In 2001, the first iTAN Sun Spray Spa opened its doors. It had a simple goal—to make clients feel and look lovely with professional tanning services. Today, the spa has more than 30 Southern California franchises, each offering a slightly different assortment of teeth whitening, tanning beds, spray-tanning booths, and self-serve spa offerings.
The Smart Tan–certified staff prioritizes keeping up with tanning technology by stocking state-of-the-art tanning beds such as the Sun Angel, which uses sensors to customize a blend of UVA and UVB rays, practically eliminating overexposure. Many beds come equipped with stereo sound systems, misters, and fans. Just down the hall from these beauty gadgets, Mystic and airbrush machines bronze limbs without UV rays, and self-administered spa treatments dispense relaxing red-light facials, infrared-heat bodywraps, and aqua massages.
Although the team at Platinum Tan & Skin Bar has been refining hues for 15 years, only recently, following a move, have they been polishing complexions in their sleek skin bar. Tucked within a private treatment room, aestheticians wax away unwanted hair and nourish visages with Dermalogica products and peels. They also offer red-light therapy designed to boost collagen, reduce the appearance of fine lines, and ease relations between humans and traffic lights.
Of course, tanning services still abound—the same ones that earned a gold Readers' Choice award from San Diego Downtown News in 2012. Artificial-sun bathers relax in four levels of vertical and horizontal beds, including a Level 5 machine with 10 adjustable facial bulbs, air conditioning, and voice-guided controls. Patrons can also ditch UV rays altogether and opt instead for spray tans in a Mystic HD booth or at the hands of experienced, professional airbrush technicians who—according to their website—use an organic formula and have misted the skin of Hollywood stars.
Hawaiian-print curtains welcome clients to Suki Day Spa's shabby-chic Fourth Avenue location, where bamboo screens flank cream-colored sofas in wicker or leather and a vast painting of a red blossom reflects punches of crimson in the throw pillows and fresh blooms. The long, lean space reaches beyond the plush pedicure chairs to a hallway with private rooms, where spa treatments such as massages, facials, and spray tans gloss clients' guises more effectively than daily slatherings of vaseline and glitter.
Soft light pours into French Twist Salon, where brown pebbled-leather chairs, gilded mirrors, and exposed pipes lend an old-timey feel. But while the decor harks back to another era, the treatments and cache of hair products remain decidedly current. Owner Carole guides her team of stylists as they steal away frizz with Brazilian blowouts and glossing treatments or add color and dimension with highlights. Elsewhere in the salon, stylists perform waxing services and enhance features with makeup applications or three different kinds of eyelash extensions—day, night, or 24 hours of daylight. Carole doubles as a seasoned manicurist who delivers long-lasting shine with Shellac gel polish.
At this point in his career, color work comes naturally to Hector at Nhu Look Salon. As veteran of the beauty business for 21 years, he has done everything from cuts to colors, but found that the latter is where he specialty lies. He can add subtle highlights to add peek-a-boo color to hair or expertly cover up grays or roots with color treatments. He can even correct unnatural color after an at-home dye job goes bad or a Charlie Chaplin costume leaves your hair black and white.
The experienced stylists at Inga Bezio salon pull from a menu of salon services to refine, shape, and color hair. During haircuts, follicle technicians wield Bumble and bumble products to remove scalp pollution and condition couch-potato locks. Scissors then navigate through strands to snip split ends and rogue dust mops, before a blow-dry and style sets hair in the desired ’do. Head-turners can opt to add a punch of color or perform TKOs with partial or full highlights, both courtesy of Joico products.