Hair, Makeup and Nail Trends for 2012

Now is the perfect time to start updating your makeup and hair for the new year and beyond. Early planning means taking advantage of holiday palettes that will get you more blush for your buck. From the reverse French manicure, to a more natural eyebrow, to the perfect red lip for your skin tone, here’s what to try, tweak and toss.

Hair: Minimalist and Modern

Basics such as ponytails and chignons will be jumping from the runway to the workplace, but with a futuristic twist. A simple ponytail is now a pumped-up pony with teasing at the crown. Chignons go colorful with streaks of subtle color and metal adornment in the twist. To stay more runway and less rave, add color just to the bun or the twisted area. New colored powders for hair are easy to use, and they require zero commitment since they come out with the first wash. At the YSL show, models had beautifully sculpted chignons with gold hair accessories cupped over the bulk of the hair in the twist. Try gold bobby pins to get the bold look for less.

Brows: Full but Well-groomed

Be prepared to give your tweezers a break. Brows have taken a stand against tweezer abuse and are back to being full-figured, soft and sexy. The ideal brow of today follows more of a natural growth pattern, with grooming to tame and accentuate the arch.

Reshaping your brows is a matter best left to the pros. Let your brows grow out for at least a couple of weeks so that your natural brow line is intact when you go to the professional. You can maintain them on your own by tweezing strays, but plan on visiting your pro every three months for a fine-tuning.

Holiday Makeup: Classic With a Twist

Red lips never go out of style, but the finish has changed. The newest way to wear red is to skip the satin texture and go for an unexpected matte mouth that harkens back to the days of the screen siren. Sound scary? Not if you choose the red that’s right for your skin tone.

Fair-skinned beauties should look for a true red; orange undertones tend to pick up any ruddiness or rosecea in fairer skin. Medium skin tones look best in blue-based shades that play off their skin’s warmth. Darker ladies look lovely in deep brick-reds with hints of burgundy. Skip the lip liner and go straight from the tube so the look is softer and less contrived. Skin is glowing and fresh -- but not bronzed -- and eyes are understated with just a whisper of sheer color.

Nails: A Top and Bottom Swap

Keep your beloved French manicure; just reverse it. The nail bed now has a half moon of color, and the rest of the nail has a different hue. Try mixing it up and going for unexpected color combos. Borrow a look from the Phillip Lim fall runway show: brush navy lacquer on the lower moon, and a muted khaki brown on the rest of your nail.

Your beauty wardrobe should evolve to stay current, but every glam gal should have staples that provide a reliable core look. What you need: the perfect concealer, light powder, two foundations (a deeper shade for summer’s tan, and a spot-on match for fall and winter), a day-to day lip color, a tried-and-true mascara, a neutral brighten-up eye shadow with a hint of shimmer for tired days, and a blush that imparts a soft, barely-there flush.

Recessionista Party Tips

Love entertaining, even during these tough economic times? You can throw a fabulous, fun bash on even the skimpiest budget. Think of it as a creative challenge that your guests will help you meet. Community, do-it-yourself and interactivity are in; showy, excessive and hands-off are out.

Here are some cost-saving ideas when setting out the welcome mat.

Costs Down, Spirits up
Serve a signature cocktail, punch or sangria in a classic punch bowl or pitcher, recommends Lauren Purcell, co-author of Cocktail Parties, Straight Up! “Create something really festive for guests and serve that along with wine and beer,” she says. “There’s no need for the expense of a full bar.”          

Spirits can vary from rum to vodka to sparkling wine, combined with various fruit juices and soda. Or consider making this crowd-pleasing sangria with low-priced wine and seasonal fruit instead of citrus slices. Begin with 1.5 liters of red wine and a bottle of sweeter wine like a Riesling or rose. Slice grapes and cut up honeydew, apples and pears; add the fruit along with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours. For an extra kick before serving, muddle grapes in tumblers with ice (serves six). Cheers!

