As an aesthetician with more than 20 years of experience and a former chemist with Christian Dior, Helene Lawless knows a thing or two about skincare. The French native opened Be Smooth after growing tired of lengthy spa visits that left a dent in her own wallet. She decided to offer affordable treatments with products and equipment that she has found to be effective over her years as an aesthetician and spa-goer. As a result, she and her team nourish skin using the with organic plant extracts in the Pevonia Botanica line, natural Nuxe products, and Shea Terra Organics with fair-trade shea butters and argan oils. Lawless has also tracked down innovative aesthetic techniques such as VIP Complex's infrared and microcurrent treatments, IPL photofacials with light heat energy (LHE), and hair removal with the gel-based Depilar System.
Lawless prides herself not only on the budget-friendliness of her services, but also on the unintimidating “non-spa” ambience of her beauty haven. Guests relax at a white-on-white facial bar for a deep cleansing, and a boutique area offers European-style gifts such as fragrant Aquiesse soy candles and jewelry by Miravidi and Caracol. According to a 2011 article in the Oregonian, "even the music that can be heard from the front door is French." Just as charming is Lawless' French accent, which, like a lullaby sung by a lemur, is both soothing and exotic.
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.
From their cushy styling chairs, clients of Amoré Salon and Spa can watch shoppers bustle through the upscale Pearl District outside the studio's ample, sun-soaked windows. But in here, no one is in any hurry. With careful attention, the salon's artistic, fashion-forward hairstylists create one-of-a-kind coifs that run the gamut from multicolored punk looks to timeless bobs and long styles achieved with Great Lengths hair extensions. The extensions are crafted with real, ethically sourced human hair, and attach to existing locks with bonds that expand and contract just like the wearer's natural hair or peacock-like plumage.
In the spa realm, aestheticians revamp complexions with Jan Marini facials that target severe acne, dryness, or unsanctioned games of pore whack-a-mole. Waxing specialists don’t skimp on skincare either—in addition to using gentle Cirepil wax, facial-inspired treatments for backs and bikini lines reverse blemishes and discomfort caused by ingrown hairs. Nail specialists, meanwhile, make sure their art stays intact by finishing a number of manicures and pedicures with CND Shellac lacquers, which dry under a UV light to leave a mirrorlike finish that lasts up to 14 days.
"Always believe in miracles," urges Believe Spa Salon's website. And with the salon nestled on a quiet residential street, with ferns, wildflowers, and sun catchers overtaking the porch, Believe looks like something out of a fairy tale where miracles do happen. Inside the eclectically decorated salon, stylists perform these mini miracles: curly hair become straight, dark hair becomes light, long hair becomes short.
But it can't all be chalked up to hocus-pocus. Believe's stylists are highly trained and specialize in different facets of beauty, including owner Sherri Sullivan. Sherri's dedicated nearly 30 years to hairstyling, with extra training in Alfaparf Milano coloring and making red and brunet color last longer. Her understanding of facial shapes and color techniques, along with client consultations, means customers walk out of the salon with hairstyles tailored to their individual looks and needs.
In addition to hair services, Believe staffers also apply makeup for special occasions, such as weddings or trips to upscale grocery stores. And in a little cottage out back of the salon, licensed massage therapist Amy Rose Boren performs relaxing massages that soothe and de-stress aching bodies.
A scrub, steam, and hydrating mask all sound like the components of a relaxing facial. But at Bliss Salon & Day Spa, they're part of the spa pedicure, which the menu aptly describes as "a facial for your soles." The pedicure begins with an aromatherapy foot soak, then segues into cuticle care and an extensive massage. It's not the only service at the spa that combines different indulgences into one—a 90-minute Divine Bliss Luxury facial includes a foot massage, and an Aromatouch massage often mixes the calming scents of doTERRA essential oils with Reiki or other energy work.
Meanwhile, the stylists in the salon fashion hairdos to fit any lifestyle and help prepare for special events, such as weddings in which baseball caps aren't allowed. Though they can all expertly cut and color hair, they also have their own go-to specialties—lead stylist Amber Rae, for instance, is a maestro of color-correction and keratin smoothing treatments, and Skyi loves to work with curls. As they develop new looks in Bliss's boutique-like setting, the team utilizes products from Moroccanoil and Bumble and bumble.
Hannah hails from Los Angeles, and Leigh from New York. Together, the experienced aestheticians bring their hometowns' best cosmetic products and nearly two decades of beauty-industry experience to their Portland space, LA/NY Skin. Tucked inside Prima Salon, the beauty haven surrounds clients in warm and comforting elegance. Walls drenched in mocha hues are offset by sparkly accents, including dangly beaded chandeliers and posters of Vanilla Ice. Within this softly lit oasis, the duo dispenses a range of beauty and skin services, from tanning to facials.
Using an organic and paraben-free solution, they customize airbrush tans to suit each client’s skin tone and desired level of bronze, hiding cellulite, freckles, and age spots in the process. At the makeup bar, they enhance features with Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics and pump up flutterers with mink lash extensions or waterproof lash dipping that lasts up to six weeks. A range of chemical peels, facials, and microdermabrasion treatments rejuvenate face and body, and the team enlists both hard and soft waxes to wisp away hair from brows, bikini areas, and heads after they lose a bet.