Urban Retreat Spa Blogs
Urban Retreat recently had the opportunity to work with Jonathan Blake for his Fall 2013 collection. You may have already seen Victor Quinteros’ beautiful photos of the event that we shared on our Facebook. We sat down with hair stylist Jesse Cougot to get the behind-the-scenes details and to find out more about his experiences on the Urban Retreat educational team.
What was the inspiration for the hair look?
Jesse: Our educational team, with the help from some others, styled the hair for this amazing up-and-coming young designer. It was very glamorous. It was very sleek and simple and classic. We used products that we carry at Urban Retreat –Kérastase and René Furterer.
His looks were evening wear, but they were all different. Some were open, some had sleeves and there were some hats… It was all very individual and customized for the woman. In fact, I know that Jonathan Blake offers individual consultations. So, if you like one of the looks, he can create that look for you and customize it in a certain direction. It’s definitely more customizable.
So, the educational team was behind the elegant hair. What role do you play on the team?
Jesse: I teach color, because that’s what I love. I’m extremely passionate about color. We use Aloxxi. It’s an Italian color line that is very low in Ammonia.
First and foremost, Urban Retreat is a teaching salon – an educational salon. We pride ourselves on being a market leader. Our educational team is extremely strong and we work well together with the rest of our co-workers. It’s not just about education; it’s about how you communicate with each other. Communication is everything.
How did you become part of the Urban Retreat family?
Jesse: My grandmother owned a salon and her sister owned a different one. I’ve been sweeping hair since before I could walk, probably! I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted to do when I was a kid, but I figured it out eventually.
I came to Urban Retreat because I moved away for a while and came up to the River Oaks location to check it out and was extremely impressed. I thought it was a beautiful place and about three weeks later I was working here!
I love the culture of Urban Retreat, the history and the people I work with. I’ve been in hair 15 years and I’ve never worked with a stronger team. That’s what it’s all about – it’s all about teamwork.
What is your favorite part about working with hair?
Jesse: That it changes on a daily basis – it never gets boring! You never know what you’re going to get – every day is a new day. I couldn’t work in a cubicle and look at the same four walls all of the time; I would go stir-crazy. It’s nice to have something new every day.
What are your hobbies? Do you have any favorite spots around town?
Jesse: I’m a writer – I write poetry. That’s another creative outlet. We all have to get rid of negativity somehow and it’s creative and constructive. I am a published poet – my book is called, “Rudimentary (very imperfectly developed).” I am still writing and that’s definitely my outlet.
I typically hang out at a wine bar called Boheme. It’s on Fairview in the Montrose area. I like the atmosphere – it’s definitely multicultural. Houston has a multicultural atmosphere, but in that spot there’s different world music that they play, some of it live. Every walk of life frequents that space and it’s a really relaxing environment.
Here at Urban Retreat we’re incredibly excited about the new Sciton laser we invested in for our laser hair removal, skin tightening and photo-facial services. There are only 15 of these machines in the Houston area! If you follow us on Facebook, you might have noticed a few posts about our laser already. We’re so excited about the new machine that in April we started rolling out 12 months of laser promotions to celebrate! We will announce our promotions on our Facebook page, so be sure to “like” Urban Retreat and share these special promotions with your friends. We sat down for a Q&A with our “Laser Ladies”, Mari and Sarah, to get the inside scoop about what makes the laser services at Urban Retreat so special.
Mari is from St. Louis and grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. She studied hotel and restaurant management at the University of Houston before going back to school to become an aesthetician, where she fell in love with lasers because of their instant results. In her time away from Urban Retreat, she maintains three antique booths at Northwest Mall.
Sarah is from Houston, but lived in Dallas for a few years. She moved back to Houston for the laid-back atmosphere and the diversity. Sarah has spent time working with plastic surgeons, but prefers the family atmosphere at Urban Retreat and the ability to spend more time getting to know her clients. In her free time she takes care of her little boy and spends time with her 100-year-old grandfather.
