For 25 years and counting, licensed electrologist Karen Kolenda has accumulated expertise in the art of depilation. Having witnessed the efficacy of electrolysis, she's well-versed in the advantages of this hair-removal method. In contrast to waxing and threading, electrolysis yields permanent results. Compared to basic laser treatments, electrolysis works for people of all skin tones and hair types. And relative to extracting hair with wads of nougat, electrolysis is less sticky.
In the late 1920s, the Great Depression was rendering most Americans professionally and financially paralyzed. But in a small California kitchen, Merle Nethercutt Norman was putting a plan in motion to formulate her own skincare products and share them with family and friends. She truly believed in her formulas, knowing that by getting them on as many faces as possible, she would develop a following of customers. She was right—within a few years she and her nephew were opening their first studio in Santa Monica, and they eventually unveiled a series of independently operated stores that enabled women to take ownership during a time of gender-based limitations such as men-only restrooms.
Today, in approximately 2,000 stores across three countries, the three basic principles of Merle's original vision still apply. Each studio is independently owned and fosters an in-depth knowledge of the company's own line of makeup and skincare products. Just as Merle shared her creations with close friends more than 80 years ago, today's aestheticians embody the business's "try before you buy" philosophy. A menu of complimentary studio services—from foundation checks to express facials—allows patrons to sample the lauded brand before committing to the purchase of products or full spa treatments.
Owner Nancy Aponte is a 36-year veteran of the styling game and an advocate for eco-friendly styling alternatives. Some years ago, she became concerned with the toxic effects of hair-color products, and opted instead for more earth-conscious method. This approach has helped earn Aponte a nod as Best Eco-Friendly Salon 2012 in Fairfield County from the New Haven Advocate. Now in the comfort of her cozy studio, Nancy's crew of skilled stylists can transform tresses with organic coloring products, nix unwanted hair with body-sugaring treatments, or unblock energy channels with private reiki healing sessions.
Owner Lisa Primps and her team of aestheticians, electrologists, and permanent-makeup artists have dedicated the past 21 years to helping clients reach a state of relaxation via treatments that fuse alternative and clinical spa methods. In doing so, they reach for Jan Marini, Dermalogica, and Bioelements skincare products during facials and peels, which can further be enhanced with microdermabrasion and ultrasonic technology. Rather than relying on hypnosis, aestheticians safely subtract unwanted hair from the follicles with traditional waxing or electrolysis, which uses disposable gold probes. Lisa applies her aesthetic knowledge and years of experience—which includes postgraduate work at the International Dermal Institute—during telangiectasia treatments, which gently remove broken capillaries and skin tags from the face and chest.
Just as The Primping Place Spa’s treatments stay ahead of the curve, so does its decor. The reception and treatment room is decorated from floor to ceiling with renewable materials, including Benjamin Moore VOC-free Natura paint, natural-bamboo blinds, and cotton drapes. A series of potted philodendrons help cleanse the air more effectively than washing its mouth out with soap. The Spa also sells Scentsy wickless candles and offers free tastings of weight-loss shakes and cleanses from Isagenix.
At American Barbershop, stylists work to resurrect the corner barbershops of yore, when striped poles spun out front and everybody knew each other's name. They're off to a good start—their red, white, and blue barber's pole twirls in front of the shop, and the vintage feeling continues inside, with red leather barber's chairs sidled up to antique wooden workstations stained dark with pale trim. They even have a rocking-horse haircut chair for kids or the tiny cowboys who mosey on in for a beard trim. The barbers offer hair services for men, women, and children, and keep their menu simple and no-fuss: haircuts and shampoos, along with beard trims for men and blow-dry styles for women.
When readers of Greenwich Magazine set out to name the best facial and waxing services in town, they chose Celia B. Skin Care. Since opening in 2004, the skincare center and its owner, Brazilian native Celia Brito, have earned those particular accolades on four separate occasions. Waxing services, which can be applied to a wide range of areas and are available in several packages, are made even more impressive with the optional sugaring: an alternative to waxing that produces the same results while being gentler, safer, and more familiar to the noses of giant ants. Celia B.'s signature facial combines European and Brazilian techniques, like a diplomatic mission for the skin, and the teen facial helps foster great skincare and hygiene habits.