In the late 1920s, the Great Depression was rendering most Americans professionally and financially paralyzed. But in a small California kitchen, Merle Nethercutt Norman was putting a plan in motion to formulate her own skincare products and share them with family and friends. She truly believed in her formulas, knowing that by getting them on as many faces as possible, she would develop a following of customers. She was right—within a few years she and her nephew were opening their first studio in Santa Monica, and they eventually unveiled a series of independently operated stores that enabled women to take ownership during a time of gender-based limitations such as men-only restrooms.
Today, in approximately 2,000 stores across three countries, the three basic principles of Merle's original vision still apply. Each studio is independently owned and fosters an in-depth knowledge of the company's own line of makeup and skincare products. Just as Merle shared her creations with close friends and sallow mannequins more than 80 years ago, today's aestheticians embody the business's "try before you buy" philosophy. A menu of complimentary studio services—from foundation checks to express facials—allows patrons to sample the lauded brand before committing to the purchase of products or full spa treatments.
Terri L. Petta, of TLP Nails, showers digits with TLC. She decorates keratin sheets in vivid hues of OPI nail gel polishes. This application aims to protect tips from chips or scratches for up to two weeks. Her full-service pedicures lull puppies into relaxation with a foot soak in a whirlpool bath and sugar foot scrub.
During her long tenure behind the nail counter, technician Linda Henson has refined her skills in everything from filing ragged edges to expertly applying durable, long-lasting Shellac. She takes her time at every stage of the manicure, never making her customers feel rushed, as she corrals cuticles and adds prismatic pop to nails with a rainbow of polish shades.
Pulling from her training in contemporary nail-technician techniques, Jamie adorns nails in shades of soft pink, red, or purple. The skilled specialist boasts a diverse collection of shellac nail polish, which is known for its durability and mirror-like finish.
The seasoned stylists at Charlie’s East Coast Hair Designs keep skin radiant and strands carefully arranged with haircuts, facials, and massages. Inside Charlie's, a black leather couch hosts visitors, and the granite-topped color bar holds varied shades of hair for customer perusal. Plants provide a backdrop to the tile-floored beauty palace where aestheticians spruce up visages with facials or makeup, coating skinscapes with elegant coloring or neon-green in-house chlorophyll.
Nail specialist Sam has painted thousands upon thousands of nails during her six years as a nail technician. After clipping, filing, and buffing nails, Sam uses steady hands to cover nails with vibrant, high-quality polish. She also focuses on the rest of the hands and feet, softening skin with a sugar scrub and curtailing calluses. Her work inside The Hamptons Tanning & Salon is accented with relaxing music and the occasional guest yodeler.