Category Archives: Spas and Salons

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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Beauty - "The Lovely" - Spas and Salons

The time a facial made me see the light

May 8, 2013

By Nicci Jordan Hubert

A pic of me with my husband after one of the greatest facials of my life -- yes I used a filter for IG, but my skin really glowed just the same!

When I first moved to New York, I was hired at a big publishing company, an experience which I’d fantasized about most of my life but which quickly turned sour, thanks to a Devil-Wears-Prada-esque boss who told me she wanted to “crush my face.” Disillusioned, I swore off publishing and went to work as a receptionist at a medical day spa on the upper east side, owned by a renowned plastic surgeon. This was before the financial crisis caused the spa to close. It was a time when medical facials were considered a necessity, not a luxury, and where UES ladies in fur coats were as ubiquitous as NYC parking tickets. I became familiar not only with the ins and outs of good, scientific esthetics, but also the contours and the width of the American Express Black Card (its titanium is nearly as thick as the hard cover of a book). The estheticians at the spa were medically trained, and worked with products that combined essential oils with top-level chemistry. My face looked and felt like a 16-year-old’s when I worked there, thanks to the legendary employee perks of the financially confident, indulgent aughts.

About nine months later, I came to my senses, and returned to work in publishing, but I was left with an indelible sense for what constituted a good facial. And let me tell you something: for as much as NY has a reputation for having top-of-the-line everything, it seems almost impossible to get a good facial here. Almost every spa I’ve patronized since working on the UES has provided only the most basic–and the least scientific–of services. A scrub (or at best, an enzymatic) exfoliation. Painful extractions. Inappropriate use of oils. I even recently had a facial at one of New York’s most upscale spas–as a media guest at that–and the esthetician botched it to such a degree that I broke out in practically every corner of my face. Oh, and her fingers smelled like cigarettes and her breath like tobacco-infused paprika. I learned a lesson about smoke and mirrors that day, my friends.

So last week, when I discovered that an esthetician I’d long-ago worked with at the Upper East Side spa had moved on to Paul Labrecque, I immediately booked an appointment with her, not caring what the cost. My face hadn’t been touched by experienced fingers for years, and I’d gone from looking 16 to looking my age, and that just wouldn’t do. Thank God—no, seriously—for Tatiana.

Paul Labrecque salon and spa

Here’s what you need to know about Tatiana (and, I’d like to presume, the other estheticians at Paul Labrecque): she KNOWS skin. She answered my questions with expertise and grace (is my skin still oily like it was when I’d first seen her? Am I getting OLLLLLLD?). The exfoliation she gave me was chemical in nature (a scrub is for home, people; a chemical exfoliation is for the treatment room). I barely felt her extractions (except for on the nose, which can’t be avoided). And as the hydrating mask was setting, her face massage was so transcendent that–I’m not kidding you–my brain opened a little to the heavens, and–I swear I’m not making this up–a bright light in the shape of the door formed in my head. THAT’S how talented this woman is. My mind’s eye practically saw the gates of heaven in Tatiana’s treatment room.

The products she used–props to Paul Labrecque–were excellent, too, and I could tell because my skin looked and felt red-carpet ready after the facial. I had dinner plans that night and had opted out of foundation to show off my skin. I was repeatedly told that I was glowing.

Facial room at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa

After the facial, I was in such bliss I decided to keep the feeling going and get a manicure, which was a happy alternative to the basic neighborhood spots I usually frequent. Although the facial was pricey (a basic treatment is $130), I can’t recommend it enough for at least once every 6 months if you can swing it, once a quarter would be even better. Request Tatiana*. You’re welcome.

*Paul Labrecque has 4 salon/spas in Manhattan. Tatiana is at the E 65th location.

Salon Info:
Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa

171 E 65th St (near 3rd Ave.)
New York, NY 10065
(212) 988-7816

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