Imana Sky Salon's aestheticians cultivate elegance while plunging beauty-buffing clients into black-and-white décor beneath a crystalline chandelier. During the 20-minute Shellac manicure, digit tips bask in lavish attention as a nail tech fastidiously grants them an elegant shape and cleans up unruly cuticles like a sheriff's finger puppet. As hands unwind under the primping regimen, gazes meander to Couture prints above the nail table and a gossamer abstract piece, reminiscent of swirling peacock feathers, along an adjacent ebony wall. Chip-resistant Shellac polish lacquered onto nails weathers stresses in the outside world, standing strong against fierce finger drumming and high-fives from rugged iguanas.
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 20 branches around San Diego, each offering a slightly different assortment of tanning beds, spray-tanning booths, and mechanical spa services.
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 and the need to wear a beekeeper suit to detract from a burn. 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 or tan crayons, and mechanical spa machines dispense relaxing red-light treatments, infrared-energy body wraps, and aqua massages.
Even during the decade she spent as a stay-at-home mother, Nicole Bennett, the owner and aesthetician at Flawless Face & Body, always followed her own personal skin care regimen and even worked a few side jobs in cosmetics. But it wasn't until she decided to take a chance and go back to school that she realized that her passion was deeper than she thought, and that passion aligned with her quest for a new career. Her interest in skin care skyrocketed as she delved into the nitty-gritty science behind it, and she sped her way through Palomar Institute of Cosmetology.
After becoming a licensed aesthetician, Nicole opened her own wellness center, which has since expanded into a new clinic in the heart of San Marcos, providing skin care, massage therapy, acne treatments and hair-removal services. She also earned certification as an acne specialist, with the extra training inspiring her to dedicate a large portion of her service menu to result-oriented acne solutions. This dedication now takes the form of a full-fledged acne program, which blends biweekly clinic appointments with an at-home skin care regimen to take faces from spotty to spotless over the course of 12-16 weeks. The team at Flawless Face & Body strives to educate clients and give them the one-on-one time they need to reach their wellness goals within a private, relaxing environment. With the help of Image Skincare and Rhonda Allison products, specialists also counter blemishes and imperfections with facials, peels, and waxing, leaving skin as clean and smooth as a censored version of The Catcher in the Rye read by Barry White.
Bella Derma Secrets' owner Cynthia Wells culls from her 16 years of experience as an aesthetician and personal trainer to beautify skin through safe, noninvasive treatments. Cynthia doesn't believe in coating her client's skin with harsh chemicals, so exclusively uses organic and natural products, such as One Love Organics, Image Skincare, Auspect, Circ Cell, and Rhonda Allsion. Nor does she buy into the “controlled damage" factor associated with IPL facials, harsh exfoliation, and other ablative treatments—rather, she researches and travels to discover newer alternatives, such as LED light therapy and gentle ultrasonic abrasion that offer similar benefits without causing inflammation, tenderness, and sporadic night vision. In addition to turning back clocks with anti-aging facials and peels, Cynthia works one-on-one with clients to prescribe home skincare regimens tailored to their skin types.
Every salon claims that their tanning formula is one-of-a-kind. But at Unique Tan, it's actually true—owner Sherrie Lee Meredith developed it herself. Her signature spray-tanning blend, Unique Excellence, tints skin with a paraben-free solution of organic aloe vera, berry essences, and a firming serum to stave off the signs of aging. The formula also contains erythrulose, which can produce a longer-lasting bronze glow, and, because it's alcohol-free, helps keep skin moisturized and streak-free. The salon's Smart Tan–certified staff uses this in both automated booths and custom airbrushing sessions, which harness the steady hand of a tanning artist to ensure tans completely cover skin and finally even the score with haughty bronze statues.
The salon also offers traditional UV-tanning beds, which contain comfort-adding amenities such as air conditioning, aromatherapy, adjustable facial bulbs, and easy-to-follow voice instructions. Clients can enhance their tans with the salon's line of tan-accelerating products, which extend the life of each tan by keeping skin moisturized and healthy.
D Hair & Spa employs specialists who hail from the Dermalogica Institute. These skincare workers offer advanced facials that begin with "skin mapping," which help them discern what the client's skin type is and which issues need the most attention, such as age spots beneath the eyes or a fire budding in the nostrils. With that knowledge, they combat blemishes during treatments that feature Dermalogica products. If you want to maintain your skin regimen at home, these same products are available for purchase in the spa's retail section.
D Hair & Spa's massage therapists, meanwhile, are armed with a range of bodywork techniques and therapeutic-grade essential oils. They offer Thai, Swedish, and hot-stone massages which, when combined with scents of lavender, wintergreen, or lemon, pack a one-two punch of releasing muscle tension and inducing feelings of bliss.