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.
Housed within an inviting red-brick home, Cassandra’s Family Salon and Day Spa ushers clients into spacious rooms filled with natural light. Hair services commence at sleek white porcelain shampooing stations, and facials and body-sculpting treatments transpire in private treatment rooms dimmed by sturdy curtains. The salon also comprises a toddler-friendly playroom with books, toys, and a racecar activity rug where kids can get an early start on parallel-parking skills.
Armed with chocolate wax for sensitive skin, Curl Up & Dye Salon and Spa’s licensed aestheticians efficiently eradicate hairs to keep skin smooth and clean. Professional de-fuzzers transform Bert brows into beautiful eye awnings by applying eyebrow waxes with clinical precision, curtail hair’s expansionist policies with bikini waxes, or remove all traces of hair in the bikini region with a Brazilian wax. After the 15- to 30-minute waxing session concludes, newly sleek skins can face the summer without worrying about burgeoning brow-hairs pushing the sunglasses right off their face.
Elements Salon and Day Spa represents the power of community. Its staff is comprised of independent specialists, all of whom continue to hone their talents in a shared space—a quaint salon that, on the outside, resembles a house on a small hill. Its team members combine their skill sets into a melting pot of cosmetic services that include precision haircuts, color services with Goldwell products, and special-occasion updos. Meanwhile, a nail technician prepares digits for vigorous handshakings with mani-pedis and acrylics and a waxing specialist leaves skin smooth and fuzz-free.
Given their emphasis on collaboration and solidarity, it's no surprise that the staff of Elements Salon and Day Spa also host benefits for the community at large. For example, they raise funds for breast-cancer awareness through an annual bake sale, where they dole out desserts, cotton candy, and discounted pink hair extensions.
At Glowing Skin & Nails, Shannon Tzikas has a knack for making her guests look and feel beautiful. And her skill comes not from applying makeup or altering their appearance, but rather by uncovering the fresh, healthy skin beneath. She customizes facials to suit her clients' individual needs, whether they have issues with acne, need to relax, or want to beat a newborn baby in a Most Youthful-Looking Skin competition. She also provides microdermabrasions to slough off dead skin and therapeutic masks to rejuvenate it.
Within the cream and burgundy oasis that is Euphoria Body Salon, a team of beautifiers with more than 50 years of combined experience get to work primping, pampering, and painting. Nail technicians administer mani-pedis decadent enough to warrant names like "whipped strawberry," handing each client a glass of bubbly before massaging hands and slicking them with polish. Dermaplane facials resurface tired façades, and hairstylists cut and color the coifs of women, men, and children.