When Martha Millan says, "Beauty shouldn't hurt," she's not peddling a slogan—her first job in the beauty industry literally caused her pain. Working at an upscale salon, her exposure to common hair and makeup products triggered hives and headaches. While searching for more natural goods for personal use, her research revealed unsettling truths about many industry product lines that often use irritating perfumes to mask the underlying odors of harsh chemicals. Feeling that everyone should have the opportunity to look beautiful without fear of harming health, she bought a salon and transformed it into Salon O Day Spa.
Amid Salon O Day's industrial decor, Millan and her team of stylists, aestheticians, and a massage therapist use products so natural that some are even edible, though Millan imagines the taste would leave something to be desired: barbecue sauce. Among the array of certified-organic, not-tested-on-animals, gluten- and chemical-free products, Millan's favorites include Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare, developed by an American physician who advocates against overexfoliation. For hair, stylists use products from lines including Surface Hair and Organic Color Systems, and during nail services, technicians use natural products from SpaRitual in tandem with scrubs made in-house from ingredients bought at a local co-op.
A man runs toward the ocean. After dipping his head into the water, he heads back to shore where a friend is waiting to cut his freshly moistened hair. Armed with a pair of shears and the confidence that comes with being trusted, Dennis Kraft tries his hand at snipping and styling hair. Channeling the scissor-wielding skills he developed while earning a master's degree in costume design, Dennis crafts a face-framing hairdo that impresses both him and his friend.
Since that impromptu styling session, Dennis has applied his instinctive abilities and artistic passion to the salon industry proper. Dennis opened Bob Salon after honing his skills in other peoples' shops, and he continues to effortlessly earn the trust of clients of all ages. When a timid 5-year-old girl crawled atop a salon chair, he won over her trust by cutting her Barbie's hair in to a fresh new 'do first—Barbie didn't cry and never looked better.
Recently relocated in 2010, Bob Salon features a cottage atmosphere complete with warm, contemporary décor and an exclusive line of products from Bumble and bumble. The experienced stylists stay up-to-date by participating in seminars, workshops, and sing-alongs focused on the latest trends and techniques. During appointments, clients can enjoy the sounds of Internet radio as they sip on complimentary beer, wine, or a café beverage from a Tassimo single-cup brewing machine.
As a child, Kathleen Abernathy watched in admiration as her grandmother skillfully styled her clients' hair and applied artful swoops of color on their eyelids and cheeks. Abernathy remembers, "She was a beautiful and sweet woman and I aspired to be like her." So Abernathy did just that—she followed her grandmother's footsteps into the world of haircare.
Today, Abernathy backs each service with more than 25 years of salon experience, including training in cutting and coloring techniques from such brands as Redken, Matrix, Chi, and Goldwell. Specializing in color and color correction, her ongoing approach is to make her clients feel "comfortable in their own hair." She carefully listens to each individual to determine a look that fits best with their lifestyles, personalities, and height of their evil stepmothers' tower windows. Abernathy participates in ongoing training to keep her skills sharp and her shelves stocked with up-to-date products, including ammonia-free Redken Chromatics four-dimensional color and Mizani relaxers.
Occupying one of three private rooms in a Merle Norman store, Abernathy gives each client personalized attention, along with sips of coffee or hot tea. In addition to hairstyling, she provides professional makeup services for weddings, proms, and disguising embarrassing tattoos before family reunions; she uses the Merle Norman line of cosmetics.
Hervé Lapuente was born in Paris, France, but he spent most of his childhood following his stylist parents as they roamed the world crafting coiffures. Taking up the family business, Lapuente trained in France, led seminars in more than 20 countries for hairstyling behemoth Rusk, and opened three salons in Austin. Now settled into the intimate West Austin house where he opened Atelier Hervé, the master stylist crafts 'dos for clients while conversing with them in English, French, or Spanish.
Though Lapuente followed his singular focus around the globe, fellow stylist Delma Mays has taken a circuitous route to hair mastery, studying aerospace engineering and business management before landing in the world of styling. Mixing mathematical prowess with carefully honed artistry, Mays carefully combines products to create memorable hues while leaving locks vibrant and healthy. Warm wooden floors and delicate iron chandeliers lend the Atelier a welcoming air, aided by natural, preservative-free light, demure couches, and local art.
Stylists at the full-service Wild Orchid Salon + Spa sculpt the hair of men, women, and children with professional salon products, ending each session with a complimentary scalp massage. Morrocanoil haircare products line the shelves ready for salon use or sale, each infused with essential oils, plant extracts, and natural antioxidants. Morrocanoil deep-conditioning treatments hydrate dry strands, and color and highlights from Wella revive dull hues as patrons lounge in leather-upholstered styling chairs.
In addition to cuts and color, stylists smooth frizz with keratin treatments and add length and volume to manes with Great Lengths extensions. Lash technicians create a beautiful, natural look with eyelash extensions. A suite of signature facials and peels helps customers tailor skincare treatments by need, and waxing services cover hair-removal for any part of the body. Styling station mirrors framed in black wood reflect newly beautified tresses or the approving nods of potted orchids perched between each station.
Though many salons tout themselves as eco-friendly, Keep Austin Gorgeous, a certified-organic boutique, backs that claim up with a fleet of organic products and a marked absence of parabens, formaldehyde, and ingredients tested on animals. At the center of this whirlwind of natural beauty stands founder Brizy Tait, who wields the earth-embracing products as she readies local celebrities, such as reggaeton singers Angel y Khriz, for gigs and television appearances.
Tait’s staff shares in the dedication to healthy beauty products. The mane masters and aestheticians use items from 100% Pure Cosmetics, Kevin Murphy, and Xtreme Lashes during appointments and dole out advice in their Green Girl Guide on swapping out chemical-laden makeup for nourishing cosmetics.