glowing review: imPRESS salon manicure

My nails are so lame. For real! No matter how many stupid vitamins (I’m looking at you, fish oil, Vitamin D, those “women’s only” pink ones my mom bought me), or how much protein I eat, or whatever, my nails split and break like little pussies. I could bathe them in OPI Nail Envy for weeks and still, they’d just bend and snap. And I’m sick of it! I want long nails! Long nails are sooo glamorous. But I’m not into the idea of getting acrylics quite yet, because that’s extra maintenance. I like to go thrifting on my days off, OK?

So before my trip to LA (take me back! I love you LA!) I bought two “bottles” of imPRESS Salon Manicure press-on nails. My experience with press-on nails dates back to, oh, 1997 and sleepovers with my girlfriends. I’d read favorable reviews of the impress line and was super into the fact that they came in a “short” length. I work retail and I text a lot, so yeah, talons = no. I purchased the hot pink style and the neon/leopard “By My Side,” which was just tacky and awesome enough for a vacation mani. (Basic colors are about $7, designs $8.) imPRESS nails are housed in clear plastic “nail polish” bottles, which is not only cute but also handy, since they’re not rattling around in a box trying to get loose and spill all over your car.

I’ve been painting my nails since age seven, so I’m pretty good at that. I can do those Sally Hansen nail stickers in my sleep. That’s about the extent of my manicure skills, though. I leave the crazy stuff (read: cuticles) to the pros. However, with imPRESS all you gotta do is fit the nails to yours – they come in assorted sizes, 24 to a pack. Peel off the little sticker on the back, press firmly on your nail beginning at the center and moving to the edges. Done! It is INSANELY easy. Use the smallest size nail possible and do your thumbs last. Don’t get them wet for a half hour or so to let that glue really set. The adhesive is gentle, so when you remove them (they claim to last 7-10 days) your natural nails won’t be ruined.

At first I was like, “Whoaaaa my nails are so long! My hands look like my mom’s!” The “short length” is a little misleading if you’re not used to faux nails, because these babies are long. You can file/cut them down to suit your aesthetics, though. It was strange using my phone, opening stuff, putting in contacts. (That still feels weird and scary, to be honest.) The cats were into my new claws because they were on the receiving end of some primo scratch action. I got compliments at the airport from a group of Southern men in blaze orange tees and they were a great topic of conversation for the person in the seat next to mine. (Need I mention I obviously used the neon leopard style first?)

Compliments aside, these things STAYED ON. I wore them five days straight and only lost two nails; a swipe of actual nail glue borrowed from a friend anchored those on. (In fairness, they were my pointer fingers, which definitely get the most wear and tear.) I did dishes, took a shower, ran around LA … they didn’t budge. They would’ve lasted longer had I not gotten bored and peeled them off.

I’m wearing the dark red, Tweetheart, right now and I am OBSESSED with my nails. They’re so shiny! And long! Lana del Rey-lite, I think. imPRESS, I’m in love with you. Now please help me find that elusive red-orange shade!

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beauty professional: heidi melena

Heidi Melena is my makeup goddess. Going to visit her at Nordstrom (or having lunch with her at Tao) is like a shining beacon of light in my life. I love having her do my face, but I also love being around her. Therefore, you should all take my advice and go visit her this weekend at Nordstrom MOA’s Pretty Party, because I can’t go. Trust me, your face (and your spirit!) will be all the happier if you stop by. I had lunch with Heidi and grilled her about her career in makeup. The part where we played with all the natural skincare at Tao is not included in this interview, but it should have been.

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i’m going to LA! here’s what i’m packing


Thank God I booked my LA trip when I did, because apparently stupid Minnesota is getting snow this week. See ya! Here’s what I’m throwing in my Everlane weekender for my much-anticipated vacation to see three of my fave chicks and get some sunlight. Minnesota, you suck right now. 

NARS light reflecting loose setting powder - I am running on about 50-50 with this product. Previously I was using an ancient BareMinerals Mineral Veil loose powder to set my makeup, but this has such good reviews that I thought I’d try it. Does it really reflect light? I honestly can’t tell you. Keeps my face on for most of the day, anyway.

Jemma Kidd Show Stopper bronzer - This bronzer has been with me since 2010 and I still haven’t hit pan. I prefer NARS Laguna, but this will do just fine. 

