Beauty at Any Cost

Local experts reveal how you can get a little more out of your favorite services and salvage your beauty budget in the process.

When it comes to looking their best, many Main Line women (and men) spare no expense. For others in these financially uncertain times, such pampering is the first to go when budgets are trimmed. The area’s salons and spas know this—which is why many are offering discounts and other incentives, along with advice on how to get more mileage out of their treatments.

We spoke with local beauty experts to see how they’re weathering these lean times. A few even let us in on a few juicy secrets.


• Blowouts (page 2)
• Spa Treatments (page 3)
• Haircuts and Coloring (page 4)

• Professional Hair Products (page 5)
• 3 Ways to Cut Costs (and Stay Beautiful) (page 6)
Salon and Spa Directory

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Salon 31 stylist Melissa LaLiberté with client Leslie PadillaWorth the $$$: Blowouts

Melissa LaLiberté has clients with standing appointments three times a week for blowouts at Ardmore’s Salon 31—so she must be doing something right. “A great blowout brings out the beauty of a haircut,” says LaLiberté. “It’s the difference between looking great or not looking great.”

A good blowout (prices at Salon 31 start at $40) can even prolong the time between cuts. The results should last anywhere from three to four days, depending on the client’s hair. “I don’t have to do anything to my hair for a week,” says Malvern’s Leslie Padilla. “I worked in public relations for years in New York, and it was standard for women to get a blowout before an event. The benefits are finally catching on here.”

LaLiberté received her training at the famed John Sahag Workshop in New York City. “I can get really close to the root and get the kink out of the hair without jeopardizing its body,” she says. “There’s no type of hair that can’t use a good blowout—even a pixie cut.”

Alas, sleeping on a satin pillowcase, securing your hair at the top of your head while sleeping, and other tips for extending blowout life are beauty myths, says LaLiberté. “People like to make it sound more complicated than it is,” she says. “You don’t have to sleep in a chair.”

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To keep hair looking fresh and oil-free, LaLiberté recommends dry shampoos. “When you start seeing oil in your hair—usually about two days after the blowout—you spray the dry shampoo in the root of the hair and it eats up the oil,” she says.

Decisive Blow

Want a professional blowout at home? Train with hairstylist Jason Wasko at his Blow-Dry Boot Camp. A stylist at Tantra Salon & Day Spa in King of Prussia, Wasko hosts in-home parties for groups of up to five, providing hands-on tips of how to make the blow-dry process easier. “There’s a lot more to it than just aiming it at your hair,” he says.

Wasko will show you how to hold the blow-dryer by the nozzle, divide hair into sections, and properly hold a brush. “Your hairstylist doesn’t have the time during an appointment to show you proper blow-drying techniques,” he says. “It takes time and practice. But once you learn the basics, it makes the process a lot smoother.”

To schedule a boot camp, e-mail Wasko at

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Worth the $$$: Spa Treatments

Randy Currie has been in the salon and spa industry for more than 30 years—long enough to witness plenty of economic ups and downs. “Relative to other costs, people don’t mind spending money to help them feel and look good,” says the owner of Currie Hair Skin Nails, with locations in Glen Mills, Kennett Square and Delaware. “The value has to be there in the services to keep the clients coming back.”

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Currie Hair Skin Nails’ Kim McGraw with client Devon ProctorCurrie’s unwavering commitment to customer service continues to attract up to 6,000 clients a month at his Glen Mills location alone. “The service provider has to be 100-percent focused on the client,” he says. “That’s an absolute must—especially in this high-stress time, when people want service. It has to be worth it.”

Currie also understands that complacency can be a killer. “We’re always looking for different ways to present classic services,” he says.

One such example: the Rose Petal Massage ($125), where the client rests on an aromatic bed of rose petals for a 90-minute massage using pure rose oil. “The soothing and relaxing benefits can last for days if it’s performed by a highly trained therapist,” says Currie.

Or try the Shea Butter Pedicure ($63). This hourlong spin on the classic pedicure is enhanced with fragrant essential oils and soufflé lotions in a choice of scents, from chocolate-mint to lavender. “The scent, combined with the relaxing atmosphere of the spa, makes this a must-have treatment,” says Currie.

