Aveda Institute

This one is for the Moms. Ever wish you could get a relaxing pedicure, complete with a foot rub, legs wrapped in hot towels, and lots of oils, soaps, and lotions to make your feet soft? And a complementary bottle of nail polish? Of course you do. But can you get all of this for $15.00? Yes! At the Aveda Institute you can get this and lots of other great deals on hair and spa treatments.

Once of D.C.’s best kept secrets is the high-quality and very affordable services available from students at the Aveda Institute. Facials, back treatments, manicures, pedicures, waxing, and haircuts and coloring are available at fraction of the cost you would pay at a spa or salon. All services are performed by students, but each receives months of training in theory and hands-on work, practicing on each other and friends, before they are permitted to work on clients like you and me. Students are also closely supervised by Educators while performing services so there is always a pro around if you or a student has a question. For services at about half the price (or less) than at a full-service spa, the Aveda Institute does not offer amenities like a relaxation room or robes, but they do nevertheless create a calm and peaceful environment for most of their services and herbal tea is in constant supply.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to try a number of the Aveda Institute’s services. With prices low and tank-top season looming, I decided to try a Caribbean back treatment for the first time, as well as a facial, haircut and pedicure.

While waiting for back treatment and facial services to begin guests are taken to a small, candle-lit room with soft music playing and offered tea and water. Then, the student who will be performing your services leads you to a small curtained room where you are given privacy to place your clothes in a basket and put on a towel. Back treatments and facials begin with a warm foot bath while the student asks you questions. Then an Educator comes in to make sure everything is on track before beginning your services. After your services are over, you are given a card with a list of products used during your treatment. All products are available for sale at the Aveda Institute, but there is no pressure to buy anything.

I opted for the sixty minute Caribbean back treatment which includes a warm mud mask placed on hands and feet and relaxation back and foot massages. I also opted for the sixty minute facial which includes three customized masks. Aromatherapy is also part of both services, which is a nice touch. While the atmosphere is a little noisier than you would find at a full-service salon, the Aveda Institute does a very good job of creating a relaxing atmosphere and the steep price cut for these services is well worth the trade-off. Back treatments range from $60.00 to $75.00. Facials are available in 30, 60, or 90 minute sessions ranging from $30.00 to $85.00.

Hair services at the Aveda Institute are also a pleasant experience. While it may take more faith to allow a student to cut or color your hair than give you a facial, students all have months of experience cutting before they are allowed to use their scissors on the public and I decided to try it out. Providing additional assurance, an Educator checks students’ work at three phases: before cutting begins to discuss the plan; after the cut while hair is still wet; and after hair is dried. The student who cut my hair was very competent, but I was told that the Educator could have cleaned-up the cut if necessary. I liked that the student who cut my hair showed me photos of various options before cutting and made suggestions about how to tame my unruly curls. Even better, all haircuts include a “moment of wellness,” which for me was a head and neck massage. Guests are also offered a “finishing touch” of a make-up touch-up. I was very impressed with the results of my haircut and know that I would not have gotten any better cut or service at a full-service salon. Other hair services include updos, coloring, and specialty sets like cornrows. Cuts start at $18.00 if you are willing to have a newer student and are $23.00 for a student with a few more cuts under her belt.

Nail services are always a treat, but the Aveda Institute goes the extra mile. Pedicure services start with choosing a small bottle of nail polish that you get to take with you, then soaking in a warm bowl of water while a student applies oil, soap, and lotion to your calves and feet. A nice touch is the warm towels your feet and calves are wrapped in during one stage of the service. As with all other services, an Educator monitors the student’s work and makes suggestions as needed. The polish used is SpaRitual nail lacquer, which is a luxury, vegan line that is safe enough for women who are pregnant as well as children. Thirty minute manicures are an unbelievable $10.00 and pedicures are just $15.00.

While I will admit to being a little nervous booking services with students at the Aveda Institute, I could not have been happier with the level of service and the results. Services were as good as, if not better than, services I have received at full-service salons. Moreover, full-service also means full-price, and I think the minor reduction in amenities at the Aveda Institute is well worth the tradeoff for the vastly lower prices. In addition to the services I mentioned, waxing and make-up application are also available.

The Aveda Institute offers some services for children as young as six, with other services beginning at age 16. If your child is old enough for an afternoon at the Aveda Institute, the Assistant Director has several recommendations for some mother-daughter bonding, any of which would work just as well for a girls’ afternoon out. The Assistant Director’s recommendations include: a 30 minute manicure ($10.00) and 30 minute pedicure ($15.00), a 30 minute facial ($30.00+) or 60 minute facial ($55.00+); haircuts ($18.00+) or Shampoo blow-dry and style ($15.00+). Several restaurants are located within walking distance of the Aveda Institute so you could extend the day with your daughter or gal pals by catching lunch or dinner nearby after your services.

The Aveda Institute is located near a couple of places where kids can play, so that Mom could conceivably pop in for a mani/pedi or facial while Dad plays with the kids at the Building Museum or doing open studio time at the Portrait Gallery. A couple of Moms could do the same and trade-off spa time and kid-duty. The Aveda Institute is also metro accessible so the same plan could work anywhere a metro ride away.

Services are available at the Aveda Institute Monday through Saturday from 11am through 8pm. Saturdays often book 6 weeks in advance so plan accordingly.

The Aveda Institute is located very close to the Verizon Center. There is limited street parking available around the Aveda Institute, but be aware that most spots allow for only two hours of parking and parking may be extremely limited if there is an event at the Verizon Center. There are several parking garages in the surrounding blocks. There are four metro stops nearby, making the Aveda Institute accessible from the Red, Yellow, Green, Orange, and Blue lines. The Gallery Place-Chinatown station is located at Verizon Center (Red, Yellow and Green lines). Judiciary Square (Red line), Metro Center (Red, Orange and Blue lines) and Archives-Navy Memorial Penn Quarter (Green and Yellow lines) are within walking distance.

At the Aveda Institute’s prices it’s easy to justify spending some time there. If you think you could use some time to relax or want to update your ‘do you won’t find any better value. Go ahead and treat yourself!

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OK Editorial Team

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