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Fashion & Style

20 essential beauty shops and salons in Toronto

Posted by Robyn Urback / November 23, 2012

beauty torontoThe most essential beauty shops and salons in Toronto offer products and services you can't find at your corner barber, never mind at your corner store. These are places you'll find that cruelty- paraben- and sulphate-free shampoo to which you've grown loyal, that essential oil bubble bath to help you escape your day, and where you'll find the only person in the world you'll trust to mend your broken (read: over-plucked) eyebrows.

These essential beauty spots include hair salons, body shops, beauty bars, and green-minded spas, all of which share share the characteristic of leaving you feeling great (unfortunately, the same usually can't be said for your wallet).

Here's my list of 20 essential beauty shops and salons in Toronto.

Art.27
Beauty without unnecessary chemicals, additives, or guilty labour practices. The body essentials you'll find at this shop may come with a bit of a higher price than most mainstream options, but such is the cost of donkey's milk lotion from Switzerland and premium anti-aging serum from France.

The Brow House
If you want a makeover that's limited to just above the eyes, this is your spot. We've all done terrible things with tweezers in our teens, and this is the spot to get it fixed. Brow shaping is done with tweezing, not waxing, and regulars swear by The Brow House's maintenance program.

Jacob & Sebastian
Jacob & Sebastian is all about pampering with bubble baths, aromatherapy candles, treatment oils, and countless lotions and potions. The Queen West shop has a healthy assortment of natural and cruelty-free products, with options such as Rahua hair products and Sprout skincare.

Fuzz Wax Bar
No nails, no makeup, no blow-dries, no blush. Fuzz Wax Bar is waxing, and waxing only. The shop offers maintenance packages for the gifted hair-grower, and welcomes walk-ins for a last-minute groom. Plenty of products, too, to "soothe" your visit.

Demo Soap
Soaps that smell (and some that look) good enough to eat; but please don't. Handmade from vegetable oil glycerin, Demo Soap has everything from Patchouli & Blood Orange soap, to Avocado Mint, to Cinnamon Roll soap, to Toronto Maple Leaf soap (despite the lockout). The Liberty Village shop also offers a line of certified organic soaps and oils.

Body Blitz
Um, this place has its own Dead Sea salt pool. Do I really need to say anything else? Well, in any case, the Blitz full body scrub is definitely a fan favourite, along with the spa's acclaimed lineup of sweet ginger and moroccan spice body glows. But the therapeutic waters definitely top the Blitz experience.

Doll Bar Inc.
As long as women love long hair (and don't have the patience to grow it out) Doll Bar will thrive. This salon is about extensions first and foremost, offering full head hair extensions, micro links, micro loc weaves, and customized clip-ins. Stylists will also apply hair that you bring in yourself, and help with the inevitable time-consuming extension removal.

bodyFood Aromatherapy Boutique
Using pure essential oils, bodyFood offers its own line of aromatherapy and natural body care products. The Liberty Village shop is your source for bodyFood jojoba bead face scrum and lemongrass foaming body butter, plus personal consultations and seminars for the enthused essential-oil shopper.

6 by Gee Beauty
The only place in the city (or country, for that matter) with its own Le Labo fragrance bar to custom-create your own perfume. Because who buys a bottle off the shelf these days? For a quick grab-and-go, however, 6 by Gee Beauty has plenty of shower gels, massage oils, body lotions and bath oils by Le Labo ready to take home.

Cooney for Hair
For those who look east (yes, past Leslieville) for hair inspiration, Cooney for Hair specializes in cuts, styles, and colours from Japan, plus products you can't find just anywhere. This salon is pretty unique in that you'll often find men in the salon chairs — notably those men, however, who like to keep a little length.

Colour Lab 12
A salon that's strictly all about colour. Tint, highlight, tone or treat — anything that pretty much doesn't involve scissors. And a lineup of iPads to play with while the colour sets.

Elixir Spa
Organic everything. That includes organic facials, organic manicures, organic pedicures, organic wraps (the spa kind, not the lunch kind) and more. Elixir offers spa parties for similarly minded groups of eco-friends, and quick on-your-lunch break spa options, including express facials and mini-makeovers.

