C'est La Vie Hair Boutique & Spa's private manicure and pedicure stations reside in a cove that's as stylish as the nails that emerge from it, its deep-blue walls and plush leather chairs partitioned off by attractive drapery. This appreciation of the finer things extends to the lineup of spa and salon products: staffers use popular OPI polishes to paint nails and Goldwell products to add color to hair that's dabbling in the artsy black-and-white phase of its career. Though the spa specializes in bridal hair and makeup services, men shouldn't feel left out, as the slate of male-centric treatments includes beard grooming, gray-hair blending, and even a special men's facial.
Ulta's licensed staff, which partakes in ongoing training to keep skills sharp, creates customized looks and expert image enhancement using acclaimed beauty products. Like a loaf of bread in a space shuttle with a broken sunroof, hairstyles can grow stale between salon visits. A 45-minute coif-cultivation session, in which the stylist takes into account face shape and lifestyle, energizes follicles and forges a salon-fresh look. In the one-hour Dermalogica facial, an aesthetic augur examines skin in order to customize a course of cleansing, toning, and moisturizing session with Dermalogica products. The treatment leaves skin impeccable, like a recently buffed and oiled slab of marble.
John Montalto, a 26-year veteran of the hair-styling industry, delivers a variety of luxurious treatments for men and women at his Western Springs salon and spa. Deft hands transform female tresses with custom cuts and colors and sweep strands into updos for charity balls or cubes. Manly follicles flee from faces after hot shaves, beard trims, and mustache modifications. A mirrored wall reflects aestheticians as they cosset nail beds during mani-pedi, and potted foliage shades clientele during facials, waxing, and various modalities of massage.
At The Geldner Center, plastic surgeons Dr. Peter D. Geldner and Dr. Lawrence H. Iteld renovate façades with a bouquet of reconstructive procedures and noninvasive cosmetic tweaks. Named one of the nation's Top Doctors by US News & World Report, Dr. Geldner uses advanced medical technology—including Palomar and Sciton lasers—to help clients look and feel better, whether through face-lifts, eyelid lifts, nose reshaping, or chin augmentation. Lead aesthetician Deanna Stellato, one of four licensed aestheticians on staff, performs skin-renewing chemical peels, which exfoliate the skin and boost its ability to hold moisture while reducing the appearance of fine lines. Clients may also opt to pamper their countenances with classic facials, microdermabrasion, and gentle butterfly kisses from reflections.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.”
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand’s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
The stylists at XEX Hair Gallery love being in downtown Chicago. “It’s such a blend of different kinds of people down here,” says David Perry, co-founder and lead stylist at the Aveda concept salon. For such a diverse clientele, stylists are trained in-house to master haircare for all ethnicities. They also travel around the country to attend ongoing-education classes. “We always try to stay up on what’s current and what’s in fashion,” Perry says.
There’s a notable visual difference between XEX Hair Gallery and most other salons—pieces of Venetian Murano glass artwork by Raphael Darra provide bold pops of pigment along the salon’s neutral-toned walls. Besides giving the salon a funky, artsy feel, the pieces serve as a metaphor. “Hair is art,” Perry says. “Not only does [the art] bring a lot of color to the salon, it also reflects the individuality of what people are.” If the art on the walls recalls a hip coffee shop or David Geffen's attic, it’s not an unfounded connection. Perry calls his salon a “discharging chamber . . . where people come in and they feel like it’s home. People know your name, you feel welcome, it’s a cool place.”
As for the coffee, the salon serves wine and beer, but someone will run out and get a cup of joe for clients if that’s what they request. Says Perry, “You name it, we’ll get it for them.”