Salon owner says beauty can be eco-friendly

The upscale hair salon Manetain in Del Mar not only offers top-notch hair services, but is doing its part to help the environment.

Owner Catherine Tain first became interested in the beauty industry when she was working as a model, having been discovered at the age of 15 while roller-skating in Mission Beach. For the next 15 years, she lived and modeled both in San Diego and New York.

"When I retired from modeling, I was really trying to find the next level of my career," said Tain. "I wanted to do something I felt a desire for and interest in, so I went to school and here I am 18 years later."

When Tain first began planning her own salon, she didn't set out to be eco-friendly. However, when she, the lighting designer and the lighting engineer began designing the salon's lighting in accordance with regulations, Tain thought she might as well design the salon to be as green as possible. She then installed water restrictors and a low-energy water heater, and she also uses products that are botanical or low-chemical. If all that weren't enough, a recycle center is located across the street, enabling the salon to recycle containers and bottles.

"It just kind of evolved," said Tain. "It wasn't 'I'm going to build a green salon.' It started one place and it just kept going. I just kept taking it to the next level, every time we did something, we did it to be eco-friendly as much as we possibly could." The investment has paid off: Maintane's utility bills are only a fraction of the average salon.

According to Tain, a salon's most important attribute is its staff. "All of my stylists are well-trained," she said. "They come from Beverly Hills, Dallas, Las Vegas, even some stylists actually work here part-time and work in another state part-time, because they like working in this salon, and they work at another high-end salon in the state that they're from." Most stylists have been trained at Vidal Sassoon, two specialize in hair extensions, one has done the Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas and another regularly works on country music stars. In addition, the salon also offers makeup application services. Despite the high quality, a haircut could cost as low as $45 up to $150.

"There isn't a chair you can sit in that's better than another in my salon. They're all great, great stylists," said Tain.

Manetain is located in a former residence, and instead of knocking down walls to create more space, Tain elected to leave many up in order to create a feeling of privacy for each chair. This helps facilitate a sense of personal service Tain strives to give to each client.

"I've worked in salons where you were just on top of each other, and everybody could hear what the next person was saying," said Tain.

The salon also features a food bar, and a variety of refreshments are offered depending on the time of day, be it bagels, baked goods, or wine and cheese, and even champagne. Recently, it was suggested to Tain that the food bar be replaced with a retail area in order to generate more revenue. She discussed it with her staff, who unanimously said it should stay.

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