Pinky's Nails
For the ostentatiously painted nail, few do it better than Pinky's Nails. This Richmond Street "professional nail art studio" does every type of intricate design, from holiday-inspired nail prints to custom thumb to pinky creation. Matte colour? Pft.

Blo
Not an obscure name, by any means, but still one of the best. Blo is your off-the-menu, quick dry and style boutique, with several additional services including extensions, treatments, and up-do's. But for a reliable and consistent "Wash Blow Go," Blo is it.

Eye Love Brow and Beauty Bar
Eyebrow aid for the west end. Operated by a former Brow House employee, Eye Love Brow and Beauty Bar offers brow shaping, tinting, shaping, and general rescue, plus full face makeup and application tutorials. Manscaping is also available to the overly-browed gent.

Lush & Lavish
A certified Eminence Green spa with waxing, nails, and hair all on the roster. The shampoos and conditioners here are all paraben- and sulphate-free, with eco-friendly nail polishes and lotions that are natural enough to eat. Not that ingestion is recommended, mind you.

Navigate Space
A pretty run-of-the-mill salon by all accounts, but I have to ask one question: is there anyone who has ever uttered a bad word about this place?! Anyone? John Taccone and his team seem to elicit nothing but positive reviews for their cuts, blow outs, and styles, justifying their slightly higher-priced service list. Is it something in the water down on The Esplanade?

The Ten Spot
The Ten Spot is your answer to no-fuss beauty. This spa caters to the active woman who just wants to get her nails done, rather than waste away the afternoon looking at floating rose petals by her feet. The Ten Spot does express facials, waxing, nails, and the works.

Pure + Simple
The name pretty such says it all. Well — maybe just the "pure" part. It does get a little complicated when you start digging into the science of "Aquabrasion" or "Pine Resin" waxing, but just know the Pure + Simple spas are focused on clean, natural, and holistic. Most offer the house line of products, as well as other natural beauty items to take home.

MYNC Lash Lounge & Brow Bar
Lash tints, lash falsies, lash perms, and individual applications. MYNC does all sorts of lash makeovers, including its "Pretty In Mink" lash overhaul with 60 lashes per eye and semi-permanent upper and lower lash mascara, because morning-after raccoon eyes is out (not that it was ever in). Brow shaping and body waxing too.

These are my essential Toronto beauty spots. What are yours? Add your favourites to the comment thread below.

Discussion

21 Comments

Me / November 23, 2012 at 01:44 pm
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Essential? Oh what an entitled society we've become. HAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PL replying to a comment from Me / November 23, 2012 at 01:57 pm
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Beauty bars as a whole are not necessarily essential but if you're reading this post as a frequenter of beauty bars, then these may, in fact, be essential to you. I think this is a very informative post and I found some great looking places: I especially like the spas that have a very specific focus - the brow spots, for example. They wouldn't stay in business if they didn't know brows! Thanks for the excellent post.
Joey / November 23, 2012 at 02:37 pm
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I'm very glad that Jacob & Sebastian made the list!
rosebud / November 23, 2012 at 04:10 pm
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I went to Pinky's when it was a couple of weeks old and asked for acrylics. Unfortunately, the lovely girl who did my nails was not experienced at all and they were a terrible mess. She even had trouble applying the nail polish. They also use kits that you can get at the pharmacy (Nailene)

