If you’ve ever dreamed of having a personal glam squad at your fingertips, Mariah Carey-style, that fantasy is now a reality. On-demand apps offer a smorgasbord of beauty services — including hair, makeup, nails, tanning, and more — and they've gained steam in the last couple of years. In fact, they just may be the most convenient delivery invention since pizza.
While it may seem extravagant, it turns out these services don't require the sale of over four million copies of Butterfly to afford. They're actually not much more than a trip to the salon, and in some cases (like a haircut), they're even less expensive than the going salon rate. If you need to get a manicure and can’t head to the nail salon for whatever reason (read: laziness), it can save you serious time to have someone come to you. We live in a truly amazing time, people.
But, is it weird getting a haircut in your kitchen? What about getting your makeup done while sitting on the foot of your bed? If you're curious about how it would feel like to truly treat yourself, and the logistics that go along with it, read on for our reviews of three of the most popular, on-demand beauty apps in L.A.
The App: Vênsette
The Deets: The app serves L.A., New York City, the Hamptons, San Francisco, and Miami. You can choose from a variety of hair and makeup options.
The Booking: After scrolling through a menu of makeup styles under names such as “Cat,” which is their version of the quintessential smoky eye; “CEO,” a polished, understated look perfect for professionals; and “Uma,” a brown shadow and burgundy lip named after Ms. Thurman, I decided on the $200 VIP treatment. Described as the best option for high-profile events, the appointment starts off with a 15-minute consultation to figure out what look, or combination of looks, would be best suited for the occasion.
After quickly signing up, I booked an appointment for the next day. A few minutes later I received a confirmation, so I replied asking if they wanted the details of my desired VIP look. After all, I thought it would be fair to give them a warning about who they were dealing with. They quickly connected me with an artist.
Now, I usually do a typical pinup look — red lips and winged black eyeliner — which is similar to their “Grace Kelly” option, but having a professional do my makeup put me in an adventurous mood. I chose the “Kylie Jenner,” a.k.a. super smoky eyes and those infamous, neutral-toned, and suspiciously-full lips. Jordana, the makeup artist, arrived with her makeup case in tow.
The Experience: I live in a studio apartment, and there’s not much room for a glam squad, so we decided to have her set up shop at my kitchen table. After unpacking all her tools and makeup, she asked me more about how I wanted to go full-on Kylie. I pulled up Instagram and showed her a pic of the model's signature makeup. Could Jordana get me to step out of my comfort zone and transform a famous 17-year-old look into something glamorous for a 30-year-old?
Jordana gave me tips on how to cover up my red spots, while I explained how I’d been doing my makeup routine for over a decade. The thought of wearing a neutral lipstick was the stuff of nightmares. After about an hour, my transformation was complete.
The Result: I looked AMAZING. My boyfriend loved it and snapped some shots for my own Instagram reveal. I got 150 likes. Success!
The App: The Glam App
The Deets: This app is available in Los Angeles and Orange County. You can choose from six hairstyles, six makeup looks, and two different nail services — a 60-minute manicure for $45 or a quick polish change for $25.
The Booking: It had been a few weeks since I had my nails done, and my cuticles were looking like a truck driver’s, so I decided to go for the manicure. After signing up via email and manually entering in my credit card information, I booked the appointment for the next day. (They also have an option to book appointments up to a month ahead of time, which I thought was cool.) I didn’t have an idea of what I wanted for my nails, so it was going to be a total wild card.
The Experience: The nail artist, Leondra, arrived with an array of polishes and tools in tow. I thought it was best to do this appointment at my kitchen table as well. After perusing her stash, I knew I wanted to do something that was more daring and a departure from my usual bubblegum-pink nails. Leondra said that clients will usually show her an idea from Pinterest, and she’d work her magic, so I decided to do the same thing. I quickly found a photo of a V-shaped, neutral French mani with black tips and a gold outline.
While Leondra gave me the usual process of a manicure: soaking, cuticle trimming, and a hand massage, we listened to my prized Spotify mix, "Damn Girl," which consisted of female R&B and rap artists from the ‘90s and early ‘00s. It's the perfect soundtrack for getting your nails done, if I may say so. There’s something so awesome about the casualness of getting a manicure done in your own home. It’s like having a friend come over to gossip over nails. All we needed was some wine.
I noticed that Leondra used a piece of plain wall tile as a palette for her polish. When I’m in the rare mood to do my own nails, I’ll pour my polish on a plastic kid’s plate from Target, and it’s a pain to clean. The tile blew my mind, and I’m heading to Home Depot to get one immediately.
The Result: My nails lasted about three days before they started chipping, which is pretty normal if it’s not gel. I captioned the Instagram photo “Your favorite garish gurl just went minimalist chic from the weekend” and received a glorious 164 likes.
The App: Priv
The Deets: When I downloaded Priv, I could already tell this one was going to be different. A huge, purple menu of services popped up: Fitness, Massage, Makeup, Nails, Blowout, Haircut, Spray Tan, Men’s Grooming, and Lashes.
The Booking: It was time to get my mane groomed, so I chose the women’s haircut and blowout for $75. When you select the option, it brings up a list of hairstylist profiles and their next availability, which is on the same day or one after. There’s no option to book farther out; this is truly an on-demand app. They had an option to sign up via Facebook, so I did that and entered my credit card information with their handy credit card scanner. It was midnight, and I booked my appointment for the next afternoon. A message popped up, asking if there was any specific way I wanted my hair and explaining how to prepare for the appointment — which was to have my hair clean and damp. I received a confirmation from the stylist, Joanna, immediately. Before the appointment, I received alerts saying Joanna was on her way, and exactly how many minutes it would be until she arrived.
The Experience: Joanna arrived with her tools: a hand mirror and a cape. We did the appointment in my main room since that would be more spacious than my kitchen table spot. I found a photo on Pinterest of the hair I wanted, which consisted of cutting off a couple inches, adding layers, and cleaning up my Bettie Page bangs. Joanna told me how Priv had a pop-up at Coachella. She said they would be adding facials as an option to the menu soon. I also made note that Priv did at-home pedicures, which was something the other apps didn’t offer. Of course, I also had to be nosy about celebs, and she told me she has done Paris Hilton’s hair a few times.
The Result: We were done in about an hour, and my hair looked amazing. Current Instagram likes count: 152. After the appointment, I received an alert from the app asking to rate the stylist and provide comments. This app was definitely the most thorough.
The Takeaway: Overall, beauty on-demand apps are the wave of the future. I was nervous about having people come to my tiny apartment and not having enough room to make me into a goddess, but it wasn’t a problem at all. I feel totally spoiled now. How will I ever go back to a salon when I know it can all come to me?
Editor's note: These services were all given free of charge for editorial review.