beauty coach

Beauty Coach: Hate Your Haircut?

February 18, 2010 at 8:42 pm , by

photo by Fernando Milani

Have you ever left the hair salon looking worse than when you first walked in? (I know I certainly have, and more times than I’d care to admit.) It’s certainly cathartic to curse out the stylist in your head, but here’s the thing: a bad haircut isn’t entirely the fault of the person wielding the scissors. It’s yours, too. Okay, now before you throw your heaviest tube of styling gel at me, let me explain why that’s a good thing. You–yes, you in the chair–have some control of the situation. The more ownership you take, the better your chances of getting the cut you want. The times I’ve been most disappointed over my haircut are usually when I was impulsive or didn’t communicate my expectations.

This story is a good example:

A friend of mine, we’ll call her Ann, needs a haircut and wants a change of scene from her regular salon. Ann decides to try the salon her friend Beth goes to and shows up there in person, asking for an appointment with Beth’s regular stylist.

Unfortunately, Beth’s stylist is out that day so Ann agrees to see the next available stylist–let’s call him Random Dude. During her consultation with Random Dude, Ann says that she doesn’t mind going shorter, as long as the new cut is easy to style. 40 minutes later, a remorseful Ann walks out of the salon with a shaggy, layered bob that just doesn’t feel like her and also turns out to be anything but easy to style.

For the next few days Ann struggles to style her new cut, buying new products, headbands and even an expensive flat iron. After a week of frustration, Ann just wants to fix her hair and considers everything from getting a new haircut to fix the layers, long hair extensions like Kate Gosselin’s to a Brazilian straightening treatment so she won’t have to spend 30 minutes every morning smoothing out her strands.

Where did Ann go wrong? Let me know what you think! And what do you think she should do next? I advised her to call the salon and ask for a free styling lesson before she does anything drastic.

Photo by Fernando Milani

Beauty Coach: How to apply gel eye liner

February 5, 2010 at 10:46 am , by

Step 1. Get your hands on a pot of gel liner. My go-to is Bobbi Brown Long Wear Gel Liner in Espresso Ink. It glides right on and won’t budge once it dries. I also like Maybelline’s new Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner, a budget-friendly option that also comes with a little brush. It’s the formula I’m wearing in the photos below.

bobbi brown liner

Step 2. Pick your brush. I like to use a square tip eye liner brush like the classic Trish McEvoy Brush #11 or an angled brush like M.A.C.’s #263. Dip it into your gel and scrape it on the sides of the pot a couple times. It’s always easier to work with a small amount and then add more later.

eye application one

Step 3. Close your eye and gently pull your lid taut with your finger. Place your brush right on top of the roots of your lashes. I like to start in the middle of the eye and then move the brush to the outer corner. Go back and line the inner corner of the eye last. Remember, the closer you keep your brush to the lash line, the more natural it will look.

eye application 2

Step 4. If you want a little more intensity, lift your lid and press your brush very gently under the roots of your lashes. This may look a little scary, but it’s really easy. I do it all the time and haven’t poked myself in the eye yet!

Repeat on your other eye and you’re done!

erica after eyeliner

Beauty Coach: Glamorous Makeup Tricks

January 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm , by


I love knowing (and sharing!) the products behind a gorgeous beauty look, especially when it’s as fresh and non-intimidating as Kate Winslet’s radiant makeup at the Golden Globes.

First, let me help you with the makeup. Here’s what Kate’s makeup artist Jillian Dempsey used: Avon Be Blushed in Blushing Nude, Lancome L’Absolu Rouge in Rich CashmereJillian Dempsey for Avon Professional Kohl Liner in Navy, and Lancome Hypnose Mascara in Excessive Black. (I am a huge fan of this mascara–instant eye drama that’s not too crazy to wear at the office.)

As for advice on how to apply red carpet-worthy makeup, get your hands on a copy of “About Face”, a new makeup how-to guide written by Scott Barnes, Jennifer Lopez’s longtime makeup artist. (Barnes also recently gave me some great tips on how to master the tricky art of contouring, a technique he’s been using on J. Lo for years.)

Do you have a favorite red carpet look you’d love to replicate? Let me know!

Beauty Coach: Hair Extensions

January 7, 2010 at 4:50 pm , by

Love a big makeover? Check out Kate Gosselin’s long new tresses, courtesy of celebrity stylist Ted Gibson. Gibson used Great Lengths, which are natural hair extensions that are bonded to your own strands. A style change this dramatic takes time (Gibson spent nearly 20 hours) and doesn’t come cheap–Great Lengths run from $750 -$4,000, depending on how much hair is used.



I’ve personally experimented with hair extensions and really like the clip-on variety. Compared to bonded or braided extensions, clip-ons are affordable and simple to remove. (Although they aren’t a good idea for short crops like Kate’s because you need enough hair to hide the clips.) If you have medium length hair or a longer bob with layers and would love extra volume or length, then you can definitely pull them off.

Since I’ve grown out my hair, I only wear my extensions for special occasions, like plumping up a bun for wedding. I may try them this spring to pull off this cool braid from the Alexander Wang show.

Want to give extensions a try? I recommend: Hairdo Clip-in Extensions, $79 or Ted Gibson Clip-In Extension Systems, $149. And check out these expert tricks on how to apply clip-on hair extensions.

