Brushes With Greatness

13 best places for your hair — and your total well being

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Palm Springs Life untangled the mass of area salons to reveal the 13 best places for your hair — and your total well being

By Holly O’Dell
Photography by James Jaeger
Models: Ayla Webb and Jamie Schreiber
Fashions by Dani C., Palm Desert

Choosing a salon can be a delicate situation. Find the right one, and you have a friend for life. Find the wrong one, and you fear going out in public with your botched cut or color. When it comes to your hair, the last you thing you want to do is try out hundreds of salons in the hopes of finding a good fit. We’ve done that for you. From the kitschy to the refined, these 13 salons represent the best in their categories.

Best Overall Experience
Hi-Lites Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa
68-718 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 301
Cathedral City, 328-5441
If you want more than a basic cut and color with your salon visit, then move Hi-Lites Aveda Lifestyle Salon & Spa to the top of your list. The staff offers each client a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience. Every service comes with a complimentary makeup touch up, along with a neck, shoulder, and scalp massage while you sit in heated chairs. The stylists will help you create your own blend of hair products, perfumes, and lotions. And best of all, the salon has a no-tipping policy: Its philosophy is that the greatest tip is a referral. Hi-Lites has experienced so much growth since moving to its location near the Mary Pickford Theatre in early 2006 that the salon is planning an expansion to accommodate more stylists and services.

Best “Barbra” Shop
Silver Scissors
278-D N. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, 320-1620
Hello, gorgeous! Self-professed fanatic collector Lou Papalas showcases a sampling of his 50,000-piece Barbra Streisand collection at Silver Scissors. Giclée prints, limited-edition movie posters, and record sleeves adorn the walls of this unassuming barbershop tucked in the Henry Frank Arcade. Papalas, a part-time Palm Desert resident who has collected Streisand memorabilia since the beginning of her career, plans to convert the shop to a gallery atmosphere on Thursday evenings and select weekends this spring.

Best Virtual Trip
Raphael’s Salon
300 N. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, 320-7827
Owner Raphael Benomar wanted his expanded downtown Palm Springs salon to reflect his Moroccan heritage. With a recent expansion, he has created a visual feast with river-rock tile floors, handmade cabinetry, Moroccan scrolling on double-sided workstations, chandeliers, and a domed ceiling with hand-painted gold paper. Customers waiting for their color to set can relax on plush furniture in the Serenity Room.

Best Salon with Spa Services
Loran Loran Color Group & Medical Spa
71-800 Highway 111, Suite A-170
Rancho Mirage, 341-4200
On the salon floor, Loran Loran buzzes with activity as 20 highly trained stylists attend to their clients in a modern space at The River at Rancho Mirage. But behind closed doors lies a deeply subdued area: the spa. Featuring an elaborate list of services such as facials, massages, laser therapy, and Botox, the spa provides a serene, discreet retreat for guests who want one-stop beauty with some of the best providers in the Coachella Valley.

Best Salon for Men
Dennis Ogas Salon
73-880 El Paseo, Suite 4
Palm Desert, 776-9997
Cutting men’s hair isn’t as easy as it sounds. Stylists need a thorough understanding of clippers, male hair textures, and other barbering techniques. For the first 15 years of his career, Dennis Ogas focused exclusively on men’s cuts. Now, with more than 30 years in the business, Ogas is training his staff of five stylists to master the male haircut. Ogas’ salon is also a great place for men to come subtly camouflage their gray hair.

Best Salon for Your Aura
Yamaguchi at Spa La Quinta
49-499 Eisenhower Drive
La Quinta, 777-4842
Billy Yamaguchi believes that serenity, tranquility, balance, and harmony are fundamental to wellness and beauty. As such, he and his stylists consult on a client’s personality and lifestyle before performing services — a practice Yamaguchi has coined “feng shui beauty.” The décor of the salon also reflects feng shui principles through the use of warm colors, station placement, and plants.  

Best Waiting Area
Faith European Salon
73-470 El Paseo, Suite 2
Palm Desert, 776-4161
Waiting for a haircut can be as dull as sitting in traffic. That’s why Faith Rodriguez and her husband, Gustav, designed their salon on El Paseo with their home in mind. The waiting area surrounds guests with custom-made antiqued mirrors, paintings commissioned in Mexico, solid-bronze busts, and granite and marble accents. Plus, catch up on celebrity gossip with Faith’s huge selection of magazines.

Best Cut for a Cause
Charisma Salon
73-425 El Paseo, Suite 23C
Palm Desert, 773-2662
In the beauty industry, it’s difficult to be environmentally friendly with extreme water use and chemicals found in many of the products. But Charisma Salon believes that where there’s a will, there’s a way. For starters, it carries only the Aveda line, designed to be gentle on people and the environment. In honor of Earth Day this month, the stylists will donate their time for a cut-a-thon and raffle off a day of beauty, with all proceeds going to the Surfrider Foundation.

Best Salon for the Follicle-Challenged
HG Hair Spa
73-790 El Paseo (in Neil’s)
Palm Desert, 341-2728
Hair loss can be embarrassing, even devastating. Those who don’t want to wear a wig or toupee but are unsure about surgical solutions seek out Hernan Giraldo. Giraldo is a trichologist, one who specializes in scalp conditions such as thinning hair, female pattern baldness, alopecia, and hair loss from chemotherapy. Giraldo, who has treated the likes of Jessica Tandy and Audrey Hepburn in his Beverly Hills days, uses stimulants to encourage hair regrowth.
Best Salon for Princesses
Knights in a Tea Party/Haircuts for Kids
72-270 Highway 111
Palm Desert, 674-8590
If you’re looking for an unusual birthday idea for your daughter or granddaughter, consider Knights in a Tea Party/Haircuts for Kids, which hosts celebrations fit for a princess. The shop closes for the parties, which can be booked on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. For $350, the birthday girl and seven of her friends can play dress-up and get professional updos with tiaras, fingernail painting, jewel tattoos, games, gift bags, and pizza.

Best Product Selection
71-800 Highway 111
Rancho Mirage, 836-3381
 If you want to avoid driving all over the desert to find hair products, put Ulta on your shopping list. Hundreds of top salon brands such as Redken, American Crew, Paul Mitchell, and Biolage line the shelves at this destination devoted to beauty. Cuts, color, makeup application, and a product-sample bar are also available.

Best Salon for Shoppers

J. Russell Salon & Spa and Neil’s
73-760 – 73-790 El Paseo
Palm Desert, 341-4641
Regulars of J. Russell Salon & Spa know to budget extra time into their schedules for shopping at Neil’s, which shares the building with the salon. La-Di-Da Jewelry displayed at the check-in counter offers another fashion temptation. If the day of beauty and shopping drains your energy, regenerate at the café located in between Neil’s and one of J. Russell’s suites. The salon is one of the largest in the desert, employing nearly 70 stylists.

Best Repair Shop
A Cut Above
333 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 205
Palm Springs, 325-1000
Only Jimmy Buffett fans should be called parrotheads. If you find Polly wanting more than a cracker from you, perhaps you need an appointment with Jim Lassak. A significant portion of Lassak’s work comes from color correction, either from overprocessed hair or a poor mix of colors. As an ambassador for the Redken product line, Lassak works regularly with the world’s top hairdressers and often attends trend shows to stay up on the latest developments in hair care.

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