I set out in early November to discover how and why beauty shops and beauty operators had become salons and stylists and then, in many cases, evolved again to include spas staffed by estheticians, nail technicians and massage therapists.
These retreats offer women " and some men " a few hours of escape from life's daily demands and an array of services beyond what most of us who smear on a little Olay and call ourselves primped can imagine.
Jennifer McRee, principal assistant to the director of Oklahoma's Board of Cosmetology, said that in her 24 years with the board, she has seen this "spa-ification" redefine the cosmetology landscape.
"They're just catering to the wants and needs of the public," she said. "Everyone wants to feel better and look younger. 'Facialists' and cosmetologists can't promise anything in the medical spectrum, of course. They are performing services for beautification and relaxation only. They know what their limits are."
I tested those limits with four-hour-long spa packages at locations in Norman, Nichols Hills and Guthrie. At the end of the experience, I discovered a surprising truth about myself: If I had the money, honey, I'd be rubbed, scrubbed, oiled, stretched and painted on a very regular basis.
"A spa package gives the recipient permission to care about herself or himself," said Melanie Luster, owner of Norman's Salon Zen. "If you give a woman four hours of pampering and relaxation, when she comes home she's calm and soft and she looks better, and if you're the man whose given her the pleasure of those four hours, she likes you better." "Kathryn Jenson White