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Harlem has always been a major player in New York City’s style scene — see Dapper Dan, Harlem’s Fashion Row, and its fashion-forward residents as proof — but lately, the neighborhood has been upping its beauty ante.
The neighborhood’s 40-block stretch has an under-the-radar cool factor that makes it the perfect place for new business owners, particularly when it comes to beauty. Thanks to a handful of recent openings, residents no longer have to venture downtown or to other boroughs for upscale salon treatments. Below, check out three salons and spas to visit now.
Vivrant Beauty: 220 St Nicholas Avenue
On the corner of 122nd and Frederick Douglass sits Vivrant Beauty, a boutique that caters to women of all skin tones, hair textures, and nationalities. The store offers a full range of haircare, skincare, and cosmetics from well-known brands like Mario Badescu and Becca Cosmetics, plus indie lines like Yuli Skincare and Indie Lee.
“I grew up in this neighborhood, so when it came time for me to open a business, I wanted it to be in Harlem,” says Desiree Verdejo, the shop’s lawyer-turned-beauty-business owner. “Plus, knowing that there weren’t any stores that offered exactly what I planned to offer, I knew it meant there was a great opportunity here.”
Fumic Nail Jewelry, 139 W. 116th Street
New York City top specialty nail salons — Paintbox, Vanity Projects, Valley Nails — are mostly concentrated downtown, which makes Fumic Nail Jewelry on 116th Street a much-needed salon for anyone living above Central Park.
The salon’s bread and butter is its gel nail art and embellishments like Japanese and Swarovski crystals, though traditional manicures and pedicures are also on the full list of services.
Book an appointment in advance, and try to have at least a vague idea of what you want — Fumic is the Willy Wonka of nail art, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Ethereal Aromatherapy and Skin Care, 2116 Frederick Douglass Blvd
Located within Bed of Nails and just a few doors down from Vivrant is a small spa called Ethereal Aromatherapy and Skin Care. The owner, Alita Terry, starts each treatment with a skin assessment, and throughout the service explains exactly what she’s applying and what it’s meant to do.
Ethereal only uses natural ingredients — like lavender, Vitamin E oil, and rose — and many of them come from local farmers markets. Clay masks and banana enzyme peels are mixed right on the spot, to ensure they’re as fresh as can be. The spa is tiny, but it does share a space with Land Yoga Studio, which means you can treat yourself a facial and a workout all in the same place.