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Jay Michael Salon and Spa’s Gina Amoruso Ward with client Amy ScaglioneWorth the $$$: A Great Cut

Joseph Ferrer of Jay Michael Salon and Spa in Radnor has seen more and more frugal clients stretching the time between haircuts—some for as long as 12 weeks. “If you invest in a great cut from a professional, your hair should grow out beautifully,” he says.

Ferrer shows clients how to trim their own bangs (if they ask) and recommends Velcro rollers to help maintain the style between cuts. “These small tricks can disguise the need for a haircut,” he says.

The longer, flowing styles popular right now have also kept salon visits down. “Super-straight and geometric cuts are no longer in,” says Ferrer. “With these styles, you have to be committed to maintaining the cut to keep it looking sharp.”

Worth the $$$: Beautiful Color

“People think they’re saving money by coloring their hair themselves, but they don’t know what they’re doing,” says Jay Michael Salon and Spa’s Gina Amoruso Ward, who’s seen an increase in appointments to correct mistakes. “In the long run, they’re spending more money than they would if they just came to the salon to get their hair colored.”

And while some clients have been waiting longer between color appointments, Ward still sees many of them every three weeks. “They tell me that having their hair done makes them feel better,” she says. “They’d rather save money by giving up going to dinner than give up their hair appointments.”

To help color last longer, Ward recommends using professional products for color-treated hair. “Most are sulfate-free, which is important,” she says. “Sulfate is what strips away color.”

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Maria McCool, co-owner of Calista Grand Salon & Spa in West ChesterWorth the $$$: Professional Hair Products

Maria McCool is always asked if the pricier products sold at salons are worth the money. Her answer is always “yes.” “What you buy at the supermarket or drugstore is diluted with water,” says McCool, co-owner of Calista Grand Salon & Spa in West Chester, who has her own line, Calista Tools. “The truth is in the ingredients. I compare it to clothing—better fabric equals a more expensive product. It’s the same with styling products: Better ingredients drive up the price.”

Popular at her salon, Calista Tools are also sold on QVC.

Here are some of her top-sellers:

Complete: A working hairspray you control, because it’s not an aerosol spray. It brushes out easily and won’t leave a residue. $19.50

Embellish: A finishing product for dry hair used to lift, separate and define without stickiness or buildup; shapes and texturizes for short, sassy styles and sexy, long looks. Its unique formula creates fibers that adhere to hair, adding fullness by thickening. $26.50

Exfoliation: A gentle cleansing shampoo that thoroughly removes product buildup and coatings left on hair. Use it prior to any treatment or service when you want maximum penetration. $19.50

Form: A styling gel that holds without being stiff or sticky. Perfect for curls, and men love it because it holds without being crisp. $16.50

Intensify: A styling foam that starts as a light liquid and dispenses as a foam to ensure even distribution. It adds movement and volume without adding weight. $19.50

Quench: A gentle shampoo that replenishes, leaving hair hydrated and soft while adding luster and spring. Perfect for damage caused by blow-dryers and other styling tools, and for those who get regular coloring treatments, perms and relaxers. $17.50

Reclaim: This serum contains pure argan oil, which nourishes, protects, hydrates, conditions, shines and softens. $38.50

Refine: An instant conditioner that leaves hair feeling light while adding lift, fullness and volume. $17.50

Replenish: This daily instant conditioner hydrates and softens while adding luster and spring by rebalancing the hair’s moisture levels. Also perfect for damage caused by blow-dryers and other styling tools, and for those who get regular coloring treatments, perms and relaxers. $18.50

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3 Ways to Cut Costs (and Stay Beautiful)

1. Log on. Many local salons and spas send out regular e-mails announcing special promotions, discounts on services, and more.

2. Buy in bulk. Save a bundle at the salon or spa by purchasing package deals with your favorite treatments.

3. Be a guinea pig. Inquire at your favorite salon about teaching nights for new stylists, when you can score a cut and color for a fraction of the cost (under the supervision of a seasoned stylist, of course).

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Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!