Team Effort
“Guests have a better time when they’re cooking together and engaged, which also saves hosts money and labor,” says cooking teacher Phyllis Vaccarelli of Let’s Get Cookin’, a cooking school and cookware shop in Westlake Village, Calif. Create a taco bar, and have your guests gather round to make their own tacos -- use economical pork loin as the main ingredient and spread out toppings and salsas ranging in heat from mild to incendiary.          

Billy Vasquez, aka the 99 Cent Chef, finds that pita pizzas are a surefire hit. He stacks pita bread near the toaster oven, and guests top their own with tomato sauce, shredded cheese (any type is delicious), sliced pepperoni and other additions like olives or bottled marinated veggies.

Daytime Dazzle
“Consider an afternoon luncheon or brunch for an upscale feeling without an upscale budget,” suggests caterer and chef Meg Taylor of Large Marge Sustainables, a Los Angeles-based eco-conscious catering company.

In the afternoon, guests’ expectations are more modest: A buffet rather than a seated, plated dinner is appropriate. The menu can revolve around elegant salads or a vegetarian entree -- such as homemade pasta with fresh chickpeas, fava beans and shitake mushrooms -- which helps keep costs in check. For another midday suggestion, try a chilled melon soup -- using cantaloupe or watermelon, for example -- or Taylor’s version of the classic Waldorf salad (canned salmon, pecans, thin slices of fennel, peaches and grapes).

Simple but Magical Decor
Small candles -- lots of them -- are an easy and inexpensive alternative to decorating your party space with pricey flower arrangements. “Cheap tea lights can turn the dimmest room into a fairyland,” notes Purcell.           

For a centerpiece, consider potted plants or bowls of brightly colored produce like lemons. A glass pitcher of iced lemonade with basil or mint sprigs doubles as instant decoration. Flea markets and thrift shops are good sources for bargain-priced and unique tablecloths, linens, punch bowls and ice buckets.

Get Your Groove on Digitally
For most occasions, the computer is now the house band. The Internet is filled with freebies, such as the PartyKC Web site, which lets you create a mix of party songs, or Pandora and Grooveshark, which allow users to program their own playlists. Pandora even instantly recommends other tunes in the genre you’ve chosen.

Manners Matter
As the etiquette experts at the Emily Post Institute recommend, even on a budget, remember to be a gracious host. Welcome each guest, introduce them around and pay attention to them throughout the party. Good manners don’t cost a thing and are what makes a party really hum.

Decorating Tips From the Spa

Even without the massage, body wrap or facial, spending a few hours in a spa is a great way to relax. That’s because the smells, sights and textures that surround you are themselves antidotes to stress. Having your favorite massage therapist on call 24/7 would be relaxing, we’ll admit. But these decorating tricks from some top spas are the next best way to make your day-to-day life at home more serene.

1. Bring the outside in. Natural elements soothe. At the spa at Colorado’s Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa, the art includes branches sprayed with silver and gold paint and affixed to the walls with dowels and wire. For an even easier do-it-yourself project, simply place branches in a vase. Taniya Nayak, host of HGTV’s “House Hunters on Vacation,” loves to include pieces made of natural wood, like a rustic bench or a carved wooden bowl, in the homes she designs. Or, consider hanging a group of wooden picture frames in different shapes and sizes on a wall. “Don’t put anything inside the frames -- not even a piece of glass,” says Nayak. “The frames themselves are the art.”

2. Engage your sense of smell. Bring home the “aaahhhh” scent of a spa with reed diffusers. As essential oils seep up the wood stems, which are housed in a glass cylinder, the scent wafts throughout the room. You can find a wide collection at Pier 1 Imports. Search online for the Archipelago collection -- which is available in that spa staple, eucalyptus and dozens of other scents from arugula to verbena -- or for Red Flower’s organic diffusers in scents like jasmine and orange blossom.

