There’s never a good way to learn you have head lice, but Maria Botham, owner of Hair Fairies lice-removal salon, hopes to make the experience as painless as possible.
“We try to make it comfortable,” says Botham, who’s celebrating Hair Fairies’ fourth anniversary this month. “We’ve tried to create a peaceful, Zen experience, because having lice is an extremely stressful thing to go through.” Botham estimates that twenty percent of her clientele are people in their twenties and thirties.
Aside from big jars of disinfected fine-toothed combs, Hair Fairies resembles a typical Lincoln Park salon. Shiny wooden floors accentuate black leather chairs, which complement smooth marble countertops. Talkative customers chat with clinicians, while shyer clients watch portable DVD players. It’s almost—without making it sound too fun—like a temporary country club.
“It’s a luxury service,” says Botham. “You don’t walk in and feel like you’re in a pediatrician’s office.”
Other amenities include buy-as-you-go snacks, a full range of magazines, and free WiFi. A typical treatment plan includes three visits, and, at $95 an hour, costs between $300-$500, depending on your hair length and severity of infection. Compared with over-the-counter shampoos, the price is definitely steep, but Botham says it’s worth it for your ultimate peace of mind.
“We have a 100-percent guarantee,” she says. “Once people know that, they ease up a little. Usually, by the last treatment, they’re hugging the technicians and sending us flowers and cookies.”
THE GIST: Each visit is essentially an intense, scalp-scratching comb-out, lasting anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. If you can’t afford Hair Fairies’ hefty price tag, Botham offers a “how-to” video on the company’s Web site, www.hairfairies.com. However, Botham warns that DIY lice removal is a “little like watching a ‘how to change a tire’ video.” In other words, nearly impossible to do by yourself.
WHAT YOU’LL FIND: Along with lice removal services, Hair Fairies offers an array of products: shampoos, combs, sprays. None are completely necessary for a treatment’s success, but the minty Nit-Zapping Clenz Shampoo ($25) smells yummy, and will last you long after you’re done. If you’re feeling extra paranoid, you could have a partner look you over with the Nit-Zapping Visor ($28), but that might be pushing the boundaries of love.
GO HERE IF: You think you have lice. Or, you RID-ed your hair and black dots fell out. Lice checks are free, and the sooner you catch an infection, the easier is to remove the thirsty little bloodsuckers. 25 or more “bugs” qualifies as a “serious infection,” and will probably mean you’ll have to come in for a fourth and final visit.
DOWNSIDE: Momentary mortification, and major sticker shock. It’ll make the beer at next door Ravens go down that much easier.