There are two questions I get asked, both as a beauty columnist and as someone who’s in constant pursuit of looking and feeling my best. One is where to get a great – “I mean really great” – blowout. The other is where to get an on-trend manicure. I have lots of recommendations for places I’ve tried and enjoyed, but had always had a hunch about The Beauty Lounge at Magnolia. The Park Avenue salon has seemed to me as though something particularly stylish was going on inside; with their recent expansion to include a gift boutique, I knew I had to check it out.
I walked in the doors and had two options: left into the boutique, and right into the salon, where I could already hear the buzz of stylists and happy customers’ chatter. Since I had a few minutes before my service, I chose left, where I found a fab selection of stylish accessories like clutches and scarves. I was particularly impressed by Magnolia’s focus on local jewelry designers like Jessica Ricci, Loren Hope and John Medeiros.
Heading into the salon side, I met Angela Manzo, who owns Magnolia with another stylist, Christine St. Hilaire. Angela gave me a quick tour of the salon, which included a huge hair area, a separate room for nail services, rooms for aesthetics like lash extensions, facials and spray tans, a whole separate relaxation area and a room just for washing hair. I was struck both by the size of the place and what a great job they do of keeping everything private and relaxing for guests. I couldn’t help but ask how many people work at Magnolia. “We’ve got a lot of talented people,” Angela said, listing off 20 stylists, five nail techs, two skincare experts, three lash extension people and one spray tanner. Easily double what most salons can support – and that’s not counting the students who come in as interns. “I like to mix new talent and seasoned stylists,” Angela explains. “The students are seeing a lot, and the stylists are learning new trends.”
She sat me down in Dean’s chair, who would be giving me the Uptown Girl blowout from the Blow Out Bar. “How do you like your hair?” he asked me. “As big as possible.” Dean was pleased. “Excellent,” he said. “I love it.” We talked hair tips throughout the service. I was impressed with how much Dean cared about curly hair education, and how many great products he recommended to me. He’s especially loving Redken’s Pillow Proof line, claiming it added days to a blowout… which I was going to want to do, because my hair came out perfect: smooth and shiny, with tons of volume and just the right amount of flip.
Next, I headed to Sheila’s nail station for a gel manicure. I loved that she was up to date on current nail colors and was making suggestions for me. Your normal quick service nail salon definitely doesn’t take that kind of time to help you work out the biggest decision you’re going to make all week. We went with a shimmery slate grey OPI, with a bright silver accent nail. I loved it – and left the salon feeling fantastic, and completely ready for the glamorous night I had ahead of me.
During April, Magnolia is offering two deals on spray tans: buy three at $20 (normally $35) and get one free. They’re also offering 15% off John Medeiros jewelry in the boutique. “I love that we make people feel good by making their exterior look good,” Angela says. “They feel better inside. It’s really a gift.”
1375 Park Avenue, Cranston