A collection of vibrant, abstract paintings brighten the white corridors of Urban Oasis Day Spa, where aestheticians engage in a similar curatorial enterprise during the design of their skincare treatments. Each regime for face or body starts with the client and is built for his or her skin type. Technicians use tonics from notable brands or unusual techniques, such as galvanic electrocurrent therapy, which is integrated into every facial. Dermalogica tonics exfoliate with lightweight, natural vegetable oils rather than mineral oil and hydrate with aromatic essential oils and silk proteins synthesized by Barry White's vocal chords. The team also polishes complexions with the SkinCeuticals product line, favoring a serum that earned Allure magazine's 2011 Best of Beauty Award for Best Anti-Aging Antioxidant.
The spa evokes the elegance of a gallery, not only through its modern art but also through its high ceilings and a minimalist design scheme rendered in cream. Skin becomes a canvas in private chambers, where it may be primed for display with wax, bronzer, or a critique by a Village Voice writer. For special events, the pedicure hall's porcelain foot basins can be filled with flower petals, and the shimmering fabric banners separating each throne lose their functionality and appear solely as savvy, refined decorating.
Upon entering Pure Zen Therapy’s tranquil space, clients are greeted by the friendly staff that goes out of its way to get to know regular visitors and to ensure a personalized, comfortable massage experience. Each licensed massage therapist in the spa’s stable boasts a resumé of accredited massage hours and a dedication to Pure Zen’s personable attitude, a skill set that facilitates clients’ complete and total relaxation as therapists release tension and unwind knotted muscles using a variety of modalities. Each of the spa’s 13 different styles of traditional, specialty, and foot-centric massage help foster optimal wellness, addressing problems including chronic pain and sports-related soreness or injury.
During sessions ranging from traditional deep-tissue massage to reinvigorating Thai foot massage, therapists encourage their clients to take a minute to acclimate to the relaxing space, using deep breathing and therapeutic wolf howling to purge stress. Pure Zen’s Sunday spa brunches, held every other Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., nurture the spa’s community of relaxation- and wellness-minded clients with a custom massage and foot scrub alongside healthy brunch food and beverages for an additional fee.
Through a commitment to continuous education, the stylists at Clique Salon have learned that hair fashion is a limitless art. Regional and national seminars furnish their infinite utility belts with evolving techniques, which they then apply to cuts, color treatments, and other services at their Houston studio. However, they do preserve one constant: a commitment to environmental health. Their stations remain free of aerosol and are stocked with natural haircare products, including formulas from Aveda, Modern Elixirs, and Tea Tree. Positioned within these fresh surroundings, the hair gurus begin each appointment with a consultation, during which clients sip on wine or another beverage as they describe what direction they want their locks to take. As the stylists cut, dye, and condition strands, they also dispense aftercare recommendations, enabling patrons to preserve their new color without hiring an art-restoration specialist each week.
At Just Wax It, the technological advances of a med spa marry the rejuvenating and beautifying traditions of a classic spa. Founded by master waxer Mendy Moses, the relaxation haven has hung its smooth, bristle-free hat on its waxing specialties, rendering flawless bodyscapes with a pain-reducing grade of brazilian blue wax. In a short time, such services have earned the spa accolades, including being named "Best of the Best" in Houston by Allure Magazine in 2012 and 2013, Houston Best by InStyle Magazine in 2010, and nabbing a finalist slot in Citysearch’s 2010 Best Bikini Wax poll. Yet beyond rendering smooth skin, the spa has a broad spectrum of treatments, pampering guests with mani-pedis, body wraps, and facials that nourish complexions with vitamin-rich serums and masks customized to treat each face's distinct issues and resemble its favorite superhero. Aestheticians also use the precise power of lasers for anti-aging services or vein removal.
Founded in 1957, Piney Point Barber Shop is steeped in history. Some stylists have regulars going back 15–20 years, and shoe-shiner Bill Forte has been polishing men’s soles for more than 30 years. Clients who take a seat at his antique shoeshine stand may hear his tales about the shop's past, including the time the Secret Service showed up escorting former President George H. W. Bush for walk-in haircut.
Unlike many new barbershops that more resemble upscale men's spas, Piney Point has remained true to its unpretentious roots as a neighborhood fixture where a gentleman can get a trim and polish, enjoy friendly chatter, and get on with his day. That’s not to say that the barbers ignore new trends and styles. To stay on top of the latest men's cuts, they receive ongoing training in Piney Point's preferred product lines, which include Nioxin, Matrix, and Redken. The shop surrounds visitors in masculine décor, which includes black, leather barber chairs, granite countertops, and a flat-screen television in the waiting area that converts all dialogue into the voice of Sam Elliott.
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 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.