Expensive Beauty Looks for Less
By Genevieve Monsma
Photo Credit: Greg Delves
Upscale Skin and Nails
Hallmark #1: A Gorgeous Head-to-Toe Complexion
"You won't see sunspots or pimples on expensive skin," says Ann Marie Cilmi, senior manager of training at Bliss Spas.
- Get salon facials seasonally (rather than every six weeks). And if that's still too frequent for your budget? Give yourself weekly facials using an at-home exfoliator and a mask that's right for your skin type.
- MC recommends: Lancôme Resurface-C Microdermabrasion Kit, Mario Badescu Skin Care Temporary Lifting Mask
- Treat your skin below the neck. "I can tell a woman is really well-groomed if her neck, chest and hands are also in great condition," says Cilmi. To avoid costly in-office treatments to reverse the signs of aging, Cilmi recommends slathering on sunscreen and using your face products on these areas, too.
- Spring for a product with a pentapeptide. To improve skin's firmness and obscure wrinkles, nothing outside of a doctor's office is more effective than a pentapeptide cream, says cosmetic-surgery consultant Wendy Lewis. One of her favorites is even available at your local drugstore: "Olay's Regenerist line is superb. You don't need to pay more for another product."
- Grab some gaba — before blowing your budget on botox. This muscle-relaxing ingredient immediately (but temporarily) relaxes fine lines, at a fraction of the cost of one Botox treatment (about $100 per jar of gaba cream, versus up to more than $1,000 per Botox treatment).
- MC recommends: Dr. Brandt Crease Release, DermaDoctor Immobile Lines Instant Topical Line Relaxer
- Go for the bronze. To disguise skin troubles, make self-tanning part of your regimen, says Kimara Ahnert, who owns a spa and makeup studio on Madison Avenue in New York City. It camouflages cellulite, spider veins, and sun damage for less than the cost of lasers. Go with something subtle (choose a build-a-tan formula or mix the tanner with your daily body lotion), so you look like you're glowing rather than hitting the tanning bed.
- MC recommends: Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer
Hallmark #2: Perfectly Manicured Hands and Feet
"Rich nails are short, oval-shaped, or softly square, and painted in subtle colors — or no color at all," says Gabby Contino, a manicurist at Frédéric Fekkai Salon in New York City.
- Make your mani gleam. Classic colors (think pale pink or taupe) with a shot of opalescence or shimmer look super-rich and stay shiny for days.
- MC recommends: Essie Nail Colour in Imported Champagne
- Get buffed. Buffed nails look groomed for weeks because they never chip, says Jan Arnold, cofounder of Creative Nail Design.
- MC recommends: Creative Nail Design's new Glossing Buffers
- Commit to cuticle oil. Ragged cuticles are a sure indication of "working hands," says Valentina Bayramyan, a manicurist at Frédéric Fekkai's Beverly Hills salon. So keep cuticle oil (or cream) in your purse, glove compartment, desk, etc., and apply as often as you do your lip gloss.
- MC recommends: Creative Nail Design Rejuvenator and Solar Oil.
For a solid-gold glow, tip-to-toe:
Splurge: Self-tanner treatment at high-end spa, about $90
Steal: Neutrogena Sunless Tanning Lotion, $8.99