Features: Best of Philly 2005: Beauty & Spa

The best places and ways to pamper yourself

Spa brand: Bluemercury                                                                           With its recent opening at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, Bluemercury is expanding its specialty apothecary-plus-spa approach. But it hasn’t lost its independent streak, or a focus on conscientious service (1707 Walnut Street, 215-569-3100, plus locations in Ardmore, Marlton and Atlantic City).

All-day indulgence: Zanya Spa Salon                                                         Everything is big here, from the cavernous, light-filled salon to the expansive, ­Moroccan-inspired relaxation room. Best of all, the services (they do body, hair, nails, you name it) are as personal as the space is striking (Laceworks Building, 287 South Main Street, suite 7, Lambertville; 609-773-0770).

Medical facial: Regie Wise, Medical Skin Care & Treatment Center
The secret weapon of Main Liners with perfect pores. A visit to Regie Wise and her staff of medical aestheticians (ask for Regie herself, or Nancy Bellis) begins with a scalpel blade, and a “dermaplaning” procedure designed to smooth imperfections and remove dead skin and peach fuzz (888 Glenbrook Avenue, Bryn Mawr; 610-527-5025).

Urban Spa: Rescue Rittenhouse Spa Lounge
The striking and statuesque owners (Polish-born Danuta Mieloch, pictured at right, and Swedish-born Mina Gough) handpick a small, top-notch staff of masseuses, waxers and manicurists. But it’s Danuta’s personalized facials—which left us, honestly, glowing—that are the real standout (255 South 17th Street, mezzanine; 215-772-2766).

Drug-free Relaxation: Ame Salon and Spa                                                    Yes, they’ve got multi-­directional Swiss showers and a medical-grade “flotation system,” but along with cutting-edge equipment and decadent body treatments comes an authentic emphasis on creating a slice of Zen in a harried world (111 Waynewood Avenue, Wayne;

Decadent pedicure: Ocean Mist Pedicure at Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon
The red Hawaiian algae bath, we are told, is meant to detoxify; the smooth mud mask to exfoliate and reduce edema. But by the time the staff gets down to business with the polish—several ocean mist spritzes later—you’re too relaxed to care that they’ve supposedly reduced spider veins, too (the Ritz-Carlton,
10 South Broad Street; 215-523-8035).

Express Manicure: Rittenhouse Nails                                                         Even with the friendly staff’s generous hand massage and careful brush work, you’ll get in and out before anyone notices you’re not behind those piles on your desk. Best of all, it’s only $12 (1742 Sansom Street; 215-557-0078).

Budget wax: Pour L’Image  
                                                                        At this no-frills space, owner Lisa Bruno kindly, carefully and oh-so-efficiently takes care of Main Liners’ unwanted hair, down there. And all for a reasonable $25 (24 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr; 610-527-8469).

Brows: Mindy Tamaccio                                                                            She arches the brows of many a high-profile Philadelphian and will do yours, too, either through private appointment or at one of her visits to salons like Bluemercury. Her rate of $25 for 25 minutes is a bargain, considering her eye for choosing the right shape for your face (610-812 0987).

Makeup lesson: Melanie Engle   
                                                           Engle’s philosophy is less is more — and she’ll expertly prove its power as she helps you (finally) choose the proper foundation or perfect your eyelining technique. Using her custom-blended line, the Main Line-based aesthetician (she also does great brows) concocts individualized products for you; she makes house calls, too (267-251-5555).

Peel that makes you look like a star: Susan Schiano at Pierre & Carlo             She’s who we trust with that tingly combination of lactic and glycolic acids that temporarily subdues wrinkles, blackheads and other skin horrors. Schedule a full hour, with a vitamin C mask after the peel, and flaunt a dewy, Keira Knightley-like complexion for weeks (Shops at the Bellevue, 200 South Broad Street; 215-790-9910).

Body products: Duross & Langel                                                               New to Antique Row, this all-natural line of bath, body and skin-care products holds its own against pricey corporate chains. Cream of the nearly year-old crop are the microdermabrasion facial scrub ($26) and the eye serum ($34), which alleviates morning-after puffiness within minutes (1218 Locust Street; 215-735-7075).

Deep-tissue massage: Cara Solomon at Body Restoration                                  If painful in the most exquisite way is how you like your massages, then girly-but-powerful Cara is the masseuse for you. Not a single knotty cord in your neck, scalp, back and, yes, your butt, will go unpunished. Bring on the agony! ($80 for 55 minutes) (1611 Walnut Street, 3rd floor; 215-569-9599).

