s pixiedust you are missing out. the formula is virtually
chip-free and easily removes without the usual struggle. loving this black beauty!

butter london leccy
what’s prettier than an opal flecked overcoat? possibly nothing. if you buy
one polish for the season, make it this one because it transforms all others.

fall beauty updates

fall favorites

well beauties, it’s definitely fall. i know this because all of a sudden i am confused about what to wear and i find myself breaking out the hand cream. our virginia summers are so humid that fall can feel especially dry and harsh – i notice it everywhere from my lips to my hair, and even in the dryness of my fingernails. this fall i’m looking forward to a few beauty upgrades that will not only keep things hydrated, but also on the forefront of seasonal trends.

stila convertible color in sweet pea, $25 – this all in one from stila adds a sheer tint and a natural glow to cheeks. the fuchsia pink shade called sweet pea is my current favorite. i apply it with a stippling brush to give the illusion of color to my fair skin tone and the creamy formula keeps me looking perfectly radiant, never greasy or dry.

dior addict extreme lipstick in lucky, $31 – more than just a pretty lipstick, this formula from dior has hyaluronic microspheres for the ultimate in moisture and shine. i’m partial to lucky,  a vibrant red-pink that’s not too scary, which serves as the beauty equivalent of liquid courage for me. i can swipe it on without a mirror, knowing that it always looks good.

the blind date bobby pin package from mane message, $8 – these beautiful bobbies add a level of sophistication to my slightly unruly-at-the-moment bob. i can use them to hold strays in place at the base of my ponytail or stack them for a dramatic side part. best of all, the combination of gold, mint, and coal goes with everything i own!

maybelline color show nail color in tenacious teal, $2.97 – a $3 nailpolish, what could you possibly have to lose? these lacquers from maybelline are bold and shiny, with a chip-resistent finish that comes in colors that just don’t quit. i’m loving tenacious teal for its stunning opaque finish and perfectly trend-right tones.

ilia mascara in nightfall, $26 – the formula is lighter than air, the color is blacker than black, and the brush is quite possibly the coolest. the clump-free formula delivers beautifully tapered lashes and the double-sided brush allows me to go for coverage on the first coat with the short side and crazy length on coat two with the longer bristles. LOVE.

tory burch eau de parfum, $82 – a new season obviously calls for a new scent and i’ve fallen prey to tory burch’s very first fragrance. it’s equal parts girly and elusively masculine, with top notes of peony (my favorite!) and tuberose fading in to citrusy grapefruit. besides my love of the scent, could the bottle look any more gorgeous on my dresser?

simple replenishing rich moisturizer, $12.99 – nothing is more necessary to update in the cooler months than my moisturizer. this version from simple is rich enough to hydrate my drying skin, but does not clog my pores or feel greasy. it has a gel-like texture that soaks right in and serves as the perfect canvas for my favorite cc cream.

julep mighty nail and cuticle serum

julep mighty nail & cuticle serum

my nails have kinda been through the ringer lately. with the nail art campaign and then prepping for the man repeller book signing, i don’t think that they’ve been without polish for a solid month. i notice a distinct difference in color and texture when i don’t let things breathe, so i went in search of a little sweet salvation for my precious nail beds.

i discovered julep’s mighty nail and cuticle serum on a cruise through sephora and was intrigued. i bravely used the click pen and brush tip to apply the good stuff to my left hand and went about my shopping. (i say bravely because most cuticle products are on the greasy side and don’t soak in very well – not the case with julep mighty!) my nails and cuticles drank up the light liquid and it all but disappeared in seconds, leaving me with instantly healthier looking nails. the shine factor showed a major difference between my left and my right hand and even now i can tell that the cuticles on my left hand are much cleaner and far better behaved than those on my right.

this product is convenient and easy to use which means that i’ve been swiping it on regularly to enjoy healthier, less dry, and less brittle nails. i’m giving this one top marks and can confidently recommend that anyone whose nails need a little love will enjoy fab results from julep’s mighty serum.

julep mighty nail and cuticle serum ($22) >

stars + stripes nail art with Suave® Skin Solutions Body Lotions + Q-tips® Precision Tips™ cotton swabs

nail art tools, stars + stripes

i had way too much fun coming up with a creative vision for my final nail art look. i have been wanting to play with star glitter and i figured now was as good of a time as any. i opted to work the stars into a racing stripe look which required lots of extra help from Q-tips® Precision Tips™ cotton swabs. since my nails are mostly bare yet again, clean, moisturized cuticles were essential and Suave® Skin Solutions Soothing Body Lotion saved the day.

here’s how i got a racing stripe nail art look in this season’s hottest shade – hunter green – accented with star glitter for a little extra funk:

suave body lotion

i massaged Suave® Skin Solutions Soothing Body Lotion into my cuticles and let it sit while i gathered my supplies. then, i used a Q-tips® Precision Tips™ cotton swab soaked in remover to make sure that the bases of my nails were clean and ready for polish.

nail art with tape and hunter green polish

i used my favorite tape trick again to ensure that my racing stripes were as straight as possible. i painted on two coats of a shimmering dark green and carefully removed the tape.

stripes nail art with q-tips

once my nails were dry, i removed the tape and cleaned up the edges of each stripe with a Q-tips® Precision Tips™ cotton swab for precise polish.

glitter stars nail art

after coating each nail with a top coat, i quickly stuck a gold star in the center of each nail, pressing firmly. the key is choosing stars that are small enough to lay flat over the curved shape of the nail.

stars and stripes nail art

i loved this stars and stripes look! after coating on two strong layers of top coat over top of each star, i was shocked at how long it wore and how many compliments i got while wearing.

this post was created in connection with my appointment as an Influencer for Suave® and Q-Tips®.  visit for the chance to win Suave® Skin Solutions Body Lotions and Q-tips® Precision Tips™ cotton swabs or $500 for the ultimate day of beauty and style.

all photos by kate headley.