Before we get into details about the laser, let’s start with some basic skincare questions. What’s the biggest mistake you see women making with their skincare?
Sarah: Not being conscious of the sun! Not using a skincare regimen past thirty. Just using Dove soap without moisturizing doesn’t cut it.
Mari: Not cleaning skin or picking at it.
What skincare routine would you recommend for the average woman?
Sarah: First, relax about getting older! I see so many women who are terrified. There are a few women who will come in and make me look foreword to aging, because they’re so relaxed about it! Take responsibility and do your part to take care of yourself. We can’t just rely on good genes.
Mari: You should cleanse morning and night; get off the makeup the dirt and debris. Use a toner – not all people use toners, but I use a toner because I like that tightening feeling or that clean feeling. Then eye cream. Use serums if you need them. As you get older, add anti-aging products. Everyone should use a good moisturizer. And of course, use a good sunscreen. You should wear sunscreen every day.
Sarah: Definitely, once you hit 30, use some kind of retinol. Retinol helps even out your skin tone and will help you shed that top layer of skin so you have nice smooth skin.
If you have acne, come in and get a Société Oxygen Facial and Blue Light Therapy.
Mari: We shed our skin every 28 days and as we age you get a buildup of that dead skin because it’s not shedding. That’s why a Clarisonic brush is so good to use; it helps get rid of that layer of dead skin. That allows products to penetrate deeper so they can do their job.
Can you tell us more about the Clarisonic brush?
Mari: The Clarisonic brush is just a deep form of exfoliation. It can help with acne. A rosacea client probably needs to use it every second day instead of every day. If you have rosacea, find a routine that works for your skin, depending on how sensitive your skin is. But almost everyone can use a Clarisonic brush. Washcloths are not good to use; they hold a lot of bacteria. A brush doesn’t. It gives a nice refreshed feeling to your skin; it feels clean.
Your skin is glowing! Tell me about what you do to maintain it.
Mari: Believe it or not, it wasn’t always that way. I used to suffer from adult acne, but I got off diet sodas. Photo-facials, good skincare products, a lot of exfoliation and Clarisonic brushes all helped.
What ingredients would you recommend that clients look for when they’re choosing products?
Mari: Glycolics, salicylic acid, peptides, retinols… It really depends on the skin type. A good aesthetician can recommend a skincare line for you, and we have two great ones here: Société Clinical Skincare and DermaQuest. We can suggest the best skin care for you skin type and your concerns.
What is special about Société Clinical Skincare and DermaQuest? What is medical grade skincare?
Mari: They’re medical grade, so you have to have a medical director on staff to carry those lines. You can’t find them at a department store or a drug store. The difference between medical grade products and drugstore or department store products is the quality of the ingredients and the delivery system.
To give you an example, there are 150 green teas out there. You pick up a product and you think “Oh, it has green tea in this, it must be good for my skin,” Well, if it’s not the right green tea for that particular skin type and that product, then it doesn’t matter if it has green tea in it. That’s why there are $5 vitamin C products and $500 dollar Vitamin C products; it’s the quality of the ingredients and the type. Société tends to be a plant-based pharmaceutical grade line. They are mostly organic, but they have science behind them. The fact that they’re medical grade makes them unique. I took a class from DermaQuest before I started with Urban Retreat and I fell in love with their products. I was excited to see them come into the spa.
What makes the Sciton laser we have at Urban Retreat so unique?
Mari: There are only about 15 of these machines in the Houston area. This is not an old machine; it is very gentle. It has a high comfort level compared to other lasers out there and it’s efficient.
Clients are pleasantly surprised; there’s a lot of fear and trepidation before that first appointment. But after that first appointment, they say, “You know, it’s not that bad,” and I know it’s not because I’ve used other lasers and I’ve worked other places before.
There is definitely a difference in machines and the comfort level they deliver. The price point of this laser means it is a more sophisticated machine. The technology is better. They have perfected some of the things that make it more comfortable than other lasers and it’s effective on a wide range of skin types.
What would you say to someone who has had laser treatments previously and experienced discomfort?