All-around massage: Jason Kelly, Art + Science                                             At this year-old Manayunk spa and salon, Jason practices a just-this-side-of-deep tissue massage, and incorporates a few “concepts” (like a pre-massage foot scrub or a little Reiki here and there) that weren’t part of the drill in his former position at the Sporting Club. Therapeutic and relaxing, his massage is as good for those pesky sports injuries as it is for a day of pampering (4430 Main Street, Manayunk; 215-482-2242).

Hair Stylists

City: Joanne Nguyen at Richard Nicholas Hair Studio                              Ignore the fact that her own hair is often dyed a shocking pink — the girl gives a great bob, the kind that can go classic or edgy with the turn of a brush, a streak of pomade, or a tuck behind the ear (1716 Sansom Street; 215-567-4790).

’Burbs: Marybeth Simpson at Splash Hair Studio                                        Going to Marybeth with pictures of Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Simpson in tow is not necessary. Babble on about wispy bangs and longish layers, and she’ll know exactly what you mean — then deliver a result that surpasses your celeb-fueled imagination (1004 Fayette Street, Conshohocken; 610-941-0955).

Hair Colorists
City: Louis Matregrano at Thunder Hair Salon                                               With a single glance, this Rittenhouse institution can match your existing highlights to a single process, or cool off an overabundance of warm tones with the wave of a foil. And he’ll tell you straight, but gently, how often you really should stop by to keep that incandescent mane looking its best (110 South 19th Street; 215-563-2665).

’Burbs: Heather Linker at Salon Capelli  
                                            Enhancing what you have and creating a natural, believable beauty is this maven’s niche. She does it by spending extra time with clients and providing solid advice about what shades work best with your coloring (206 Bala Avenue, Bala Cynwyd; 610-667-1400).

Hair Repairist: Bruce DuBois at ToppersSpa                                                Call him Mr. Fix-It. DuBois is especially adept at correcting mishaps — turning your too-tinted tresses a believable blond, reversing do-it-yourself muddy reds, and transforming grays into shimmering highlights. Spring for his extra glossing treatment to seal in the radiance (117 South 19th Street; 215-496-9966).

Salon Scenes

City: Luna Salon & Spa                                                                         Calming and cool. The talented stylists do it all, but don’t mind if you “cheat” and go to Jill for a cut today, Glenn a few months from now. Plus, they don’t push products, are always on time, offer late hours during the week, and have reasonable prices (1216 Walnut Street; 215-546-5862).

’Burbs: OMG Salon                                                                                 With Oscar the long-haired dachshund happily sniffing your Jimmy Choos, brie and strawberries being passed around, and sweet-natured couple Maurice Tannenbaum and John Giangiacomo running the show (in a former 19th-century general store), you’ll get more gossip during one haircut at OMG Salon than on a week’s worth of Access Hollywood (351 Righters Mill Road, Gladwyne; 610-896-0240).

Yoga Studios

City: Studio B 
                                                                                        The cavernous, cool former church in Northern Liberties offers enough space that your mat need never touch your neighbor’s. And chants echo off the ceiling with impressive force. Plus, several classes are led by Kelly Smith, one of the best instructors in town (209 Fairmount Avenue; 215-733-9053).

’Burbs: Yogaphoria  
                                                                                 This new studio, officially opened last year with a visit from Cindy Crawford (a friend of the owner), has created a most un-yoga-like buzz in Bucks. No wonder: It’s got, along with great Anusara classes and workshops, everything a true yogi isn’t supposed to desire: two beautiful studios with bamboo floors, industrial-chic ceilings, and a fancy sound system, plus a relaxing tea and juice bar (540 Union Square Drive, New Hope; 215-862-4041).

Personal Pilates: Brie Adina Neff at Equilibrium                                         From a distance, Neff, a former dancer, may be bubbly-sweet, but at her modern and sleek studio, she gives private clients a serious workout. So much so, she recommends beginners sign up first with one of her associates, like the aptly named Patience Owen. Both instructors — and their ab work — keep you coming back for more ($80 to $85 per hour) (424 South 2nd Street; 215-923-3669).

Cures-what-ails-you acupuncturist: Lauren Albert Integrative Acupuncture  Wanna finally get pregnant? Stop stressing? Lose the back pain? Albert has been known to work minor miracles with those very thin pins (for $75 a session after the first $150 session). Her approach is holistic, rather than merely trouble-shooting (255 South 17th Street, suite 1502; 215-378-7939).