Aquaticca Salon & Day Spa

The setting is beautiful, and the signature facial is a great deal, but ask before you accept other services.

There’s something fishy about Aquaticca: A huge, fish-filled aquarium undulates through the salon, giving clients something to look at besides themselves as they wait for their hair color to finish processing.

The gleaming blue-and-silver decor is a refreshing change from the peach tones of most spas. Aquaticca has been open since April 2004, but everything on my visit, ten months later, looked brand new.

My Signature Facial started with a skin analysis with a dermascope. It looks like an old-fashioned box camera. Like a photographer of old, I put my head under the curtains to see a magnified image of my face. Dawn, my esthetician, looked through the other side of the lens and pointed out areas of sun damage. Under the unforgiving blue light, I could see the faint outline of the sunglasses I always wear outdoors and the hyperpigmentation on my cheeks, nose, and forehead from years of sun exposure.

Dawn diagnosed dry skin with only a few oily spots near my nose. She cleansed my face with a creamy lotion. Then she used a magnifying mirror to “map” my face—looking for imperfections and any spots or moles that could be signs of trouble.

Because my skin tends to turn red, she used only minimal steam to open my pores and exfoliated with an enzyme lotion rather than a scrub. Scrubs would exacerbate the capillaries close to the surface, she explained.

After removing a few blackheads, Dawn spent a long time massaging my face, neck, and shoulders with a soothing lotion that smelled like lavender. The massage went on so long that I thought it would take the place of a mask. But as soon as the lotion was smoothed away by hot towels, Dawn painted my face with a vitamin-enriched mask. While it worked, she massaged my arms.

The mask was whisked away with more hot towels, and eye cream, lip cream, and moisturizer were patted onto my face and neck. The entire process took almost two hours.

At the end, Dawn gave me a copy of my face map and samples of the Dermalogica products she used. My skin looked plump and glowed with good health. At $95, the signature facial was a bargain.

A day before my appointment, the salon owner had called to say that as a first-timer I was entitled to a complimentary deep conditioning and that because I probably didn’t want to go back to work with greasy spa hair, I’d get a shampoo and blow dry. I didn’t have time for the conditioning, but I did get my hair washed and blown dry.

When I received my bill, I discovered that only the conditioning was complimentary. I was charged for the other hair services. I was given a discount on the facial because I was a new client and coupons for future services, so it all evened out. But it pays to ask in advance.