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New Year – New You

Treatments from head to toe to lift your body, mind and spirit.

The Float Lounge in Laguna Beach

When we came across this yoga-massage hybrid known as Yogassage – aka Thai massage – at Spa Gregorie’s, we imagined it would be nothing short of extraordinary in a profoundly relaxing way. Not disappointed, we were surprised at the sheer acrobatics required to accomplish it on a traditional massage table and at the intensity of the treatment itself. The therapist stretched, kneaded, twisted, pressed, pulled, and literally, stood on us in the pursuit of a true yoga experience, minus the namastes and class full of people.

We were pushed to our limits of elasticity and tested with a few balancing acts – but thankfully, remained safely on the table to live and tell the tale. Even though the treatment is performed sans massage oil and over loose-fitting clothing, the experience retains the same purifying and stress-reducing benefits as traditional massage. And it ends with a killer neck/shoulder/scalp massage. 1¼ hours for $120 at Spa Gregorie’s in Newport Beach and Rancho Santa Margarita  ::  spagregories.com – Jessica Peralta

Lash Spa
Looking for a way to bat those lashes with a whole new purpose? Even lashes need a day at the spa, which is why Barbara Rattigan opened LashSpot Eyelash Extension Spa in Costa Mesa in February. “I knew it was going to take off,” says Rattigan, who also owns Shavasana Eyelash Extensions and Lotus Salon and Spa in Costa Mesa. “I had no idea it was going to take off the way it has.”

There are six licensed estheticians and a full menu of lash services, including extensions (available in synthetic silk or mink), lash perm (for a more permanent curl), lash tint, and Swarovski crystal application. Initial extension application appointments last 1½ hours and include a thorough eyelash cleansing followed by the application of individual synthetic lashes to the client’s individual natural lashes. On average, it takes about 90 extensions per eye to complete a typical service. Touch-ups are recommended two to three weeks later (these last about an hour) and three to four times a year, clients should start fresh with a clean new set of extensions, Rattigan says. LashSpot also offers semi-permanent mascara, containing thickening micro-fibers to create length and add volume to lashes, and lasting two to three weeks. The mascara is applied at the salon to upper and/or lower lashes and can be used on extensions. ::  lashspotspas.com – J.P.

Lunchtime Tummy Makeover
There’s nothing like starting off the new year, after gorging over the holidays, with a flatter, taughter belly. Let’s face it, gravity takes its toll after a while and that pooch and those love handles can be stubborn, even if you’re an avid exerciser. Dr. Thomas Barnes’ Awake Lower Tummy Lipo countouring, literally done while you’re awake for 30 minutes during lunchtime at his Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center in Newport Beach, involves liposculpture followed by a local skin treatment with radio-wave technology.

Used similarly for the neck, love handles, back fat, inner and outer thighs, inner knees, muffin top, and that stubborn upper arm fat, after numbing the area, Barnes uses a syringe to remove unneeded fatty tissue and then uses his radio wave device, the ReFirm, to heat the collagen in the deeper skin in order to achieve increased skin tightening and less swelling and bruising. For the lower tummy, Barnes uses his Tickle Lipo device to remove the unwanted fat, then he completes it with his SmartLipo Laser for additional skin tightening, faster healing and less bruising. "Most people are back to any activities in a day or two with little or no discomfort," says Barnes. Barnes has performed these “Lunchtime Makeovers," a term he coined in 1998, live on “Good Day LA”, “Extra,” “The Doctors,” “The Morning Show. . . with Mike and Juliet,” and Barnes' own YouTube channel. Come on, what else were you going to do for lunch? 949.719.9700  ::  lunchtimemakeovers.com – Justine Amodeo

Svelte Wrap
When stress, sun and smog really start taking a toll on our skin, there’s nothing like a good detoxifying body wrap to pull out all those impurities and help restore skin to its former glory. For this, St. Regis Monarch Beach’s Spa Gaucin offers up its new Svelte Body Marine Wrap using micronized marine algae and natural marine salt to help detoxify and potentially slim down spa-goers with its high levels of minerals, vitamins, trace elements, and iodine.

