As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in Marin, beauty, health and wellness are in the hands of the professionals working hard to make you look and feel your best. There are those ready to help primp you for a gala, massage away the stress and guide you through meditation. Behind all of the stares that you’ll attract, there are curiosities about who helped you reach the top of the world.
Soak it Up
Few things are as relaxing at the end of a busy day as a bubbling and comforting hot tub. At Creative Energy, Marin’s Best Spa/Hot Tub Store, this dream is an everyday reality, complete with a test soak and a dazzling selection of spa tubs. For those who want to get a workout in, swim spas offer the ultimate fitness pool, with hydromassage luxury. Need more warmth in your life? Creative Energy also sells fireplaces and firepits.—Flora Tsapovsky
4100 Redwood Hwy., San Rafael; 415.472.7727.
No one else thought of spelling Mill Valley in such a fashion-forward way, and, accordingly, no other salon has won as many hearts as MilVali Salon, this year’s winner in the Best Full-Service Beauty Salon category. A one-stop shop for all things beautification, MilVali’s accurate and professional team does everything equally well; readers and Yelpers praise the natural-looking lash extensions, the high-end tanning services and the expert cuts, as well as the salon’s willingness to accept walk-ins on a regular basis (who doesn’t need a professional makeup session last-minute?) Service is on-point, too; first-time customers are treated like regulars here, and regulars are practically family.—F.T.
3 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley; 415.388.0988.
Pain, Pain Go Away
What defines sports massage? Instead of the pampering, soft strokes, proper sports massage targets muscle groups and attacks them gently, but firmly. At Sports Massage Marin (in Corte Madera and San Rafael), winner of Best Sports Medicine, athletes and regular folks get the right combo of helpful and fun, with targeted massages aimed at elevating the strenuous effects of a hardcore workout. At first, you’ll hear a lot of professional lingo—IT Band, PNF stretches, the scalenes, Levator Scapula and more, illustrating the fact that this is serious business. Then, all of your pains and tight spots go away. You’re welcome.—F.T.
In Good Hands
Acupuncture is as precise as it is mysterious. Corte Madera’s own Karen Reynolds, Marin’s Best Acupuncturist, is a little bit of both, and every bit the professional in the field, whom people seek. Experienced with baby acupuncture and very knowledgeable about fertility issues, Reynolds (who wrote the book Baby Blueprints in 2015) is a kind, caring figure on the local alternative medicine scene. She possesses knowledge in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and knows her way through the Daoist philosophy-inspired 5 Element Acupuncture. But even those who shy away from unconventional methods will be happy; Reynolds’ experience as a medical nurse is a doubter’s bonus.—F.T.
45 San Clemente Dr., Ste B220, Corte Madera; 415.737.0247.
Sometimes we need something to help us relax, and a glass of wine or a puff can usually do the trick. But often there are deeper issues, which lead us to overindulge—and that’s when it can become a problem. Fortunately, there’s a place in Marin designed for people who need a little extra help: Serenity Knolls, the place readers picked this year for Best Rehabilitation Center. Located in a private spot in peaceful Forest Knolls, Serenity Knolls has, for more than 25 years, been dedicated to working with people to become free of addiction and overcome substance abuse so that they can live happier, healthier lives. Programs include a 12-step detox treatment, family support and lifelong aftercare support. The staff is well-trained, caring, kind and supportive, which is just what is needed for this kind of work.—Lily O’Brien
145 Tamal Rd., Forest Knolls; 877.689.7002.
When it comes to taking care of your body, especially related to reproduction and women’s health, picking the right doctor is key. Not only do you want someone who is highly skilled, but also someone who is personable, kind and compassionate. David B. Galland, MD, chosen this year by readers as Marin’s Best OB/GYN, fits that description to a T. Dr. Galland has been practicing in Larkspur for more than 29 years. One of his YELP reviewers sums him up perfectly: Dr. Galland has “excellent bedside manner, the real deal—he genuinely cares, takes time to listen, and goes above and beyond what most OB/GYNs do.” What more could you ask for?—L.O.
100A Drakes Landing Rd., Suite 225, Greenbrae; 415.461.7800.
Once in a while, a business opens and instantly becomes a winner. More often than not, such a place photographs well and packs style and substance into a chic single whole. Alchemy Marin, the Best Place That Caters to Wellness Fanatics and Beauty Mavens, is such a place. And on top of cute interiors and a friendly staff, Alchemy, a new-ish kid on the block, offers very effective treatments for every possible need—from full-on Botox to a pop-in-and-out lash lift. The ladies at Alchemy stay on top of every health trend out there. Cupping? Craniosacral therapy? Concentrated serums that actually work? The centrally located salon has it all; no wonder it became a local beauty mecca in no time.—F.T.
