As a trained image consultant with an MBA of her own, Venice Salon and Spa owner Tahita Doyle knows the power of appearance. "It's about having confidence," she says. Tucked within Houston's business district, Venice Salon and Spa offers a serene retreat from the bustle of the city. Understanding that many of their clients are working professionals who have limited time between meetings and executive-level karate matches that determine who gets the corner office, nail technicians quickly and expertly gussy up extremities using OPI and Shellac polishes. Meanwhile, hairstylists wield scissors, blow dyers, and Schwarzkopf salon-exclusive styling products to create new looks.
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.
All of the barbers at Shave have been trained by Master Barber Perry Gastis to ensure that their straight-razor shaves and barber cuts are up to snuff. The shop is one of the few barbershops with a staff trained in the use of Gastis’s Gentlemens Refinery line of all-natural, organic shaving products. Each shave comes with steaming hot towels and a luxurious shaving-cream lather, ensuring a close enough shave to pass inspection by the panel of gentlemen’s valets who license all barbers.
The staff supplies a complimentary beer or whiskey to each guest who takes a seat in the wood-and-leather styling thrones. The waiting area’s old-fashioned quilted armchairs and sprawling animal-pelt rug recall the smoking lounge of a gentlemen’s club of long ago, though a chunk of modern Houston skyline gleams through full-length windows just beyond.
At more than 30 locations in the Houston area, clients check in at marble-fronted reception desks to meet with a member of Darque Tan's International Smart Tan Network—staff trained to determine the best path to their bronzing goals. Sessions take place in private rooms that line a column-flanked hallway, where five different levels of UV beds give skin the perfect level of tanning. Mystic Tan and VersaSpa sunless-tanning systems imbue clients with a hydrating, natural-looking glow, which can be customized according to skin tone, desired shade, and spirit animal. A full-time cleaning staff keeps each center in pristine conditions by referencing a 50-point inspection system. Most locations have books, televisions, and kids’ play areas to keep children entertained while adults are bronzing.
Rumor Has It Nail Spa's staff soothes and cossets the body and skin of its clients with a selection of beautifying spa services. Patrons can treat frazzled faces with a 30-minute facial treatment, utilizing Dermalogica products to cleanse and scrub visages free of microscopic skin-cell graffiti, to extract lurking beasties (as needed), to soothe skin with a mask, and to pamper it with toner and skin protection. The Rush Hour mani-pedi option drenches dehydrated digits in an aromatherapy green-tea soak to infuse skin with concentrated antioxidants for a toned, rejuvenated feel. Fingers and toes coast on further waves of relaxation with a warm-towel service.
The aesthetic experts at White Salon & Skincare Center team up to bring extra energy to tired limbs, smooth out weatherworn skin, and rehabilitate dull coiffures. During the Swedish massage, deft hands put light- to medium-pressure on the area surrounding spines in an effort to get knotted muscles to unwind and relax. Using long, connective strokes and kneading to improve blood flow, it stimulates the lymphatic system, relieves physical tension, and melts stress into a puddle of biodegradable papier-mâché. The White mini facial begins with a double cleanse from a Sonicare brush, followed by a skin-steaming to shoo out the unwelcome toxins boarded up inside pores. An aesthetician then exfoliates dermal terrains and extracts dirt and oil from facial fissures. While allowing a mask to set, limbs loosen with a hand and arm massage before a final layer of SkinCeuticals products completes the treatment.