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Snippets: Spa Chakra Closes U.S. Doors… Payless Enters Beauty…

Spa Chakra Inc., which owns the financially troubled spa located at 663 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, apparently closed its U.S. doors Aug. 20.

SPA CHAKRA CLOSES U.S. DOORS: Spa Chakra Inc., which owns the financially troubled spa located at 663 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, as well as 18 other spas globally, apparently closed its U.S. doors Aug. 20, according to a voice message left on the phone of the Fifth Avenue location. “As of Friday, Aug. 20, 2010, all Spa Chakra-operated U.S. spa locations will cease operation,” according to the message.

Former employee Mary Cohen, a hairstylist, confirmed that the Fifth Avenue location closed in an e-mail she sent out to clients Tuesday announcing that they can now find her at her new location, Manhattan-based Senses Salon. Cohen said she sent out the e-mail because Spabooker, an online reservation site for the spa, was still sending out appointment confirmations.

Spa Chakra is known to operate both Spa Chakra-branded spas, as well as others, including the Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf-Astoria. A voice mail message for the Guerlain Spa on Thursday said it was closed, though temporarily. The Spa Chakra at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Marina del Rey, Calif., also closed last week, according to a hotel operator who said the decision to close was not the hotel’s but Spa Chakra’s. An employee at Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton Hotel, which also operated a Spa Chakra, said the spa closed last week, too.

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Uberhairstylist Ric Pipino, who earlier in the year had planned on revamping Spa Chakra’s Fifth Avenue salon and making it his own, parted from the company almost three months ago “when, after the Chapter 11 filing, things didn’t turn around,” he said.

In December, Spa Chakra received a buyout offer from Hercules Technology Growth Capital Inc., a specialty finance company based in Palo Alto, Calif., and subsequently filed for protection under Chapter 11 in New York. According to Pipino, Spa Chakra’s chief executive officer, Michael Canizales, departed the company three weeks ago, leaving the firm in the hands of Manuel A. Henriquez, co-founder, chairman and ceo of Hercules. Calls to Henriquez seeking comment were not returned by press time. In February 2005, the spa had opened to much fanfare under the name Cornelia Fifth Avenue. Spa Chakra took over the spa in May 2009.

PAYLESS ENTERS BEAUTY: Payless ShoeSource is partnering with Maesa Group to launch a line of beauty products this fall. The line will be sold in about 1,500 Payless ShoeSource stores. The Maesa-Payless alliance is a multiyear arrangement; additional terms were not disclosed. The move extends Payless’ position beyond shoes, handbags and other accessories and into a new product category. The new lines will be sold under two brand names: Zoe & Zac and Unforgettable Moments. Items will include a range of body care and beauty items such as lotions, creams, butters and shower gels for body, hands and feet; fragrances and mists; color for eyes and lips, and nail polishes. Prices start at $2.99 and go up to around $20 an item, but nearly 90 percent of items will retail for under $10.

SUN EXPOSURE: After 30 years, The Skin Cancer Foundation is revamping its Seal of Recommendation program to include the upcoming introduction of UVA protection requirements for sunscreens and sunscreens’ intended use. The updated seal will require scientific verification of the sunscreen’s UVA protection in addition to the existing UVB requirement. There will be two Seals of Recommendation: one called Daily Use, designed to protect consumers from incidental sun exposure, and another called Active, for more prolonged outdoor activities. Each seal has different requirements and the foundation began accepting applications for the new seal in July and will require full compliance by all current seal holders by May 2012.

FEELING FLAWLESS: On Sept. 1, Laura Mercier is launching a new campaign, called “What Is Flawless?,” intended to challenge the conventional definitions of beauty. The campaign, which will consist of print and online ads and social media, will ask women to explore their thoughts on what is flawless to them and is designed to foster a conversation among women, according to the company. The campaign is inspired by Mercier’s signature Flawless Face, a four-step collection of products including primers, foundations, camouflaging concealers and powders.

THEY WANT TO BE IN PICTURES: Nars Cosmetics is creating its first short film — called “Bright. Bold. Perfectly Matte.” — to mark the launch of its Pure Matte Lipstick. Returning to the brand’s roots (as François Nars started the brand with a collection of 12 lipsticks), the film is intended to evoke the power and glamour of a strong, matte lip. The story will incorporate all six shades and reflect the Pure Matte print campaign, for which Nars created the makeup look and photographed. The film features the print campaign’s model, Heather Marks, and was directed by Tim Richardson, with art direction by Fabien Baron. Nars plans to partner with Saks Fifth Avenue to showcase the film in the windows of its Manhattan flagship in October and in-store in September. Ads promoting the film will begin running on Facebook on Wednesday.

