Aveda Bethesda Salon and Spa

I’d go back in a minute for that great facial and the extras that came with it.

Aveda spas are not for the faint of nostril. Perfume, or as Aveda calls it, Purefume, permeates the air of every Aveda salon I’ve set foot in. Not surprising, because aromatherapy is the cornerstone of Aveda treatments.

If you don’t have allergies or an ultrasensitive nose, the citrus and floral notes set a relaxing mood, just what you want in a spa. Aveda Bethesda is a brightly lit storefront with shelves of products packaged in Aveda’s trademark earth tones and an open second-floor “loft” housing the hair salon.

Tucked in the rear of the main level is the spa: a postage-stamp-size manicure-pedicure area plus three treatment rooms.

I was there for a Tourmaline facial—80 minutes of ultra exfoliation for $110. So it was a real lift to start with a foot soak. As my feet luxuriated in water spiked with bath salts and glass stones, the therapist waved vials of scented oil under my nose for a yea or nay. Turned out I was in a frankincense mood that day (it was the Christmas season), and my sensitive skin and psyche were crying out for a woodsy scent.

Lights low, New Agey rock playing, I lay on the well-padded table and the facial began. Margie had a lovely touch, slathering cream on my hands and slipping them into terry mitts (a heavenly hand and arm massage would come later), applying unguents and a cool fruit-acid mask with the scents I’d chosen, and giving me an honest-to-goodness head, neck, and shoulder rub. There were no extractions, no pain, just soothing sensations.

I was meeting my husband for dinner afterward, so Margie and I had agreed: no oil in the hair. Years back, I’d emerged from another Aveda spa looking like a greased watermelon. This time, when I left, I felt as ready for the runway as I’ll ever be, cheeks rosy, eyes bright, skin flawless and as soft as my baby daughter’s.