Ready, Set,  Summer!


I don’t know about you, but I tend to hibernate in the winter. My DVR becomes my best friend and my beauty philosophy hovers somewhere between “but moisturizer is so cold” to “why bother to shave if I’m just wearing leggings every day?” (No wonder “The Walking Dead” is my favorite show.) In the spring, I get a little less lazy, thanks to an influx of vitamin D, outdoor happy hours and the beginning of Orioles season, where looking cute in direct sunlight has its advantages. But summer is my season! From strapless dresses to sun-kissed skin, this is the time when I get my flirt on and feel totally fab about life. If you’re on the same seasonal roller coaster ride, here are seven beauty strategies to help you get your groove back.

Jennifer Drumgold makes waxing comfortable (and even fun!) at European Wax Center.

Wax On, Wax Off. I have to admit, I was slightly taken aback when the person checking me in for my Brazilian at the new European Wax Center was a hot guy with hypnotizing golden-brown eyes. Turns out that’s general manager (and owner’s son) Jake Kapneck, who moved to Maryland to open the first of several local franchises for the national brand. “Our concept is to combine efficiency with intimacy,” explains the young entrepreneur who books clients every 15 minutes in the bright, modern space with six treatment rooms. Now, before you get too excited, he’s referring to the center’s customer service philosophy where you can come in for a quickie (wax, that is) and still get highly professional service, education about the house products (I recommend the Brow Enhancing Serum), plus an invitation to join the center’s loyalty program where you can buy several months of waxes at a discounted rate.

Stylish and sassy aesthetician Jennifer Drumgold delivers all-star service during my bikini wax, which includes a proprietary four-step system—cleanser, pre-wax oil (to ensure only hair—no epidermis—comes off), organic beeswax that hardens on the skin (no strips!) and a final rejuvenation with ingrown hair serum and calming cream. This was my maiden voyage with the center’s trademarked Comfort Wax infused with lavender oil. I can’t say it hurt that much less than a traditional Brazilian, but I experienced zero post-wax irritation—a first for my sensitive skin. Another first: at the end of my session, Jennifer handed me a mirror to check out her work. Let’s just say I left with a bump in my self-esteem—and an appointment to come back for an underarm wax the next week. Brazilian bikini wax, $47. 1809 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville 410-415-6500,

Play Footsie. “This isn’t going to be one of those relaxing pedicures,” says Mary Villaluz, nail department manager at About Faces in Canton, with a mischievous grin. But I actually relaxed more than usual at my first “Medi Pedi”—a therapeutic spa service designed to cure whatever ails your tootsies, from cracked heels and calluses to even athlete’s foot and more serious issues caused by diabetes. The magic comes from integrating a line of pharmaceutical-grade Footlogix products featuring “Dermal Infusion Technology” that enables active ingredients (think Spirulina microalgae for moisture) to penetrate faster and deeper into troubled skin. 

While the treatment was thorough, as promised, it was never uncomfortable (maybe ticklish!) and I could literally see dead skin flying off in the sunlight as Mary sloughed my “flip-flop heels” into submission. This beach girl loved the lightweight, mousse-based formula, the fresh smell of the seaweed scrub and the luxurious leg massage. Bonus: the products are oil-free so I left with super-soft, “lubed up” legs and feet—without the risk of slipping in my yoga class. Medi Pedi with Footlogix, $60. Six area locations. 410-675-0099,

FACE PLANT. When our inside source at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore tells us that something is a “game- changer”—we listen. And my 80-minute HydraFacial MD lived up to the hype. Billed as a medical-grade, noninvasive “power peel” with no downtime, the four-step service involves deep cleansing, exfoliation, extractions and hydration—all delivered with a magic “wand” that feels like having a nubby electric toothbrush run across your face. “The key is using antioxidant-rich serums with peptides and Hyaluronic acid that are potent but won’t aggravate the skin,” says aesthetician (and one of my all-around favorite humans) Natalie Sams, as she basically vacuums my soon-to-be-blackhead-free nose without a single wince … from either of us!

I have to admit, I was floored by the results. I’ve never experienced a facial that delivered instant improvements (in my case, a complete reversal of skin dehydration with a dramatic reduction in rosacea symptoms that has lasted for several weeks) without any side effects (usually a few stretched out pores, blotchiness and a reactionary blemish or two.) If I was a celebrity, I could have walked the red carpet that night. Instead, I made kissy faces at myself in the rearview mirror, enjoying the (temporary but glamorous) plumping effect the HydraFacial gave my previously parched lips. I’m in love. Available in 25-, 50- and 80-minute sessions, $175-$350. 200 International Drive. 410-576-5800,

Stephanie Casey (left) and Melissa Jacobson, co-owners of Bare Skinlabs

Get a Perm. No, not the tragic ’80s hair variety. At the new Bare Skinlabs in Green Spring Station, permanent makeup is all the rage. “Before this, I was basically trying to pull off a comb-over,” says one forty-something client, as she proudly shows off her newly tattooed eyebrows—a great solution for women with thinning brows or bald spots from bad wax jobs.

