Southern Touch NMT's licensed therapist, Donna Ridenhour, rids bodies of tension and pain, working from a belief that stress is the root of myriad maladies. During her signature neuromuscular massage, her nimble fingers work to unwind entrenched strain from specific trigger points within the body's network of muscles, tendons, and radio wires. During reflexology, she engages pressure points believed to affect internal organs to soothe them into finer fettle. Her forearms, elbows, thumbs, and knuckles glide over muscles as she carries out the long and deep strokes of Hawaiian lomilomi massage, making them more tender than meatloaf that journals about its feelings.
Skewed chakras can settle back into place at Cora Bella's Aveda Salon & Spa, where chakra-balancing Aveda services pamper both muscles and nails. Deep-tissue and foot reflexology work augment meditative prompts during a chakra-balancing massage, whereas focused kneads and soothing aromas accompany the chakra-themed hand and foot treatments. These calming offerings, in addition to other styles such as the fusion stone massage, strive to restore serenity in body and thought.
Meanwhile, junior and senior stylists in the salon reshape 'dos into sleek or voluminous arrangements. They oversee perms, applications of color, and careful trims, as well as nourishing add-ons of botanical Aveda hair and scalp therapies.
Jody fixes skin problems for the faces that pass through the doors of Salon 506. A microdermabrasion wand or miniature belt sander sloughs off layers of dead skin cells, leaving a healthy glow behind. She also arms herself with a squadron of Aveda products––including the radiance-inducing Perfecting Plant Peel––to uproot blackheads, zap away excess oil, and diminish the appearance of fine lines.
In the late 1920s, the Great Depression was rendering most Americans professionally and financially paralyzed. But in a small California kitchen, Merle Nethercutt Norman was putting a plan in motion to formulate her own skincare products and share them with family and friends. She truly believed in her formulas, knowing that by getting them on as many faces as possible, she would develop a following of customers. She was right—within a few years she and her nephew were opening their first studio in Santa Monica, and they eventually unveiled a series of independently operated stores that enabled women to take ownership during a time of gender-based limitations such as men-only restrooms.
Today, in approximately 2,000 stores across three countries, the three basic principles of Merle's original vision still apply. Each studio is independently owned and fosters an in-depth knowledge of the company's own line of makeup and skincare products. Just as Merle shared her creations with close friends and sallow mannequins more than 80 years ago, today's aestheticians embody the business's "try before you buy" philosophy. A menu of complimentary studio services—from foundation checks to express facials—allows patrons to sample the lauded brand before committing to the purchase of products or full spa treatments.
The Barber Crew's rich leather couches and dark stained wood welcome men looking for a smartly decorated salon and a dapper cut. The warm and masculine environment fosters comfort and camaraderie, as customers sip on a complimentary beer or nonalcoholic beverage and shoot the breeze with their stylists or fellow males whose hair doesn't cut itself. Guests recline back, keeping one eye over the TV at each station as hot towels open pores and stylists shape scalps to one's preference. The hair experts trim or remove all the sundry hairs that creep up on a man, from waxing brows to trimming beards and mustaches. Their sessions can include a dash of testosterone-friendly products from American Crew or Paul Mitchell, and stylists offer paraffin hand treatments to restore digits to equilibrium before thumb wrestling a grizzly bear tilts the scales back toward unadulterated masculinity.