The Essential Portland Grooming Guide

Proper coiffing, plucking, and trimming can require a citywide squadron of experts. We’ve rounded up 11 spots to keep you lookin’ good from top to toes. Plus: Readers weigh in on their favorite places to get primped.

By Eden Dawn Illustrations by Amanda Lanzone November 3, 2014 Published in the November 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

Women’s Cut: Gold + Arrow

From the moment you enter this wood-paneled West End parlor, you feel immersed in good taste. Owner Gretchen Hotz carefully recruits her stylists to uphold the style bar: the all-female team includes talents from China, London, Scotland, and New York City. From a long blunt cut to a fierce bob with bangs, these worldly gals can set you up with all manner of fringe benefits. 1221 SW Alder St; 503-224-1247

Men’s Cut: Rooks Traditional

Rooks owner Justin King translates a deep reverence for barbering history—from ancient Egypt to medieval Europe—into classic styles for dapper dudes. Though this mecca for men is only five years old, the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire recruited King as a “grooming adviser” to sharpen the well-sculpted dos of its 1920s gangsters. Multiple locations

Hair Color: Hair M|W

After opening its doors last spring, Hair M|W quickly made its mark on the dye-inclined. Master colorist Kelly Peach regularly travels to New York and Los Angeles to meet with the likes of celebrity colorists Jo Blackwell-Preston and Beth Minardi, returning with reconnaissance on cutting-edge chemical formulas. From root touch-ups to balayage highlights—and even those DIY jobs gone awry—this nuanced color lab delivers. 1015 NW Lovejoy St; 503-715-2884 

Natural Hair Care: Conscious Coils

Amber Starks founded Conscious Coils in 2012 to serve the specific styling needs of people of African descent. Last year, Starks successfully lobbied the Oregon legislature to allow practitioners of natural hair care—traditional braiding, twisting, and locking, without chemicals—to practice without a full cosmetology license but instead a natural styling license. At Conscious Coils, she not only styles naturally but celebrates the choice to go natural with demonstrations and classes. 1033 SW Yamhill St, Suite 405; 971-998-8606

Updo: Dosha

Many of us have depended upon Dosha since it opened in 1991. Be it your cousin’s wedding, that reunion you must look amazing for, or even prom, this local standby’s black-clad stylists are happy to consult—and transform. With a plethora of chairs at each of their four locations, it’s also a go-to destination for group dos. Just bring a picture for inspiration, and they’ll coif you to match. Multiple locations

Facial: Dragontree & Dzialo

The spectrum of facials is broad. There is, of course, the spa facial you indulge in occasionally, when you are in need of some serious pampering. For that, there is Dragontree’s Signature Facial, in which you’ll enjoy an essential-oil foot soak in a candlelit room before your series of revitalizing masks. But you also need the functional, recurring facial—the lifelong pact to make skin care a priority. Turn to Sharon Dzialo, who’s spent the last 28 years taking care of clients (some who’ve been with her the whole time) with her custom line of skin-care products developed over years of research. 2768 NW Thurman St; 503-221-4123; & 1435 NW 23rd Ave; 503-223-8901

Mani/Pedi: Oasis Foot Spa 

With cramped nail salons seemingly on every corner, Oasis Foot Spa stands out for its airy, light-filled space and detailed color application—but it’s the massages that keep us coming back for more. After a quiet whirlpool soak, your feet and legs will get a rubdown to remember before getting polished up. Once the hooves are handled, give your digits a turn with plain polish, gel, or natural toppers. Decadent add-ons, from paraffin dips to salt scrubs, are yours for the taking. 1130 NW Marshall St; 503-223-3632

Airbrushed Tan: Hush Tan

Let’s be honest: we don’t live in a climate that supports a year-round tan. But a visit to Hush Tan’s tiny tanning room will leave you with a healthy glow to carry you through the dreary winter months. And you get the hand-brushed treatment: owner Mahriah Zimmerman kneels before you and airbrushes away with a mix of all-natural antioxidants and botanicals (walnuts—who knew?), leaving you bronzed (not orange!) for weeks. 2915 NE Broadway; 503-919-4874

Eyelash Extensions: Midori

Once the guarded secret of doe-eyed celebrities, lash extensions are now the trappings of the commoner. Tiny semipermanent lashes fill out your natural set, leaving you looking polished from the moment you lift your head in the morning. And  Portland’s queen of the lash is Midori Debow. After 14 years of experience applying extensions, 11 of those in a salon in Japan, the fleet-fingered aesthetician will customize a flawless set for you. 4839 NE MLK Jr. Blvd, Suite 202; 503-282-2777

Waxing: Urban Waxx

Waxing is no add-on here: it’s the main act. From brows to bikini lines to Brazilians, the talented crew at Urban Waxx know how to keep things painless: you’ll be treated to a glass of wine and some pleasant conversation before two types of wax (to snag different types of hair) leave you so smooth you’ll be tempted to toss that razor for good. Multiple locations

Shave: The Modern Man

Sure, Portland’s pretty beardy. But there comes a time when everyone needs a little shaping or trimming—or, in many cases, a flat-out return to the baby face. The Modern Man’s three locations transport patrons to the Prohibition era with fancy cigars, complimentary shots of Burnside Bourbon, shoeshines, swivel chairs, and straight razors. Multiple locations

Readers' Choice

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Here’s what you voted as your favorite spots to get your groom on:

Women’s Cut: Oranj Studio

Men’s Cut: The Modern Man

Hair Color: Ginger Salon

Natural Hair Care: Conscious Coils

Facial: Dosha

Mani/Pedi: Oasis Foot Spa 

Tanning: Hush Tan

Eyelash Extensions: Primp Daddy

Updo: Tribe Hair Studio 

Waxing: Urban Waxx

Shave: The Modern Man

Grooming Gone Wrong

We asked readers to share nightmarish stories from the front lines of styling. Here’s what some of them said: 

♥ I got a terrible updo for my very first middle school dance. The bottom of my hair was flat, and the top had big puffy curls. The stylist attached a huge pink flower to the top and I looked like one of those cupcake dolls. It was mortifying.

♥ Glitter in my eyeballs and crying my makeup off before a party.

♥ I got a really bad Brazilian once. Let’s just say that it was more like I had a red 5 o’clock shadow. Won’t be going back there.

♥ My grandma took me to her hair stylist when I was 8. Ended up getting the same cut as my grandma—so embarrassing growing out an old-lady crop!

♥ I lived in Italy for two years and finally decided to get my waist-length hair cut. I took a photo of Nicole Richie in as a reference for what I wanted, but somehow came out of the salon with a Euro Mullet.

♥ My round brush got stuck in my hair and I couldn’t get it out. I was visiting my brother and he poured conditioner all over my freshly washed and dried hair and that somehow loosened the brush’s grip.

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