BEAUTY BOSS: Beautiful Nails

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A year in the making, the Nail Bar at the Spa at the Beverly Wilshire hotel debuted last week, just in time to paint the fingers and toes of Emmy attendees visiting from out of town. But locals are flocking there too for a bit of luxury (and a break from street-corner salons that seat you cheek-by-jowl with other customers–and their cell phones). This plush retreat, done up by Barry Designs in rich textures and creamy colors, is on the hotel’s second floor, a.k.a. glamour headquarters owing to the pool, fitness center, hair salon, and spa (where Jennifer Aniston, Molly Sims, and Avril Lavigne were getting scrubbed, buffed, and beautified for the Emmys). With 2 manicure stations and 3 pedicure club chairs (inset with trays on which to set your complimentary glass of champagne), the Nail Bar’s shelves are lined with top-drawer polishes from Chanel, Butter London, and Shellac (this last is the name of both the lacquer and the chip-free, extended-wear system that employs a UV lamp to “cure” nails so they dry instantly).

Since experiencing a Shellac pedicure at the Nail Bar, I’ve become such a believer in this “power polish,” which stays shiny and lasts 14 days without nicks, that I’m ready to switch out my silk-wraps for more natural-looking Shellacs. I’ll miss my neighborhood manicurist after all these years, but I won’t miss the noise, the dust, and the occasional pain of the dentist-like filing drill used to roughen the nail surface so the silk can adhere. Plus the Shellac polish is free of the chemicals formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. To find a Shellac manicurist near you, go to http://www.cnd.com/Locate/Find-A-Salon.aspx

One of them is nail technician Giannina Pinnell, a 7-year-veteran of the Beverly Wilshire and a font of tips for keeping nails healthy in the cool, dry air of autumn.

  • Every night before you go to bed, apply a good oil to your cuticles. Hand cream isn’t rich enough, you need oil—either almond-scented Solar Oil Nail and Cuticle Conditioner or olive oil from your kitchen—to permeate the area between the cuticle and the nail bed. Keeping that matrix moist means the birth of stronger nails. And the surrounding skin will be less prone to hangnails.”
  • “After receiving a manicure, try not to wash your hands with soap and water for at least an hour, because the detergent in soap forms minuscule cracks in the polish that result in chips the next day.” (Advice that applies to regular manicures, not Shellac, which is nigh indestructible the moment you leave the salon.)
  • Trendy nail colors for fall range from black to dark raisin to orange to pale pink, and Pinnell has noticed that they are good indicators of the weather, at least in L.A. “If it’s overcast and 60 degrees, my clients choose black or raisin. But if it’s sunny and 90 degrees, they choose orange or pink. They know that black would look too heavy, too harsh, in the bright sunlight.”

For those Angelenos like me ready to go cold turkey from fake extensions to natural nails, a growing-out process than can take 6-8 months, there’s no finer cocoon than the Nail Bar. Metamorphosed from a former guest room, it has an outdoor patio with a glass-enclosed fire pit, where you can order bite-size snacks (finger sandwiches, mini-sliders, mini-cupcakes), read magazines and newspapers on the house iPad, and, if you’ve had a pedicure, tuck your feet into lush flip flops and tote your shoes home in two-pocket shoe bags—all gratis. Short of being airlifted to the valet, you won’t have a finer exit. Spa Reservations: 310-385-7023. Address: The Spa at the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

About Laurie Drake

A third-generation Californian, Laurie fled to New York City after college to pursue a career in publishing, where she worked at Vogue as an editor and writer for 13 years before deciding it was time to come home. (After screaming at a dry cleaner on Second Avenue who had lost her favorite dress, she realized that the mean streets were making her…mean.) So she grabbed her then-husband and has been freelancing since 1991 from a condo in Santa Monica. Beauty is her usual beat, but she also likes to travel. Over the years she has written about beauty, health, and fitness for The New York Times, Allure (where she was a contributing editor), Glamour, Self, and the Los Angeles Times. (If you still have the July 2011 issue of Vogue, catch her story on the latest wrinkle fillers, “Custom Made.”)

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