3. Remember the five natural elements. Incorporate wood, fire, metal, earth and water. For fire, consider flameless candles and tea lights. “These protect your home from candle-related fires, but still give you the ambiance of the perfect spa escape,” says Mindy Terry, president of the consulting company Creative Spa Concepts. Terry’s favorite way to introduce metal is with Tibetan singing bowls. Made from an alloy containing copper, tin, zinc, iron and other metals, “they’re not only beautiful; they’re also an interesting conversation piece.” Plus, they appeal to your sense of sound. Simply tap the rim of the bowl with the mallet and the vibrations will produce crystal-clear tones. You can find both antique and modern versions of the bowls online.

4. Use transparent materials. Glass hurricane vases, for example, will help to create a sense of light and airiness. At the spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, orchids and lilies are submerged in tall vases -- a clean, crisp and uncluttered way to introduce water and earth elements in your home. “These simple arrangements add a sense of movement to your space and keep your environment dynamic,” says Jennifer Kleen, the spa’s designer.

5. Keep colors harmonious -- but not dull. When interior designer Warren Sheets chose the colors for the Renaissance-inspired spa at the luxurious Grand Del Mar resort in San Diego, he wanted them to be “simple and soothing.” But instead of a monotonous palette of white and beige, he mixed earthy creams with warm slate hues and ecru, and “to lend energy and life,” he used azure blue as an accent color. “Restricting color to various shades of the same family imbues a relaxed feeling, while also evoking a positive energy,” says Sheets. Nayak suggests choosing a paint color for your walls, such as teal blue -- and then adding white to make it 50 percent lighter for your ceiling. “A spa vibe doesn’t have to be Zen and quiet,” she says. “It can be hip and modern and still serene.”

Photo credit: Jerry Atnip

Chic for a Cause

At any given moment, opportunities to swipe your credit card (or fork over hard-earned cash) abound -- now more than ever. There’s the seemingly harmless street bazaar that sells factory overruns of big-name brands; a random trip to the drugstore that lets you emerge with bottles of body products; and the seemingly ubiquitous status update on Facebook that leads you to your friend’s e-store that sells bags and cosmetics.

First comes the purchase, then comes remorse over these impulse buys (or “steals”). Don’t fret -- the next time you find an opportunity to browse merchandise, scope the scene for these philanthropic finds. You’ll get your dose of style and, at the same time, contribute to a noteworthy cause.

Help Others Earn
Many products offered by The Body Shop contain marula oil, which comes from the marula tree, native to Southern Africa. Now you can help women living in Namibia by purchasing a variety of these products. The Body Shop trades with Eudafano Women’s Cooperative in northern Namibia, which helps women in rural communities who have very few opportunities to earn money.

Bespoke and Locally Made
Some items are eco-fab simply by the way they’re made. Locally sourced items help ensure that the livelihood of the people who make them are sustained. British-inspired leather satchels from Frannie and Vinnie, for one, are handmade in the Philippines by a craftsman who specializes in saddles and other leather items. Each bag takes three days to make, so you enjoy utmost quality at a fairly competitive price. Buying local, bespoke goods also means you don’t have to pay for overseas shipping, which is great news for your carbon footprint.

Flip for Footwear

Toms Shoes took the world by storm and is arguably responsible for reigniting people’s love for espadrilles and canvas slip-ons. The company’s One for One program (“One Pair Sold = Shoes for a Child!”) gives you free fashion license to splurge on the comfy footwear. The sparkly versions also happen to look great with almost anything!

For more news on soles, popular surfing brand Rip Curl has managed to breathe new life into old neoprene wet suits by mixing them with rubber and creating new footsoles from the process. In addition, products from their Rip Curl Planet label are made with at least 55 percent eco-friendly fabrics, like organic cotton, recycled fibers and other eco-friendly fabrics.

