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Photograph by Curtis Cartier
Facial awareness: A client gets the luxe treatment at Pristine in Capitola.

Say Spa!

The guide to relaxing beauty treatments in Santa Cruz County

By Michelle Camerlingo

Aptos Village Skin & Body Care
8035 Soquel Dr., Suite 39, Aptos; 831.688.4541
The electro-ionization facial is ideal for sensitive skin. Essentially a mild pressure-washing with saline solution, it breaks up hyperpigmentation and plumps the skin for a healthy glow, and without the irritation that microdermabrasian can cause. And the only place in Santa Cruz County to get it is Aptos Village Skin & Body Care. Since the motto here is "We wax anything--just ask," that means this is also your waxing headquarters. Jane Iredale makeovers round out the offerings at this poplar Aptos spa.

Caress Day Spa
911 Capitola Ave., Suite A, Capitola; 831.462.4422
If all the new lip potions promising bee-stung lips are any indication, luscious lips are In. To cater to this lip craze, Caress Day Spa offers up a luxe treatment that includes exfoliation, refinement of the wrinkle-prone skin around the mouth and intensive moisture treatment for a smoother, plumper-looking kisser. For a day of indulgence, pick one of the many massages and add Balneotherapy, a private deep-soaking tub prepared with a special blend of sea minerals and aromatherapy for the ultimate in relaxation. This treatment is ideal before a massage to release and warm muscles for deeper work.

Daryl Steven's Salon and Day Spa
6006 La Madrona Dr., Suite E, Scotts Valley; 831.461.1122
This full-service salon is also a day spa with private and relaxing treatment rooms. Among the age-defying wonders on offer is the Yam Enzyme Peel, which refines the skin through deep hydration. Another client favorite is the seasonal organic scrub and wrap, a custom treatment designed to polish and soften skin, starting with a full-body exfoliation. A mind-freeing massage to the scalp and feet is also included.

The Farmacy
1101 Pacific Ave. # C, Santa Cruz, 831.426.3276;
7556 Soquel Dr., Aptos. 831.688.3203

Boasting the fastest Brazilian bikini wax in town, the staff at Farmacy makes going to "South America" surprisingly comfortable. Also known for expert brow-shaping and makeup application, this small spa and shop offers cult makeup favorites like Drugstore Cowgirl and CARGO. For those who hesitate to commit to a full set of eyelash extensions, Farmacy offers temporary individual lash application. Applied to just the corners for a flirty lift or along the full upper lid, these lush come-hither lashes are perfect for any special occasion.

Fusion Salon & Spa
1051 41st Ave., Santa Cruz; 831.479.3727
From the nontoxic paint on the walls to the nonacrylic nails, Fusion is going green. And it's going all the way: This is a full-service outfit, with hair stylists, nail technicians, makeup artists, massage therapists and estheticians offering soothing facials and artful waxing. Hip and fun, this is a truly environmentally friendly one-stop beauty shop.

Isvara Organics Beauty & Wellness Center
1007 41st Ave., Santa Cruz; 831.476.8680
This may be the only spa in town where the treatments are prepared in the next room from ingredients grown by local organic farmers. Isvara's Beauty & Wellness center offers unique raw food enzyme facials, a rich and nourishing hair smoothie, organic hair coloring services and microdermabrasion. A full menu of massage services, plus yoga classes, means clients leave relaxed and glowing in body and spirit.

Pristine Clinical Skin Care
607 Capitola Ave., Capitola; 831.462.2690
Twenty years in dermatology means proprietress Sharon Williams knows her stuff. So when she says her specialty is "results-oriented skin care," clients can rest assured they're in good hands. Specializing in anti-aging treatments, Pristine offers customized facials, microdermabrasian and facial waxing as well as effective acne treatments. On top of it all she's certified by the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program.

Serene Skin and Body
108 Magnolia St., Santa Cruz; 831.427.1912
The latest in anti-aging treatments, microcurrent facial toning minimizes visible signs of aging and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles to let the inner fountain of youth burble happily away. Tiny impulses relax tense muscles and tighten slack ones, effectively smoothing the skin while improving the circulation, hydration, elasticity and facial contour. For a back-to-basics experience, try Serene Skin and Body's body polish. This treatment begins with a sea-salt scrub coupled with essential oils. After the salt is rinsed away, the emollient oils remain to moisturize, promoting circulation and a glowing feeling of wellbeing.

Simply Skin
500 Soquel Ave., Suite B, Santa Cruz; 831.429.9400
The most advanced nonsurgical facial treatment option out there, ultrasound therapy uses ultrasonic wavelengths to achieve maximum penetration of anti-aging and treatment serums, hydrating the skin on a deeper level. For complete rejuvenation, the LED light therapy add-on treatment uses specific diode light wavelengths to promote the skin's natural beauty. This is serious high-tech beauty--and it's a great addition to any the many more traditional facial treatments on offer at this professional spa.

Skin Essence Day Spa
16 Victor Square, Scotts Valley; 831.438.8300
With the current world of technology's rapid advancements, it's no surprise that skincare has undergone some scientific breakthroughs. In the forefront is the Switch Rejuvenator treatment, a citric and pyruvic acid peel that restores youthful beauty to sun-damaged skin. Skin Essence also offers irresistible packages like the Oceana, which includes an herbal foot soak, body scrub and full body massage.

The Spa at Chaminade
1 Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz; 800.283.6569
Without a doubt this is the spa with the best view in town--redwood-covered mountains cascading down to the sparkling Pacific with beautiful beaches, fresh air and fertile farmland. The Spa at Chaminade sits high on a bluff overlooking the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a proud certified green business, offering holistic and sustainable services. Deep-tissue massages and relaxing facials come with the perk of abundant amenities--spa guests enjoy access to the steam room, sauna and whirlpool, heated outdoor pool, fitness center, private spa patio with Jacuzzi and koi pond, hiking trails and tennis courts.

Spoiled Rotten Day Spa
2106 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 831.427.1102;
9039 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 831.688.7714

True to its name, this pampering haven boasts a decadent menu of options, such as A Day at the Beach, which includes highlights and a body massage followed by a tan application. Also on offer are the ever-popular eyelash extensions sported by celebs like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. These lashes generally last about two months and are water-resistant. They lengthen and thicken natural eyelashes, eliminating the need for mascara. A full-set application generally takes two hours and costs about $200.

Tonic Salon and Spa
765 Cedar St., Santa Cruz; 831.426.4311
Looking for a little Hollywood in Santa Cruz? Tonic is one of the few spas in the area that offers professional teeth whitening and airbrush tanning--two staples of star quality. Whether it's coffee, tobacco or just the effects of time, Tonic's professional teeth whitening system uses peroxide gel and a blue light lamp. And results are impressive--a 15-to-20-minute treatment yields an improvement of two to seven shades. And of course a deep tan intensifies the effect. For a natural glow sans the UV rays, Tonic uses airbrush bronzing for a smooth and glowing Bahamas-worthy tan. Just be prepared to stand in semiawkward poses while being blasted with cold color.

Tranquille Spa
116 Rancho Del Mar, Aptos; 831.688.7750
Be it a deep pore cleansing, haircut and makeover or Swedish massage with pure essential oils, at Tranquille it will be accompanied by the soothing sounds of streaming water. Relaxation is queen here, where shoulder, arm and hand massages accompany every facial. For just $15, add penetrating heated stones to any massage with the Heated Stone Treatment--perfect for weary muscles and stress relief.

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