Sometimes, there's no greater hit to a gal's self-esteem than a bad haircut. Or, a botched dye job. Or, a brow shaping gone horribly wrong. For this reason, we're firm believers that a primping ritual should make you feel more stunning—not traumatized—than when you walked into the joint. To help you avoid beauty disasters, we took matters into our own well-manicured hands. We've created the ultimate guide to getting gorgeous in the Windy City.
Our exhaustively researched list includes everything, from masters of manes to the facials that will make problem skin be on its best behavior. While you can't stuff this read in your back pocket, we strongly suggest you bookmark it, stat. Lest your hat is not enough to disguise your next potential beauty blunder.
Best Hair Cut For Short Strands: Anthony Cristiano at Anthony Cristiano Salon
Celebrity stylist Anthony Cristiano recently opened up one of the most stunning salons we’ve seen in the Windy City. Located on the mezzanine level of Trump International Hotel and Tower, the Chicago hair king still has a discerning clientele — and with good reason. As a celebrity editorial hairstylist, Cristiano truly understands the balance and proportions of working with someone's face shape to give them the most flattering short hair cut. Cristiano loves uncovering a unique shape for each individual and enjoys doing short 'dos, as he believes short hair can be very sexy and worn with confidence.
Anthony Cristiano Salon at Trump Tower, 401 North Wabash Avenue (mezzanine level); 312-268-2440.
Best Hair Cut For Long-Haired Ladies: Joseph Bartucci at Salon Buzz
Chances are, you already have a gal pal who’s been buzzing about Salon Buzz — add us to the list. Senior stylist Joseph Bartucci boasts more than 15 years of industry experience, 10 of which were spent as an editorial stylist in New York. His career really took off after his European travels, where he had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s top designers and stylists. Now, Bartucci brings his editorial and runway experience to Chicago’s Gold Coast. Having handled a multitude of long-haired models over the years, he’s a pro at taking off enough — but not too much — and giving gals catwalk-worthy style that will work at the office, too.
Salon Buzz, 1 East Delaware Place (between State Street and Wabash Avenue); 312-943-5454.
Best Salon For Girls With Curls: Qiana Redmond at Maxine
Stylist Qiana Redmond’s clients love her roller sets, straw sets, and twist sets — but make no mistake — this 12-year veteran is a big fan of healthy hair with lots of natural curl, too. She’s known for being able to transform frizzy locks into bouncy tendrils. But what really keeps her clients coming back for more? A look they can recreate at home. Bingo.
Maxine, 712 North Rush Street (between Superior and Huron Street); 312-751-1511.
Best Salon For African-American Hair: Van Cleef Hair Studio
Several generations of Chicago's African-American community have had their hair coiffed to perfection by the hands of Rahni Michael Flowers at the sophisticated-yet-welcoming Van Cleef Hair Studio. The secret to their success? Rahni works carefully with his team to find the most beneficial products and to minimize the amount of heat that is applied, resulting in beautiful, healthy hair that can then be easily styled.
Van Cleef Hair Studio, 56 West Huron Street (at Dearborn Street); 312-751-2456.
Best Blowout: Giselle at Charles Ifergan
Yep, Giselle is a salon name — but we suggest you remember it the next time you are in need of a killer blowout. No matter what look you are trying to achieve (straight, wavy, curly), this spunky stylist can make it happen, in record time. But what we really love is how long our amazing hair stays. With a little care (read: dry shampoo) you can look salon perfect for at least a couple of days.
Charles Ifergan, 106 East Oak Street (between Rush Street and Michigan Avenue); 312-642-4484.
Best Highlights: Holly Emling at Sine Qua Non
Holly Emling makes highlights look like they are supposed to — natural. The ten-year Sine Qua Non veteran has a knack for transforming tresses into effortlessly sun kissed and vibrant locks, minus the beach. To mimic that unadulterated childhood color of yesteryear, she takes into consideration the natural movement of a client’s hair so that when the hair moves, there is a consistent flow of color from top to bottom.