Mari: I have mystery shopped other places to see what other lasers are like and what the experience is like. My first job out of school was for a company with $80,000 lasers and they were very uncomfortable – you could burn someone more easily with those lasers. With this laser it is hard to burn someone. There is a lot more comfort.
With a lot of women there’s a fear factor to getting laser for the first time. What would you say to someone who’s intimidated by laser?
Mari: I think by the time I explain what to expect and set guidelines, most people are calm. I’ve helped them understand the process and made it less scary. I think it’s important that we communicate with clients, ask questions and address concerns. I usually ease into it and ask questions about how it feels throughout the process. By the time it’s done, I’ve had people thank me.
Sarah: Once you get the laser onto their skin you need to get feedback and talk to them, because you can’t feel what they feel. I always tell them, “Just let me know if it’s too much heat.”
Mari: With lasers, you feel heat and then you’ll feel coolness, or you’ll feel coolness and then heat, depending on what band you use. Broadband lasers have a lot of light and that’s usually what scares people. Laser is a process. We’re so used to instant gratification, but this is not instant gratification. A lot of the things we do are maintenance to prevent aging or slow aging down.
Who are the best candidates for laser treatments?
Mari: For hair removal, the best candidate is someone who is pale with dark hair. The laser needs high contrast to work; it can’t differentiate between white hair and blonde skin, or dark hair and dark skin. Hair removal is a longer process for someone who doesn’t have a dark hair and lighter skin. Hair removal is semi-permanent; hormonal hair cannot be targeted. You may come in for maintenance once a year, once every six months or you may never come in again. There is a small percentage of the population who doesn’t respond at all. But I can honestly say in my time here, maybe only two people didn’t respond.
For skin tightening, the best candidates are almost anyone except those with darker skin-tones. The laser can cause hyper pigmentation and darker skin tones are more prone to hyper pigmentation. The same goes for a photo-facial. We don’t want to scar the skin.
If a client comes in with darker skin that might hyper pigment, what do you recommend instead of lasers?
Mari: We can do the laser hair removal, in some cases. But I would refer them to one of our aestheticians here at the spa. They do great facials that can be tailored for their individual needs.
How does laser hair removal work?
Mari: Laser targets the weakest pigment first; so there are some patchy spots where it keeps growing for a while. Hormonal hair is the hardest to remove. Sometimes that takes a while to get rid of; it is a commitment. But if you think about coming in every month for a waxing, it’s the same sort of commitment with a laser. The difference is that with a laser you will eventually be able to stop coming in.
I know that I would have to go home and shave after I would wax. I started lasering my armpits in school, before I ever came to Urban Retreat, and it’s nice not have to shave those underarms! It’s nice not have razor bumps or ingrown hairs.
How do skin tightening and photo-facials work?
Mari: A photo-facial is targeting age spots. Not everybody has sun damage, though, and it has other benefits.
If you have acne the heat of the laser will help kill the bacteria. It can help control acne and heal it. It also can make your pores look smaller, tighter and cleaner. It can help a rosacea client because it softens the redness and evens the skin tone out. I have rosacea; you would never know unless I told you. It gives the skin a nice glow and clarity. It helps prevent the dull, gray look that skin gets as you age. It has other benefits than combating age spots, but that is your primary focus.
Skin tightening stimulates the fibroblasts, which adds collagen back into the skin. You can do it around the eyes, around the mouth, the neck… Most people who come in for skin tightening will want to do the full face, but there are some who just want the eyes, mouth, neck, or jowls.
How is the aftercare?
Mari: With any laser treatment you’re going to be more photosensitive. You really need to wear sunscreen every two hours, especially if you’re out and about. Car windows, even tinted ones, let UV rays in so you still need to wear sunscreen. For outdoor activities you really need to put your sunscreen on every two hours.
If you’re doing a treatment on your face, I recommend a wide-brimmed hat and dark sunglasses. Do the retro look; little kitten heels with your hat and big sunglasses.
