At 50th Avenue Salon, clients needn't twiddle their thumbs as they wait for color treatments to sink into their hair. Instead, they can recline in a massage chair for a soothing upper-body treatment, which is charged by the minute. The salon staff members encourage the mixing and matching of their respective services, enabling clients to depart the space fully confident and refreshed. Clients can pair cuts with temporary hair or feather extensions that add vibrant streaks without dye. Several of the stylists specialize in crafting boldly tinted dos; they don't shy from bright blonds, reds, and even purples. Nail technicians pamper hands and feet with mani-pedis, and private massages take place on a table or a thai mat, where the therapist guides physiques through soothing stretches.
Regardless of the reason for their appointment, clients remain surrounded by sunny, pastel yellow walls. Works by local artists decorate the space on a rotating basis, allowing new painters to showcase their talent and removing old pictures before they grow stale when chewed. Handcrafted bags and jewelry also hang in the boutique area, flanking shelves of Paul Mitchell, TIGI, and Aquage products available for purchase.
Between candy-striped walls, Cat Davidson sets to work at The Eco Salon, where she treats clients to rejuvenating facial treatments. Maneuvering the high-tech Nu Skin Galvanic Spa System II, she can work to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by infusing skin with anti-aging unguents. Elsewhere in the salon, Cat's colleagues perform hair, nail, and skin treatments using ecoconscious products, such as ammonia-free hair color and plutonium-free nail polish.
If the atmosphere inside The Cat's Meow strikes first-time visitors as particularly familial, the reason may be that the salon’s proprietors share more than aesthetic expertise—all three of them are sisters. For more than 20 years, Melissa Raynak, Pixie Melton, and Meghan Mowbray—along with their team of aestheticians and nail technicians—have pampered skin and nails with treatments that range from basic facials and express pedicures to all-inclusive spa-day packages. In each of their skin-therapy treatments, the spa’s aestheticians employ professional products that eschew mineral oil, lanolin, and allergens such as gluten to ensure that skin responds positively. Armed with bottles of OPI polish and paraffin wax, they turn their attention to fingers and toes to soften calluses and fluff nail beds.
Free Spirit Skincare owner Rene' Halstead started out as a nail technician before earning a master's certification through Creative Nail Design for acrylic application. The multitalented aesthetician and her award-winning team cleanse and nourish faces using Dermalogica products and fragrant essential oils, and transform 'dos with color, cuts, and weaves. Halstead is licensed in cosmetic and body tattooing, specializing in permanent-makeup application, and—having trained at the renowned Gauntlet body-jewelry mecca in San Francisco—is certified to pierce earlobes or navels while seated atop a skirted horse. She stays ahead of industry trends with ongoing education through the International Dermal Institute and the American Institute of Intradermal Cosmetics.
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles. Helpful assistants are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
The soft aroma of Aveda’s plant-based shampoos and styling products wafts through Aveda Avenue Salon Spa. At their stations, stylists cut and color manes, conditioning dry, damaged strands with botanical treatments that harness the power of plant oils and quinoa proteins. Small touches enhance the rest of the services: After sipping complimentary mugs of soothing tea, clients enjoy facials that can include special add-on treatments for the eyes and back. Similarly, clients can enhance their manicures and pedicures with warm paraffin dips and hot-stone massages.
Vases of green bamboo accent the salon’s stone walls and earth tones. The natural decor reflects its proclivity for environmentally friendly products and brooding park rangers.