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Friday, August 5, 2011

An Oasis with European Flair

VAn Oasis with European Flair:
Pia Lauren’s Spa Di Bellezza provides perfect pampering for health-conscious 
relaxation seekers
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to 8/5)
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Soothing music, inviting spa beds and ceilings hand painted with images of clouds, the sun and birds. The environment transports visitors from a busy thoroughfare in Fairfield to a setting that might overlook the shimmering Ionian Sea in Italy’s Reggio di Calabria.

Most likely, that’s the intention, given the owner’s roots. Pia Lauren, of Spa Di Bellezza at 1828 Post Road, hails from that idyllic part of the world and has incorporated its ways and flavors into her popular, full-service, edge-of-downtown spa business.

“My mom is Greek and my dad is Italian,” said Lauren, flashing a heart-melting smile and shaking her long mane of brown hair, her skin radiant in early morning sun streaming through the shop’s street-facing windows. “I came alone to the U.S. at 16, settling first in New York, for a year. Then I was in Scarsdale, New York, with family that was already here. Ultimately, I moved to Westport in 1985.”

Professionally, she initially started designing clothes for boutiques. Along the way, she got married, had kids, divorced and, needing to stay home with her three boys, went into the skincare business.

“I worked out of my home for 10 years, from 1985 to 1995,” she said, leading this reporter to one of five treatment rooms, all located on a second level. “Then I rented a space in Westport, calling it Pia Lauren. ‘Lauren’ was a stage name I had adopted that fit the business well.”

That first space was only 500 square feet and she decided she needed more room as her clientele expanded. So, in 2002, she moved to her current location, which is 2,000 square feet. When she took over the building, it had been a real estate office and, before that, a private home built in the 1940s. Now the spa retreat is maintained by five staff members and offers everything from massages and facials to body care, manicures, pedicures and waxing.

“My clients are predominantly women, though the last couple of years, many men have started to come in,” she said, having this journalist lay back, shirtless, on a spa bed while she arranged equipment to provide both a facial and a foot massage.

“Men are becoming more conscious about taking care of themselves,” she added. “They are married for the most part. Their wives, who are already clients, encourage them to come in.”

Among men, massages and pedicures are the most popular, according to Lauren, “though facials are becoming more of an interest.” A facial moisturizes a person’s skin by removing the top layer / dry skin. It helps increase circulation and makes skin look younger, Lauren explained.

“I grew up on the water in Italy and was often in the sun all day long,” she recalled. “My mom always made us wash our faces when we got home and had her own recipe of olive oil and other ingredients, and would make us put it on our faces every morning and night. I have incorporated that ‘recipe’ into my own products.”

With a mix of both sadness and fond memory registering on her pleasant face, Lauren continued, “My mom died at 89 but, to that day, she never had a wrinkle, and was in the sun all day long every day. She loved to swim and be in the water.”

Lauren started in with the facial treatment, first conducting a cleanse, with a seaweed product. A scrub / exfoliator followed, to remove dry skin. All the while, a silent machine pumped out a jet of steam, to help open pores.

Black head extraction was next in the process, wherein Lauren used gloves and cotton balls to pinch areas of the skin to push out dirt from clogged pores. Using a diamond tome, she then gently removed the top layer of skin, which had dried from exposure to sun and winter weather.

Lastly, Lauren applied an enzyme peel, made from papaya and pineapple, into which her mother’s facial oil had been mixed.

“In the winter, mom and dad would go to the beach and fill huge jugs with salt water, bring them home, mix them together with regular water and make us bathe in the mixture,” she said. “It would help us to not have any dry skin or blemishes and breakouts. Leaving dry skin on the body is not good. Pores have to breath, to eliminate toxins. It’s important to use good products.”

This journalist’s feet were the next area the spa matron focused on, her firm hands applying an expert touch. As with the face, the process began with a scrub – a sea salt mix. Then, a callous remover was introduced, followed by an indulgence body cream – all organic – rubbed into the skin.

Switching gears, Lauren returned to the face, removed the enzyme peel, which had dried, with a warm wet cloth. She worked in a signature cr̬me Рcontaining collagen, shea butter, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, pomegranate and grape seeds Рto heal, protect and stimulate the skin and help restore and rebuild collage.

“This is good for sun damage, wrinkles and blotchiness,” Lauren remarked, applying oil de bellezza, her mother’s moisturizing oil.

A textbook of knowledge in the beauty / skincare field, she added, “We have seven layers of skin, and as we get older, between exposure to the sun, winter and free radicals, it gets thinner and ages. By removing dry cells and replenishing the skin, we help maintain collagen and elasticity.”

Imparting her general theory, Lauren said, “You have to pamper yourself. Our bodies need it.”

Spa Di Bellezza is located at 1828 Post Road, Fairfield. To schedule an appointment, call 203-254-8308 or visit

Fairfield Arts Center Drawing Up New Programming

Fairfield Arts Center Drawing Up New Programming:
Summer workshop for teens first of many classes to come
By Mike Lauterborn
(Posted to
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – Sitting on the ground against trees and brick walls, cross-legged with pads in their laps, they studiously sketched away, capturing from their own perspectives the layout of the Town Green.

The Wednesday July 27 afternoon session was the fourth of a five-week Drawing Workshop for Teens offered by the Fairfield Arts Center, 70 Sanford Street. Designed to enhance students’ creativity and artistic confidence, each of the five 2 ½ hour classes was dedicated to a different drawing activity, including still-lifes in pencil, figures, abstract shapes and textures, drawing on location and drawing animals. Stephanie Peterson, a certified art teacher at Fairfield Ludlowe High School, is the instructor, providing guidance on drawing techniques like lines, spacing, shading, volume, individual expression and imagination.

“Our teen drawing class is an inaugural program targeted to the teen segment of our constituency, which in its broadest sense is the town of Fairfield,” said Kristin Fox, who has held the role of Executive Director at FAC for the past year now. “About 10 students are enrolled in the class. We had to turn away half a dozen more, which leads me to believe that there’s a need for this programming in the community.”

Fox said the goal is to lay a foundation for future artists, while providing a vehicle for self-expression. “This is all part of our mission to integrate the arts into the lives of Fairfielders,” said Fox. “The drawing class is part of the educational component of our mission.”

Fox said the class has been very well received and, based on its success, the Center is going to explore other genre-based workshops – watercolors, painting, sculpture, etc.

“I work in developing programming with Stephanie,” Fox said. “The next program may be as early as September. “We’re determining best scheduling, especially with the return to school.”

For more information, contact the Fairfield Arts Center at or call 203-319-1419.