Sine Qua Non, 2038 West Chicago Avenue (between Damen and Hoyne Avenues); 773-252-4700.
Best Hair Color: Nelida D’Allessandro at Mario Tricoci
While Nelida D'Allessandro regularly mixes up formulas for the cast members of several Chicago television shows (Boss, Chicago Fire, Mob Doctor), she truly treats every one of her clients like a star. The personable stylist has been with Mario Tricoci since 1995. Since then, she’s graduated into the roles of head colorist, regional creative color manager, and educator. Her thorough consultations, customized formulas, and precise techniques keep her fully booked on a regular basis — so, plan ahead.
Mario Tricoci, 900 North Michigan Avenue (between Walton Street and Delaware Place); 847-202-1900.
Best Fancy Updo: Diane Petersen at Paul Rehder
Updos can be tricky. After all, no gal wants to recreate the look of her high school prom at this age. Enter Diane Petersen. She’s a master at sizing up a gal's attire and facial features in an effort to create an updo that is both appropriate and flattering. Her styles are dramatic in shape and form, while still retaining that elegant and classic appeal of a special occasion.
Paul Rehder, 70 East Walton Street (between Rush Street and Michigan Avenue); 312-943-7404.
Best Bang Trim: George Gonzalez at George The Salon
Having worked at the HARPO Spa during the Oprah show days, Gonzalez was constantly styling celebrity guests and completing makeover segments. This included a snip here and a trim there to ensure everyone who sat in his chair was camera ready. Extremely friendly and knowledgeable about his craft, we have a feeling a complimentary bang trim with this pro will prompt a future haircut appointment.
George The Salon, 23 West Hubbard Street (between State and Dearborn Streets); 312-923-9444.
Best Under-the-Radar Service: Movies and Bubbly at Blow-by-Blow
Bottomless bubbly and Bridesmaids on the tele? Yes, please. This isn’t some weekly special either. Every day at the Gold Coast blowdry bar includes libations, snacks, and fun chic flicks for your amusement. Oh, and they give a great blowout, too.
Blow-By-Blow, 67 East Oak Street (between Michigan and Rush Street); 312-867-0332.
Photos: Courtesy of Charles Ifergan, George The Salon, Mario Tricoci, and Sine Qua Non
Best Professional Makeup Application: Alx Galasinao
With Alx Galasinao, pedigree is the name of the game. As the key artist for ABC 7, she's well versed in all things production, and is willing to take on all makeup application needs — from film, to runway, to the stage and special effects.
Alx Galasinao; 312-543-3662.
Best Bridal Makeup: Sonia Roselli at Sonia Roselli Studio
With over 20 years of experience, Sonia Roselli is a bride’s dream come true. You'll look enhanced with a touch of glam — but never over played. Come to her cozy studio, or she’ll travel to you. If you want to do your own makeup, take one of her step-by-step DIY bridal makeup classes.
Sonia Roselli, 7363 North Greenview Avenue (between Sherwin and Jarvis), 773-465-7363.
Best Brow Shaper: Nicole Jacob at Paul Rehder
You haven’t really had your brows shaped until you’ve paid a visit to Nicole Jacob. A natural born artist with over 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, she has a reputation for being able to transform even the most botched up brows (even those ultra-thin babies) into perfect face framers. She believes brows should be as natural looking as possible and enhance one’s beauty — not take over the face. Her ultimate goal? To always give people youthful looking brows. We don’t think anyone could argue that.
Paul Rehder, 70 East Walton Street (between Rush Street and Michigan Avenue); 312-943-7404.
Most Helpful Beauty Team: MAC on Oak Street
Even if the store is packed, the lovely ladies at this MAC outpost are always friendly and chipper. They can help you with any of your makeup needs, or give you a night-on-the-town-worthy makeover in just five minutes. Plus, there's none of that awkward pressure to load up your cart that you find at the department stores.
