Modest but Worthy

When I pulled into the parking lot in front of Comfort & Joy in Fairfax, I had a moment of apprehension. Two of the stores in the Turnpike Plaza shopping center were closed; large “for lease” signs hung in their windows. The strip mall looked deserted.

Luckily, Comfort & Joy quickly distinguished itself. The front of the larger-than-it-looks-from-the-outside shop was colorful and filled with fragrant soy candles and herbal incense and all manner of nontoxic lotions, massage oils, aromatherapy salves, and organic workout clothing. The mood was warm and welcoming, and I was immediately escorted down the (too) dimly lit hallway into a quiet waiting area.

I was ten minutes early for my manicure-and-pedicure appointment (starting at $65), so I got a cup of chamomile tea and prepared to tuck into the salon’s copy of a recent Vogue. Before I began reading, another waiting customer asked which aesthetician I was waiting for. “If you have Thao, you’ll be so happy,” replied my helpful new pal, who had been enjoying twice-monthly nail visits for almost five years. “She brings my hands and feet back from the dead all the time.”

My pleasant manicurist, Thao Le, quickly appeared and brought me to a small, slightly cluttered room with two pedicure chairs and one manicure station. She explained that all of the salon’s nail polishes, creams, oils, and scrubs were free of the chemicals DBP (dibutyl phthalate), formaldahyde, and toluene—as are all the products used and sold in the salon. That’s a nice, eco-conscious perk, but it rules out the salon out for women who want acrylic nails. The color selection of the SpaRitual and Zoya nail polishes was generous, and I settled into a back-massaging pedicure chair for a very thorough cuticle removal and pumice scrubbing session.

One of the best parts was Thao’s keen sense of how much or little I wanted to chat. She made polite inquiries about my family—how my kids were, where I lived—but was quickly able to tell I was more interested in a bit of quiet time than in gossiping about the latest reality-TV contestant. The manicure went just as smoothly, and I indulged in the chair’s three massage speeds. Thao’s foot, leg, hand, and arm massages left me relaxed and my skin baby-bottom smooth.

Two small quibbles: The nontoxic polish didn’t last quite as long as typical polish—my toes showed signs of wear after only eight days, and my pale-pink fingertips were toast after only four. For such a large spa, the manicure/pedicure room felt too tiny and seemed crammed with products and treatment brochures.

Bottom line: Don’t let the outside deter you. Comfort & Joy is well worth the trip, and its staff will make you feel comfortable and relaxed. The shop’s dedication to organic and toxin-free products is admirable even if you wouldn’t ordinarily go out of your way to find such products.

Comfort & Joy Wellness Spa, 9514-A Main St., Turnpike Shopping Center, Fairfax City; 703-425-8800;

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