Marta Wozniak, owner of Blu Laguna Salon and Spa, was training at the prestigious Pivot Point International Academy in Chicago when she decided to put her hairdressing skills to the test at the Midwest Beauty Show. This proved to be a wise move, as she won first place out of 132 other competitors from across the country. Her triumph caught the eye of beauty heavyweights at Elizabeth Arden's Red Door Spa, who brought her on staff and launched her career in the salon world. Eventually, Marta shifted her focus to the sunny scenery of California, where she worked in a few salons before opening her own.
True to its name, the decor of Blu Laguna evokes the feel of a tranquil shoreline. Dangling glass bubbles bend the image of ocean-blue walls in the waiting area, which leads onto a mod, minimalist salon floor whose stark blue and white color scheme is only interrupted by the solitary flower that adorns each styling station. Here, Marta's staff of salon and spa experts—made up of a diverse combination of pros fresh to the industry and those with more than two decades in the business—brightens exteriors with haircuts, skincare, massages, and makeup services. When they aren't polishing clients, the specialists are sharpening their skills in fashion shows, photo shoots, and guerrilla makeovers on unsuspecting crossing guards.
Every salon claims that their tanning formula is one-of-a-kind. But at Unique Tan, it's actually true?owner Sherrie Lee Meredith developed it herself. Her signature spray-tanning blend, Unique Excellence, tints skin with a paraben-free solution of organic aloe vera, berry essences, and a firming serum to stave off the signs of aging. The formula also contains erythrulose, which can produce a longer-lasting bronze glow, and, because it's alcohol-free, helps keep skin moisturized and streak-free. The salon's Smart Tan?certified staff uses this in both automated booths and custom airbrushing sessions, which harness the steady hand of a tanning artist to ensure tans completely cover skin and finally even the score with haughty bronze statues.
The salon also offers traditional UV-tanning beds, which contain comfort-adding amenities such as air conditioning, aromatherapy, adjustable facial bulbs, and easy-to-follow voice instructions. Clients can enhance their tans with the salon's line of tan-accelerating products, which extend the life of each tan by keeping skin moisturized and healthy.
Equipped with all-natural Aveda products, the stylists at Salon La Mer & Spa update hair with styling services for men and women. Each service begins with a personal consultation, wherein the stylist considers the client's hair texture and lifestyle and maintenance desires before creating an ideal new look. The salon and spa provides more than haircare, though. It pampers guests with Epicuren Discovery facials and skin treatments, as well as nailcare, makeup, and hair removal. And, unlike traditional salons and spas, Salon La Mer & Spa offers med-spa services, such as skin-tightening and Botox sessions.
From her styling station at Salon Tiare International Hair Design, stylist Annette Rayfield draws on more than a dozen years of experience to create hairstyles for her clients. Classes in American style capitals including Chicago, New York, and Las Vegas inform her work, which includes specialties such as color treatment and bridal hair designs. Whether straightening out wild frizz or reshaping silhouettes with new cuts, Annette also indulges her artistic side, delivering fashion-forward styles that outwardly express her clients’ personalities.
Mary Ann Kilgore always wears sandals. So she used to obsess over the condition of her feet, a preoccupation she was able to turn into an occupation upon becoming a training manager for Minx Nails. The Minx process uses adhesive colors and designs that, when heated, bond to nails with an effect similar to shrink-wrap or the vacuum cleaner on Superman's back that sucks his cape tight. This enables the pedicure to last for up to six weeks, a feat Mary Ann was so continually impressed with that she no longer wanted to just train Minx stylists—she wanted to be one.
Along with her experience as a nail technician at The Spa at Pelican Hill, which boasts one of Forbes' elite five-star ratings, Mary Ann used her Minx training to open her own nail studio. Despite its cheeky name, The OC Minx is more serene than social: she is the only practitioner and works with clients one-on-one in a completely private space decorated with plants, candles, and cushy earth-toned furniture. She does more than just Minx pedicures here, though, as she also blends OPI polishes for custom colors, administers Shellac manicures, and gives hot-stone massages as part of spa pedicures or to overworked pedicure chairs.