MAC, 40 East Oak Street (between Rush Street and Michigan Avenue); 312-951-7310.
Best Place to Find Cool New Products: Bluemercury
When we’re not in the spa getting a facial, we’re shopping Bluemercury’s shelves for all the goodies to keeping us glowing at home, too. Over 60 innovative and results-driven skin care, makeup, bath and body, hair, and fragrance lines are avail — the cream of the crop, people.
Bluemercury, 2208 North Halsted (at Webster Avenue); 773-327-6900.
Best Lash Extensions: Flutter Lash Studio
Flutter Lash's artists are all Xtreme Lashes certified, meaning they've been expertly trained in lash application. Pick from multiple lash-extension services, depending on how glam you want to go, and add curl, thickness, and length to your lashes for up to three weeks.
Flutter Lash Studio, 1627 North Clybourn Avenue (between Dayton Street and North Avenue) 312-265- 1563.
Photos: Courtesy of Erin Yamagata and Flutter Lash Studio
Best Nail-Art Haven: Astrowifey
Astrowifey is a true nail artist in every sense of the word. An R29 fave, she can put literally any image or design right on your nails — and she specializes in some seriously rad prints.
Best Mani: Elegant Nails
No matter how amazing your mani is, it's impossible to prevent chips. So, you may as well keep it affordable, right? Elegant is easy on your wallet, and the job is totally salon quality.
Elegant Nails, 1546 Clark Street (between Germania Place and Maple Street); 312-280-5344.
Best Pedi: Juko Nail & Skin Rescue
Same goes for your pedicure — while you want to be totally pampered, you don't want to blow your budget. The staff here does a top-notch job, while keeping it affordable and always friendly.
Juko Nail & Skin Rescue, 2130 West Division Street (between Levitt Street and Hoyne Avenue); 773-772-2990.
Coolest Nail Treatment: Dr. Feelgood Pedicure at Mojo Spa
This relaxing treatment is designed to calm tired muscles and rejuvenate skin. The spa uses an essential oil blend and sound therapy to release tension, and give you a seriously good exfoliating treatment.
Mojo Spa, 1468 North Milwaukee Avenue (between North and Damen avenues);773-235-6656.
Photos: Courtesy of Amelia Alpaugh and Astrowifey
Most Relaxing Facial: The Elysian Facial at the Waldorf Astoria
The locale of this spa alone begs for luxury, but the true personalization of this treatment hits the spot. The therapists will tailor every aspect of the experience to you and your skin's needs.
Waldorf Astoria, 11 East Walton Street (between State and Rush streets); 312-646-1300.
Best Facial For Girls With Problem Skin: Blue Light Acne Therapy Facial at Cellular Intelligence Med Spa
This treatment uses radio frequency, among other technologies, to reduce oil production and generally clear your face. It's definitely pricy, but in our book, clear skin is worth it.
Cellular Intelligence Med Spa, 100 East Walton Street (between Rush Street and Michigan Avenue); 312-255-1495.
Best Spa to Hang Out In: Peninsula Spa
These place is truly killer — whether it's the outdoor pool (just try not to love it during the summer), or the steam room and luxe robes, you'll feel pampered every step of the way.
The Peninsula, 108 East Superior Street (between Michigan Avenue and Rush Street); 312-337-2888.
Spa Treatment Worth The $$$: Chicago Indulgence Package at The Spa At Trump
All Chicagoans know that the Trump is the place to go for pampering and luxury, and the spa is no different. The Indulgence Package is two hours of pure bliss, with a personalized massage and facial leaving you refreshed and stress-free.
Trump Chicago, 401 North Wabash Avenue (at West Kinzie Street); 312-588-8000.
Photos: Courtesy of The Peninsula Chicago, The Spa at Trump, and Cellular Intelligence Med Spa