The problem with beauty treatments is, while you’re staring at your face post-service so many other needs become apparent. Brow and lash tinting at Lash Lounge in Chicago was my gateway drug this time. The cleansing part was cool and soothing; the tinting part not so much, as dye seeped into my eyes and started to sting. “It’s OK, you’re not going to go blind,” my technician said gaily, which hadn’t occurred to me until then. She poured the saline solution, dabbed and dabbed, poured and dabbed some more. The reveal of my very dark brows and barely there lashes, costing $60 with tip, was a shock. I looked like the Johnny Rose character on “Schitt’s Creek”! But my colleague Tom told me to own it and sent a photo of a sultry dark-browed blonde posing amid leather and crystal. (I tried to duplicate the look nearby.) Then I realized I could use a threading and a brow lift as well. Sigh.
The upshot: The membership model, starting at $139 a month, is the way to go at Lash Lounge, where a soothing atmosphere invites frequent repeat visits. —B.E.
Instead of the usual harsh chemical odor, the first smells detected inside Frenchies Modern Nail Care are those of lavender and lemongrass, thanks to the body butter being generously applied to customers’ hands and feet. “Acrylic nails aren’t our thing,” according to the Frenchies website, where it’s easy to book an appointment online or sign up for a $50 Polish Pass membership. Arriving for a classic manicure ($35) and signature pedicure ($50) at one of the suburban Minneapolis locations, the space is bright, modern and, most importantly, clean. While I’m disappointed there’s no massage chair, the nail specialist waits until I’m settled on the cushioned banquette before disinfecting the foot basin and beginning the service, which is complete with a sugar scrub and that lavender body butter. The manicure is equally relaxing, with the added bonus of getting to take home the files and buffers used, along with a sample of the hydrating cuticle treatment. Sadly, a sample of the body butter wasn’t offered.
The upshot: While the final results are similar to other nail salons, where Frenchies stands out is with its atmosphere and emphasis on a clean, comfortable experience. The brand also gets points for its environmentally friendly approach of selecting products—including cleaning products—without harsh chemicals. —L.M.
If someone asked to scrape a surgical knife across your face, would you say yes? I did when an esthetician at Face Foundrie in Minneapolis suggested I try the mini derma facial. Dermaplaning is a technique of removing dead skin cells and peach fuzz from your face by using a single blade resembling a scalpel. The treatment is supposed to exfoliate, unclog pores and leave your skin glowing. While there are more than a million Instagram posts tagged #dermaplaning, I never ventured to try it until now—and I can see why it’s so popular. At Face Foundrie, the process lasted only 20 minutes and costs $45, while full facials are $65 and clock in around 40 minutes. Asked to select a citrus or peppermint essential oil for some breathing exercises before the esthetician began, I felt strangely calm for someone who was about to have a sharp blade on her face. She cleansed and spritzed my skin with various products before the dermaplaning, which didn’t hurt at all but was like that slightly scratchy feeling of a cat’s tongue licking your skin. I went home feeling fresh and dewy, and my skin seemed to absorb my serums and moisturizers better for a few weeks after.
The upshot: Licensed estheticians provide facial treatments at this aesthetically pleasing franchise for a fraction of the cost of other med spas. And though it sounds similar to shaving, don’t try this at home. Any nicks in the skin can cause inflammation and potential infections, so best to leave it to the professionals. —C.E.