Beauty Coach: Best Beauty Shopping Sites, Part 2

December 10, 2009 at 1:45 pm , by

3811031103_6d7254a2e7_tYikes, it’s two weeks until Christmas! The window for finding the perfect gift is getting smaller and smaller. I’m way behind on my list, but I have a plan of action:  sleep in on Saturday, make a big cup of coffee and then shop in my pj’s. As usual, I will be giving the gift of beauty to my loved ones. (In my experience, you can never go wrong with a gorgeous palette or a pretty candle). I covered a few of my favorite beauty websites in a previous post, but I realize I left out some good ones, so here goes!

Best for a Budget: I love Bath and Body Works‘  great fragrances, especially the Twilight Woods scent. The quality and packaging is on par with expensive department fragrances. When it comes to makeup, I’m toying with Victoria’s Secret for a fun lip gloss set or a dazzling eye palette.

Best for Impressing: These boutique brands are a bit pricier, but they never fail to wow.

L’’s fragrance offerings and shea butter formulas are amazing. These hand creams are the perfect hostess, teacher, neighbor, etc gift. Or  keep one for yourself and give the other two as stocking stuffers.

I have lots of favorites from (the Soy Face line is to die for), but I would highly recommend this gorgeously wrapped soap or a luxe candle.

Spoiler alert! The dudes nearest and dearest to my heart will most definitely get something in their stockings from

Best for Nervous Nellies: If you tend to experience first-time jitters when ordering something from a new site, then stick to sites where you already shop and trust. As a founding member and president of Nervous Nellies Anoynomous (oops, the cat’s out of the bag), I was thrilled to find out that my favorite websites and also carry a great selection of boutique beauty brands.

Check out our holiday gift guide for more easy shopping ideas and happy holidays, ladies!

Photo by Risager

Beauty Coach: Makeup for an Interview

November 19, 2009 at 10:59 am , by

Pat McGrath PortraitI recently had the opportunity to meet Pat McGrath, the legendary makeup artist and global creative design director for P&G beauty. I left the encounter with the thickest, longest lashes I’ve ever sported, a tube of CoverGirl Lash Blast Length to keep up the look — the trick is fan out your inner and outer lashes and run the tip of the wand over the bottom ones — and a list of great tips from Pat to share with you! Here’s some advice that I think is particularly helpful in this economy.

Question: What makeup tricks do you recommend for women who want to get ahead in their careers, whether they are interviewing for a new job or trying to get a promotion?

Answer: In general, I think that professional daytime makeup is best when worn more or less minimal, perhaps allowing one feature to dominate the face such as lipstick or eyeliner. Your complexion should look as makeup-free as possible, and colors used for blusher and eyes should be harmonious to your skin tone and not too garish (neutrals for eyes, and subtle, natural looking blush). Your choice of lipstick allows a bit more freedom, as you can choose a color that subtly enhances the lips or a deeper jewel tone as a chic “accessory” for your look. Professional makeup should always look clean and polished, and complement your most confident self.

Pat recommends:
- CoverGirl Continuous Color Lipstick in Almost Nude or Classic Red.
- Dolce & Gabbana The Makeup Smooth Eye Colour Quad in Nude

What’s your go-to professional makeup look? I’d love to hear from you! And if you’re looking for more office-friendly shades, check out these natural beauty tips.

Beauty Coach: Best Beauty Shopping Websites

November 5, 2009 at 2:36 pm , by


Looking for great a beauty buy or cute gift idea? Here’s a list of my all-time favorite sites:

Best for multi-tasking: and

Stock up on paper towels, dish detergent and essentials from your favorite drugstore brands like Olay, L’Oreal and Aveeno. Then click on its sister site link to browse through department and boutique brands like Smashbox, Fresh and Nars. Shipping is free if you spend $25 and  you can pick three beauty samples with your order.

Best all around:

This is my favorite beauty website for browsing new products, reading reviews or just looking for inspiration. It’s also my go-to for exclusive holiday beauty gifts at amazing value. Definitely check out the fragrance finder to find your next signature scent and sign up for the Beauty Insider program to score free samples.

Best place to splurge:

This is the site for true beauty junkies. SpaceNK founder Nicky Kinnard literally scours the globe for the coolest, most innovative beauty lines so you’ll always find something new, exciting and often pricey. To avoid sticker shock, go straight to the affordable Life bath, body and candle line, which smells amazing and has the cutest packaging. If you’re up for spending a bit more, I recommend the Rococo Gold Leaf Lacquer, a clear top coat with bits of gold tinsel and Light Expert by Terry, a brightening foundation that always makes my skin look super fresh and rosy.

Best hair tools and salon supplies: &

I love Ricky’s assortment of velcro rollers, sectioning clips, bobby pins and brushes. They are staples in my morning routine.

Sally Beauty is my favorite resource for hot tools, wax and nail care. Definitely check out the Ion line. I still can’t get over the great value of the Ion Anti-Frizz Tourmaline Ionic Hair Dryer. I’ve tried all the professional brands and this one still gives me the shinest, silkiest blow-out.

Best beauty bargains: and

Love shopping at  Marshall’s or TJ Maxx? These sites are the beauty equivalent. Selection and quantities will vary, but both offer deep discounts from premium brands. And if you really love a good deal, check out our November story on the pros favorite beauty bargains.

Happy Shopping!