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Essie's founder talks fall nail colors, manicure dos and don'ts

Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie Cosmetics.

Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie Cosmetics. (Credit: Handout)

Ballet Slippers. Tart Deco. Fiji. Mojito Madness.

Women who frequent nail salons recite Essie nail polish shades like school kids recite the alphabet. But have you ever thought about the creative mind behind it all?

Her name is Essie Weingarten, and she's a Queens-bred woman with a personality as colorful as her iconic square bottles that line salon shelves.

"Getting a manicure makes everyone feel like queen for a day," she says. "It's an affordable luxury that makes you feel special. It works better than any psychiatrist . . . sorry, doc!"

It was this feel-good notion that drove Weingarten to explore the color green, which headlines her Fall 2012 collection.

"Everything green makes people happy," she says. "Lawns, water — it's soothing, yet very fashionable."

She calls Stylenomics, her latest (and darkest) shade of green, a staple. "It's the new black," she says.

Other polishes in her fall collection include a plum red called Recessionista and a chic greige called Miss Fancy Pants. Together, all six colors take the season's opulent fashion and make it approachable to women looking for a little guilty pleasure. "All the colors are very ornate," Weingarten says. "There's a lot of luxe going through them. They're very rich, jewel tones, yet creamy and elegant."

Weingarten, who is currently wearing a bold crimson called Who's She Red, says red is new "it" color again. She's into "matchy-matchy" fingernails and toenails for fall, but warns to stay away from wearing a color that blends in too much with your outfit.

"Always let your nail color compliment what you're wearing," she says. "Make sure it doesn't fight it, but don't go monochromatic. Use your nails as jewelry — for accent, for excitement."

One of her favorite trends of the moment is what she calls a cocktail nail, painting the ring or index finger a different color from the rest.

As for older women, Weingarten says it's time to go bold.

"When you wear sheer colors, you don't see the nails as much, so that draws the eyes to the veins, the aging of the hands," she says. "When you wear an exciting color, the focus is on your nails, not your skin."

The fall collection will be available at salons, beauty retailers and essie.com Sept. 1, but there's still time left to sneak in that last summer manicure. Weingarten owns a house in Wainscott and attended Pierce Camp Birchmont in Roslyn as a child, so we had to ask.

If Long Island was an Essie color, what would it be?

"Bikini So Teeny," she says, naming a cornflower blue from her Summer 2012 collection. "You can see some of the best bodies in the world on beaches in Long Island. If you don't have a body for wearing a bikini, you can wear it on your nails."