Ladies, ever just need a break from it all? We all do, and the best news is you do not have to travel miles away to get one.
I scouted out several local spas to help me relax and let go of my day-to-day stress. I turned off the cell phone, closed up the email and immersed myself in the relaxation that is .
Tucked in Grayslake’s heritage district, Mona Lisa takes up shop directly across the street from Tastee Freez. The atmosphere is quaint and cozy, offering a boutique feel with a modern twist thanks to exposed brick running the length of the salon.
Owner Lisa Cowgill opened the business nearly eight years ago, hoping to offer a blend of intimate and friendly service and exceptional spa experiences. “I worked at those big salons where there is not much of a connection," she said. "I didn’t want to do that.”
The intimate feeling is what you’ll get at Mona Lisa. Lisa and her daughter Marla are the only two full-time employees. Both are trained in all aspects of the industry from hair, pedicures, and manicures to waxing and facials. One part-time receptionist joins the duo, along with plans to bring in massage therapists in the very near future.
Lisa said she knew from an early age exactly what she wanted to do when she grew up. She began cutting hair and doing nails when she was just 13 years old. She and her family moved to the area in 1986 where she worked as a successful real estate agent for 16 years. But Lisa said she knew that wasn’t her true calling.
“I just felt it," she said. "I knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted this spa.”
It is working out quite nicely. In its eight years, Lisa moved the business only once to the building next door, then moved back a few years later. “This is just the perfect little space,” she said. “We really like it over here best. We use all of our space wisely and find it fits us best here."
With my mission to relax and enjoy a little bit of paradise I was also anxious to try something unique. I opted for the raw earth pedicure and the soothing citrus manicure.
Running after my kids and spending most of my summer barefoot or in flip-flops, my feet were in desperate need of attention.
My pedicure began with a warm foot soak as I sat in a high-back massage chair that immediately set me in comfort mode. Marla set me right at ease with her relaxing yet professional demeanor. After touching up my nails she went to work on the bottoms of my feet, massaging them with a lavender sea salt scrub that felt absolutely heavenly. Just the right amount of roughness helped strip away the dead skin cells that build up over time.
“You should get a pedicure every four to six weeks all year long.” Lisa said. “Many people think you can skip it in the winter, but that’s such an important time, because you always have your feet covered. You have to remove your dead skin all year long so you have beautiful feet for the summer.”
Marla then followed my scrub with a foot file that she says is the best in the market. “This file doesn’t shave off your skin, it files it off. You never want to use the blades that actually take your skin off because that is new skin and it is very bad for your feet.”
Next came the raw earth part of the pedicure. Marla spread clay all over my feet, let it soak in, applied another layer, and then wrapped my feet in steaming towels. This felt incredible. If there was any tension still lingering, as soon as the hot towels came out, it disappeared like the steam.
Marla said the clay was designed to soften my skin while helping with any rough cuticles and calluses. I had my doubts, but hours later I could still feel the effects. My feet had never been softer or looked and felt more polished than this.
Marla painted my nails and used her artistic hand at adding a small flower to one toenail. She freehanded the details that would take almost anyone else a magnifying glass to catch.
Now on to my manicure: My hands had seen better days. Dishes and cleaning sure take their toll, and while I would love to say I wear gloves for the dirty work, I don’t.
Lisa first settled my hands into an effervescent soak aimed to help soften my skin. She worked tirelessly filing, clipping and buffing my nails into perfectly even tips as we chatted about our families. Lisa is an easy person to talk to, and very interested in connecting with her clients. Her love for the business and those walking through her door are part of what makes Mona Lisa a success.
The next step of my soothing citrus manicure was the skin-renewal scrub. This was made up of a combination of sugars to help remove any dead skin cells. The scrub massage was very relaxing. Lisa wrapped my hands in steaming towels to allow the moisture to really soak in. Aaaaahhhhhh!
She massaged several lotions into my hands and nails, even adding a rejuvenating anti-aging serum to my hands. A perfect polish job was finished up with an added UV top coat to seal the polish to the nails and prevent chipping. A quick cure under the UV light and I was set to go.
My hands feel soft and silky. My polish is shiny and bright. Even after washing my hands several times I can still smell the lotions, scrubs and soaks Lisa used.
Yet another thing that stands out from other spas is that they guarantee all their work – even manicures. Lisa says she wants everyone who walks through her door to be completely happy with their experience and the end result. Lisa works hard to do that, opening six days a week and scheduling many clients on short notice. But she says its hard work that pays off.
“This is exactly where I am supposed to be and I love it,” she said.
For more information, check out in the business directory.