I’m 34 and I don’t know how to use eyeliner. Or eye shadow, unless you count falling prey to the diagrams on the cheap stuff from the grocery store, which in my awkward hands always ends up looking like a bruise. I finally bought my first lipstick last year and have mostly worn it on my teeth. I tend to rock nothing but mineral foundation because I can’t screw it up, and if it’s time to get fancy, I reach for the mascara and try not to lose an eye.
Yes, I am makeup impaired. But strolling through Town Square last Saturday night, I was drawn to the glow of some giant windows looking in on my salvation. The space had two stories of a classic Cindy Crawford photograph, white princess chairs on distressed birch floors, sleek metal accents and perfect rows of beauty products like plastic jewels. There was a sweet little cafe pulled from the streets of Paris and a loft inspired by ones I could never afford in New York City. Smiling people were getting blowouts. I kinda wanted to move in to Look Style Society, so named because “salon” doesn’t cover it. And I resolved to make an appointment for one of its vanity chairs in the hope of learning how to look hotter than I actually am.
The beauty destination launched a couple weeks ago, even though it has been in the works for four years. Focus groups of industry insiders and clients of all types were asked what they felt was missing from their favorite beauty spots, and this is their collective answer: An airy, bright boutique balancing luxe design and details with approachable warmth. It doesn’t have the sad glass table covered with withered magazines and a row of dryers for processing color. It has crisply defined areas for skin, hair and nails, though they flow into each other, so there’s a lively, collaborative feel. Phase 2 (coming in May) will bring plastic surgeon Dr. Orna Fisher to oversee everything from Botox injections to chemical peels and body treatments targeting unwanted fat (there’s even a private elevator and exit for clients who don’t want the world seeing them after a procedure).
Downstairs in the blowout bar, the stylists have all been trained by Sam Villa, the master at Redken. Reasonably priced brands like Redken and Pureology line some walls, while across the 2,200-square-foot vault of products you’ll find high-end exclusives like Shu Uemura and Kérastase (both carried in only a handful of salons). From anti-aging creams to options for all-natural tanning with Chocolate Sun, the selection could be overwhelming, but Look Style Society Brand Manager Kimberly Stuhmer said concierge teams are trained to know the more than 300 products well enough to match any customer to the right one.
Touring the space with Stuhmer before my makeup appointment, I couldn’t help remarking on the affordability of a Sam Villa round brush, or a Voluspa candle, or a necklace by Giving Keys that supports homeless individuals transitioning into stable situations. That goes for the services, too. A blowout with waves or curls or just volume is $40, and you can add a freshening eye treatment for $5 or a scalp massage for $10. In the Nail Lounge—the West Coast flagship for essie and the only location carrying all 300 polish colors—a manicure starts at $25, and a spa pedicure ranges from $45-$65. For $55, you can even get a sunless tan customized to your skin tone.
“Some people walk in and get shell-shocked because it is so gorgeous,” Stuhmer said of the assumption that such a luxurious space must come with luxurious price tags, but she insists that Look Style Society is about real women—whether they’re busy professionals coming in on lunch breaks or industry girls getting glamorous before their shifts. “We truly feel that there’s nothing like this, certainly in Vegas but even in the whole country, there’s nothing like this where you can come in and get everything from Botox to blowouts and everything in between.”
This is the only Look location, chosen for Town Square’s ability to draw locals from the suburbs and tourists from Las Vegas Boulevard. With parasols spinning dreamily from the ceiling and a refreshing lack of flashing screens or clutter, it feels indulgent and current.
“We want to be at the forefront of the trending beauty industry, where we’re really trying to cater to the American woman,” Stuhmer said. For this American woman, the appeal was definitely there in the cafe’s pastries, made by local bakery Chocolate & Spice. And with my weird hours, Look’s long days (7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday) are one more reason to treat myself.
That’s where Zulema Anaya came in. The makeup artist’s flawless face was the best advertisement for the training I hoped to get. Her seven years in the business took her from the Venetian’s spa Canyon Ranch to Caesars Palace and Mac, where she mastered color theory before joining the team at Look. She started by asking how much time I wanted to spend getting ready, and my answer let her know to stick with just a few colors and a look that would give me a natural, just-did-cardio, JLo glow.
“Your eyes are so blue; we’re gonna make them pop,” she said, and I believed her.
Anaya started with a lid primer that would work like an adhesive, requiring less product and better payoff from the color. She put it on my left eye, lash-line to brow, then handed me the brush so I could do the other side. Then it was onto the darkest color of Jouer shadow, warm brown applied to the crease with circular strokes and then lateral ones “like a windshield wiper.” My guide taught me about tapping brushes to shake off excess product, the benefits of different tools and the trick of checking yourself in various light to ensure people notice your face and not your makeup. We worked on fading and balance, depth and dimension. We applied a lighter color to my lids and then moved on to lining the undersides of my eyes with shadow, which didn’t scare me because I knew it would blend right out if I botched it.
“You want a lived-in look, not really precise … You should never have anybody come up and be like, ‘Wow, your makeup looks so good.’ It should be, ‘Your skin looks so good. Wow, look at your eyes.’ You want to take the focus away from the makeup and enhance your natural beauty,” Anaya said. “It’s really an illusion. That’s all makeup is.”
From shaping and filling in my eyebrows to twirling mascara on my lashes and sweeping bronzer and blush over my cheeks, the illusion was striking. And I created half of it myself—even the dreaded liquid liner on the top lid. I learned to apply it to my hand to control how much gets on the brush, and that for my eyes and skin, blues are bad and oranges are very, very good. I even took a selfie.
“It was super-easy, right? No reason to fear,” Anaya said. I might still fear the liner in my own bathroom, but now I know where to go for moral support, and maybe a chocolate croissant.
LOOK STYLE SOCIETY 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday. Town Square, 712-4345.