We check out three beauty brands in FT Undercover
Eyelashes that touch eyebrows, courtesy of Amazing Lash Studio.
My eyelids are twitching wildly but the Amazing Lash Studio stylist assures me that I—and therefore my eyes—will relax in a few minutes. While it certainly doesn’t feel natural to have my eyelids taped shut, a necessary part of the process so the stylist can apply extensions to each individual eyelash, it’s not uncomfortable, and within 15 minutes my mind begins to wander. An hour later I’m looking in the mirror and immediately see why women are shelling out anywhere from $60 to $110 a month for semi-permanent eyelash extensions. My lashes are longer (the stylist was right about the 12mm length) and fuller since I opted for a mix of Featherweight and 3D Volume lashes. Plus, they’re perfectly curled. The extensions also feel light on my natural lashes, unlike the noticeable weight of strip lashes. Amazing Lash smartly helps customers prepare for their appointment by sending in advance a link to a “What to expect” YouTube video, and an employee then goes over the paperwork, which includes pointing out the risks (allergic reaction to the adhesive; possible damage to natural lashes). The membership model is nice for those who want monthly lash refills, and a growing product and service menu means more sales for franchisees.
The upshot: Though of course some fell out, after four weeks the extensions still looked fantastic. Amazing Lash is well-positioned to capitalize on this fast-growing beauty trend. — LM
The first thing I noticed was the smell; or, more accurately, the absence of the typically pungent chemical smell at most nail salons. Prose, a newer entrant into the manicure and pedicure space with 10 open salons, doesn’t offer acrylic nail services and avoids chemical use, which the owner I chatted with noted makes for a healthier work environment. Instead, the nontoxic and hypoallergenic products actually smell good, which I quickly noticed after settling in a chair for a manicure. After draping a heated neck wrap over my shoulders, the nail artist got to work, massaging and moisturizing my hands and carefully shaping my nails before applying a shimmering rose gold polish from Deborah Lippmann’s line of vegan, nontoxic polish. (I, for one, didn’t know there was such a thing as vegan nail polish and am still trying to figure out what would make it not vegan in the first place.) An anti-aging masque infused with fruit botanicals completed my treatment and immediately helped soothe my hands, which were already feeling the effects of a Minnesota winter. The signature manicure was $45, the same price as my usual salon but with far more creature comforts. My rings were even cleaned and polished as a complimentary benefit. Online appointment booking was another check in the “pro” column for Prose.
The upshot: Prose delivers an enhanced manicure experience and taps into the wellness halo with its nontoxic products. — LM
Beth is glowing after an oxygen facial at BodyBrite.
Strike one at BodyBrite—offering skincare, laser treatments, teeth whitening and microneedling—is too many text reminders for my appointment, an annoying total of five. Strike two is a five-page healthcare questionnaire, which I get if you’re in for major surgery, but for a facial? No thanks. (I asked the receptionist to indicate only what I really had to fill in, and she crossed out everything but the part at the end where I agreed to not sue them if something went wrong.) Strike three was when the receptionist was also my esthetician, and meanwhile the person who seemed to be the manager was in one of the treatment rooms, loudly arguing with a customer over benefits of the membership package. At $59 plus tip for the introductory rate, the oxygen facial itself was divine, first with a blast of steam to soften the skin, then a gentle exfoliation, and finally a cool stream of pure oxygen infusing with serum what Jenise graciously called my “fine lines.” “You really are glowing,” she said at the end, and I felt I was, with a plumped and moist face afterward, in contrast to the dry and scaly before.
The upshot: This BodyBrite in Chicago has soothing services but needs work on its “bedside manner,” to round out the total customer experience. — BE