Michele Minters grew up in New York, often searching for a good place to get a tan.
"There was no place to lay out and get sun," she said.
Today, her undamaged skin is her greatest business asset.
As a licensed aesthetician, Minters, 34, spends most of her time helping clients cope with overexposure to the sun.
"Dehydrated skin is what I see most of the time," she said. Minters tells her clients to drink more water and less caffeine.
She offers several facial treatments designed to improve complexions and relax clients.
In a newly decorated 400-square-foot salon, Minters and her associate, makeup consultant Cori Lanza, 37, offer skin-care services and several lines of products.
Until last year, Minters worked primarily in photography. She traveled from New York to Arkansas, Dallas and San Francisco learning about digital photography and working at studios.
Seeing faces through camera lenses helped prepare Minters for her new business.
"Here we do weddings and I think that's really where my photography comes in," she said.
"Having a studio and shooting models, you know what the camera sees."
Minters moved to St. Petersburg a few years ago when her husband began a cable installation business. She worked in customer service at a photo lab until deciding on a career change last year.
After training at St. Petersburg's Lorraine's Academy, Minters opened her business, About Face Inc., in January.
She painted and decorated the salon to create a soothing atmosphere for clients.
"I do everything I can to make it relaxing without getting too feminine so that a man would feel comfortable coming in for a facial, too," Minters said.
In a private facial room, Minters offers 45-minute mini-facials for $25. A 75-minute session costs $30. She offers glycolic or enzyme facials and back facials for $45.
Several skin-care treatments, including paraffin hand- and face-softening are available.
Minters will tweeze or wax eyebrows for $10 to $15.
She carries three lines of skin-care products in several price ranges.
"No one line contains everything I need," Minters said.
Her message to clients, she said, "is that you don't have to put your skin in a state of shock to cleanse and tone it."
Laurie Stern has been getting facials for years. She prefers Minters these days.
"I've been to many, many establishments, and they are right up there with the tops," Stern said. She also likes Minters' prices.
"Obviously in this market this is considered a luxury service, so their pricing is very competitive," Stern said.
Most important, Stern said, is the personal attention she receives at the salon.
Minters said she gears her products to the needs of her clients, most of whom are 30 to 60 years old.
So when the biannual makeup shows are promoting lilacs and pastel eye shadows, Minters knows her clients "are not going to be wearing frosty shadows."
She and Lanza select the colors they know their clients will wear. This year, they chose shades of peaches, teals and toasts _ a kind of Southwestern combination.
Lanza's specialties are custom-blending makeup foundations for clients and helping surgical patients with makeup applications.
With a special line of products, including some theatrical makeup, Lanza helps clients cover up signs of recent cosmetic or other facial surgery. She offers free consultations.
"For the people who are recovering this gives them an opportunity to still look good and even go to work," Minters said.
By the numbers
About Face Inc.
4201 Fourth St. N, Suite 2
Hours: By appointment, Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and every other Saturday.
Services and products: Skin-care treatments, facials, waxing, makeup and applications and consultations.