Stila primer & bronzer serums - I love these Stila One Step swirly magic products. The primer blends several shades, including green to correct redness, and helps keep my face in place all day long. The bronzing one also contains some luminizer so I can look glowy and pretty in the California sun. (Last summer I mixed the bronzer with my BB cream.)

Dr. Gross Alpha-Beta peel and Feulic Acid & Retinol solution - Skincare routine as of late. LOVE.

Yes to Grapefruits brightening wipes - I have a feeling I won’t want to wash my face every single night. I’m not bringing my Clairsonic, so these should work in a pinch. 

Impress press-on manicure - SO amazingly tacky (I got hot pink and a neon/leopard style), but also a good length. My nails, no matter how much I try to beef them up via basecoats, vitamins, etc., are just sad brittle little guys. That means I shouldn’t get gel nails, so I’m really pumped about trying these ($5.99 at Target).

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist deodorant - God I hope I never develop an allergy to this. It works SO well and doesn’t ever compete with whatever perfume I’m wearing. I get the full-size for home and the mini ($10, Sephora) for travel.

(What else am I bringing? Well, I’m going to Blowdry! for a blowout so I have beautiful curls and don’t need to bother with styling my extensions. Also taking along my new Make Up For Ever gold eyeliner, some Clarins foundation and a handful of perfume samples.)

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non-traditional dude beauty interview: mark mallman

Mark Mallman is a real cool guy. I always like running into him at various Minneapolis events, and he gave me a copy of “The Other Hollywood,” Legs McNeil’s oral history of the porn industry; I had searched for that out of print book for AGES and so I was pretty pumped to have it. Mark and I share a love of the Muppets and Neil Young; when I describe him to people, I tell them how once at a bar, he turned to me and said the nicest thing a man has ever said to me: “What do YOU think about this, Kara?” I sent him my usual “dude beauty questions,” but he decided in true Mallman fashion to do something a little different. I bolded my favorite parts. :) Read on!

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i got hair extensions!


I got hair extensions last week! If you follow me on Instagram, you already knew this. Oh yeah, I so graciously lent my head to my friends at the bestest salon in Minneapolis, Haus, for Euro Loc extension training. (“So graciously” my ass, I’ve been dying for extensions forever.)

Since I love bleaching the shit out of my hair, it gets mad at me and won’t grow as fast as I’d like. I’d been toying with the idea of clip-ins, but if you’re offering me real European hair and all I have to do to get it is hang out in a cool space and read magazines, I’m in. My brother thinks it’s mad creepy that someone else’s hair is now living in my head, but I love it.

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beauty professional: amber rose

This gorgeous girl is local makeup & hairstylist Amber Rose. Can you get enough of her in this picture? Me either. Stunning! (Her hair is currently a lovely pink shade, which I love even more.) You may know her from her fashion work, or perhaps you’re one of her brides? Her bridal work is pitch-perfect. I caught up with Amber and even got a sneak peek at her kit. (Photo courtesy Taylor Tupy)

Tell me a little bit about yourself. How old are you and where are you from?
- I’m 27 and from a little town in Southern Minnesota called Walters, population 98 and decreasing. I studied Cosmetology at the Aveda Institute in 2004. I’ve been living in Minneapolis for the past 9 years and have plans for a move this coming year…LA or NY bound.

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beauty interview: shieva salehnia


I met Shieva when she was living with two of my dude friends. As I always do when in a residence of someone I know, I snooped in their bathroom and geeked out because their new girl roommate had a Guerlain kohl eyeliner. My girl crush on her started right then. Isn’t she adorable? We just had a great 20-minute conversation about brow threading at a party on Saturday night, and I love a girl who can yammer on about eyebrows just as long as I can.

When did you start wearing makeup?

I started wearing makeup in the seventh grade. My mom was hesitant to let me wear it to school. My dad outright disapproved.

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I went to Spring Breakers and all I wanted to do was talk about hot girls

It has always been a lifelong dream of mine to be a hot girl in a bikini waving a gun around on the beach, so of course I was all in to check out Harmony Korine’s (“Kids”) new trip of a movie, “Spring Breakers.” Starring two ex-Disney queens (Selena Gomez as innocent, sweet Faith and Vanessa Hudgens as bad-girl Candy), it’s a contemporary sister to Sofia Coppola’s lovely but vague “Marie Antoinette.” With drug lords, boobs and beer bongs. 


