A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas—its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries—Planet Beach 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.
Brandi Nuttall, the owner of Dolce Salon & Spa, must believe that you can never have too much of a good thing. Expanding upon her first and second Dolce locations, which measure in at 12,000 and 13,000 square feet, respectively, she opened the third hub in 2007, and now there is a fourth. The 30,000-square-foot behemoth built in 2007 houses 62 styling stations, 21 spa rooms, 14 pedicure thrones, a makeup counter, a brow bar, and manicure stations. All four locations boast the same services—though at different scales—as well as men’s hair and spa treatments and bridal styling. Unlike hotels that charge extra for doorknobs and oxygen, the salons have a generous streak. They provide hairstyling services to those who donate to Locks of Love, spa services to local foster children, and hair clippings to areas affected by oil spills.
At Tan Factory, patrons slip from standup Saturn tanning beds or lie-down units, their skin warm and bronzed. The UVA-based high-pressure beds leave bodies with golden hues, and red-light-therapy beds hum as they generously spread a glow to stimulate collagen-producing fibroblasts during 15-minute sessions. As the light penetrates epidermal layers, it activates the body’s natural processes to reduce the appearance of fine lines, blemishes, and scars, restoring youthful sleekness and an ability to make convincing shadow puppets of dolphins. Those seeking to augment skin with sunless color step into a Mystic Tan or VersaSpa Spray booth and emerge 60 seconds later with fully toasted coats that last up to eight days.
Julian Luna and Jim Le opened J Salon in 2006, and have since built up a team of experienced stylists with specialties ranging from Japanese thermal straightening to full-on makeovers. With products from Bumble and bumble and Moroccanoil in tow, they revamp looks with highlights, cuts, and full colors or touchups. Their expertise led the staff to enter a “hair wars” competition, a runway show designed to display the creativity of Phoenix area hair stylists. Along with hair care, J Salon helps clients get rid of the hair they don’t want with lip and eyebrow waxing services.
At Star Nails, the décor is simple: the walls display no art, the shelves cradle no plants, and the white color scheme offers only a splash of feminine pink. At this salon, the focus is on the clients, and the space ensures their comfort with eight cushy pedicure chairs and 11 manicure stations equipped with stately leather seating. Besides refining digits with colorful coats of polish, aestheticians also uproot unwanted hair with applications of warm wax, leaving swimsuit zones spotless and eyebrows shaped into either clean arches or a favorite punctuation mark.
One hour. In the time it takes to watch one prime-time drama, the trained technicians at Pure White Lounge can whiten teeth by up to eight shades. Armed with a hydrogen-peroxide or carbomide-peroxide gel and a safe—yet powerful—LED lamp, the team transforms less-than-white grins into radiant smiles without the cold sterility of a traditional dental office. A rundown of proper aftercare—such as avoiding soda for 24 hours or using only crocheted mouth guards—concludes each treatment, guiding clients to up to two years of whiter and brighter smiles.