When they first cut the ribbon on Milvali Salon & Cosmetics' namesake location in Mill Valley, beauty experts and best friends Jessika Adams de Vazquez and Deb Monti couldn't have guessed where their partnership would lead. In the nearly 10 years since, the dynamic duo has opened a second location in San Francisco and guided the salons through three expansions. The pair also filled both locations’ shelves with their own signature line of mineral- and botanical-based skincare products, which their experienced team of aestheticians incorporates into a variety of custom facials.
But skincare isn't the only thing that Milvali is renowned for. The salon was voted the best place to go for hair extensions on the 2012 Bay Area A-List and was a finalist in the Best Bikini Wax category. To earn this regard, the beauty gurus specialize in Brazilian bikini waxes, using imported wax from Italy that is delicate enough to use on sensitive skin or between the Mona Lisa’s eyebrows.
A massage practitioner for more than two decades, Dalila Cunha passionately pursues a nontoxic lifestyle for herself and a nontoxic massage experience for her clients. During custom massages, she soothes battered bodies and applies concentrated pressure to help reverse the individual's particular ailments, such as fatigue, stress, or anxiety over whether to eat a sweet or savory brunch. Fair-trade candles made of beeswax and palm-wax burn softly as clients rest on organic linens. Organic goods ensconce guests at every level—from organic oils and lotions applied during the massage to a stock of organic tea in the waiting room.
After working for years alongside chiropractors, Yvonne Street considers herself an expert at relieving the chronic aches and pains that result from injuries and constant stress. The certified therapist specializes in five massage modalities—Swedish, shiatsu, deep-tissue, prenatal, and trigger-point therapy—and draws liberally on Eastern and Western techniques to craft bodywork treatments that suit her clients’ individual needs. In 60- or 90-minute sessions, she combines long, gliding strokes, pinpointed kneads, and relaxing prods to leave bodies loose enough to help a genie move into its apartment.:m]]
At GroundedBodywork, licensed massage therapist Jess Coe facilitates a deep healing process that transcends the relaxing effects of general spa massage. By reestablishing structural imbalances and acute issues, he aims to bring clients relief from their pain and foster a sense of well-being that brings about both physical and emotional balance. Though Jess offers everything from Swedish massage to neuro muscular reprogramming, he performs every treatment with his clients’ specific ailments and needs in mind, crafting a personalized approach that meets their specific needs.
Walking up the shrub- and tree-lined path that leads to F. Joseph Smith's Massage Therapy Center, tugged along by the fresh air and fragrance of flowers, it’s easy to forget that you're only minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge. Miles of walking trails and bike paths crisscross Mill Valley and the nearby slopes of Mount Tamalpais, cutting out the remnants of the city and setting the scene for total relaxation. While providing further privacy, the walls around each hot tub allow bubble-bound guests a view of this peace and the surrounding redwood trees. These ancient kings seem to refute the existence of time, as does a soothing session in the cedar or infrared sauna, some reflective time beneath a vine-covered trellis in the outdoor meditation area, or a companion with a broken watch.
But founder Joseph Smith believes that no matter how beautiful he makes the center, it is the skill and experience of his staff that is of the utmost importance. The massage teacher—who has been practicing since 1974 and developed a bodywork method he calls Smithing—handpicks muscle menders based on a careful evaluation of their abilities, including their knowledge of advanced modalities such as lymphatic, shiatsu, and acupressure massage. To further promote wellness, Smith has selected experts in acupuncture and herbal medicine and aesthetic treatments, and the center also sells crystals, whose hollow interiors sparkle throughout the scenic grounds.
Dedicated massage therapist Stuart Satterfield soothes aches, pains, and tension through custom massage bodywork treatments. Well versed in an array of modalities, including Swedish, deep-tissue, and energy work, Stuart has traveled as far as Bangkok and Hawaii and attended several schools along the West Coast to study the art of unwinding. He eschews extensive conversation, instead going straight to work to target each individual's specific problem areas, from a typist's sore shoulders to an air guitarist's sore rotator cuff.