Don't let your haters (or your location) stop you from doing your luxurious thang. *Kevin G voice*
Styled hair and polished skin are always in. Be it spa treatment, be it hair love, be it nail maintenance: I try to maintain my Beauty & Bliss routines no matter where my travels may take me. Living a life on the road means that I spend a lot of time googling "LED light therapy in XX city" or texting friends and family members asking for recommendations for "black hair salons in YY state." At the very least, I hope that all of my ripping and running and trial and error can benefit you - listed below are a few beauty service providers across a handful of US states that I can personally vouch for:
Coree Moreno (NYC, DMV; IG: @keepingupwithco)
Coree has been doing my hair since I was a wee high-schooler with very little hang time. Shampoo, style, extensions - Coree is responsible for so much of my hair growth and maintenance over the years and he is also responsible for my initial decision to transition from permed to natural hair. My hair broke off pretty badly after a series of salon visits that were high on the blow-drying and low on the nourishing ends of the scale. Coree shared his thoughts then in the same candid, but reasonable, manner in which he advises me now: "you can cut it or you can keep it." In his chair, I almost always part ways with my ends, not because I feel pressured to, but because I have the option to choose and because I know that my hair health is his first priority. If you're looking for a passionate, skilled stylist, Coree is your person. Get to him while you can; he styles Elaine Welteroth's tresses these days, for goodness' sake.
Honey Salon (Harlem, NYC, www.honeysalonnyc.com)
Uh huh, honey. This place is one of my New York safe havens, right up there with my church (shout out to Renaissance Church NYC) and my therapist's office (Dr. Leslie Garcia for the win). I've been getting my tresses laid by Shawn Walton since I moved to New York City back in 2015. Shawn is the sweetest, funniest stylist you ever did see. Not to mention, his styles LAST. I've referred so many friends and colleagues to Shawn because my flat-ironed and hot-curled styles last me two weeks (outside of the humid city summer, he's a bomb stylist, not a miracle-worker and way-maker, now) without fail. And yes, I do still have a curl pattern. Stop by Honey and tell them that I sent you. Don't forget to enjoy the complimentary steam treatments and mimosas while you're there.
Sola Salon (Midtown, NYC, www.styleseat.com/leahlang)
My girl Leah is my Midtown saving grace when I need an appointment on short-notice (no guarantees, of course). I love the ease of using Style Seat, so, it's nice to confirm/deny within minutes whether she can squeeze me in. Leah has a suite among a floor of other stylists and professionals and her shared space is cozy and cute. I also trust her with my trims, which I do try to get every eight weeks, because breakage is not the way, the truth, or the life. In a city like New York and with a schedule like mine, it is nice to have more than one stylist that you can trust.
Hair Vyce Studio (West Philadelphia, PA, www.hairvyce.com)
I drove from Delaware to Philly for a professional development seminar one weekend this spring and I realized somewhere between New York and Wilmington that I needed to do something with my hair. I received a recommendation for Hair Vyce Studio, a lovely, down-to-earth salon in West Philadelphia, from my big sister, Tajah. My stylist, Ebriel, was so kind and conversational. I'm usually on my laptop working or studying or whatever else when I see my home stylists, so, it was nice to really just relax during my visit. The salon specializes in natural hair, and despite the fact that I went for a straight look, I'd feel comfortable recommending Hair Vyce for those looking to twist it up, loc it down, or up-do it.
Cole Stevens Salon (Greenbelt, MD, www.colestevenssalon.com)
There are two locations, but, Greenbelt is my go-to (because close to College Park, because alumna of the University of Maryland, College Park). Beggars can't be choosers, so I typically book an appointment with whoever is available, but I've gone to Giselle twice and have left the salon eyes closed just swangin' each time. Because the salon has so many stylists, they generally have a lot of availability, which is great for the scheduling-challenged like myself. Additionally, early appointment availability is a plus. They just get natural, black hair, and I can appreciate that.
D'Yolis Hair Salon (Lanham, MD, IG: @dyolishairsalon)
Credit for this recommendation goes to the great Chandler P. D'Yolis laid my mane during a recent trip home during which Cole Stevens had no availability that matched my needs time-wise (read: I needed to be in someone's chair no later than 6 AM for a seminar later that day; I bet you're starting to see a trend here...). I didn't have time for a deep conditioning treatment, but I was pleased with the outcome of my standard shampoo/style process and would definitely go back again.
Glitz Nails (East Village, NYC)
Good ol' Avenue B. I go out of my way to trek to East Village for Glitz, because despite the price-hiking nature of NYC, their gel manicure and regular pedicure run me $40 collectively. Your home city may determine whether or not that sounds like a steal or a scam to you, but, compared to salons near my apartment that charge $35 for a gel manicure alone, it's worth it for me. Added bonus: there's a bunch of good food nearby. Tim Ho Wan for dinner after a nail date, anyone?
