LOS ANGELES - Jayna Rust, associate editor - A manicure at a men’s full service salon and spa shouldn’t seem like a formidable task. And it didn’t seem it would be when I suggested gong to Service Station, a new men’s spa in L.A that is modeled after a gas station. It should have been easy; although I’m quite feminine, I’m also quiet aware of my tomboy side.
Why, then, did find myself the night before my appointment self-consciously clipping and filing my own nails? As I filed my last nail I started to think how the tables may be reversed. I wondered how many men nervously and unnecessarily clean their nails before their first trip to a traditional spa or salon.
Still pondering the role reversal, I arrived at Service Station the next day. The few men in the spa didn’t mind me as they paid for service or sat quietly in the stylist’s chairs. The majority of the staff was female, and welcomed me despite the fact that I wasn’t one of their typically 30-to 50-year-old male clients. There were a few apologies for service choices (a broader choice of beers than sodas and no choices for polish colors), but none were unexpected or made me feel out of place.
Quickly glancing around the spa, it was clear everything was male-focused. Retail items were named-brand, but all were men’s lines. The men getting their hair styled or visiting the barber didn’t wear smock but large button-up baseball jerseys. Black, blue, and silver colors dominated the spa’s landscape.
After I walked past the lounge area (which boasts a projector showing sporting events), I settled in and gazed at the race-car themed walls. My nail tech, Alma Dubban, chatted while using male-themed products to give me a service called “hand care.” to market to men, Service Station has created names that are less intimidating for men (i.e. No “pedicures” but “foot care”). Other service option at the spa include hair care, massages, skin maintenance (facials), and waxing. All services are easily identified on the menu, which has been service are easily identified on the menu, which has been pared down for easy choosing - that means hand care and/or foot care are the only menu options for taking care of the appendages.
After my “hand care,” I left the male-focused spa feeling good about my well-groomed hands. Later that night I greeted a couple of girlfriends who asked what scent I was wearing. What? “You kind of smell like a man.” Slightly puzzled, I was sure it had something to do with my earlier “hand care.”
Since then I’ve recommended the place to my guy friends, but I don’t know that I’d ever go again by myself. I’m just not that eager to smell like a man any time soon. But I’m glad I now know why nail services in a “regular” salon or spa may seem scary to men. It was intimidating walking into a place I knew I would be different from everyone else. I feared I may be judged - by the staff or the other clients. I was afraid I would leave with man’s hands. And at the end of the day, I still wanted to feel - and smell - like the woman I am.