Spa Secrets

Slide behind the chair with Delaware’s beauty experts. They know your secrets. Now, here are some of theirs.

How did Delaware’s best-known spa and salon owners get their starts? What were their inspirations and challenges? Here they share the stories of their paths to fabulousness, their best beauty tips and yes, their yummiest spa treatments (including their personal faves).

Laron Thomas started in the beauty biz by doing a girlfriend’s hair. The two were in junior high school, and a dance was approaching. “My friend wasn’t going. She said, ‘I don’t get asked to things like that. I’m not one of the pretty girls.’ I said, ‘We’ll see about that.’” Thomas cut her friend’s hair and colored it. “When she looked in the mirror, she said, ‘I’m beautiful.’ And that changed me,” Thomas says. “I realized that I could help women feel beautiful.” She does that still, at Cielo (600 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, 575-0400), her salon and spa.

Michael Hemphill was bitten by the beauty bug at age 11, sweeping floors at Clifford’s Hair Fashions, his father’s salon. Hemphill’s parents let him go to beauty school—in Canada—at the age of 14. “I was kicking and screaming that I wanted to go,” Hemphill says. He opened his first salon in 1975 and now presides over Michael Christopher Salon and Day Spa (2006 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 658-0844). In his 35 years, Hemphill has become godfather of Wilmington’s beauty industry, training legions of stylists, technicians and managers.

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Two of them are Ann Tasker and Natasha Latina, co-owners of Salon Pasca (512 Greenhill Ave., Wilmington, 428-1388). Latina was already an award-winning stylist when she emigrated from Moscow. The two met at Hemphill’s salon, where Tasker had worked for 30 years. Tasker and Latina opened Pasca in 2006. (Pasca is an anagram of their children’s initials.) Tasker’s top beauty tip? “Individual false eyelashes,” she says. “Apply two or three to the corner of the eye, at the end of the lash line. They make the eye pop.”

Perry Scarfo spent his youth popping eyes. “Boxing, karate—you name it,” says Scarfo, owner of Perry Anthony Salon & Spa (5331 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 239-6161). If not for an ankle injury, Scarfo would have gone to college on a soccer scholarship. Benched, he turned to the chair. I realized that this was what I was meant to do,” Scarfo says. “Everything clicked, so I went with it”—though not without some ribbing from his buddies. “One day, my boxing trainer was wrapping my hands and he said, ‘What is this? A manicure? Ah, jeez.’”

Men getting manicures is exactly what’s happening at Studio One Eleven (111 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 225-8365). Dapper dudes flock to the men-only salon for services such as the Gin Experience, named after owner Ginny Rodgers. It includes a massaging shampoo, haircut, nose hair and eyebrow trim, aromatherapy hot towel treatment and five-minute chair massage. While they wait, men can practice on the salon’s putting green.

Men and women get manicures, pedicures and hair styling at Chez Nicole Hair and Nail Salon (1901 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 654-8888). Chez Nicole offers hair services like highlighting, extensions and a treatment called micro mist, which repairs hair with ultrasonic waves. The salon offers faux nails for women, including gel, acrylic and silk sets, and manly manicures.

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Jeremy Clark of Trilogy Salon applies makeup to Lauren Fleetwood. Photograph by Jared CastaldiMen get manicures at Randy Currie’s salons, but he isn’t one of them. After studying with Vidal Sassoon in London, Currie opened his first salon, Razzle Dazzle, in Wilmington in 1978. In 1990 he moved to Glen Mills and launched Currie Hair Skin and Nails (585 Wilmington-West Chester Pike, Glen Mills, Pa., 610-558-4247). He’s back in Wilmington with a new location on the Riverfront (317 S. Justison St., 777-7755). But Currie doesn’t get manicures. His favorite treatment? “A massage, preferably with hot stones. It’s incredibly relaxing.”

Paul Van Liew loves massage, but he also loves facials. “I like the cleanliness of my skin after the facial,” he says. “But then, I love the massage, too. I’m torn.” Van Liew can have plenty of both at Pagavé (1601 Concord Pike, Suite 35, Wilmington, 765-0134), which he opened in 2006, after an education in graphic design and a career in photography. “It wasn’t until I moved to Wilmington that I realized that I wanted to be a hair stylist,” he says.

