Like leaving someone at the altar to elope with a true love, Akari Skin & Body Care owner Julienne James left hair school. It was 1987, and she had been giving her friends mini massages on the side. "I didn't have a true interest in my heart to do hair because of all the chemicals," she explained, "and [my friends] felt better after I did just a little bit of shoulder massage." That passing fancy was formalized through the massage therapy program at Therapeutic Learning Center in Fresno, aesthetician's training at Federico's Beauty College in Visalia, and a vow-renewal ceremony for her and her hands, creating a commitment to holistic health and skincare that she has sustained for more than a quarter-century.
Julienne exercises her passion on clients who range in age from 12 to 90 years. Treatments begin not atop the massage table she modified with extra padding and a tiny, hidden pea, but at the doorstep. The aromas of lavender and clary sage waft from the softly lit space, as these are some of her favorite scents for blending into massage oils and foot lotions. She acquired her knowledge of aromatherapy in England, where she also expanded her repertoire of Swedish, Shiatsu, and therapeutic massage with an Indian acupressure technique targeting stress in the scalp and neck. Massages are usually a fusion of these styles, which are further customized with the heat of the room and the presence or absence of scents and music. Julienne once noticed that a client who teaches piano recognized the classical music she turned on during the session, and has since been very careful about selecting tunes that would not remind anyone of going to work. Her meticulousness also extends to skin. Facials use additive-free Dermalogica products that won out against other brands in a personal, several-month-long test, and her wax is so thorough it can rid clients of hair and the memory thereof.
Dawnmarie, the certified spray-tanning technician behind Sheer, bronzes bodies with organic mist during sessions that last approximately 10 minutes. She customizes her technique to match each client's preferences, and can spray tan the entire body or only a certain area, such as the chest, face, or arms. If desired, she'll incorporate rapid spray-tan technology, which allows clients to shower as soon as one hour after their tan.
Licensed cosmetologist Sheri Stevenson knows the importance of total-body beauty, which is why her services include nailcare, hairstyling, and facial waxing. During pedicures, she uses the OPI system to trim, shape, and polish nails and exfoliate hands and feet before moisturizing the skin with massage strokes rather than a fire hose. She also cuts, colors, and styles strands and makes liberal use of warm wax to remove unwanted facial hair.
Inside its golden, Romanesque spa space, Renaissance and its legions of 25-plus cater to muscles, manes, and minds. After an initial consultation, the skincarists will design a treatment facial for your skin condition. Each service includes a sudsy, double cleansing of cheeks, chins, and noses, along with exfoliation and necessary extractions. During the cleaning, a beauty-savvy cartographer assesses skin topography in preparation for a Face Mapping, which, in addition to targeting skin tone with steam treatment, determines whether or not your face is caked in peanut butter. All cleansing is followed with a face, neck, and shoulder massage, along with a clarifying masque and moisturizer.
Situated in a historic neighborhood under the shadow of Sequoia National Park, Liza's Day Spa steeps the senses in tranquility with essential-oil aromas, Asian-inspired décor, and the sounds of burbling water. Skilled massage therapists mend tense backs with modalities ranging from Swedish and deep tissue to shiatsu and craniosacral, each helping to eradicate tension, chronic pain, and ill feelings toward mouthy shoulder blades. In a bath of warm, polished stones, patrons wiggle digits to prep them for the gentle shaping and polishing of hot-stone mani-pedis, and diamond-tipped microdermabrasion and custom facials help exfoliate and hydrate the skin.
The team at Ts3 Lash & Skin Lounge specializes in eyelash extensions and enhancements to leave clients looking their best. Salon owner and certified lash specialist Suzy Renteria applies Xtreme Lash extensions to lids, upping the drama of everyday glances. In addition to their staple lash services, Ts3 also treats skin to clarifying facials and peels, waxes away unwanted fuzz, and creates sleek dos with blowout services.