The first things we see

9 Aug

I am of the school that one doesn’t have to spend a ton of money on one’s clothes or accessories but simply the best your budget can afford. When done smartly, inexpensive clothing can be made to look premium with the right styling, add-ons, proper care, and of course, carriage and demeanor.

Skin, hair and nails are no exception – they are the “first things we see” and as such, deserve as much attention. Here’s a little help!


Our faces greet new people, colleagues, and friends and show our emotions and thoughts.  Our hair is an extension of our faces; it counts as an accessory.  And, our hands animate our stories, touch people in greeting, demonstrate our excitement, and are integral in our interaction with people daily (ex. when you’re pointing to something on a page to show a colleague or friend, you don’t want your jagged nails being the only thing they see!).

I use a mix of drug store and department store cosmetics and skin care. There are some real quality brands of cosmetics sold at  drug stores and online drug store retailers. Some of my standbys are eyeliner from L’Oreal Paris, Le Kohl Eyeliner in Cafe, Revlon ColorStay Bronzer,  and Olay Regenerist Cleanser (a good cleanser is key to proper skincare).

Alternatively, a tour of the mid-to-hi-end cosmetic counters can yield transforming products like MAC Studio Fix combination powder and foundation and Smashbox Matte eye shadow in Java.  Studio Fix is good enough to use for newscasters on camera and Smashbox’s eye shadows are highly pigmented, don’t crease (nearly as much as other brands I’ve tried) and have a velvety texture.

Not all of us need or want to wear a full face of make-up and that’s absolutely okay. But at the least, as we mature, a basic sheer foundation or power and some blush and lip gloss can provide a polished and bright face ready to face, greet, and charm anyone!

TIP: Take the time to get your colors done in a department store and then match the recommendations to a grocery store brand.


Even a low-maintenance girl can have great hair.  It doesn’t require a ton of product or hair appliances. It all starts with the haircut. If you invest in a good haircut, your hair practically styles itself.  Keep it at a manageable length for your lifestyle. That could may mean long to tie into a sleek ponytail, a short pixie that only requires a little mousse or gel, or a chin-length bob with bangs that looks snappy and cute with one swoop of the flat iron.

Whether you spend hours or minutes on your “do”, take the time to find the right product for your coiffure. Again, drug stores offer effective and sweet-smelling options for hair just like costmetics. Some of my go-tos are Citre Shine Anti-Frizz Serum (I have super curly hair) and Herbal Essences Shampoo and Conditioner (mainly for the smell and texture).  TRESemme offers a full-line of undeniably high-quality products that I’ve been using for years. Their mousse is spectacular both in fragrance and functionality.

Higher end products from Bumble & Bumble, Aveda, and Frederic Fekkai are legendary brands knownd for their high-quality and delicious-feeling output on your hair, whether straight, curly or in between.

Tip: Try a few different products from the drug store on the weekend where you can afford to have a “bad hair day”.


Don’t underestimate the power of an $8 manicure. There is nothing I can attest to more than a quick cuticle push (or cut) and a sheer polish.  It’s a weekly/bi-weekly investment with a pay-off that is infinite. Think of it: What’s more unattractive than someone shaking your hand with chewed-down-to-the-nub fingers or chipped, dark-red polish? I can even site a certain chef on Food Network whose name rhymes with “Play” that constantly has his hands on camera and they are consistently gnawed-on. Far from appetizing. Eww.

I would suggest at the least a quick mani at your local salon that includes  a cuticle push and a sheer white or pink-toned polish.  If you go further (like I do), getting a UV gel nail treatment is a good option. It is more expensive, but doesn’t require polish, doesn’t harm your real nails, looks remarkably natural, and lasts longer than a typical manicure.

Keep in mind that the recent trends are “allowing” far more than just the sheer or clear polish options. Currently I’m sporting Essie’s latest neon-takes-me-back-to-1986-colors – Punchy Pink on my toes and Perky Purple on my hands.  No matter the color, as long as your fingers are clean, cut short-to-moderate length and filed properly, your hands will be pretty, presentable and perfect.

Tip: Fingers and Toes don’t have to match – in fact, they shouldn’t! If you’re neon-timid with your fingers, take your toes on a test drive with a fun pink, purple or (gasp!) blue.


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