Reuse and Give Away
Speaking of recycling, sometimes you simply have to let go of some things (like that blazer you bought on impulse but rarely ever wore). In Malaysia, the nonprofit organization Pertubuhan Amal Seri Sinar Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (P.A.S.S.) will take some of your old items and reuse them. Profits go to underprivileged communities and the needy.

Check in with your local charity for similar programs. Remember, making room in your closet and giving back are truly chic causes.

Choosing a New Summer Fragrance

As you tweak your wardrobe for summer, think about updating your fragrance too. Just as linen feels cool against your skin on a steamy day, so does a spritz of a fresh light scent. “We are creatures of nature,” says Mandy Aftel, a perfumer and author of Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume. “We crave different tastes, textures and smell when it’s hot and humid than we do when it’s cool and dry.”

Summerize a Signature Scent
Summer’s heat and humidity intensifies any fragrance. If you have a signature scent that you stick with year-round, wear a little less of it, or switch from a perfume to a less concentrated eau de toilette formula. “You want something that has a radius of only 1 or 2 feet,” says Adam Eastwood, co-founder of, an online fragrance boutique, “rather than a long reach that will diffuse throughout your office.”

Robin Coe-Hutshing -- a veteran Los Angeles fragrance consultant who founded the famed cosmetics emporium Studio BeautyMix at Fred Segal in Santa Monica, Calif. -- says that layering a summer fragrance or body lotion under your heavier gardenia-tuberose or patchouli scent will also make it less overpowering on a sultry day. “It’s like changing the slipcovers with the seasons,” she says, “and a way to hang on to something that pleases you.”

Scent Selection
Choosing a new summer fragrance can be overwhelming. So many gorgeous bottles, so many alluring names! Even before your start sniffing, edit your selections by thinking about where you like to vacation during the summer and what you enjoying eating or drinking. Then, look for scents that contain those notes.

Fresh Squeezed
Citrus notes -- lemon, lime, grapefruit and mandarin -- are refreshing and stimulating … just the thing to keep your energy up on an oppressively hot day. For a touch of summer romance, look for citruses combined with florals, such as lily of the valley, ylang-ylang and hibiscus.

Pineapple, coconut, sea spray, gardenia, white musk, jasmine and ginger lilies: These aromatic elements evoke a day at the beach or a walk through a rain forest.

Like biting into ripe fruit, fragrances with notes of peach, apricot, melon, honeysuckle and pomegranate serve up the carefree feeling of summer concerts and backyard picnics.

Freshly cut grass, peppermint, green tea, a touch of herbs, verbena, morning dew. Like a perfectly chilled glass of chardonnay at sunset, these notes have a sporty, but refined, appeal.

Shopping Tips
Now that you’ve narrowed down your fragrance choices, here’s how to approach the perfume counter:

1. Arrive Naked.
Don’t wear fragrance -- including scented body cream. Any scent that’s clinging to your skin will mingle with the new ones you’re testing.

2. Practice Restraint.
Resist the temptation to grab every bottle and start spraying -- it’s a sure path to olfactory overload. Instead, sniff the atomizer. If you like what you smell, spray a scent strip. Wait 30 to 60 seconds before sniffing to allow the alcohol to dissipate.

3. Take a Break.

After four to six different scents, clear your nose by sniffing a few coffee beans, the olfactory equivalent of eating sorbet between courses. Fragrance boutiques often provide small dishes of beans on their counter. Or, tote a sweater or scarf; sniffing something made of wool will also clear your nasal palette.

4. Test Drive.
Once you’ve identified a few favorite fragrances, apply them to the pulse points on your wrist or inner elbow. “Skin is where a scent comes alive,” says Coe-Hutshing. “You have to experience how it interacts with the warmth of your skin and your unique body chemistry to tell if it’s a fit.”

Before you purchase the scent, go for a stroll or do some shopping. A fragrance may be released from an atomizer in a single spray, but the molecules unfold over time. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes for the various notes in fragrances to settle down and rearrange themselves into the perfect composition, says Coe-Hutshing.