Category Archives: Spas and Salons

Beauty - "The Lovely" - Spas and Salons

My facial NUR Skincare Clinic in Chicago

December 29, 2018

I’m getting more in tune with what works with my skin and what doesn’t, adopting a very Glossier “Skin First, Makeup Second” attitude as I get older. So I was naturally intrigued by NŪR Skincare‘s philosophy, a very holistic approach which combines the latest technology and natural methods to increase cellular turnover. Translation: they developed a system so your skin gets better and better and STAYS that way.

In the treatment room [@nurskincare]

In the treatment room [@nurskincare]

I came in for their 12-Step Hi-Tech facial with founder Anisa Noor (who greeted me sans makeup and gorgeous skin herself). The minute you step into the clinic, you enter a beautiful oasis designed with elements of Sufi art and calming floral and wood accents (a design dreamed up by her talented architect husband, Suhail). I learned that this is their second location. The first place they set up shop was LA, where regular clients of her’s include Michelle Phan.

Entrance to the skin clinic

Entrance to the skin clinic

The first step was filling out a questionnaire, and then removing any makeup for the Visia Skin Analysis, which is normally a $150 service but is added free to any skincare package they do. It essentially helps you determine the state of your skin on the surface and beyond in terms hyperpigmentation, inflammation, wrinkles, etc., and ends with giving you your  real “skin age.”



The good news: it analyzed my skin to be a skin age that was a good 5 years younger than I actually was. But for those of you who think my skin is perfect, thank you, but not the case (unfortunately!). Here are my results (not my cutest moment):

What does it mean? This shows my skin condition in comparison to others in a similar age bracket. So for example, 82% “wrinkles” mean only 18% of others in a similar age bracket are doing better than me in that category (so that’s not a bad number!), but my spots, pores, and UV damage situation was no bueno. This helped Anisa determine what my problem areas were and over time, we can see if my skin condition improves.

Doors leading to the treatment room

Doors leading to the treatment room

The actual facial was customized to these results, which included a light exfoliating peel, extractions (my least favorite part always, enzymatic infusion, serum infusion, a vitamin infusion, oxygen treatment, and ended with LED light therapy which I may or may not have fell asleep during. My skin was positively glowing after, and I was given aftercare instructions which included avoiding makeup for the next couple of days (and a week if I could swing it).

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My skin didn’t start peeling until day 2 after the facial. It was light peeling that made my skin look dry but nothing crazy noticeable to others. It progressed into day 3 and 4. I managed not to wear even a lick of makeup for 3 days until I had a video shoot on day 4, which my skin was glowing for. It looked like I was wearing highlighter all over, and since the facial I stopped wearing makeup daily altogether, saving it for events.

The expertise and individual care at Nur Skincare was extraordinary. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone local looking for a good skin investment and professional advice. In fact, I loved it so much, I want one of you to experience yourself!


The good folks at Nur Skincare partnered up with me to give away the same 12-Step Hi-Tech Facial (valued at $225) for one of my followers! This contest will run on Instagram, and all you have to do is be following me (@beautyndfeast) and @nurskincare and comment on my latest post tagging a friend.

This is for both LA AND Chicago locations, so please comment if you or someone you want to experience this live in either of these areas. Contest runs for a week until January 6th, and I’ll announce the winner on the 7th :). Good luck!


Beauty - "The Lovely" - Nails - Spas and Salons

CND Shellac with Beauty Booked!

June 4, 2015

A friend in HR recently told me that she pays attention to how her employees present themselves at work. “I even notice if they have chipped nail polish — that never looks professional.” I was surprised that something so small doesn’t even get past her, but the message was clear: the details count.