Nail & Stuff (Midtown, NYC)
Cutest place ever. In walking distance from my apartment. Makes me feel generally fancy. Prices are a bit steep, but sometimes you have to go hard (for convenience) or go home. I particularly enjoy the polish selection at this nail salon and the complimentary 10-minute neck massage you receive while your nails dry. It's the little things.
Junie Bee Nails (Harlem, NYC, www.juniebeenailz.com)
I wrote a whole post on this, so, won't drain the well again. Go support TT, though.
Harlem Skin Clinic (Harlem, NYC, harlemskinclinic.com)
Thanks to the recommendation of my good friend, Elizabeth Fadoju, I finally made my way into Seven Brown's chair at Harlem Skin Clinic. If you know me, you know I spend more time obsessing over my face and my adult acne than I do working my day job (kidding, @myemployer). After a number of dermatology and self-treatment attempts over the past 10+ years, I thought it was time to seek guidance from a specialist who had skin and skin experiences like mine. Seven introduced me to the Skinceuticals product line, which I use in conjunction with My Goode Skin cleanser and toner, and bi-weekly Celluma LED light therapy treatments. I've gone twice a week ever since; the light therapy has caused a noticeable improvement in my scarring and the frequency of my breakouts, though no single solution is perfect. I'm looking at you, hormonal acne. Express treatments run you about $35 per session, but discounted, multi-session packages are also available.
The Adara Spa (Arlington, VA, www.adaraskincarespa.com)
I've traipsed into this spa with my suitcase and work purse in tow twice a week every week for about two months now. Once I was introduced to LED light therapy, I needed to find a spa that offered the treatments near my current client site. The Adara Spa offers a lifetime light bed membership for $89.99, so, I can walk in and walk out as often as I want to from week to week. The light bed is great because even though I'm there for my face, I can theoretically use my 30-minute block to expose my neck, my back, or any other areas that I'd like treated. Bonus for this place is that they sell all of the same Skinceuticals products that Harlem Skin Clinic does; match made in heaven.
C.R.Y.O. Philadelphia (Philadelphia, PA, www.cryophiladelphia.com)
Found this gem during one of my "crap, I'm going to be in Philly for the weekend and I need an LED light therapy treatment" moments. Yes, I acknowledge that most don't experience those, but this spa was there for me during mine. I was able to book online, which again, is always a plus for me, and I had no problems navigating there or checking in as a new customer. The light hood was similar to that which Harlem Skin Clinic offers, so, I felt right at home. If you're ever in Philly and need cryotherapy or other light treatments, check them out.
European Wax Center (Everywhere, to be honest)
I have been to so many European Wax Center locations, I can't even list them all. A few things: first, if you're in an unfamiliar city and you need a Brazilian, just trust them. 9/10, you'll have the same appointment experience no matter what city you're in - quick, easy, and capable of being scheduled through an app. It's also nice to be able to buy their products with relative ease while traveling to most major cities if you forget your own or need to re-up. Second, if you're a hard wax fan like I am, this is usually a good place to start. EWC has their own wax formula and I personally haven't experienced any negative reactions to it thus far. Third, if you're relatively risk-loving like I am, you can save a few pennies by making an appointment with a waxer in training. While this sounds like a nightmare, "in training" doesn't necessarily translate to "ripping hair off of your lady parts for the first time in my career." A lot of EWC trainees have worked at other spas and are simply required to take the EWC-specific training regardless of their prior experience. Why would you do this? Because your visit is free (relatively, because we all tip for our services in the you ess of aye, I pray!) if your waxer is a trainee. To assuage your fears even more, the trainee typically only does the latter portion of your wax. 3/4 of my trainee wax was completed by an experienced EWC waxer (the trainer). It was worth the money saved, IMO.
Haven Spa (NoHo, NYC, www.havenspa.nyc)
I checked Haven out after getting a wax in Toronto and learning of exfoliation down under treatments. I have yet to actually try the Peach Smoothie peel at Haven, but, mark my words, I will try it out and report back because ingrown hairs are my arch nemesis. I've gone to Haven for regular Brazilian waxes, and I like that the waxer used both soft and hard wax during my wax, depending on the sensitivity of the area.
Slick Wax Bar (Toronto, CA, www.slickwaxbar.com)
Things not to do: forget to make time for a wax before Caribana weekend. In typical me fashion, I desperately searched for a waxing place that could take me for an appointment in the city, Ubered my way there, and hoped for the best. My wax specialist was extremely kind and skilled at making the experience swift and efficient (it's waxing, it isn't going to be painless). She also did a very thorough job ridding me of ingrown hairs that had risen to the surface. For the Caribana-goers of years to come, now you have a trustworthy recommendation to fall back on should you find yourself in a similar bind.
I'll likely be adding to this list and re-posting as a I visit more salons and spas in more places. If you have any salon or stylist recommendations that you'd like to share, let me know on Instagram!