Helmed by ambidextrous hairdresser Ben De Cordova, who garnered a first-place Green Award at the 2010 International Fantasy Hair Competition, Salon De Cordova soothes strands and shoulders with passionate attention to artistry and detail. Wig whisperers wield well-sharpened scissors to tame overgrown dos (a $40 value), releasing bad dreams that have been trapped in there for months. After blowing bristles smooth and dry, a soothing shiatsu massage (a $35 value) squeezes stress from the client's scalp and neck, as well as squeezes rainwater from their shoulder pads. Heads depart Salon de Cordova silkier, slightly lighter, and accentuated with a relaxed smile.
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
Products by Paul Mitchell, Redken, and Nexxus are only an arm’s length away from the talented stylists at Universal Hair Studio, where owner Cheryl Lynn and her team dole out a laundry list of hair-care services. Both men and women can stop by the studio for a quick cut or color treatment, and men can stick around for a hot shave.
The team also treats clients to a range of styling services, from smooth and sleek relaxers and Afro blowouts to press and curls, gel twists, and design braids. Women who yearn for floor-sweeping locks a la their favorite movie star or willow tree can ask for full or partial extensions.
At Artistic Cuts Salon & Spa, a cool blue tile mosaic greets visitors when they approach the desk, scarcely concealing murals of swans and cranes that usher in a feeling of serenity. Beneath hanging lanterns, specialists perform a variety of salon and spa services for men and women. Stylists tame locks with custom haircuts, coloring, perms, and straightening treatments, which can be complemented by other beauty services such as waxing and permanent makeup. Spa technicians also reward bodies with massages, facials, and skin treatments such as microdermabrasion.
Don't be surprised if you notice a natural rapport between the stylists at Stagecraft LLC. Since the salon never rents out chairs to individual contractors, the stylists—all of whom graduated from Paul Mitchell schools—work together as a team while their clients sit back with a glass of wine, soft drink, or coffee. That means they can collaborate, if necessary, to devise a haircut, style, or coloring treatment using Paul Mitchell products.
Though the bright colors and mod furniture of South Beach Tanning’s numerous salons may tempt clients to kick back for hours, that’s not the staff’s goal. Instead, they strive to provide swift, hassle-free tans that get clients out the door quickly to enjoy the day. Each of the chain’s salons boasts a floor plan that is twice as large as the average tanning salon, which increases the likelihood that a bed will be free and therefore reduces annoying wait times. Guests can choose from five tiers of UV beds, whose successive levels beget increased bulb output and more amenities to imbue swifter, more comfortable tans. For a UV-free glow, customers can opt to hop in the salon’s automated VersaSpa booths, which guide jets of pigmented formula from head to toe in only 46 seconds to grant a look as summery as boat sails composed of stitched-together bikinis.