To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
At eShave, experts specialize in men's shaving and grooming products that help customers look and feel good with natural, luxurious, and paraben-free products. eShave was founded by Danielle Malka, who first made inroads into the shaving business when she created a successful program to educate barbers in the UK. As the barbers' trade tips trickled down to consumers, her renown grew, and in 1996, she founded eShave to enhance the shaving experience through elegant razors, kits, and shaving creams devoid of the porcupine quills often found in competitors' products. Danielle still designs eShave's hand-sculpted, aesthetically unique razors, badger brushes, and shave stands, many of which have been featured in dozens of local and national health and lifestyle magazines.
At eShave's retail outlets, trained trimmers specialize in transforming masculine mugs from bushy to groomed with their signature barber services. Using the company's own products, its signature shaves begin with a relaxing hot-towel preparation and facial oil massage to open up the pores, followed by a hot lather to moisten and prepare skin for a close, comfortable shave or clever escape from pursuers. After coolly slicing bristles with a straight razor, a barber neatly wipes away all remaining evidence of his work and provides an aftershave moisturizer to prevent irritation and soothe nude jaws.
"Understanding that hair is the number one fashionable accessory that we have, nourishment and preservation is the highest priority," says Carlos, the owner of Shampoo Avenue B and one its senior stylists, on his webpage. But maintenance isn't the only goal of the salon's hair artists—they're also motivated by the desire to create something original that’s at once casually elegant and urban. Utilizing coloring treatments, biosofteners, and scissor skills honed on the ‘dos of countless coifs, the team creates striking new looks for its clientele. Each cut and style draws upon experience designing hair for editorial photo shoots and for celebrities "from Jimmy Page to Chloë Sevigny" according to New York magazine.
Though services such as punk color treatments and Brazilian blowouts give a glimpse of the salon’s bent and range, the decor of the space itself is perhaps more revealing. There, a bubbling cityscape drenched in wild pinks and yellows is entangled with an homage to graffiti and urbanization. Black-and-white illustrations run up the support columns and lend the ceiling a bit of chaos to offset the crystal chandeliers that pointedly bring the eye back to the styling stations, which are as elegant and crisp as a ball gown sewn from fresh hundred-dollar bills.
Large windows spill sunlight across the contemporary loft that houses Janet Rufin's Parlor, illuminating a funky portrait of a teal-lipped George Washington and delicate vases of yellow tulips at each stylist?s station. Inside, owner Janet Rufin, a master stylist with more than 19 years of experience who specializes in color correction and precision cuts, oversees a team of trained stylists. Though they are divvied up into different levels of expertise, Janet ensures clients always receive customized hair treatments and, as New York magazine puts it, "one-on-one attention from a doting staff."
Each haircut starts with a consultation and therapeutic shampoo and condition, and starburst and T-section highlights lighten locks at specific points on the head. Pravana products smooth unruly curls while Davines, Neuma, and Ecure shampoo and styling products make clients event-ready. Janet is not only dedicated to helping her clients with their beauty goals?she also looks out for her junior beauticians. The salon's apprentice program teaches aspiring stylists the ins-and-outs of the hair world as the experienced team keeps a close eye on their performance, ensuring treatments are well-executed and combs are never mistaken for scissors.
The Thai massage and facial treatments at Paul Labrecque Salon & Spa have received glowing praise from New York magazine and the New York Times, respectively, with the latter publication calling one of the salon's aestheticians ?one of Hollywood?s best-kept secrets.? A-list celebrities, including Pen?lope Cruz and Christy Turlington, visit to receive exfoliating treatments and in-depth facials with high-end products from Shiseido, qiora, and La Mer.
Founder Paul Labrecque treats his male and female clientele as friends and personally trains his staff in customer service and hand-to-hand combat against split ends. In addition to soothing skin during facials and microdermabrasion treatments, staffers massage muscles in eight different modalities. Their Eastern-inspired healing treatments, such as reiki and rolfing, honor the connection between the mind and body, and the salon and spa?s full list of services puts finishing touches on exteriors with haircare, makeup, and waxing, among other treatments. Each location hosts a separate, private men's salon that's part barbershop, part gentleman's club, and part knitting circle.
Art is all around on the eighth floor of Med?lla's Flat Iron District building, and not just when the salon is hosting fashion trunk shows in its loft space or doubling as an art gallery. That's because the salon's stylists?many of whom have been trained by Priv?, Frederick Fekkei, and Cutler?are constantly creating hair masterpieces by cutting, coloring, and straightening strands with Davines and Wella products. Highlights add depth to manes and emphasize bone structure, and thermal straightening and keratin treatments tame frizz.
Unlike the child billionaire who bought out the candy-apple industry, Medulla knows how to share. The salon offers private makeup and blow-drying classes to teach clients how to recreate their new looks at home. It also reserves space for Green Zen Organic Spa, where, amid antique Asian furnishings, aestheticians firm skin and clear complexions with antioxidant-rich ?minence products and LED and oxygen therapies.