Look for a physical sunblock – one with titanium dioxides or zinc oxides, which reflects the sun off of the skin. Stay hydrated and keep up with your skincare routine, because lasers can dry your skin out.
Why should someone come to Urban Retreat for these services, over anyone else?
Sarah: For the attention we give clients and the atmosphere. I’ve worked with lasers before and I’ve been a client at different places, and no one has ever given me a facial afterward or created the same atmosphere we create.
We really get to know our clients; my clients give me hugs afterward! I think what brings them back is that they feel comfortable; they don’t feel like cattle being herded through. Clients get to know us and they like being here. They know that I want them to have good results; it’s not about them opening their pocketbook. I care about their results.
Mari: I think she hit the keyword, which is that we care. That translates in a way that you can’t put into words. It’s through touch, our attitude, asking how the last visit was…
There’s a spirit of teamwork; we want clients to feel comfortable visiting either of us if the other one is not available. Both of us have been other places or mystery shopped other places. We do a facial after laser services and make sure that they walk out of here with a sunscreen on their face. We don’t want people to feel like we’re a machine; we want them to get results. We care about them as individuals.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Mari: The people. Not only my great coworkers. I also have great clients. For a lot of them the appointment has come to a place where every six weeks or every four weeks you get to visit a friend. You get to catch up on their lives for thirty minutes or an hour.
Urban Retreat celebrated a night of beauty in honor of the launch of L’Vere cosmetics at our River Oaks day spa, salon and skin center in the sky on March 21st. We rolled out the red carpet for all of our glamorous guests and the beautiful Jada Stone Agency models wearing L’Vere makeup. We are so happy that L’Vere is now available for purchase exclusively at our salon and spa! Keep reading for the inside scoop on the launch party and the L’Vere product line.
Our co-owners, Saira Ali and Mike Butte, added elegance to the red carpet.
Guests were able to try out the entire L’Vere line and receive advice from our makeup artist, Shelley Thornton. You can book an appointment with Shelley for personalized advice or a professional makeup application.
The L’Vere name was inspired by authenticity. “The word L’Vere is from the root word Ver’dict, meaning true or truth,” Urban Retreat’s Director of Operations Joan Turley said. “The L’Vere woman is every woman, because every woman from the core of her being longs for beauty and longs to be loved for her true worth. Truth and beauty: that is L’Vere.”
L’Vere was developed with the idea that women in different stages of life can use the same line, with different products designed for different purposes. “L’Vere was created as a full and complete line to address the needs of multiple generations, so that mothers and daughters could fall in love with this line and share their love of beauty together,” Turley said. “The shimmers, shines and glitter liner are for a younger woman and the matte products and high definition foundation were created for older women.”
The line includes a mineral foundation for those with sensitive skin or concerns about exposure to chemicals. There is also a liquid foundation created with photo-shoots in mind and a high definition foundation built for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles.
When we said L’Vere was a full makeup line, we meant it! The L’Vere line includes:
- Traditional and mineral blushers and bronzers
- Brow pencils, shadows and wax
- Liquid and cream concealers
- Cream/gel, liquid and glitter eyeliners
- Traditional and crush mineral eye shadows
- Lip gloss, lip glaze, lipstick, lipstick pots, lip pencils and lip stains
- Primers for the lashes, lips and face
- Three foundations, including:
- Flawless Finish – a lightweight coverage foundation
- High Definition – a foundation that minimizes the appearance of aging
- Mineral foundation – available as a pressed and a loose powder
Photographer Mitchell Alexander captured Jada Stone Agency models walking down the red carpet in L’Vere makeup.
Ruben Stunner covered the event for The Ruben Stunner Show.
Food for the evening was provided by The Houston City Club; there were several delicious options to choose from. Wine was provided by Once Upon a Vine.
Chocolates were provided by Araya Artisan Chocolate.
Urban Retreat’s own Fran Spector helped guests in the Urban Retreat boutique.
Guests were welcomed to a warm ambiance and a beautiful view of River Oaks Shopping Center and the Houston skyline.