I’ve been meaning to write about my beauty squad for a while. I used to write the annual Best of Beauty picks for local magazine Improper Bostonian, so believe me when I say I’ve tried a lot of beauty services in Boston. It’s always fun asking an aesthetician to wax just one side of your bikini line so you can have another aesthetician attack the other side. Same with eyebrows (though not really recommended). With all that experimentation and plethora of free services, I’ve actually remained pretty loyal to my longtime favorite hair stylist, facialist, spa, and mani/pedi place in Boston—Kristen Moshiek, Natalie Maibenko, Mandarin Oriental Boston Spa, and MiniLuxe.
Recently my circle has expanded to include fitness peeps too. I joined the David Barton gym which is opening on Arlington Street, but not until March. (I was one of the charter members of the David Barton gym on the Upper East Side in the ’90s, so there’s some nostalgia involved.) But better than a gym is the virtual fitness routine I started in September. A childhood friend of my husband’s named Sarah John trains me by Skype twice a week. Last week I added her friend, yoga instructor Kristy Wright-Terrell to my morning fitness mix. I actually love it.
Here’s a little bit more about each of them, and others I rely on to get me gorgeous. (Note: These lovely ladies are not paying me, and don’t provide me with regular free services. I have received comps from some of them through work, but these are the professionals to whom I pay money when I need beauty help. They’re that good.)
H A I R
Photo by Jared Leeds • Boston Weddings
I’ve been getting Japanese hair straightening treatments since the mid-’90s, before it was a thing. (No, my hair is not curly, just annoyingly bumpy.) When we first moved to Boston, a colleague of my husband’s recommended Kristen Moshiek at Beaucage Salon on Newbury Street. Kristen, who is so sweet, talented, and pretty, has been straightening my hair ever since. Whenever I had to actually pay for a haircut, I went to her too. These days, Kristen is a new mama almost three times over and focuses on styling hair for brides getting married in New England. This past summer I interviewed Kristen about bridal hair styles and such in “The Tress Tamer” for Boston Weddings.
While I’m lucky enough to have Kristen travel to my home to straighten my hair, I needed to find someone in town for cuts and color (starting to sprout pesky grays). Kristen steered me to the funky and energetic Emily Reale at Beaucage Salon. Emily, who often sports blue or magenta strands herself, mixes color to perfection and gives great haircuts. And despite the Newbury Street address, the $45 price tag is highly affordable. Emily does wedding hair too . . . maybe I should find occasion for an updo.
S K I N
Natalie Maibenko is my absolute favorite aesthetician in Boston, and one of my favorite people. This generous and ambitious Eastern European beauty has been servicing my skin for many years. I first discovered her at Beaucage as well. She was a massage therapist then, and gave me the best massage ever. Ever. When it was time to write Best Ofs one year, I tracked her down at an Aveda salon near Quincy Market for a repeat performance. With all the excellent local publicity, Natalie was able to forge out on her own with a small South End practice. Now Natalie has her own beautifully designed space, Unique Verve, on Newbury Street, where she concentrates on facials. Natalie is always up on the latest skin science and consistently invests in new technologies. Her newest tool is a Visia skin scanner, which gives a multi-dimensional view of six aspects of the skin for individualized facial rejuvenation treatments. But I’ll let Natalie explain it. Make an appointment.
M A S S A G E + R E L A X A T I O N
If I want a pampering massage, spa treatment, soak and steam in Boston, the The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston is my top destination. There’s no other spa that comes close to its service and facilities. I love, love, love the hot tub and steam room. There’s also icy showers and such, in which I do not partake. Recently the Mandarin treated me to its Time to Release spa treatment. a full-body massage that uses volcanic hot stones and Mandarin Oriental’s signature Release body oil (a calming blend of cypress, eucalyptus, clary sage, juniper berry, frankincense, pine,and jasmine) to help focus the mind, recharge the body, and release muscle tension. This massage was pure bliss. (Anybody reading this who wants to send me a present, I’d like another massage at The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston. Thank you.)
N A I L S ( + W A X I N G )
For mani/pedis, and more recently, bikini waxes, I go to MiniLuxe on Newbury Street, where I’ve been going since they first opened. (They now have locations in number of Boston suburbs too.) The bright white and pale wood space with bamboo floors is a pleasure to sit in. (I hate sitting still for manicures.) The prices are a few dollars higher, but the atmosphere and practices are a thousand percent more sterile. Another Beaucage find, Donna Charloff, runs the training program that ensures the manicurists there know what they’re doing, so I don’t have a regular favorite. Every manicurist does a good job. I’ve very rarely been disappointed in the quality of MiniLuxe mani/pedis. (Sometimes the scheduling system can be wonky, so if you book online, make certain your confirmation email comes through.)
C O R E T R A I N I N G
I’ve never actually met Sarah John, once known as Sarah Dubitsky, in the flesh. But I’ve been hearing about her for years, and even sat with her dad at the Blackfish bar in Truro for dinner one night. Sarah is a friend of my husband’s from his childhood summers on the Cape. We became Facebook friends, exchanged messages, and this fall, I signed up for his private virtual training sessions. Sarah, a former teacher and corporate lawyer, is a mom to three adorable young kids (they make an appearance in our sessions from time to time) who became interested in fitness during one of her pregnancies. You can see her leading a paddleboard fitness class in the photo above. Through her company, Sarah John Fitness, Sarah offers private and group core training. She is in VERY good shape, and is great about modulating the pace and exercises to my needs. It’s the first time I”ve actually enjoyed and stuck to workouts. Thank you Sarah.
Y O G A
A couple of weeks ago Sarah introduced me to her friend Kristy Wright-Terrell. Kristy is super sweet, with a lovely, lilting Southern accent, and is slowly, patiently teaching me yoga. Last week marked my very first yoga class ever, and Kristy’s very first Skype training session ever. We’re learning together. I start and end the week with one hour of yoga with Kristy. I love the stretching, though not sure I’ll ever learn to really relax.
B A L L E T
Inevitably there are days I can’t connect with Sarah or Kristy, so if there’s a long stretch between sessions, on the weekends I boot up my quickie vdieo from Ballet Beautiful, 15-Minute Beautiful Body with Mary Helen Bowers. Bowers is a retired New York City ballet ballerina with unnaturally long, lithe limbs, and apparently trained Natalie Portman for Black Swan. That, and her airy white studio, was all the convincing I needed.
A T H O M E
Not to sound like a fitness nut (because really, if you know me, you know I am severely lacking in that department), I’ve taken to using the Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair at my desk for a bit each day. (It’s slightly too short , so if I use it for hours my arms fall asleep.) It definitely helps me feel more conscious of my midsection during my marathon computer sessions. The ball comes in handy for sessions with Sarah, and my kids like to see how long they can kneel on it before toppling over. This balance ball contraption has been a win-win.
I’ve also purchased a few other items for my fitness ventures.
S H O P P I N G
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