Best of 2012: Beauty, Salons and Spas

The best places in Seattle for haircuts, mani/pedis and massages, plus the best salon in the city.

Hottest Haircutting Talent
Niko Weddle, Gene Juarez

When it comes to mastering trendy cuts, taking the plunge to blunt bangs and achieving spot-on glossy color, the well-tressed are asking for Niko Weddle of the downtown Gene Juarez Salon and Spa. An educator for the Gene Juarez’s Identity1 hair-care line and an 11-year salon veteran, Weddle has styled hair for local and national magazine photo shoots (including emerging hipster mag Papercut), creating Swiss maid braids and voluminous ’60s sex kitten ’dos that have had the style set clamoring for a turn in his chair. Downtown, 607 Pine St.; 206.326.6000;

Best New Neighborhood Salon

Bridging the line in between Phinney Ridge and Greenwood, the Varnish space has housed a revolving host of salons—mostly recently Tommy’s Tanning and Elektra—but in March, neighborhood residents Cassie Coombs and Anna Wagner, formerly of Gene Juarez, put a fresh face on the location to create this chic little salon. Accented with black-and-white check tile and mod chairs, the salon offers affordable cuts (many less than $60; ask for the stellar Tiffany Waldrop, formerly of Salon Divine and Gene Juarez), color and manis/pedis in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that has attracted both hoodies and beauty mavens from around the city. Greenwood, 7407 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.402.3668


Best Bargains on Hair Color
Cristy Carner Salon

Cristy Carner Salon is coloring outside the (budget) lines: Get bold balayage highlights from stylist Sydney Frey (shown above), who offers the über-popular French technique—which adds depth, dimension and a sun-kissed finish to your locks—for the same price as foils, at $130, compared to the normal $200-plus price tag. Double, triple bonus: Refresh roots and go longer in between color jobs with the salon’s maintenance touch-ups ($12–$27). Fremont, 100 NW 36th St.; 206.548.8224;

Men’s Grooming Salon

Owner Thaddeus Valentine has a simple motto for his longtime Greenwood salon: There are no shortcuts to a good haircut. So, don’t expect SuperCuts quick at Valentine’s; treatments here are precision-cut to the last detail. Sink into a supple leather chair and surrender to Valentine’s soothing scalp massage and clipper cut, or go the full monty with a classic hot towel razor shave. Greenwood, 7912 Greenwood Ave. N; 206.706.6303;

Best New Facial
Honeysuckle Spa

Tucked inside Sugarcomb Salon near Green Lake is the new Honeysuckle Spa, site of the best facial we had in 2012. Owner and aesthetician Molly Griffith (also a burgeoning fashion designer on the side) is into freebies—that is, products free of parabens, toxins, synthetics and even fragrances, using luxe lines Suki and 100% Pure. But the best perks of the Signature Facial ($95) were the pain-free extractions and soothing hand, neck, shoulder and scalp massage to finish. Green Lake, 780 N 73rd St.; 206.551.0988;

Cheap Pedi/Mani
Hoa Salons

With locations in Ballard, Madison Park and Roosevelt, Hoa Salons are easy to become addicted to, and that’s before you sink into the strategically placed massage treatment chair (then you are really hooked). Manicures at the cozy salons, which are clean, efficiently run and flush with all the OPI colors of the rainbow, set you back just $15; pedicures are $30. Multiple locations;

Splurge Pedicure
Spa at the Four Seasons

We like any excuse to pop into this glittering palace of opulence, so when it’s time to pamper tootsies for a big occasion, we hop up to the Spa at the Four Seasons for the espresso mud pedicure ($85). First up, indulge in a bourbon-vanilla foot soak, followed by an espresso mud scrub, a warm seaweed serum application and then, for the cherry on top, a relaxing foot and leg massage using peppermint lotion made from crushed mint and arnica to ease sore feet. Ahhh. Downtown, 99 Union St.; 206.749.7000;

Best Weird But Awesome Massage
Spa at Willows Lodge

Early last winter, the Spa at Willows Lodge emerged from a remodel with a retreat space devoted to manicures and pedicures, and a spacious new floor plan that makes it even easier to achieve nirvana. Guests indulge in a pretreatment Jacuzzi session in the private garden right outside the spa doors, then head for the signature “Thai herbal balls” massage (do not make a joke…do not make a joke…), which magically and soothingly increases blood circulation, revitalizes skin and relieves joint pain though a massage with cloth balls filled with aromatic herbs. Woodinville, 14580 NE 145th St.; 425.424.3900;

Best New Spa
Yuan Spa

The tale of Yuan Spa is one of ancient East meets Eastside. Tucked in at the base of a Bellevue megatower, the 8,000-square-foot spa, open since last November, combines a swanky, modern pedicure room and massage treatments with a communal bathing area and body scrubs that harken back to owner Z Zhang’s Chinese roots. The resplendent hydrotherapy area is modeled after a traditional Asian bathhouse, containing a luxe hot tub, salt-scrub bar, a eucalyptus steam room and herbal cedar sauna, and a 76-degree saltwater pool—all experienced in an affordable, cleansing spa circuit ($39 for an all-day pass; plan on a few hours if you want to fully indulge). Bellevue, 1032 106th Ave., Suite 125; 425.449.8788;

Best Tool for Beachy Waves
Seven Salon’s Beach Spray

It used to be nigh impossible to replicate that tousled, wind-blown hairdo that results from spending two whole minutes on a Northwest beach, but Seven Salon’s new beach spray ($30) creates wavy locks without enduring al fresco chills. The stellar styling spritz is packed with pro-vitamin B5, plankton extract (for scalp nourishment), plus seaweed and kelp extract to replicate the elements of ocean-kissed perfection. Available at Seven Salons, downtown and Bellevue;


Best New Local Beauty Line
Kari Gran

In July, former real estate colleagues Lisa Strain and Kari Gran launched a glorious line of beauty products made from organic, wild-harvested and non-GMO ingredients. (Your endocrine system will thank you.) We’re impressed: With offerings like custom-blended mineral foundation (for just $18), lavender hydrating face tonic ($20–$35) and smooth cinnamon-pimenta berry Lip Whip gloss (the real standout; $15), you’ll want to make an appointment to be pampered at their loft on the shores of Lake Union.


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