L. Drexel Davison realized he wanted to be a stylist after he spent years in the restaurant world. “I was a cater waiter in Manhattan, working the most fabulous parties for the most fabulous people,” he says. With a $3,000 loan from his father, Davison then opened a salon in his native Delaware. “I was going to call the salon Metamorphosis, but I kept messing up the spelling. I had a hat that said, ‘Bad Hair Day,’ so that became the name.” What’s Davison’s favorite treatment at Bad Hair Day (45 Lake Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-4247)? Pedicures. “Halfway through the first foot, I think, ‘Thank God I have another foot so I can get this done again.’”

Maureen Frebery fell in love with the salon business while working as a salon shampoo girl in high school. “My parents didn’t want me to go to cosmetology school,” Frebery says. “They didn’t think it would be a steady job or a good atmosphere for a single girl. I respected their wishes, but I just had to do hair.” During the day, Frebery worked for the telephone company. At night, she went to cosmetology school. In 1968, she fulfilled her dream by opening Maureen’s Hair Salon and Day Spa, (4813 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 234-7800). And, yes. She does her mother’s hair.

Carol Brennan bought The Upper Cut (119 S. Dupont Hwy., Dover, 736-1661) in 1992. “I’d gone to college for fashion merchandising,” Brennan says. “My parents wanted me to be a buyer for a big New York department store. They thought it would be a stable job. But I’d been doing hair since I was a little girl, even doing my dolls’ hair. In the dorm at college, I did all of the girls’ hair. So after college, I got a job as a shampoo assistant and went to beauty school. It’s a wacky business, but this is where I belong.”

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Jessica Galoff also took a circuitous route to the industry. She went to college, then worked at MBNA, but she always had a passion for makeup and hair. In 2005, Galoff combined business and beauty by opening the first of her two Elayne James Salon and Spa locations (3826 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 777-4700; 462 W. Main St., Middletown, 376-5290). “Hair color lasts longer on well-moisturized hair,” Galoff says. “Before the color goes on, get a salon-strength, deep-conditioning treatment. It will make a big difference.”

Galoff offers products and treatments that repair aging cuticles, and so does Fabrizio Salon & Spa (1604 W. 16th St., Wilmington, 656-8660). The treatments restore volume and shine to hair that has been damaged by color, sun and age. The salon offers several kinds of restorative treatments for hair and skin. From facials to full body services, Fabrizio offers scrubs, moisturizers and a host of other good feeling, good-for-you treatments.

Sue Wolford of Cutting Edge styles a client’s hair. Photograph by Jared CastaldiSmoothing treatments work wonders, but most require major chemicals. BKT botanical keratin treatment reduces chemicals by eliminating the formaldehyde. Susan Wolford, owner of Cutting Edge Hair Designs (4377 Forrest Ave., Dover, 735-7640) is certified in the BKT system. The process can take three hours, but the smooth, silky effects last about four months. Even better: the effects fade from the entire head without leaving roots or “grow out” demarcations on the hair.

Holly Wayman Grist is almost addicted to hair treatments. It’s a good thing she owns Salon 828 (828 N. Union St., Wilmington, 622-8288), which specializes in Kerastase Luxury Hair Treatments—18 different treatments. “Some add strength, others add smoothness or moisture,” Grist says. “Ask the stylist what is most needed, and get a customized treatment.” Other beauty tips? “When you get a facial, always add a peel. It sounds scary, but a peel makes a big impact. It takes the facial from relaxing to actually showing results.”

Skittish about peels? Chantel Minio, an aesthetician at Trilogy Salon and Day Spa (1200 Capitol Trail, Newark, 292-3511), explains the process. “We apply it to a woman’s skin. She goes home and sleeps on it overnight, then washes it off in the morning. Two days later, her face starts to peel. It can peel from two to five days. I recommend having a peel on a Wednesday night. That way, the heaviest peeling happens over the weekend. By Monday the worst is over.”