Korine’s film is more fantasy than reality; the four friends rob a restaurant to escape their dreary town and be part of the debauchery that is the classic American spring break. While there, all but Gomez’s Faith connect with their dark sides and spend most of the movie in bikinis holding up hotel rooms alongside James Franco’s sleazy white-boy rapper/gangbanger Alien, a Kevin Federline lookalke with a mouthful of grills and some mad cheesy cornrows. (The best scene of the entire movie is when Alien and his girls go on a violent spree set to Britney Spears’ classic ballad “Everytime.”)


"Spring Breakers,” even though it deals with ugly subject matter, is a pretty movie. The girls are beautiful in their skimpy day-glo bikinis and shot in syrupy, hazy light as though Korine has been doing bong hits alongside them. In fact, I spent most of the movie gleaning beauty tips. Here’s what I learned about beauty from “Spring Breakers.”


1. If you’re going to rob a restaurant, it’s probably best to tuck your pink hair inside your mask because it’s an easy identifier, duh. Cotty, played by Korine’s wife Rachel, wears a cotton-candy shade with grown-out roots throughout the movie. Trendy!

2. Stay-all-day eyeliner is a must for your spring break trip. Whatever the girls are using lasts through a dip in the hotel pool and an overnight stay in jail. Smudgy old liner is sexy and alluring, like you’ve been up for days doing cocaine off your friend’s boobs.

3. The secret to perfect beachy waves is chlorine and party sweat. Candy’s (Hudgens) dark blonde waves are flawlessly messy throughout the movie, even when she’s boning Alien in a three-way in the pool. Her main partner in crime and threesomes Brit (“Pretty Little Liars” Ashley Benson) rocks the trendy, Karlie Kloss-endorsed Chop. Benson’s features are so petite and delicate that she’s terrifying as a cold-hearted criminal.

4. James Franco has a lot of fun wearing a grill. He delights in playing with it, hamming it up as Alien. Without those grills I don’t think he would’ve been half as nasty. Oh, and Alien wears Calvin Klein Escape cologne.

5. You can’t cover up Gucci Mane’s ice cream tattoo. Did I mention the rapper is in “Spring Breakers?” He plays drug lord king Archie, Alien’s ex-best friend who’s out to off him. That trademark tattoo is in place on his cheek even when he’s in character. You can’t cover up Gucci Mane with HD makeup!

6. Even actresses with “perfect” beach bodies have cellulite. Yeah, I looked. I’m sorry. Blame the media. That said, all four girls look perfectly collegiate and all-American in those bikinis. (That’s basically all they wear throughout the entire movie. Envious.)

7. Burning question: Exactly where do you keep your luminizer and lip gloss in said bikini, Selena Gomez? Also, even though you don’t get naked and leave halfway through the movie, you make me uncomfortable because you look perpetually 15.


“Spring Breakers” will probably be inspiring to teen girls on Tumblr too, which is a little scary. (Who am I kidding; I’m a teen girl at heart even though I’m a 25-year-old lady.) As long as they’re taking beauty tips from the foursome and not learning how to pack a pistol, that should be OK.


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Julie Swenson on her (current) fave products


Have you met Julie Swenson? No? You’re missing out. She is WONDERFUL. And talented! She does hair, she does makeup, she does brides, she does celebs … and she is insanely sweet and fun. I caught up with Julie to ask her what products she’s loving right now. Here’s what she told me; start making your shopping list now!

I am a minimalist when it comes to wearing makeup. I basically wear a tinted moisturizer and a nude lip color. I am a lover of good skin care products!

For myself:

To remove makeup without stripping my skin:
Koh Gen Do Cleansing Spa Water

To prevent wrinkles:
Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics
Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum

For my dry skin this winter:
Bobbi Extra Repair Serum

To even out my skin & give me a radiant glow:
Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint SPF 20 

For nude lips:
Makeup Designory Lip Glaze in Bare 

For everyone:

Sigma Makeup Brushes! - I love the these synthetic brushes for applying creams, especially for contouring (with liquid/cream) and under eye correction.

F88 - Flat Angled Kabuki™
P84 - Precision Angled™

All Hail to the Chief! (the late Kevyn Aucoin)

Definitely one of my favorite makeup artists and I adore his makeup line.

For contouring the cheeks: Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder 

For a ‘pop’ of color:
Kevyn Aucoin Pure Powder Glow Blush

For correcting/neutralizing under eye dark circles:
Bobbi Brown Corrector

For brightening the eyes at the lower lashline (white is out, nude is in!):
Tarte EmphasEYES™ Inner Rim Brightener

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