Promising cell renewal and circulatory stimulation, the tremendously relaxing treatment also includes full-body exfoliation, a customized hair mask, a light full-body massage using Germaine de Capuccini Karite Hydrating body lotion, and lymphatic drainage massage, performed with the lightest of touches over the face to promote further detoxification and, as a result, slimming. While we didn’t notice any actual slimming down, our skin did feel a little tighter and a lot smoother. 90 minutes for $275  ::  stregismb.com – J.P.

The Float Lounge
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to float in space, weightless, buoyant in the dark void, the FLOAT lounge, two sound-proof, light-proof tanks filled with 1,000 pounds of high grade mineral Epsom salts heated to skin temperature, offers a rare opportunity to spend an hour with yourself in complete silence, and float away mental stress, physical stress and chronic pain. Oh you will hear some mind chatter (my inner dialogue went something like this: “I’m bored, I must be boring, I don’t really like the dark, why would anyone be an astronaut, remember to get milk at the store, my shoulder hurts, that congressman on “Homeland” is really hot …), and perhaps feel a little anxious (if you’ve ever had an MRI this might scare you except that it’s quiet and feels good), but then the relaxation begins. That night, I slept like a baby.
The six-month-old lounge in Laguna Beach, the only one in Orange County, is a Zen space to congregate, journal, receive some personal coaching or holistic nutrition counseling or, as co-owners Rosanne Ramirez and Jeff Brion say, “experience yourself in an authentic way. If you can’t spend an hour with yourself, how do you expect anyone else to?” Ramirez and Brion will process the experience with you right after your float, which I highly recommend, or you can draw, drink tea or write. They suggest three to five floats to get fully integrated into the experience. “We really advocate it as a practice,” Ramirez says.

Developed by Dr. John Lilly, the relaxation environment was first used for brain research and exploring altered states of consciousness. Subsequent research has found that short-term sensory reduction can result in incredibly profound states of relaxation, expanded healing, creativity enhancement, problem solving, meditation, accelerated learning, sports performance conditioning, and self awareness. According to two avid floaters who were coming out of the tanks when I arrived, the float tanks have become “a lifestyle.” Newport Beach resident Chase Ayres, 25, said he became interested in floating after reading Lilly’s book. “I’m at the stage in my life where I’m open to new experiences. I look at it the same way people do who go to the gym – I’m working out my mental state and this is what keeps me grounded.” Ayres floats twice a week and says it helps with sleep, gives him clearer perspective, more energy, and works to detoxify his body. “It’s a no-brainer,” he says.

San Clemente’s Greg Marzilli, who says he suffers from adult ADHD and works as a special ed teacher in Santa Ana, said he had not been able to find stillness in yoga or meditation, so he decided to give it a try. “I found a blog that said try floating and when I did, it was the coolest thing. I got to that place of stillness, slowing down, the motor didn’t have to be on. You never calm down working with 28 disabled kids who need to graduate. It’s so great to feel that stillness.” One hour floats at the FLOAT lounge are $60, five packs are $55 an hour and monthly memberships are available. theFLOATlounge.com  ::  feelingfunctional.com – J.A.

Life Reflexology
I’ll let just about anyone rub my feet. My husband, my kids, my friends, the cat, a foot roller - they all work for me. When my friend Lori let me in on the little Westminster foot secret – reflexology centers that, though done communally, offer great foot massages for a bargain price, I ran barefoot into Life Reflexology, the toniest of the group. For $20 (plus a $5 tip) you lie in a comfortable massage chair for an hour and reflexology points on your face, head, shoulders legs and feet are pressed and rubbed. I personally like them to stay on the feet the whole time and they will if you ask.

Reflexologists apply pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears that correspond to specific organs, bones and body systems. Practitioners access these points on the feet and hands (bottom, sides, and top) and the ear (both inside as far as the finger can reach and outside) to affect organs and systems throughout the entire body.

