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.
Both co-owners of HealthPoint RX help patients decide what to put in their bodies—family nurse practitioner Ginger Dailey by recommending medications and delivering injections of Botox and Juvéderm, and licensed dietician Annsley Ulrich by designing nutrition plans. Together, they run a facility where sclerotherapy vanquishes spider veins and appetite suppressants curb the urge to splice your genes with those of a cake. Perhaps most importantly, their monthly nutritional counseling outfits clients with personalized meal plans, a practice that helps them lose weight without endangering their health.
Owner and aesthetician Katrina Barringer opened Skin Essentials Laser and Medical Spa in 1999, and has since recruited an elite team of eight that includes a physician and a licensed acupuncturist. Each of the women on staff boasts a specialty such as bamboo-fusion massage, eyelash extensions, or aromatherapy that smells like colors. Barringer's interests are of an academic complexion, as she penned an award-winning paper and is one of 67 laser technicians without an M.D. degree to be accepted into the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.
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.
Licensed massage therapists with a minimum of 10 years' experience each knead curmudgeonly knots and help correct postural imbalances with massage modalities influenced by a variety of international techniques. In Tribal sessions, therapists grab bamboo sticks to smooth out tight muscles and communicate lullabies to sinews via Morse code. Zen sessions employ hot stones and towels soaked in green tea and essential oils to release deep muscle tension and restore bodily balance. Specialists pour warm, organic coconut oil over stressed sinews to facilitate the Cashmere massage while calming nerves, fighting fatigue, and softening skin to hush sensitive sweaters. Clients revel in deep-tissue primordial pampering during the Ancient of Days massage, which is performed on a floor mat and combines Fijian barefoot massage with Thai, Hawaiian, and Persian techniques.
Melissa Johnson loves to make women feel gorgeous. It's a passion she cultivated in her native Boston, where she trained at the Catherine Hinds Institute of Esthetics, racking up 100 hours training in eyelash application and earning certification from Xtreme Lashes. In that time, Johnson learned how to analyze the anatomy of each eye and how to tailor applications to each client's cheekbones, jawline, and second nose. The schooling paid off, with her talents meriting features in Boston Weddings magazine and on styleboston television.
Today, Johnson runs Glance in Concord. During the same lash applications that took Beantown by storm, Johnson attaches individual semipermanent extensions to each of the client's natural lashes, adding volume and definition like a book-of-the month club that only offers dictionaries. On the other end of the hair spectrum, Glance smoothes skin with a host of waxing services. To extend the beautification to the entire visage, Johnson is currently building a menu of invigorating facials that already includes the PYT facial, which wrangles electric currents that infuse faces with botanical palliatives to send wrinkles packing.