CND Shellac in Romantique from Townhouse Spa

Regular manicures are pampering, but sometimes I get too antsy to sit around and wait the drying time – especially when they don’t always last a week. And if you’ve ever gotten acrylics, you know why they’re the worst. My nails got so brittle and weak the first time, I never went back. We’ve gotten so much further with nail tech, and I’ve certainly tried a good amount. The at-home nail gels (where you use a small UV lamp at home) are prone to shrinking and unless you’re comfortable doing nails yourself, it’s not the simplest system to use. Plus, I’ve found the result doesn’t last as long as salon versions. If I need something that’s heavy duty, but won’t damage my nails, it’s CND® SHELLAC® brand 14+ day nail color all the way. It has given me magazine-ad quality shiny nails for weeks.

The pros : You don’t have to fuss with your nails for about two weeks, it sets to a beautiful shiny finish, it’s easy to remove and won’t damage your nails. But best of all, you’re in-and-out of the salon in 30-40 minutes without worrying about ruining your nails when you rummage through your purse after (or in my case, lugging my suitcase and bags around right after visiting Townhouse Spa in midtown). It’s a quick process too – just a Base Coat, Color Coat, and Top Coat (which all cure under a CND® LED Lamp at the salon in between coats). The formula is also 3-free — no formaldehyde, DBP, or toluene to speak of. As a tip, when you’re at the salon, make sure your technician uses CND® SHELLAC® products throughout every single step of your manicure. Some salons will mix CND® SHELLAC® with other brands and the result won’t be nearly as good.

I had Gabby fix up my nails at Townhouse Spa – she’s so meticulous and adroit at applying polish (I went for CND®’s color in Romantique, a semi-sheer marshmallow-ey color that I thought would look good for the summer and professional at work). With over 90 colors, CND® SHELLAC® brand 14+ day nail color pretty much has the rainbow covered so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on the selection of regular manicures.

Ready to book? Check out the salons that offer CND® SHELLAC® brand 14+ day nail color manicures in an easy, curated selection over at Just look for the CND® SHELLAC® brand 14+ day nail color Verified Salon flag on the BeautyBooked website or app, select your appointment time and schedule online, 24/7.

Check out my manicure from CND® SHELLAC® brand 14+ day nail color verified salon, Townhouse Spa:

Summer ready-nails

Have any of you gotten Shellac before? What did you think? What colors do you go for?

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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Hair - Spas and Salons

Recommended: A haircut at Hairroin Salon in Herald Square

November 6, 2014

So to briefly explain my relative absence, there’s been a lot of change lately in my life (side note: I was going title this post with Drake’s ‘Nothing Was The Same’ but that sounded too dramatic…and was also not SEO friendly).

Chop chop (image from Instagram)

I’ve switched apartments and moved to a completely new neighborhood; I have a new roommate who’s been great and way patient about my piles and piles of boxes that I have yet to sort; my offices are moving from Times Square to the Freedom Tower; friends have moved in and out of the city — everything has just been shifting. I started to really feel the impermanence of everything around me. And it felt real. I felt inclined to make another tangible change to represent that, and ultimately decided to take it out on my hair (it’s cheaper than a tattoo…kidding). Aside from trims, I’ve more or less kept my hair long but I was itching to cut inches off.

A few months ago, I was invited to check out Hairroin, a new salon in Herald Square connected to Urban Outfitters. They have LA roots where their other location still stands, but they recently opened their doors in NYC.

Hairroin Salon in NYC. PS if you're new to the blog, you should know it ALWAYS rains when I get my haircut. I don't know why.

I got a trim then from Luis Payne, who was AMAZING. He understood I wanted to keep it long then and expertly cut in some more long layers to spruce it up. Since then, I’ve told countless friends about the salon, and every single one had a glowing review of their stylist. Every stylist here are experts at what they do. They don’t specialize, they do their homework and do it all. So this time, when I went back to get my hair done by Courtney, who was cutting my hair for the first time, I wasn’t nervous at all.

