To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.”
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand’s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
Rather than devote itself entirely to healthy movement or meditative rest, New Self Renewal Center represents both sides of the spectrum. On one side, its fitness area hosts small-group classes ranging from energized boot-camp and Zumba routines to KettleCore, whose strengthening swings were featured in Brava magazine. Students can even order classes from the fitness menu, scheduling sessions of athletic stretching or core work at times that work for them. Personal trainers and a certified wellness practitioner are also on hand to develop custom programs.
Because the center's philosophy is one of balance, it counteracts the gym's kinetic offerings with a spa. There, massage therapists knead away aches, administering add-ons of aromatherapy and moisturizing shea butter, and nail technicians beautify fingertips with signature mani-pedis. The onsite café makes for another replenishing stop between workouts or paraffin dips—its menu includes sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and a variety of housemade items such as hummus and granola.
As a complement to its wide spectrum of amenities and a symbol of its family focus, the center also provides childcare services. Youngsters can draw on the chalkboard wall of the Kid Corner while their parents exercise or relax. At lunchtime, the corner's designated snacking space enables adults to eat with their kids and explain that cutting off sandwich crusts doesn't actually hurt the sandwiches.
The experienced, licensed massage therapist at Synergistic Health soothes sore muscles and relaxes away cares with custom massages. During an initial consultation, the client discusses desired outcomes and describes medical history, allowing the therapist to create a personalized massage or ghostwrite the memoirs of the client's back muscles. The therapist leaves the warm, quiet room as the client undresses to their level of comfort, then lies down on a comfortable massage table under a sheet. Soft, ambient music plays as expert hands attack aches and pains with techniques from many traditions, including medical and sports massage, acupressure, Swedish massage, and deep-tissue massage. For some types of massage, the therapist smoothes light oil over skin to ease friction and help clients empathize with salad greens.
The Hair Co.'s staff lends a rapt ear to patrons professing their style preferences before performing hair, nail, skin, massage, and tanning services. Redken and Pureology products coddle manes during cuts, and Rusk products transform hair color without the mess of emptying a bottle of ketchup on your head. Nails painted with CND shellac get color that lasts up to two weeks after a brief drying session under the UV lamp. Patrons also line up for Bioelements facials and trips inside the SunDome standup tanning booth, which kisses frames with a summery glow akin to that emanating from an electric eel wearing a bikini.
Helping customers improve their vision is the main concern of the optometrists and eye-care professionals at Eye Boutique, who provide preventive screenings and help choosing from their more than 1,800 frames at each location. In each shop, licensed doctors of optometry scan eyes with comprehensive exams before diagnosing issues or prescribing high-definition Zeiss lenses and contact lenses from Optix and Acuvue. Designer frames from Guess, Nike, and Kenneth Cole house lenses fashionably, and Teflon protective layers help guard lenses from scratches and reduce glare. Sunglasses from brands such as Ray-Ban and Coach also protect eyes from harmful UV rays, creating an accessory that is both stylish and useful, like a diamond with a job.
The stone accent wall and cherry-wood counter in Agea Spa's lobby form a barrier against the stresses of the outside world. Upon entering, clients are encouraged to cast aside their cell phones and laptops before enjoying a relaxing shower in one of the private changing areas. This is only the first step, though—within the spa proper, a team of aestheticians and stylists stands ready to pamper visitors from crown to ankle.
The aestheticians' facial treatments incorporate organically sourced skincare ingredients—including anti-inflammatory plant extracts, natural fruit acids, and aromatic steam—formulated to hydrate the skin and imbue it with a healthy glow. The massage therapists target knotted muscles with Swedish, deep-tissue, or hot-stone modalities, and they can also use reflexology or reiki techniques to promote holistic balance. The stylists pamper clients' tresses, designing flattering new looks with a combination of well-placed snips, coloring products, and texturizing treatments.