Bottles of pharmacy-grade Rx Systems serums line the shelves of Youthful Image Clinical Skincare, each within an arm’s reach of owner and lead aesthetician Lisa Key. Though her salon calls to mind the stress-free luxury of a spa, Lisa’s Rx products deliver clinical-strength healing for blemishes ranging from acne to age spots. Seven types of facials headline the menu of treatments, including a facial tailored to men’s stubbly mugs and a teen-specific session that flushes away excess oil and diary pages stashed in pores and long forgotten. Chemical peels and crystal-tipped microdermabrasion wands erase surface imperfections such as scars and sun damage, and waxing treatments keep skin free of hair from head to toe.
Knockouts Haircuts for Men amps up the classic barbershop experience with a lavish, sports-themed approach to men's styling that has been featured on Today and CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. At a still-growing number of locations throughout the country, the company's all-female staff of stylists quarterbacks a full playbook of services ranging from bare-essential to spa-worthy. First and foremost, they clip shaggy locks, but they also administer facials, manicures, massages, and waxes. Complimentary beverages are included with every visit, giving patrons something to sip on while watching a sports game on TV or contemplating how they would fend off a lion using just a comb.
The seasoned stylists at Strands Hair Salon offer an array of services to transform rundown rats' nests into stylish strand-domiciles guaranteed to sell above their asking price. If you have unruly tresses in need of taming, snip off the troublemakers with a cut ($13+ for men, $20+ for women) before whipping the remains into shape with a formal style ($20+). If a monotonous mane is to blame, obtain a more chromatic coiffure with highlights ($53+), or opt for a fresh all-over color ($15+ for men; $48+ for women) to imitate your favorite crayon. A textured wave ($53+) can liven up straight strands for springtime, whereas short shocks in search of flowing locks can benefit from extensions, a Strands Hair Salon specialty (starting at $125) generally more effective at adding length than pillowcases stuffed with lawn fertilizer.
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the hydro-derma fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
Kelli Langford has always been something of an artist; she just traded in the paintbrushes and pigments of her youth for the hairbrushes and hair dyes of a stylist. Working at New Image Salon, she mows her way through as much as eight inches of hair a day, but that's not where she feels her artistry comes into play. She finds her creative peak in styling and coloring clients' hair—a talent that has resulted in vibrant red tones and trendy ombre looks. But whatever the service, some things are always a given: salon-quality products and a strict policy against using cacti for hairbrushes. "I always test my products and get familiar with them before ever using them on a client," Kelli says.