Find a masseuse that you like and ask for them because it can be hit-or-miss here. The clean modern space is soothing to the senses, and by the time you are sipping your cup of tea you’ll be wishing there was a hotel room to sleep in. 15576 Brookhurst St., Westminster  ::  714.839.3151 – J.A.

Natural Beauty
The feeling after a salon appointment is great – freshly blown-out locks, squeaky-clean hair and a new look to revitalize body and soul. But how good can you feel about the fact that a bunch of toxic chemicals were likely used to reach your state of hair euphoria? Chance are that the shampoo used for washing contained sodium laureth sulfate, a known irritant and environmental pollutant that gives shampoos and soaps their foaming action, as well as EDTA, a chelating agent that aids in penetration but is a widely known carcinogen and ecotoxin.

And that’s just the beginning. Hair coloring contains high amounts of ammonia, which go down the drain, leading to acidification of soil and decreasing the quality of surface waters. And straightening treatments such as the Brazilian Blowout can contain such high levels of formaldehyde, a deadly toxin if ingested in even small amounts, that the FDA issued a health warning about its use last September. Wisely wanting to avoid these health and environmental hazards, Billy Enriquez opened Eco Chic salon in Irvine, where he uses his own organic, sulfate-free shampoos, conditioners and homemade treatments to transform dour-looking locks into silky waves of renewed hair – without all the negative by-products.

Start with Enriquez’s signature de-stress package, which includes shampooing hair with Eco Chic products, followed by an unforgettable scalp and shoulder massage that was easily the best thing to happen to us all week. Then get hair back into tip-top shape with a deep conditioning treatment. Ammonia-free organic color left our hair lustrous and shiny, with deep, rich color and no respiratory mishaps caused by inadvertently inhaling a noxious cloud of ammonia gases. Add to all that a pleasant atmosphere and sipping vanilla rooibos tea while our tresses get smoothed and conditioned, and it’s a definite win-win for your hair and the environment. 949.752.4911 ::  ecochicsalon.com – Jessica Forsyth

On Pins and Needles
If the thought of having needles stuck in your face in pursuit of beauty and relaxation seems counterintuitive, you’re not alone. When we heard of the acupuncture facial at Laguna Beach’s Glow Boutique + Wellness, our first thought was to send someone else – someone less wimpy and more open to trying “alternative” treatments – to try it out and report back. But then we got to thinking. Acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest alternative medicinal treatments, a Chinese methodology using thin needles inserted at certain points in the body to correct imbalances. Major medical bodies, including the World Health Organization and the United States National Institutes of Health, have endorsed it, and credible studies have shown that acupuncture is effective for managing pain and nausea. But what about acupuncture’s aesthetic benefits? Turns out there are also indications that you can poke your way to a firmer, younger-looking visage in what some are calling the “new facelift” – if you can get past the whole needles-in-your-face thing, that is.

Glow’s acupuncturist, Gina Negri Klebanoff, made us feel comfortable and at ease – and not at all petrified that we were going to walk out looking like an acupuncture experiment gone wrong. After a long series of questions about general health (fine), a glance at the tongue (scalloped edges indicated stress) and one word we’d use to self-describe (neurotic), we were ready for the needles – and for the purported benefits: increased circulation, relaxation of deep furrows, smoothing of fine lines, and the stimulation of collagen and elastin, which are responsible for plumping the skin. And because acupuncture doesn’t address just one area of the body (it’s a holistic practice), Klebanoff added needles at other acupuncture points to address our other reported problems (see neurotic, above). What resulted was a network of needles from head to toe that were not only making us calmer and more focused, but giving us a refreshed face at the same time.

After 25 minutes of relaxation in a dark room, the needles were removed and the results revealed. While we did notice a lessening of smile lines and under-eye creases, the most dramatic result was the overall feeling of well-being. No longer scared of the needle, we feel this may become a regular practice. Plus, it beats a scalpel. :: 949.680.8470 – J.F.

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