The Beauty Boost

Four ways to indulge yourself in a little TLC this holiday season

CND Shellac Manicure

Where we tried it: Nails 4 U

What it is: A gentler alternative to a gel manicure, CND Shellac does less damage to nails since the gel doesn’t need to be filed off for removal. Plus, the products don’t contain toluene, DBP or formaldehyde, and the manicure lasts for fourteen days without chipping.


How it's done: Similar to a regular manicure, the Shellac system consists of a base coat, two coats of nail color and a top coat. Each layer of polish is “cured” under a UV light for two minutes. There is no wait time after the procedure—nails are dry due to the UV curing. You’ll be dazzled by how slick and glossy your nails look.

Beauty notes: Because nails aren’t damaged during the application or removal process (or while the polish is on), this mani avoids the bad rep of peeling nails after it’s removed. The only downside? You’ll want to go into the salon to remove the color with special Shellac remover wipes—don’t try it at home.


Time: 45 minutes


Cost: $30


Contact: 608-233-9460


Dr. Hauschka Classic Treatment

Where we tried it: Holistic Skin Care Services

What it is: A thoroughly refreshing facial using organic and natural products that promises to “build up the function of the skin rather than masking unhealthy symptoms.” 

How it's done: Steps include cleansing, exfoliation, face steam bath, treatment mask, signature lymph stimulation (using brushes and gentle hand movements on the face and neck to encourage the flow of lymph), neck and arm massage and moisturizing. 

Beauty notes: Is it odd to say we felt “lighter” after the treatment? Dr. Hauschka certified esthetician Emily Plotkin says it’s not uncommon for her customers to say that. In addition to the facial, Plotkin will ask about your lifestyle and recommend products and offer general skin care and health tips.

Time: We tried the sixty-minute facial; ninety-minute and two-hour sessions are offered as well.

Cost: Starting at $75

Contact: 608-886-3401, holisticskincareservices.com


Effortless Extensions

Where we tried itMyEasyExtensions.com; Beauty.com

What it is: A hairpiece with a clear fishing line that users can simply slip on. The synthetic hair adds sixteen inches in length, and is available in twenty-one shades, plus an entire collection for women of color. These extensions escape the rep (that salon clip- or glue-in extensions get) of being rough on tresses because no damage is done to the hair.

How it's done: Hard to believe, but you just slip the hairpiece on the crown of your head, and gently pull out the top layers of your hair to cover the clear fishing line. This creates the illusion of longer hair, and disguises the piece more fully.

Beauty notes: For the most part, it looked pretty realistic on us—and curling our hair to begin with made the synthetic hair blend in better with our hair than leaving it straight. But we wouldn’t recommend doing anything active while wearing the hairpiece.

Time: Less than five minutes

Cost: $79.95

ContactMyEasyExtensions.comBeauty.com


Chocolate Strawberry Facial

Where we tried it: Oasis Day Spa

What it is: A relaxing forty-five minute facial, followed by a makeup application. Bonus: The entire process smells delicious, from a papaya-scented exfoliating treatment to the chocolate mask.

How it's done: The esthetician determines your skin type and customizes the treatment just for you. It starts out with a cleansing, then an exfoliant is applied that sloughs skin with steam, rather than with a scrub (it’s tingly!). The facial gets its name from the chocolate strawberry mask that follows the exfoliant. Then skin is swiped with toner and an “Urban Detox” serum and moisturizer.

Beauty notes:  In addition to the utterly relaxing experience, you’ll get a fabulous neck and arm massage while the mask does its magic. Get ready for glowy, lit-from-within skin.

Time: One hour and fifteen minutes

Cost: $69 through February; regular price $130 

Contact: 608-828-9470, oasisdayspa-madison.com

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