but i follow their tumblr and their manicures are super sweet. hopefully she's gotten better at acrylics. she was a really sweet girl and i didn't give her any trouble. i get my fakes done in a regular salon but i think i will go to Pinky's soon for a sweet design on the gel ones i have on.
anag / November 23, 2012 at 04:47 pm
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Maybe that's the trouble with, Navigate Space. "Is there anyone who has ever uttered a bad word about this place?! Anyone? " I couldn't find anyone, last year when I went in for the most expensive and horrifying hair cut of my life. John had friends in from out of town, and with all the inside jokes and chatting I felt more like an intruder at someone's dinner party then like a paying client at a salon. I left with what is best described as the love child between a mullet and a bob. This has taken 18 months and several stylists to fix. Maybe more people should provide feedback about this place I can't believe I'm the only one.
sean / November 23, 2012 at 05:42 pm
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Essential? Maybe if you only live on Queen/King Street West. There are so many better options in Toronto.
Janet / November 23, 2012 at 10:39 pm
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I love this list!!!!!!!!!! YES
jackie / November 23, 2012 at 10:46 pm
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love the brow house and i'm so happy they made this list!
Sarah / November 24, 2012 at 02:00 am
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I am so glad someone else has commented on Navigate Space and how negative their experience was. I had my hair done there back in March and I am STILL paying for that mistake. It is now almost December, almost 9 months later. Worst haircut of my life. Seriously.
JD replying to a comment from Joey / November 24, 2012 at 02:15 am
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Thank you so much.
Donna Prima replying to a comment from Joey / November 24, 2012 at 02:18 am
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Just went to Jacob & Sebastian yesterday... totally agree! Also, I LOVEEE Pinky's! Good list, I might add a few other too though. Also. YES.... these places are %100 essentials to some :)
sully pasty replying to a comment from sean / November 24, 2012 at 02:19 am
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you're a loser.
laney / November 24, 2012 at 07:36 pm
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It doesn't even say what shop is pictured.... Which on is that one? Since I'm newish to Toronto I appreciate this list. Thx
Tatyana / December 18, 2012 at 12:14 am
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Guys don't forget online shops.
Before you buy just check the prices then go online make a research and you will notice that many things are cheaper and in most cases FREE delivery. Save time and money.
Ok. Tip N-1 (I know that you will say that you need to smell and touch before you will buy - make sens- so go ahead and do that just don't buy right away, just go online and you already know what exactly you want to buy , because you just had it in your hands).
And for a few people only who will respond to this post I will discover a few little tricks on how to save extra 4 to 8% from the same products that you buy online.
Mina / July 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm
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Glad to know I'm not the only one who got a bad service from Navigate. I came in with a picture of what I wanted, when I left it looked like I was wearing a wig. My friends who are inexperienced in hair even agreed it looked nothing like it. It took a good year for my hair to even out and now I've learned to do it myself. He was also very rude about my feedback and his hands smelled like cigarettes cutting my hair. Never again, please learn to have consistency and see things from the customer's point of view.

Love the Lavish shop though, I go there regularly and I'm making another trip next week!
Ann-Marie / November 21, 2013 at 09:24 pm
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I'd like to see a best of list of beauty (esp hair) services for women of colour.
janet replying to a comment from laney / November 21, 2013 at 09:39 pm
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It's Jacob & Sebastian!!!
http://hiannbag.namoweb.net / November 21, 2013 at 11:02 pm
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Hurrah! In the end I got a blog from where I can really
take helpful facts regarding my study and knowledge.
fabs / November 21, 2013 at 11:43 pm
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Cooney for Hair is really not good. Had the worst hair cuts there. Staff turnover makes it impossible to have a hair cut with the same person more than once. Also, most of the staff speaks little or no english, communication is a huge problem.
Lizzie replying to a comment from rosebud / November 22, 2013 at 03:28 pm
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Hey sweetie! Thanks for piping up. Yes, when we first opened, we were juniors and we had to rely on kind first-timers such as yourself to help us understand this new world we were entering as nail artists.

Since your visit, we have all done extensive training and I think you will find that our extensions are now some of the best in the business. We provide Gel, Fiberglass, and Acrylic extensions now and no more beginners kits (which we only used in our first 2 weeks, when we were waiting for troublesome orders to make their way to us when we had no mailbox).

Because of the fairness in which you described your experience and the fact you've returned, I can see you're a valuable customer to have back. Please email me at lizzierenaud@gmail.com anytime and I'd love to offer you a complimentary fill or extension appointment to show you how far we've come in our first 18 months as Toronto's main nail art emporium.

All the best, and happy nailing,
Lizzie Renaud
Owner/Sole Proprietor of Pinky's Nails
Anna / November 23, 2013 at 02:07 pm
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I used to see Erica at The 10 Spot, (great place - totally deserves to be on this list) but she recently moved to a spa on Bloor called Pause Beauty. It's great for me because there's finally a spa closer to home, and the girls there are really professional, knowledgeable, and really good at what they do. It won't be long before they find themselves on 'best-of' lists, I'm sure!

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