San Francisco is well-known for it’s temperamental weather—which may make for moody snaps of the Golden Gate Bridge, but can often leave you looking a little disheveled. The city’s cool temps, fog, and wind wreak havoc on skin too, so whether you’re in town for a short visit or the long haul, you’ll likely want to budget time for some R&R in addition to sightseeing.
With so many choices, it’s easy to get lost in tourist traps and Yelp reviews. If you want to know where the true insiders go, read on. We scouted the best facials and beauty treatments to get your skin on track, and your nails and brows in check. From manicures and massages to exclusive facials with all-natural, locally made products, these are the top spots and services that editors and tastemakers seek out when they’re in the City by the Bay. Just be sure to book in advance as some services are by private appointment only and others are so sought after so they can be hard to get into during peak times.
And, if you’re looking for hair help, which is not covered below but we know all too well is an issue in San Francisco’s salt air and fussy climate, don’t fret. We recommend giving Barrow salon a call. Owner Michelle Snyder will get your strands sorted out in an artful setting using posh products from brands like Oribe and Bumble and Bumble (256 Sutter St., 4th Floor; 415-732-0356). From head to toe, you’ll be looking like a quintessential California girl.
If you’re like us, you’ve probably been coveting the look of celebrity brow artist Kristie Streicher’s trademarked “Feathered Brow.” Fortunately for those hoping to clean up their arches in S.F., Streicher-mentored brow expert Michele Holmes offers the same signature STRIIIKE techniques at affordable prices, both via house calls throughout the Bay Area and in her San Rafael Studio. Using custom-mixed vegetable tints and exclusive Streicher products, like Afore Oil to soften hair follicles (making the process less painful), and Apres Calming Cream to calm skin post-tweezing, the trained makeup artist gently shapes and tames unruly brows, giving you flattering face framers that will grow out with ease. House calls begin at $120 and a brow session in Holmes’s studio begins at $65.
This tranquil, celeb-loved spa performs exclusive facials using In Fiore’s local, small-batch skincare line and a signature Slap, Tap, and Roll massage technique for sculpting and toning the face. A 75-minute In Fiore facial is $205 and includes a brightening peel. Other facials will leave skin looking equally luminous, with prices beginning at $130. Massage and body treatments are also on the menu, and a bamboo garden and private yoga studio complete the natural retreat. While you’re there, shop the collection of hard to find, non-toxic beauty lines, like RMS, Dr. Alkaitis, and the new Goop by Juice Beauty (Juice is also headquartered locally in San Rafael). Hop a ferry to International Orange’s new Larkspur location (pictured) with sweeping views of the Bay for even greater escape.
This well-vetted, non-toxic beauty e-tailer (founded by a former Sephora exec) opened its first brick and mortar on Pacific Heights's bustling Fillmore St. last year. In addition to stocking Bay Area brands (Juice Beauty, Laurel Whole Plant Organics, Marie Veronique) it also boasts celebrity faves like Ilia, RMS, and Kjaer Weis, and a too-cute Tata Harper Spa -- one of the only Tata Harper locations in the country -- for indulgent, all-natural facials. Services begin at $95 and utilize Harper’s non-toxic line of products. Choose the style that suits your skin best: detox, hydration, brightening or just plain luxe for ultimate skin revival.
This mini-spa located on chic Polk St. in the Russian Hill area of San Francisco offers a bevy of swift services that never compromise on quality. Affordably priced manicures, pedicures, massages, facials, waxing, and makeup applications are available for both walk-in clients and by appointment (book with ease via the spa’s online system). The beautiful 1,000-square-foot space boasts a private upstairs treatment area, as well as a marble bar and comfy chairs for nail services downstairs. There’s also a well-edited gift boutique for grabbing gifts on the go. Owner Michelle Clark, a former retail exec, is meticulous about sourcing top talent and the best products -- Zoya and OPI polishes, Naturopathica skincare -- so you can rest easy and relax.