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Kim Francis, an aesthetician at Castaldi’s Salon and Day Spa (328 Kennett Pike, Chadds Ford, Pa., 610-388-0670), performs a red carpet-worthy pure oxygen facial treatment. “It’s really a Hollywood secret,” she says. “I did research to find out how the celebrities’ skin looks so radiant at the awards shows. This is how.” Using a nebulizer, Francis coats the face and neck with a fine mist that infuses the skin with 180,000 minerals, and vitamins A, C and E. “The result is immediate. The skin glows,” she says. “It makes a woman look 10 years younger.”

T.J. Seeney, co-owner of Bling Salon and Spa (17644 Coastal Hwy., Lewes, 644-2580) is filled with beauty tips. “My mom did hair at the salon near my family’s motel in Bethany Beach,” Seeney says. “When I was a little girl, I helped sweep hair from the floors.” But Seeney chose nails and skin over hair. What are her beauty tips? “Don’t shave your legs before a pedicure or a massage. The exfoliation products can irritate the skin, which can sting and possibly cause little bumps. Men, however, should shave their faces right before a facial. Any beard will make the aesthetician’s fingers drag, in a bad way.”

Kelly Blaeuer, co-owner of J K Tangles (1151 E. Lebanon Road, Route 10 Plaza, Dover, 698-1006), has a lot of tips for nails. “Put nail oil on the cuticles of your hands and feet to keep them moist,” she says. “Keep your heels moisturized, especially in warm weather. Moisturized hands and manicured nails make a woman look younger and healthier.” Though Blaeuer is now a full-time hair stylist, she knows a lot about nails because that’s how she started. “My mom did nails at Rene Delyn designs (1744 N. Dupont Hwy., Dover, 736-6070), and she taught me how to do mine. Renee saw my nails and said that she liked how I was doing them. She gave me my first job.”

Kelly Reading’s first job was as a registered nurse. In her 10 years of working in health care, she developed an interest in skin care, so she went to school to get her aesthetician’s license and learned about the health aspects of skin care, then went into the salon business. Two years ago, she opened Lotus Salon Spa Wellness (301 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-7546). Some says she gives the best facials in Delaware.

Carrie Rutt loves to get facials. She owns Town & Country Salon (1923 Kirkwood Hwy., Newark, 737-1855), which she bought in 2007, and expanded into a spa. “People started asking us for services,” she says. “Everyone wants to look younger, right?” Facials are one way to do that, but Rutt says women’s hair is equally important. “Have an up-to-date style,” she says. “The Dorothy Hamill haircut is way out. Big bangs are done. Even a wedge needs to be updated. Be brave, trust your stylist, and go for it.”

Men also want to look younger, and Heidi Sweringen, an aesthetician at Made Ya Look! Salon and Day Spa (20831 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 226-1400), says many men are getting facials. “Most men get a deep clean with exfoliation and extractions, but none of the fu-fu stuff. They want to get in, get out, and be done in an hour.” Her No. 1 tip for men? Use facial cleanser instead of soap, which is too drying.

Gentlemen will fare well with a facial at Essencia Salon & Day Spa (1240 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 234-9144). Start with an exfoliation and massage. Then come the paraffin and moisturizers. Finish with a shoulder and neck massage. Ahhh. On the run, ladies? Try the mini facial. You’ll be back in action in 30 minutes.

Even Yahoo! is buzzing about Brenda’s Bee Hive (1017 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 345-9666). Owner Brenda Goebel Denesowicz is a wizard at waxing brows (as evidenced by her 2008 Best of Delaware award), but she’ll take care of chins, lips, underarms, legs and bikinis, too. Best of all, prices are low—and she won’t take tips, so the Bee Hive is one of the best bargains around.