“I gave her a natural look by using two different needles—one that’s more powdery and another that allows me to do hair-like brush strokes,” says co-owner Melissa Jacobson, who also offers permanent eyeliner, lip tint, areola restoration and even hairline fills for the balding and beautiful among us. It’s true, these are not Groucho Marx’s eyebrows—they’re lovely. I spend the rest of my visit invading the staff’s personal space to inspect their ink. Jacobson’s perfectly pink lips slay me—she actually tattooed them herself to closely match her own skin tone. “As a working mom, having a little color helps me wake up without looking like a zombie,” she says. Results can last several years—then you might need a touch-up. I’m not brave enough to take the leap just yet, so Jacobson tints my eyebrows instead. It’s like an instant eyelift. Permanent makeup, $100-$300. Eyebrow tint, $30. 10751 Falls Road, Lutherville. 443-469-0591,

Jars of Candied Lashes at Baltimore Spa and Salon

Lash Out. If you’ve read my “Beauty Explorer” column, you’ll know I’m already sweet on NovaLash eyelash extensions—individual falsies that are applied with formaldehyde-free adhesive (no wig glue here!) to your own lashes, which naturally grow out and fall off in a month. (Hint: you can get “refills” and stay mascara-free all year-round.) But now Baltimore Spa and Salon at the Ritz-Carlton Residences offers Candied Lashes—colorful extensions that are hand-dipped in crystallized glitter, from hot pink to emerald green to indigo blue.

“Oh come on, just try it,” says delightfully bossy Emily Horwath, who received advanced training with celebrity lash stylist Sophia Navarro to do the honors. She adds just two chocolate brown singles to the corners of my usual curlicue-style lashes—and they look adorable. Barely noticeable in this shade, they give off just a little “pop” when the light hits me just right. Most popular with Horwath’s older clientele in their 40s, 50s and 60s, everyone from attorneys to grandmothers are asking for the special treat. “Sometimes you just need a little sparkle in your life,” says Horwath. Indeed. Candied Lashes (three to four on each side), $40. Glamour set (up to 100 lashes), $185. 801 Key Highway. 410-625-2427,

Sun cather. After a firm talking-to from my dermatologist, I’ve decided to be more protective of my skin this summer. Thank heavens, then, for the new Infinity Sun airbrush tanning at Soirée in Cockeysville. Co-owner Sarah Weiskittel hand-picked the L.A.-based organic line—enriched with antioxidants and botanicals, plus an instant bronzer made from walnut shell extract—to dovetail with her Aveda salon’s dedication to natural beauty.  What’s unique? “We can choose from 30 different shades to customize the perfect tan for every client,” says Weiskittel, who not only offers streak-free, total body tanning (with or without the use of disposable undies) but also a la carte options for the face or legs. “Since you wash your face twice a day and shave your legs, tanning only those areas can help you keep your faux glow longer.” Just brilliant. Face, $20. Legs, $30. Total body, $45. 9832 York Road. 410-628-6061,

The rainfall shower in the sleek, new Tuscan Suite at Spa in the Valley

Deplane. De-stress. Ever feel like you need a vacation after your vacation? I do. Every time. The antidote: come back one night early, organize your life for the week, then zip off for a serene Sunday treat, like the new Aveda Stress-Fix Massage at all Salon by Debbie locations (Hunt Valley, Abingdon, White Marsh). The 90-minute treatment combines Swedish and deep tissue massage along with foot reflexology, acupressure point treatment and guided meditation—all the while incorporating Aveda’s proprietary Stress-Fix aroma blend of lavender, lavandin and clary sage. These scents are clinically proven to calm—in fact, I keep a rollerball of the stuff on my desk to apply when I’m feeling deadline-frantic.

Consider trying the service at Spa in the Valley, which boasts a newly renovated Tuscan Suite, including an aromatherapy sauna, dry steam room and Swiss shower featuring a rainfall shower head and 360-degree body jets. “Come an hour early to enjoy the space,” suggests redheaded spa manager Beth McHugh. “Just relax and remember to breathe.” Aveda Stress-Fix Massage, $138. 118 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley. 410-771-0200,

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