At 1 p.m. on a Friday, I typically proofread layouts, catch up on emails and check off tasks on my weekly to-do list. But this summer afternoon, I’m wrapped in a blanket, drifting off—not yet asleep, not quite awake. Spotify’s Miami Chill Beats station softly pumps through the speakers. The sweet scent of lavender wafts through the air. I feel the head esthetician Shelby massage my smile lines before she gently moves a microcurrent device over my cheeks.
I focus on keeping my eyes closed and thoughts at bay. Quieting the mind is a herculean feat in our distracted, over-stimulated world, at any time. During the middle of the day? Now, that’s a tall order. But Beauty Ritual’s founder Rachel File has smartly designed her new spa in Fort Myers to be a retreat amid the bustle, placing equal effort into crafting a soothing ambiance and creating quality treatments.
Rachel had her eye on the long-vacant lot on Daniels Parkway for years. It was everything she wanted—close to home, on a main road and more square footage than her McGregor Boulevard location, where she was for three years. After touring the Daniels property, she knew it was the right move. She hired a friend to demo the space, designed it all herself piecemeal and debuted the spa in March.
The entrance is awash in a clean aesthetic with a wabi-sabi style—textured Venetian plaster complements the blonde-wood front desk and contemporary drop pendant lights. Dozens of vessels from the brand’s new skincare line sit evenly spaced from each other in three niches along the entire right wall—white packaging reflecting off LED strips lining the perimeter. To the left, a seating area welcomes—a boucle sofa and a pair of chairs gather around a coffee table. Here, Rachel presents guests with a cool towel, a decorative eucalyptus sprig and a glass water bottle atop a wavy wood tray—the formal invitation to unwind. The feel is med spa meets day spa.
Past the entrance, a relaxation room beckons to the right. Custom LED signage that says “self care isn’t vanity, it’s sanity,” reassures visitors and illuminates the dark room. Even the restroom is chic, with the floor to ceiling dressed in a dark, tiger motif wallpaper. The door is covered in the same pattern and seems to disappear into the walls. Here, the 1 Hotel South Beach-inspired design is transportive, natural and contemporary—it reflects the brand and its audience.
Having worked locally for the last decade as a registered nurse, in pain management, orthopedics and skincare, Rachel garnered clientele and has cultivated a new, next gen following, through social media, which she attributes to helping skyrocket interest in skincare. Staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the shift in users’ interest from makeup to skincare. Search TikTok, and you’ll see videos with the hashtag #skintok have amassed more than 17 billion views.
To cater to a varying clientele, Rachel and her team of 12 offer preventive and corrective treatments. Facials that improve hyperpigmentation and reduce fine lines and wrinkles can appeal to a mature client, while preventive treatments, like the Tox Facial, which debuts this fall, entice the younger set. The Tox Facial microneedles the injectable Xeomin superficially into the skin for a softer look. (Xeomin is typically injected into the muscle to relax the muscle’s tissues to lessen wrinkles.)
Offerings like this reflect the rising less-is-more approach to beauty—with many consumers turning to anti-aging treatments as early as their 20s and 30s in hopes of staving off signs of aging and requiring less severe adjustments later in life. The HydraFacial, which has a cult following for its sensitive-skin approved, patented technology to clean, extract and hydrate; and injectables and fillers, for instance, lure the masses.
Keeping on trend, Rachel introduced a toning treatment, a microcurrent facial, as part of the 90-minute The Ultimate Beauty Ritual package, which also includes a HydraFacial. While nothing new, facial toning has recently taken the beauty world by storm. Jade rollers, gua shas and toning devices inundate #skintok, and studios like FACEGYM have popped up in markets like New York, Los Angeles and London. Microcurrent technology was first used decades ago to help patients with Bell’s palsy and muscle paralysis. Now, beauty pros are turning to the low-voltage electrical impulse devices for their ability to stimulate facial muscles and create a lifted appearance.
The Ultimate Beauty Ritual package promises zero downtime and it’s noninvasive, so it sounds perfect. Sporting a beet-red face at the office later? No, thank you. I feel the mild electric current warm my face. It’s an unfamiliar feeling, but painless. Immediately after, my skin glows, with the standard post-HydraFacial radiance and the bonus of tighter skin. The results last a few days to a few weeks—ideal for a pre-gala and those looking for milder, more temporary effects than injectables. Laser hair removal, brow lamination, lash lifts and massages round out the menu.
Treatments incorporate Rachel’s booming skincare line, which includes a daily cleanser, brightening pads, a deep hydration moisturizer, a luminous vitamin C serum and sunscreen, and about 20 other products. Her medical background and partnerships with manufacturers were instrumental in crafting the line, which took four years. “I knew exactly what I was looking for in terms of the formulas,” she says. The line sold out a week after launching. Rachel quickly restocked.
As a Fort Myers native, Rachel hopes to foster a sense of community in her 1,500-square-foot space. Beauty buffs can rent out the spa for private parties with treatments, and Rachel can bring in local vendors, like boutique owners and permanent jewelry designers, to complete the ultimate pampering experience. “We’re looking to help people feel confident and feel really good about themselves and age gracefully,” Rachel says.