925 Fourth St., Loft B, San Rafael; 415.295.7953.
Many places, including nail salons, offer brow and eyelash-related treatments, but Marin County is lucky to have the Best Eyebrow Shaper, Michelle Holmes, on hand. The long-time Marin-based expert opened her beautiful Michelle Holmes Studio in 2017 and has been shaping local eyebrows (and lives) on location ever since. Using tweezers only, for best effortless-looking results, Holmes manages to capture the elusive ‘natural’ look, which spells, “I just happen to have the perfect brows—deal with it.” More services are coming this year, making the small studio a place to put on your 2018 radar.—F.T.
211 Corte Madera Ave., Corte Madera; 415.735.6920.
Sometime this past summer, which seems like ages ago, I gave birth to my first-born, at Marin General. Not that I have anything to compare it to, but other women’s stories and my own gut feeling led me to believe that it was the Best Place to Deliver a Baby in the Bay Area, and possibly in the whole wide world. My view of Mt. Tam might have been obscured by the now almost-finished construction of a new building, but everything else was clear as day.
How surprised I was to find that Marin General, which was also voted by readers as Marin’s Best Local Hospital, had a delicious veggie burger, and other scrumptious dishes that I got to choose from daily. How delighted I was to get a daily visit from a volunteer massage therapist, who, with a kind touch and a nice word, melted away my newly acquired aches and fears. How cared for I felt through the whole stay, with countless visits and checkups by reliable and wickedly funny nurses, friendly doctors and other well-meaning professionals. None of it was taken for granted, and now, when I take my 9-month-old daughter for a walk by Corte Madera Creek, I look towards the hospital with warmth and fond memories. How many women can say that about their delivery experience?—F.T.
250 Bon Air Rd., Greenbrae; 415.925.7000.
There’s massage, and then there’s Esalen massage. Invented by the acclaimed Esalen Institute in southern California, the Harmonia Esalen massage, the Most Divine Massage, is part energy healing, part long, comforting strokes and all unapologetic pampering. At the new Harmonia complex in Sausalito, it’s delivered expertly in a darkened, silent room, by talented massage therapists who love their work. Topped with a visit to Harmonia’s relaxing sauna, this was the massage that had me craving the experience again and again.—F.T.
2200 Marinship Way, Sausalito; 415.332.1432.
Is it possible that the Most Gorgeous, Sustainable Beauty Brand on the market has come out of Sausalito? Indeed it is. Lilah b., the 3-year-old brand founded by Cheryl Yannotti Foland, has stylish packaging (the pebble motif is inspired by the nearby beaches), flattering shades of lipstick and blush, customizable sets for the ultimate beauty routine and, most importantly, cruelty-free formulas and natural ingredients. Pile them on!—F.T.
Full List of Best of Marin 2018 Beauty, Health & Wellness Winners
Schuman Tam, MD
Roni Dawn Douglas, DDS
Southern Marin Dermatology
Best Ear, Nose & Throat Physician
Romeo Agbayani Jr., MD
Darron Rishwain, DDS
Best ER Doctor
Jeffrey Jim Dietz, Marin General Practice
Best Esthetic Dentist
James A. McDowell, DDS
Best Eyelash Extensions and/or Brow Enhancements
Best Family Practitioner
Curtis F. Robinson, MD
Best Full-Service Beauty Salon
Milvali Salon & Cosmetics
Best General Practice Physician
Barry S. Landfield, MD
Best Hair Salon
Best Heart Surgeon
Joel Sklar, MD
Best Holistic Health Center
Preventative Medical Center of Marin
Best Holistic Herbal Shop
Best Holistic Practitioner
Kim Peirano, LAc, Lion’s Heart Wellness
Best Internal Medicine Physician
Dr. Elizabeth Lowe, MD
Best Laser Surgery Center
Bay Area Laser Cosmetic Surgery Center
Best Lasik Eye Surgery
Best Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Best Local Hospital
Best Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)
Alane Freund, LMFT, Heart & Mind Equine
Best Massage Services
Best Nail Services
David B. Galland, MD
Jennifer Lucas, MD
Robert R. Anderson, MD
Best Oral Surgeon
Louie R. Limchayseng, MD
Dr. Don L. Wilson
Best Orthopedic Surgeon
Brian W. Su, MD
Jeanette White, MD, PhD, FAAP
Jack’s Drug Store & Medical Supplies
Best Physical Therapist
Katherine Manning, Marin Physical Therapy
Best Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Yngvar Hvistendahl
Dr. Adam Nelson, MD
Dr. Julie Nicholson
Best Rehabilitation Center
Best Retreat Center
Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Best Spa/Hot Tub Store
Best Sports Medicine
Sports Massage Marin
Best Spray Tan
Best Urgent Care Center
Golden Gate Urgent Care
Best Waxing Studio