As advocates of health and beauty for the whole body, Krystal Kincaid and the team at The Natural Way offer customized facials, microdermabrasion, waxing treatments, and therapeutic massage. The studio fosters a passionate belief in natural remedies, and thus only uses natural and organic products—such as paraben-free serums from Skin by Ann Webb—when customizing each treatment to the client's individual issues, from easing acne problems to diminishing the signs of aging. The spa's far-infrared sauna has three spectrums of heat to penetrate the body and relieve pain, improve circulation, aid in weight loss, and boost cell immunity. Clients can augment these benefits by combining an infrared sauna session with a session of the spa's therapeutic massage. In fact, most treatments can be enhanced with an add-on, such as a hydrating foot scrub, or a peppermint cooling scalp massage.
Krystal's journey into the wellness trade began in Florida, where she earned her massage license. When she moved to Austin, her expertise in neuromuscular therapy and Swedish massage proved so impressive to the locals that she soon decided to open her own wellness spa. Her vision found its realization in The Natural Way, a suite spa with four private treatment rooms and a team of therapists who specialize in five types of therapeutic massage. Among these, the ancient method of ashiatsu is a standout. Its foot pressures are designed to ease chronic pains, increase blood flow, and reset the hard drive at the base of the spine.
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.
You might call Paul Jones, managing partner of Elements Laser Spa, a bit of a technology junkie. He worked in the semiconductors industry for years, making equipment for manufacturers in Silicon Valley before deciding to fly solo. He created a company that used lasers to inspect the surface of semiconductor wafers and the insides of sandwich cookies. Jones then collaborated with a group of orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists to found what has become one of the leading rehabilitation clinics in the Austin area.
It's no surprise, then, that his latest endeavor—two hip, welcoming laser spas—have taken home four Best of CitySearch awards: in the laser-hair-removal category in 2009 and 2010, and in the hair-removal category in 2011 and 2013. Jones has chosen medical directors who match his zeal for innovation, namely plastic surgeon Dr. Vishnu Rumalla and Dr. Shirat Ling, an expert in medical aesthetic procedures. The staff of certified technicians uses Venus Freeze to tighten skin and reduce wrinkles, Zerona lasers to noninvasively reduce stubborn fat, and advanced Candela systems to remove hair, spider veins, and sun spots.
Practicing in aesthetics and pain management since 2004, Leslie Escalante has concluded that natural remedies can enhance the practice of Western medicine. She left her position as an assistant to a board-certified physician to open Balanced Health & Beauty, where she melds medical practices with natural solutions to combat physical aging. She recruited Dr. J. Scott Gaertner, a board-certified family practitioner and graduate of The University of Texas Medical School, to oversee the center's more involved procedures. These include FDA-cleared cosmetic injections that require absolute precision to create firm, smooth skin, and personalized hormone-replacement regimes that mitigate the fatigue caused by winding the town clock daily.
Representing Escalante's interest in holistic wellness, the center also fosters proper nutrition with Xymogen vitamin supplements and a variety of diet plans. Multitalented lasers use radio frequency to gently clear detritus from pores, evict unwanted hairs, or diminish visible sun damage or spider veins. Traditional facials target conditions specific to each patient's skin type with chocolate antioxidants and pumpkin enzymes, and peels rely on serums from PCA Skin and Obagi to reveal healthy, youthful complexions.