I told her what I wanted, brought in some pictures of (don’t judge me) Kim K’s shorter ‘do, and she understood exactly what I wanted. I mean, she even knew off-hand that it was Chris McMillan’s work…points in my book. I didn’t wince at all while she cut in layers on the underside of my hair to achieve the same piecey texture I wanted (prob just another sign that I was so ready for this cut). Courtney used a cocktail of Oribe mousse and shine spray (she’s an ambassador for them) before blow drying, then sang praises for R+Co’s Outer Space Flexible Hairspray which she used on me before adding some waves with a curling iron.

Before (left) and after (right)

Courtney using a curling iron to add a few waves to my cut

After adding waves

When I look at the before and after pictures, I can’t believe how freakishly long my hair was! The result was exactly what I envisioned. The cut made it look so much healthier. It’s not a pixie, I still look like ‘me’ and even after chopping at least 5-6 inches, my hair is still technically long. But to me, it was refreshing. Can’t stop recommending this place. If you’re in the market for a cut I’m sure you’ll be happy with, come here! Haircuts start at $65 and go up depending on the stylist level.

Salon Info:

1333 Broadway,
entrance on35th between Broadway and 7th Ave.
New York, NY 10018
(646) 794-5951
Herald Square

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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Spas and Salons

NYC faves: Ryan Darius Salon + Val El Salon and Spa

May 9, 2014

So friends, today we’re talking about two gems I found in the city for haircuts and laser hair removal that you should definitely put on your radar:


Recently, I was invited to check out a boutique salon in the West Village, Ryan Darius. Being well overdue for a trim and hearing buzz about the salon from some of my colleagues, I went for it (this is the part my friends say I’m always getting my hair done…not arguing). I mentioned earlier that my hair was treated to a keratin smoothing treatment which, although a lot more shiny, made me crave volume. The good thing was I was in the very capable hands of stylist, LP.

Ryan Darius salon

I don’t veer too far from what I’m used to — long and layered. When I sat down, LP took stock of my hair and talked to me about how short I want to go (not short). I told him about my flat hair woes, and he listened and went to work.

With a small salon, it’s easy to get comfortable really quick (although the person next to you may or may not be listening on to your convo, and vice versa), but that’s also what gives this place its charm. There’s no trace of the space being a former pizza parlor, now outfitted with sleek chrome ceilings and chandeliers, and the stylists are experts at what they do. An hour later, my hair still had length but had much more structure. And LP understood exactly what long-haired girls don’t want — going snipping-happy.


He didn’t cut it any shorter than I wanted (it’s amazing how many stylists will do their own thing even if you keep telling them that you want your hair a certain way), and used a concoction of Oribe products to give my hair some body and bend. I walked out a very happy customer. Cuts: $100 and up.

At the MET post haircut with my friend Anum

Ryan Darius Salon

82 W 12th St # A
New York, NY 10011
(212) 255-3579
West Village


I found out about this place purely by word-of-mouth of a string of happy customers. My friend told me about how excellent her laser hair removal experience (that already sounds like a paradox) by Zaeba at Val El Salon and Spa, that quickly made me make an appointment myself.

I’ve been to a lot of places for laser hair removal sessions (#browngirlproblems), and Zaeba seriously is by far one of the best technicians I’ve ever had. She not only is skilled in her technique, but she is super professional and uses one of the highest quality cooling Cynosure Elite, which has a cooling function so it’s virtually painless* (*I know everyone’s threshold for pain is different, and I have a pretty high one, but this feels so quick and effortless even on very sensitive areas). Also, it’s great for light or darker skinned clients. After one session alone, I saw a world of difference.

Val El Salon and Spa

Call them for rates, but I promise you, it’ll be worth it.

Val El Salon and Spa

1291 1st Ave.
btw 69th and 70th streets
New York, NY 10021
(646) 360-3776
Upper East Side

Have any of you found salons or spas you love in the city? Tell me about them below!

