Like any self-respecting Palm Springs Valley resident, I’m always up for the Spa Soirees thrown by Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage. It’s just so appeasing to spend an evening among like-minded guests, imbibing delicious complimentary cocktails and devouring delectable hors-d’oeuvres—not to mention visiting with my favorite spa technicians as they pamper attendees with freebie mini-treatments that remind yours truly why this is one of the primo “me, me, me” spots for miles around.
The last time I attended such an event was an extra treat because I got to make the acquaintance of a very fresh new face in town. Keri Gutierrez is a fourth-generation hair professional whose great-grandfather, grandfather, and dad passed along their shared love of lock-and-curl grooming to no less than 40 of their offspring.
A veteran of 25 years in the biz, Keri was most recently stationed in Woodland Hills near Los Angeles. But feeling the desert could use her unique, expert services, she recently transferred to the J. Russell Salon on El Paseo. “I specialize in facial shaves and top-end hair cuts for men—and men only,” explains Keri. “I feel every male client should have a place where they too can feel the pampering in their own masculine way.”
On the night I met her, Keri was offering straight-edge razor shaves, gratis at the J. Russell Salon & Spa at Westin Mission Hills. Talk about something sublimely old school. Naturally, I had to take her up on her generosity, and I’m happy to report that it was one of the best shaving experiences I’ve ever had. My bald buddy Danny decided to have Keri shave his entire head—something he tires of doing himself week in and week out. It was amazing to sit there and watch Danny go under Keri’s knife, what with her wielding her instrument with such calm, cool, and collected professional precision. Keri feels that the totality of the service she offers is what puts her a cut above, so to speak. She prides herself in every one of her male clients luxuriating in her straight-edge shave, especially first-timers. That’s because she does it right. “It requires a hot towel followed up with a pre-oil followed up with a thick blanket of hot lather,” she explains of the 45-minute process. “Then I shut down the pores with a chilled lavender towel before applying a rose water toner and a cream aftershave that leaves a man’s face [or head!] with an amazing glow.”
I can personally vouch for the fact that Keri is incredibly passionate about her work. “It’s so important to me as a master barber to see that every male client who sits in my chair feels great about himself,” she says. I, for one, am very happy about her recent arrival in the Palm Springs Valley. No one here does what she does better.