Nails of New York: Leah Wyar Romito
A conversation between Elle and her long-time friend—Leah Wyar Romito, Beauty Director at Cosmopolitan—on nails, manicure trends, and the joys of indulging in a manicure (especially while pregnant).

For our latest Nail of New York profile, we stepped into the offices of Leah Wyar Romito—Beauty Director at Cosmpolitan, manicure aficionado, and one of Elle’s best friends. We knew this gal would know her stuff when it came to nails, so Elle sat down with her friend and picked her beauty brain on nail art, favorite polish colors, and manicure trends from the FW’14 and SS’15 runways. And given that she’s expecting a baby this November, Elle also inquired whether being pregnant has affected her nails, and learned that manicures (and high heels) keep her feeling sane and stylish.

Elle: Why do you get manicures? How do you feel after getting your nails done? 

Leah: To me, manis are a mix of necessary maintenance and a trendy accessory. Once cuticle cleanup is done, you feel totally put together and groomed. Then the fun part—the color or design—begins, and suddenly your hands make a statement to the world!

Leah wears Midas Touch from the Paintbox FW'14 collection. 

Elle: What’s your go-to nail art look? And as a beauty editor, you must have a favorite polish color. Can you share?

Leah: I’m still obsessed with negative space. And I still love a good FW’13 Rodarte throwback—that nude mani with the metallic tips will live forever in my book. As far as colors, I will never get sick of Chanel Particulière. When it was launched in 2009, it was totally new and trendy. It truly began the greige movement, solidifying opaque grey and browns (and later, blacks and navys) as the new neutrals. Suddenly sheer pinks and nudes just seemed old fashioned.

Elle: Any shades you think girls overlook or may be too scared to try that are actually super-flattering?

Leah: Opaque white manicures are my default. They’re crisp, clean, yet put off an edgy, cool-girl vibe. But it can be a little like wearing red lipstick for the first time…a little bold for some. So practice with it—try ivory or something sheer, then ease your way into it. You’ll be glad in a few months because it was the trendiest shade on the Spring/Summer ’15 runways!

Nails of New York: Leah Wyar Romito

Elle: What's your nail shape/length preference and why?

Leah: I’m a rounded square kind of girl, unless I pick a gel design that looks better with an oval. But I won’t go any pointier than that!

Elle: Why did you pick the Midas Touch mani that you're wearing now?

Leah: I love negative space at the cuticles because it buys me time between manicures—as does, gel, which I always choose for design. The clear base camouflages grow-out. (Great when you’re pregnant, and your nails are growing so fast!) Plus the neutral colors and chic, minimal design make it wearable 24/7.

Elle: What trends are you seeing for nails for fall/winter and beyond?

Leah: Stripes and linear manicures, foil manicures (like Urban Jungle at Paintbox), using red and black, or grey and black together (the combos were everywhere on the FW runways). And I love, love, love matte neutrals. The matte finish instantly gives these “safe” shades an edge.

Nails of New York: Leah Wyar Romito

Elle: Overall, what direction do you think nail art is going in?

Leah: I think it’s all about a refined nail art look with a focus on unique textures and effects. Looking at the SS’15 runways, inspiration came from fabrics and textiles. The nails at Wes Gordon, for instance, were made to look like linen. Monique Lhullier did a “Lucite” nail. And I loved the nails at Tibi, which were a combo of crepe, leather, and stitching. The linear trend I noted for FW’14 also continued on the SS runways. And pearls had a moment at Katie Gallagher, Saunder, and Honor.

Elle: As an editor, what's your favorite part about writing/editing nail stories?

Leah: Nail art trends used to be relegated to Fashion Week. Twice a year we’d see cool designs, then that was it. Now, thanks to Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, etc., crazy-cool mani inspo happens every minute.

Elle: As a beauty expert, you must know the standout hand lotions or nail care go-tos. Can you share your favorites?

Leah: I love Aveda Hand Relief—the scent is so relaxing and the consistency is yummy. I keep it at my bedside table and apply it every night… my ritual, I guess.

Nails of New York: Leah Wyar Romito

Elle: Do you have any embarrassing nail moments from high school or other can't-believe-I-wore-that times?

Leah: After college (while I was a beauty editor, no less!), I asked my roommate—a chemist for an acrylic nail company—to give me fake tips. So. Not. Me! I hated them so much, I bit off the tips and totally ruined my natural nails for months.

Elle: How has being pregnant affected the health of your nails or your manicure choices/frequency?

Leah: As I mentioned, my nails are growing much more quickly so negative space manicures are more appealing than ever as they help disguise regrowth. But, also, being pregnant is a serious fashion challenge. You don’t fit into your normal clothes and are forced to choose from a narrow selection of fashions (that aren’t always so cute). I look to two things—heels and manicures—to keep me feeling normal and fashionable!

Nails of New York: Leah Wyar RomitoNails of New York: Leah Wyar Romito

A beauty junkie's dream: the closet at Cosmopolitan.