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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Spas and Salons

Illume Spa in Brentwood, Los Angeles

January 31, 2014

Not going to lie, there is a momentary guilt when people ask me if I’m traveling for business or pleasure — I can hardly bring myself to admit that spa’ing in LA is where the two will overlap for me. But someone’s gotta do the job…WHICH brings me to the new Illume Spa in Brentwood (like what I just did there?).

Relaxation lounge

The boutique spa is very new, opening its doors just last November of 2013. Spa owners Lexandra and Kathryn (formerly of Bliss) have over 30 years of experience between them both and wanted the 1,000 square feet sanctuary to be a new age, modern twist to the typical spa. “We’re kind of the antispa,” Lexandra told me, choosing to outfit the spa in vibrant purples and white. Their razor focused on facials and waxing. I popped in for their Illume Signature Facial which translated roughly to 75 minutes of bliss.

Spa Illume

Kathryn totally customized the facial using their Hydrafacial machine (which deep cleanses with light exfoliation and serum infusion). She also used a rubberized peel, the most relaxing oxygen spray, and a mix of their own signature Illume products (made with natural and powerful antioxidents like green tea and aloe and smell PHENOM).

Illume Spa products

The other thing that Kathryn does best is extractions. She cleaned out every pore seamlessly. I barely flinched. The whole signature facial felt like it melted all the guck in my face away and I was left with just a clean, bright glow. If you’re looking for anti-aging or preventative facials, rest assure you’re in great hands here.



Peels and facials here start at $60 and go all the way up to $200. Depending on your time and concerns, you’ll get facial targeted to your needs. Check out their specials – new clients get 10% off any service for their first visit. Highly recommend checking it out! If only I lived in LA, I’d go again and again.

Spa info:
Illume Spa

11677 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 442-4646

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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Spas and Salons

Celeb colorist Sherry Ratay talks hair trends (spoiler: ombre is still going strong)

October 31, 2013

I had the pleasure of meeting award-winning celebrity colorist, Sherry Ratay, recently at the Julien Farel salon. When Sherry is not working at her own Orlando-based salon, Salon Ratay, she’s usually traveling to LA or NY to tend to her clients (some of whom include Lacey Chabert, Audrina Partidge, and Ashley Benson).

Colorist Sherry Ratay

I always say getting just the tips of my hair color works so well for me because it’s super low-maintenence. I always feel a little helplessly under-educated about hair color — and effect of never going near dyes growing up (house rules!). And since coloring my hair still feels fairly new to me, it was so nice to know I’m in good hands when I was treated to Sherry’s services. After talking to her about how I want “color that’s not dramatic but you can still see somewhat of a difference, natural but still light around the ends” (I’m the worst, I know), she totally understood and said well-blended caramel ombre was exactly what I wanted. “We’ll just make it chunkier than what it is now. I loved, loved it.

Et voila

She read my mind and the transition was so spot-on. Sherry was also game for some questions on color — here are some of her helpful tips before getting your hair colored:

Beauty and the Feast: What are some trends for Fall/Winter with hair color?

Sherry Ratay: Brunettes are the HOT this season! That doesn’t necessarily mean that blondes and redheads are a no go. For the fall/winter, blondes need to incorporate some deeper blonde pieces or even consider adjusting from a pastel to a cashmere Blonde.

BATF: What is the most requested service?

Ratay: Ombre has and will be for a while the most requested service in my salon. But here is what is different with it now — think softer variations of color. Not so stark in the dark-to-light!

BATF: What are some tips for some one nervous to color their hair for their first time?

Ratay: Always go on recommendation! If you see someone’s color you love, stop and ask them who does it.

BATF: How does one prepare for the appointment?

Ratay: When I have someone sit in my salon chair for the first time, there are many things I look for personality, existing hair color, skin tone, and eye color. These few things help direct me for the PERFECT selection of shades and application for this one particular client. I LOVE when a new client comes in prepared with photos of haircolor she likes and dislikes, this is a huge part of helping my client feel comfortable during the consultation process.


Thank you Sherry! Check out her salon site to book her services.

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