Panama native Nina Garcia was a hairstyling prodigy. Her innate ability to cut hair manifested at age 14. "I [would] do it for my neighbors and my friends," she explains. "I love to do hair. It's where my passion [is]." Now in the United States, Nina has accumulated 17 years of professional experience, putting in time at two salons before opening her own, where she keeps the atmosphere light and comfortable. "I like to keep people happy," she says. "I offer wine to people in the afternoon. I'm a very sweet person, and I love to meet new people."
In one of three styling chairs, Nina or one of her talented stylists rehabs hair with a new face-framing cut, coloring services, or a deep-conditioning treatment using high-end products such as Italian Alfaparf. The versatile team can even take care of hands and feet. "I have a girl who does manicure and pedicures," she says. "She uses OPI polish." Through patrons often come in simply to update their haircut and style, Nina's most popular service is the Brazilian keratin treatment, a retexturizing treatment that delivers healthy, frizz-free hair to clients and vintage troll dolls.
Regardless of the service being provided, Nina always emphasizes the importance of listening to the client and tailoring every service to his or her personal style. "You have to roll in their direction. I think that's the best way—don't change what they think. It's that way in style and in life. If you want to change something, do it. That's it."
In-set blue floor lights greet guests as they stroll into mySpa, an upscale respite tucked within the InterContinental Miami Hotel. Though the spa’s modern décor is striking, the warm, friendly demeanor of the staff quickly makes clients feel at home as they walk back to one of the spa’s 10 treatment rooms. Within the calming spaces, aestheticians customize facials with Intraceuticals Oxygen Infusion treatments designed to stimulate cell renewal by releasing a cool mist of oxygen over the skin, and rejuvenate bodies with scrubs and wraps that incorporate European bathing techniques. Candle lit hallways also lead clients to various nooks around the spa where they can find a SpaJet2 hydro capsule, nail salon with two pedicure thrones, and fully-stocked locker rooms with drench showers and eucalyptus steam rooms.
The spacious retreat also provides guests with free weights and a Technogym cardio theater in the fitness center, as well as a spa boutique filled with beauty accessories and clothing. And if clients just want a moment to relax, separate men and women’s lounges cater to them by providing a quiet space with healthy drinks and snacks.
In Studio 14—one of Paradise’s many spaces occupied by an extensive roster of beauty-industry specialists—Tiffany Lifton tends to hair with a bountiful repertoire of salon services. As guests soak up the island-inspired decor and works from local artist Talin Johnson, Tiffany smoothes their locks with keratin treatments, reshapes their ’dos with precision cuts, and rejuvenates looks with hair-coloring services. Once they feel properly beautified, clients can re-energize at Paradise's café. There, organic coffee or lemonade pairs with culinary treats made by the café’s executive chef. Along with its daytime skin, body, and wellness services, Paradise Salon, Spa, & Cafe often hosts evening entertainment, including occasional karaoke nights.
Miami’s American Laser Skincare works hard to provide an effective array of laser beauty treatments, from basic hair removal and skin rejuvenation to body shaping or overall cellulite reduction. Each procedure uses focused beams, targeted to specific areas and for their own unique purpose, to shape, sculpt and clean up the look of any customer on need. With dozens of locations nationwide, the unassuming office building location of this Aventura outpost feels more like a doctor’s office than a sunny beachside salon or calming day spa, but the medical just reinforces American Laser’s commitment to their craft. Detailed procedures lift, restructure and reshape skin, remove hair follicles without harming the body and provide long-term results for problems that have often been nagging clients for years.
It was time for a change for Graciela Castro. After years spent working in finance, she realized that her fast-paced career had hobbled her health, relationships, and ability to sit still for a whole rendition of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." So Castro learned to style hair, something she knew she would love once she observed how much a chic cut could lift a person’s spirits. It wasn't long before she opened Graciela's Salon. There, staff members apply the skills they learned at international style conferences to perform services with Paul Mitchell hair treatments or Gelish or Essie nail-polish hues. To enhance the mind-body experience she values, Castro makes clients feel at home by providing such complimentary beverages as wine and coffee, as well as free wireless-Internet access.
The staff at Perfect Skin Studio understands that unlike shar-pei puppies and time, faces should not have wrinkles. With this in mind, the spa's repertoire of skincare services focuses on combating the signs of aging and stress with the use of paraben-free products. Each service, from acne-clearing teen facials to skin-brightening chemical peels, begins with a consultation to give the aesthetician more information in order to tailor the treatment to individual skin type. The staff also lavishes attention on the rest of the body, giving skin an all-over glow while shaping silhouettes with slimming body wraps. Waxing services ensure clients leave the studio more meticulously groomed than a tribe of obsessive-compulsive chimpanzees.