DUWOP DEPARTURE: Cristina Bartolucci, who founded DuWop Cosmetics with Laura DeLuisa-LaRocca in 1999, has left the brand to become vice president of innovation at Roberts Cosmetic Containers. “There is such a demand in the marketplace for turnkey, and I have a real passion for making that a possibility with innovation…[and] high quality, and also using as many American chemists as possible,” she said. Bartolucci’s exit from DuWop follows DeLuisa-LaRocca’s in 2007. DeLuisa-LaRocca is now the president of LaRocca Skincare. Lambus Partners acquired a controlling interest in DuWop Cosmetics about three years ago.

GOING NATIONAL: Southern California skin care brand Arcona launched into the newest Nordstrom store, in Santa Monica, this week, its first major national retailer. Arcona is slated to enter 10 additional Nordstrom doors by the end of the year. Nordstrom will offer 33 items priced from $20 to $87, including bestsellers antioxidant facial cleanser Toner Tea Bar, hydration gel Magic White Ice, Tea Tree Mask and cranberry toner Triad Pads. “We’ve had a cult following of people who really believed in us, and we have an opportunity to share our philosophy with a huge audience,” said Chanel Jenae, Arcona’s vice president and product formulator.

SAY CHEESE: Uberdentist Dr. Irwin Smigel is coming out with new professional-grade dental items for at-home use. In November, the Supersmile founder is launching Professional Activating Rods, which aim to clean and condition teeth for maximum whitening results. The rods will sell for $50 on the Supersmile Web site. Also, a Professional Whitening Toothpaste 5 Flavor trial kit will be available in September at Bergdorf Goodman and online, with flavors including Mandarin Mint, Original Mint, Cinnamon, Icy Mint and Green Apple, to sell for $25.

BUILDING GREEN: The Aveda Institute in Davie, Fla., has earned three Green Globes from the Green Building Initiative, which rates structures based on energy consumption and their long-term ecological impact. The highest rating is four Green Globes. Owned by Aveda’s Florida distributor, Tom Petrillo, the school and salon features solar panels, native landscaping and rainwater harvesting. It opened early last year. “With this certification, we are only the second GG-certified building in the state, and the first commercial building to be certified,” an Aveda spokeswoman said.

SPRITZ AND SIP: Miller Harris is brewing a teatime treat for harried Londoners. The fragrance house has teamed with Ruinart Champagne to offer a Sensory Tea experience at the Firmdale group’s four hotels in London’s West End, which include Covent Garden Hotel and The Soho Hotel. The menu comprises a selection of four teas blended by Miller Harris perfumer Lyn Harris, as well as pastries, sandwiches and a glass of Ruinart Champagne. The Sensory Tea experience is priced at 35 pounds, or $54.34 at current exchange, per person. Additionally, the fragrance house has teamed with wallpaper designer Karen Beauchamp to create a wallpaper line, which takes inspiration from botanical designs on Miller Harris product packaging. The wallpaper will be available in three prints and carried at Miller Harris stores and on the brand’s Web site priced at $132.54 a roll. The brand, which is known largely for its fragrances, introduced a line of lifestyle goods, dubbed The Edit, in 2009.

OH, CANADA: Temptu, a leader in professional makeup, launched its consumer makeup line featuring the Temptu Airbrush Makeup System in Canada exclusively at Sephora this week. The system retails from $42 to $265.

The Fragrance Foundation is joining the Fashion’s Night Out frenzy with a plan to station four flower carts outside stores in Manhattan on Sept. 10 and hand out flowers that correspond to particular fragrances. Passersby can then go to one of the nearby stores for a sample. Foundation president Rochelle Bloom said the strategy is to steer traffic into the ground-floor stores where beauty brands are holding events. Noting that consumers usually go to an upper floor for fashion, she said, “We decided we want people to walk into the store and have the first floor turned on.” As part of the overall effort, pins with the foundation’s “One Drop Changes Everything” logo will be handed out to retail beauty consultants.