Though her ability to untie knots rivals that of a sailor, licensed massage therapist Lorna Ellis-Harding has been relieving aches and pains for long enough to understand the limitations of massage. Rather than rely solely on her Swedish, deep-tissue, and sports techniques, she draws from other areas of traditional and alternative medicine to craft treatment plans for the whole body. Her acupressure massages, for example, incorporate the principles of Eastern acupuncture to apply healing pressure to specific points of energy across the body. When she isn’t balancing energy or coaxing out toxins with gentle lymphatic-drainage techniques, Lorna consults with other local businesses to help her clients manage their weight and make healthful lifestyle decisions, such as refraining from eating french fries while juggling chainsaws.
A certain hominess shines through at JoBella Salon and Spa. The shop is named for the co-owner’s children, Joe and Bella, and the Branford location is nestled inside a two-story house surrounded by trees and green grass. Skilled stylists and aestheticians at both locations tap into an arsenal of elixirs from Arrojo and skincare products by Aveda. When they aren't beautifying clients from the neck up, they primp nails, knead sinews, and leave legs wrapped in seaweed like a sleeping sushi chef.
Kirk Scarlett is on the advisory board at Branford Hall Career Institute, where he works with faculty, students, and outside health-care professionals to promote massage and its benefits in the community. Kirk is also a licensed massage therapist, spreading his massage gospel more directly out of his cozy Healing Hands Studio. Guests can solicit him for flowing Swedish strokes, as well as more focused techniques such as deep tissue and sports therapy.
Owner Lisa Primps and her team of aestheticians, electrologists, and permanent-makeup artists have dedicated the past 21 years to helping clients reach a state of relaxation via treatments that fuse alternative and clinical spa methods. In doing so, they reach for Jan Marini, Dermalogica, and Bioelements skincare products during facials and peels, which can further be enhanced with microdermabrasion and ultrasonic technology. Rather than relying on hypnosis, aestheticians safely subtract unwanted hair from the follicles with traditional waxing or electrolysis, which uses disposable gold probes. Lisa applies her aesthetic knowledge and years of experience?which includes postgraduate work at the International Dermal Institute?during telangiectasia treatments, which gently remove broken capillaries and skin tags from the face and chest.
Just as The Primping Place Spa?s treatments stay ahead of the curve, so does its decor. The reception and treatment room is decorated from floor to ceiling with renewable materials, including Benjamin Moore VOC-free Natura paint, natural-bamboo blinds, and cotton drapes. A series of potted philodendrons help cleanse the air more effectively than washing its mouth out with soap. The Spa also sells Scentsy wickless candles and offers free tastings of weight-loss shakes and cleanses from Isagenix.
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 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.
Black accents stylishly pop against the purple walls of Jules Salon, surrounding clients in chic elegance synonymous with the styling crew’s hair-snipping abilities. With 16 years of experience of her own, the eponymous stylist proudly works alongside her handpicked staff—Gina, Julia (“JJ”), and Lindsay—updating coifs with precision cuts, expert color treatments, and a few other tricks hidden up their sleeves. Masterfully executed products by Alfaparf Milano take standard color treatments, such as full or partial highlights and full-blown color swaps, to a whole new level, and potent Blue Rain conditioning serums repair broken and damaged strands better than wallowing in a pint of ice cream and listening to “All by Myself” on loop. The team retexturizes curly-cued mop tops with La Brasiliana keratin treatments and adds hair-flip worthy length with professional extensions.