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Cindy’s Hideaway Spa (2601 Annand Drive, No. 12, Wilmington, 992-9000) specializes in relaxation, rejuvenation and body wraps. Owner Cindy Annand describes the seaweed wrap. “First, I do a dry brushing to exfoliate the skin, then apply a warm seaweed masque. The client is wrapped in plastic and blankets while lying on a table. Under the table, water jets massage the back side of the body. The client lies quietly, in the darkened room, for 20 minutes while the heated seaweed removes toxins from the body. After a shower, anti-cellulite cream is massaged into the body.”

Seaweed is an ancient beauty secret, and the experts know that at Sherif Zaki Salon and Oasis Spa (4001 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 652-4902) and Sherif Zaki Salon and Spa Rehoboth (19266 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 227-8640). Seaweed is a key ingredient in several Zaki treatments, including the Nefertiti facial, Pharaoh four-layer facial and Mediterranean body treatment. Sherif Zaki and his staff also specialize in hair, especially relaxers. The salons use several kinds of relaxers, but it’s the Sherif Zaki relaxer that has won accolades. Zaki’s father created his eponymous relaxer 40 years ago, and it has de-frizzed Delaware’s curliest heads.

One system that’s been getting lots of frizz-buzz is the keratin treatment, and CMP Designs (1601 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 888-2676) has it. What is it? Keratin is a protein that makes hair strong and shiny. The treatment adds that protein back into hair to hydrate, strengthen and eliminate frizz. It is reportedly chemical-free and safe to use on all kinds of hair. The treatment takes about 1½ hours, lasts for about four months and costs about $100 per hour at CMP.

Curly girls in the know go to Color Roxx (101 Louviers Drive, Newark, 453-1113) and Salon Rispoli (1115 Churchmans Road, Newark, 731-9202) for the Deva Curl cut. Stylists Theresa Quezada of Roxx and Thomas Tear of Rispoli journeyed to Manhattan to be trained by Lorraine Massey, the system’s creator. “For years, we cut curls the same way we cut straight hair, with precision cuts,” Tear says. “No wonder women had frizzy clouds of hair.” Quezada nutshelled the system. “Hair is cut dry so the stylist can see the curls and cut them individually. The products are sulfite-free and very moisturizing. Curls frizz because they are trying to get moisture out of the air. These products give the hair what it needs.”

Melissa Moulder of Montchanin Spa performs a hot stone massage. Photograph by Jared CastaldiAny kind of hair will benefit from gentle products with reduced chemicals. Can hair color have fewer chemicals? Yes. At George Marcus Salon (3629 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 475-7530), hair guru and salon owner George Ritzel works with a European coloring system that doesn’t have harsh additives, ammonia or parabens. Color and shine are provided by eco-friendly ingredients like botanicals, proteins and vegetable extracts. The salon does offer standard coloring products, because the eco-friendly line isn’t right for everyone.

The Moor mud body wrap and enzymatic sea mud wrap are two of the treatments at Ocean Retreat Day Spa and Hair Studio (210 Savannah Road, Lewes, 645-6868). The mud is rich in vitamins and minerals, and rids the body of toxins. Mud too messy? The detox herbal linen wrap, honey papaya pedicure and pomegranate body scrub are more of owner Christine Hopkins’ creative spa treatments.

And if you think that all smells heavenly, don’t miss the Japanese Body Ritual at the Spa at Montchanin Village (514 Montchanin Road, Montchanin, 888-4205). The massage employs sea algae, ginger grass, rice bran, rose camellia water, wild lime silk oil, plum wine body cream and shiatsu techniques to relax you.

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Looking for a bit of New York? Owner Rori Allen of Rori & Company (1066 Forrest Ave., Dover, 736-6999) went to school in the big city and worked in the Hamptons, so she was always in front of the trends. That means the latest in hair and, now, a massage therapist and an aesthetician who does skin care. That means big-city style at down-to-earth prices.

J. Christian works his magic in his cutting-edge studio. Photograph by Jared CastaldiJ. Christian of J. Christian Studio (7465 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 235-2306) is another New York-educated cosmetologist. That means “I have the ability to bring to conservative Delaware a little edgier look without being too out there. I give people three types of hair: 9-to-5 hair, 5-to-9 hair and weekend hair all through the same cut.” Settled happily in Hockessin, J. stays on top of trends by teaching hair fashion and techniques in America and Europe for Sexy Hair products.

