For Ericka Johnson, Chicago's best beauty spots extend far beyond the Magnificent Mile.
As the heartbeat of the Midwest, Chicago's beauty scene offers trendy boutiques, luxe salons, and over-the-top spas, but when you're on call for one of the hottest actresses on television, it's the city's no-fuss locales that have the most appeal. As is true for Ericka Johnson, Taraji P. Henson's go-to manicurist for her role on FOX's hit sitcom, Empire. When she's not painting intricate nail designs for Ms. Cookie Lyon, the Seattle native brushes up on the Windy City's under-the-radar salons and spas. Here, she shares a few of her favorite hideouts.
"When I'm in need of a good facial, I head to my esthetician and friend, Beata Jedrzejewska. What I love about Beata is that she customizes her services according to her clients' needs. For me, she typically recommends the Microdermabrasion Facial with oxygen infusion and an enzyme peel. I've been going to her for so long that she really knows my skin so I trust her to do whatever she feels is best. I also love that she specializes in using organic products like The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser ($74), which I use everyday." Call (773) 704-2869 for appointments.
Her Go-to Beauty Shop
"Most beauty supply stores in Chicago are located in indoor malls. And if you've ever been downtown, you know that parking lots can be pricey and limited street parking options make it nearly impossible to run quick errands. The new Ulta Beauty in South Loop is really convenient because it's a street-level store, offers free parking, and is rarely packed with shoppers. If I ever need last-minute polishes before working on set, this is my favorite place for a pit-stop. Lately, I've been really enjoying working with CND polishes."
Her Fragrance Fix
"I really enjoy supporting small local businesses, so I head to Annie Bell Fragrances for soy candles and scents for my home. It's a cute, cozy little spot with all-natural products that smell amazing. The owners also offer candle-making classes, which I've been dying to sign up for."
Her Skincare Sanctuary
"I love discovering new skincare products and can always count on the Wholistic Center of the Healing Arts for interesting finds. I recently picked up a tub of Se-Brazil Bye-Bump Green Cream ($26). It's made with natural ingredients like coffee and aloe vera and keeps my skin silky-smooth after a wax."
Home Sweet Home
"When I'm not painting Taraji or [Gabourey Sidibe's] nails for Empire, I like to indulge in a mani and pedi of my own at Shine Nails Chicago, a salon that I opened in 2004. I strive to make sure that my clients can sit in any chair and receive the same quality they would if I were working with them, so I'll sit at any open station and know that I'm in good hands—literally!"