Best SF Financial District Beauty Deal: Robert James Color Salon “Happy Hour, Happy Hair” Fridays

Summer and Friday Happy Hour seem to go hand in hand, and this season that ideal time of day has gotten even sweeter. For the beauty buff seeking the ultimate in efficiency—gal-pal bonding, something bubbly, and much-needed after-work pampering—Robert James Color Salon in San Francisco has launched a new “Happy Hour, Happy Hair” promo.

Robert James Color Salon. Photo by Moanalani Jeffrey.

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Summer Beauty Obsession: Laline’s Exfoliating Dead Sea Salt Body Scrub

Despite the pending change of seasons and sunnier skies ahead, my hands and cuticles seem to be perpetually stuck with the winter blues. Rough and dry from my obsessive hand-washing habit and battered from my constant tapping on the keyboard, my dehydrated digits could use some serious TLC.

Laline’s Dead Sea Salt scrubs. All photos by Alex Akamine.

Laline’s Beauty and the Beach Summer Kick-Off event in San Francisco couldn’t have come at a better time, if only to introduce me to the boutique brand’s signature Dead Sea Salt Body Scrub—now my go-to product for soothing parched and flaky skin.

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For trendy lush eyelash look, the options abound

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle September 18, 2011

Lashfully Lounge in Cow Hollow district, SF. Photo courtesy of Lashfully

Nerissa Pacio Itchon, Special to The Chronicle

Call it the Kim Kardashian effect.

National mascara sales are on the upswing; salons specializing in lash extensions are hitting critical mass; doctor’s offices and cosmetics companies are finding big business in lash growth serums; and semi-permanent mascaras are picking up steam, proving that women are willing to try almost anything to achieve the lush, defined, cheek-grazing lashes that the reality TV stars have helped usher in as the beauty standard for the Tinseltown set.

“It all started with the media and celebrities endorsing prescription Latisse,” says Liv Contreras, a veteran licensed aesthetician and co-owner of Lashfully beauty lounge in the Cow Hollow district. “Then the Kardashians were the ones to really bling out lashes, making strip lashes, extensions and the whole lash trend even more popular.”

As Hollywood-averse as San Franciscans may seem, city dwellers have been quick to jump on the lash bandwagon. Lashfully, which Contreras opened almost 10 months ago with former client Matana LePlae, is one of at least a dozen lash-centric salons that have popped up recently in San Francisco, feeding the growing demand for lash enhancements.

Since the opening of Lash Lab nearly two years ago, bookings at the Cow Hollow salon have doubled to an average of eight to 10 clients per day, says 31-year-old owner Judy Anderson. Her team of five full-time licensed aestheticians focuses solely on lash extensions, and appointments fill up nearly four weeks in advance.

Although lash extensions have been around for decades, the service is starting to go mainstream with increasingly more options available. For women willing to spend the time and the money, it remains a popular, if not a downright luxurious, service.

When done properly, the painstaking process requires a licensed aesthetician to use precision-point needle tweezers and medical-grade glue to attach synthetic, animal or real human hair extensions to each lash. Devotees say the results are worth it.

“I love getting a look I can’t get by simply using mascara,” says Elena Greco, director of brand relations at San Francisco-based online beauty community Beautylish, who visits a salon for lash extensions every two to three weeks. “Also, I like the option of waking up and walking out the door without having to apply eye makeup.”

To read the rest of this story, go to the Sunday Style section on

Birthday Treats: Oysters, Chocolate Souffle and Healdsburg’s New H2 Hotel

The view of Tomales Bay from Hog Island Oyster Farm.

Wednesday was my birthday, and as hard as I tried to ignore it, I ended up enjoying it so much that I’ve given in to the idea of a wholly unproductive Birth Week.  It all started with an indulgent weekday surprise planned by my husband: a barbecue picnic near Tomales Bay at the picturesque Hog Island Oyster Farm followed by a lovely overnight stay at the new H2 Hotel in Healdsburg.

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Bigger, Better Beauty Company in Russian Hill

Beauty Company's new storefront in Russian Hill.

Beauty buffs will be happy to learn that the former pint-size Beauty Company in Russian Hill has relocated to a bigger, brighter space less than a block away on Polk Street. The new boutique will still carry everything a beauty-obsessed heart could desire, from staple brands such as Kerastase, Wella, and Pureology to more exotic products by La Lavande, Propoline, Roger & Gallet and Apivita, among a ton of others.

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Your Do-gooder Deed: Enter Darphin’s Online Contest

Darphin Hydraskin Essential. Courtesy of Darphin Paris.

Between email, Twitter, Facebook and the seemingly endless lists of blogs and social networking sites out there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the chatter. I’ll often have post-web surfing remorse after spending way too much time not getting “real work” done, derailed by a friend emailing me a random but funny You Tube clip or happening upon an intriguing marketing campaign that’s gone viral.

Darphin Paris is the latest such company to snag my ever-wandering attention on the web, and not just because their line of gorgeously packaged and effective products have proven to be one of my beauty counter favorites.

In an effort to promote their best-selling Hydraskin Essential moisturizer, Darphin has launched , which asks readers what they’d do with a $50 windfall. Every entry submitted on the website equals a chance to win a full-size bottle of its reformulated all-day Hydraskin emulsion and a New York City spa getaway for two, and more importantly, a $2 donation to the IDEAL Providence Farm, a women’s cooperative in Ghana. The contest ends April 21; winners will be announced on May 1. Not only did I post my entry today completely guilt-free, but I spent a few extra minutes doing a little good online!

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