What do eyes need? Fabulous lashes. At Posh (1017 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 655-7000), co-owners Michelle Ziegler and Christa DiOssi Rich do eyelash tinting and lash enhancement. The women opened Posh in 2001 and have developed a loyal following, especially among brides. Posh’s bridal beauty bible includes guidelines on everything from spray-tanning to tooth-whitening and hair-moisturizing.

Speaking of spray tanning, Devon Esthetique (610 Chadds Ford Drive, Chadds Ford, Pa., 610-388-4000) offers a product that is made from sugar beets, which is organic, therefore healthier for you than chemical tans. The tans come in six distinct shades—and they’ll come to you. If you can’t get to the spa, Devon’s offers a mobile service. Owner Devon Tucker-Kirk is an expert in all things related to skin care. “We offer more complex skincare services than the typical day spa does.” Check out the new waxing bar with imported ingredients from France. “We do clinical skincare and therapeutic bodyworks.”

Beauty goodies galore line the shelves of Houppette (3842 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 421-9036). Filled with items from the top names in bath and body, fragrance, hair and makeup, Houppette is a candy shop for girly-girls. It also has hair accessories, fashion trinkets, and lingerie from Cassandra, Devon and Lola. But it’s not all play time. Natura Bisse, Tracie Martyn, Sara Happ and Fresh are skin care lines that deliver amazing results.

Results are what Boire’s Hair Designs & Day Spa (38131 Terrace Road, Rehoboth Beach, 227-3861) has been delivering since 1973. Boire’s does cuts, colors, innovative designs with extensions, and chemical processes. Manicures, pedicures, waxing and facials are on the menu for adults. For tiny tots, Boire’s offers Prince for a Day and Princess for a Day packages. Start the pampering young. Maybe the kid will fall in love with the industry and become part of the next generation of Delaware’s beauty experts.

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Speaking of extensions, sleek, ultra contemporary design made Robert Cris Salon (3704 Kennett Pike, Suite 250, Greenville, 654-4008) one of Salon Today magazine’s 2009 Salons of the Year. Robert Cris uses Great Lengths hair extensions to increase length and volume for clients who seek it. The hair is real and specially treated and colored for the very best result.

Here’s the thing about Hair’s The Thing (20245 Bay Vista Road, Rehoboth Beach, 226-1454): There’s much more than hair there, but what if there is hair where you don’t want it? “Dermaplaning is hair removal done with a surgical blade,” says manager Jay Belanger. Sound scary? It’s not. “The blade removes only hair. It doesn’t remove a layer of skin.” Microdermabrasion does. Hairs The Thing does it with diamonds. “Traditional microderm uses crystals that lacerate your skin,” Belanger said. “We use a diamond-tipped device that is more precise than crystals so we can make more passes over the skin and do a thorough job.”

Kay Barnett, owner of CK’s Hair and Body Port in Lewes, tends to a customer. Photograph by Jared CastaldiMicroderms are offered at The Med Spa & Salon (17314 N. Village Main Blvd., No. 55, Lewes, 644-4247), along with Botox and cosmetic fillers like Restylane and Juvéderm. “Depending on the wrinkles, we might use Botox first, then evaluate the client’s face and see if she wants to use a filler on additional lines,” says manager Janice Pruskiewicz. “We can also use fillers on someone’s cheekbones, to make them higher and lift any skin that may be starting to sag. That procedure takes about 30 minutes, and the results are visible right away.”

Want visible results without needles? CK’s Hair and Body Port (1420 Highway One, Lewes, 645-2246) offers a variety of facials, including a pumice peel facial, pigment balancing facial, acne facial and the signature CK Facial. Stephanie Walls, the go-to girl at the salon and spa, described the CK Facial. “First, two types of cleansers —customized to the client’s skin needs—are used. Then comes an exfoliating mask, face and neck massage, a soothing gel mask and then a moisturizer. While the masks are on the face, the client receives a hand and arm massage, and a scalp massage.”)

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