Jennifer Clark doesn't believe in sweeping skin problems under the rug—or, rather, under layers of foundation. As the head aesthetician at Skin Lounge, she much prefers to tackle concerns with a customized regimen of DermaQuest products and spa procedures. Her services strive for a symbiotic relationship with the skin, building on its natural processes and beauty so that makeup becomes an afterthought.
Jennifer modifies these treatments based on the client's skin type and the condition they'd like to address. Her facials range from a 40-minute Glow on the Go service to an Ultra Luxe treatment, which adds microdermabrasion and a light chemical peel to the standard cleansing, steam, and extractions. Stronger chemical peels, such as the power pumpkin peel and the TCA glow peel, reduce signs of aging with clinical ingredients rather than by taping a forged birth certificate to the forehead. Even when waxing away unwanted hair, Jennifer maintains her devotion to healthy skin: she never double dips, and her knack for nigh painlessly removing strips has earned her the nickname "Wax Princess."
When they first cut the ribbon on Milvali Salon & Cosmetics' namesake location in Mill Valley, beauty experts and best friends Jessika Adams de Vazquez and Deb Monti couldn't have guessed where their partnership would lead. In the nearly 10 years since, the dynamic duo has opened a second location in San Francisco and guided the salons through three expansions. The pair also filled both locations’ shelves with their own signature line of mineral- and botanical-based skincare products, which their experienced team of aestheticians incorporates into a variety of custom facials.
But skincare isn't the only thing that Milvali is renowned for. The salon was voted the best place to go for hair extensions on the 2012 Bay Area A-List and was a finalist in the Best Bikini Wax category. To earn this regard, the beauty gurus specialize in Brazilian bikini waxes, using imported wax from Italy that is delicate enough to use on sensitive skin or between the Mona Lisa’s eyebrows.
Inside Salon Belle de Soir, which resides a hair tie's throw from the shopping hub of Fillmore and Union streets, stylists revamp tresses with premium products designed by celebrity stylist Oribe, who has visited the salon to teach a styling class. The salon's moniker means “beauty of the evening,” which suits its romantic style replete with Parisian-inspired portraits, a chandelier, zebra-striped upholstery, and fur rugs that duplicate the thickness of Fabio's five o'clock shadow. During an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, owner Tracy Stanwick described her styling philosophy as "putting movement back into hair," emphasizing that her staff teaches clients how to properly replicate the styles they receive in the salon. The stylists prioritize hair's health as much as its style with restorative procedures such as Ionic Rescue Pro treatments and Brazilian blowouts. Salon Belle de Soir also offers free consultations, which allow staffers to recommend dubious horse-racing tips as well as face-flattering dos and colors.
At Details Barbershop, Sergio Portela expertly sculpts and grooms gentlemanly images with precision haircuts, straight-razor wet shaves, and signature grooming packages. Eschewing advancements that have led to careless shaves performed with disposable razors and gels by clumsy robots, Sergio embraces tradition and revives an art form by using precision-made steel razors, pre-shave oil, and glycerin-based shaving cream to leave faces smooth without irritation. He enhances shaves and further cares for cheeks by wrapping faces in hot towels or aroma-infused cold towels, scrubbing skin to prevent and heal ingrown hairs, and applying post-shave masks to replenish nutrients.
Sergio trains his style sense on all aspects of a man's image. He can hone wardrobes, pair accessories with apparel, and help his clients sharpen their overall image. Also, for clients prepping for a big day, Sergio can coordinate and appropriately style all members of a groom's party so that no best men show up in basketball shorts.
The scents of eucalyptus, lavender, and sandalwood that linger in the air at The I Spa can be traced back to an essential-oil blending bar, where clients can customize their own relaxing fragrances. These fragrances eventually make their way into massages that cater to individual aches and pains with techniques drawn from 10 distinct modalities.
“Customization” seems to be the principle that unites and guides every treatment that takes place at The I Spa. This is evident not only in the massages, but in the skin analysis that precedes each facial, allowing the spa’s aestheticians to craft unique blends of products from Jan Marini and Eve Taylor.
Regardless of the treatment, it’s not difficult to relax amidst the spa’s tile walls, gauzy curtains, and tropical flowers. Each treatment room is equipped with a vacant iPod dock that allows clients to play their own self-recorded impersonations of Phil Collins cooing like a pigeon. After treatments, clients can enjoy access to the fitness center, salt-water lap pool, and outdoor terrace.
From their cozy hair haven in Noe Valley, the stylists of Lisa's Beauty Salon welcome men and women of all ages into a bright space warmed with natural light and rich yellow walls. As clients perch in cushioned salon chairs, the team updates manes with expertly shaped cuts and a spectrum of hues furnished by Goldwell. Using formaldehyde-free Keratin Complex products, they smooth the texture of clients' tresses for three to five months, ensuring curl-calming results more durable than singing coifs nightly lullabies.
In addition to its styling services, Lisa's Beauty Salon treats clients to an array of facials that use organic, paraben-free beauty products. An aesthetician analyzes skin prior to administering a classic european facial, an eye contouring treatment, or a resurfacing peeling session. Alternately, one-hour reflexology sessions are known for stimulating and balancing select nerves in the body while reducing stress.