Making Grays Harbor silky smooth, one client at a time

Hairless and silky smooth. That’s how my lower legs look and feel below the knee, which probably hasn’t been the case since I started kindergarten, 30 years ago.

And it wasn’t painful, beside some minor wincing. It also only took about 30 minutes to undo 30 years of leg hair growth. And they’ll stay like that for about four weeks. That’s how long it will take for the hair to grow back.

Contrary to popular belief, driven mostly by the waxing scene in the movie “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” when Steve Carell’s character got his chest and back waxed and screamed obscenities at the esthetician, there is an alternative for people interested in smooth skin — sugaring. And the sugar, simply made of sugar, water and lemon juice, is all-natural and biodegradable.

Amanda Melay, who has worked as a massage therapist and esthetician for most of her adult life, provided a comfortable setting complete with a fun playlist at Orb & Crescent Sugaring Spa — 114 E. Chance a La Mer NE (inside Salon by the Sea) — in Ocean Shores. Melay, who is a master esthetician and expert sugarist, explained the hair removal process and was gentle throughout.

Orb & Crescent has been on the Harbor since June 9 — the date of her grand opening.

To start the sugaring process, she sprays a cleanser onto the skin. Then she pours a talc-free powder on the skin and rubs it on. The powder is to help with sweat and any moisture on the skin. Then she rakes the hair backward a bit. She then gently applies the sugar, gel-like substance. She rubs it against the grain and then pulls it with the grain.

Once she pulls off the hair with a quick tear — similar to pulling off a Band-Aid — she pats the skin. Then she bragged about her work.

“Does it feel smooth, like a baby’s butt?” Melay said as laughter filled the room.

It did feel smooth. She was right to brag.

Despite the relaxed experience, thoughts of “40-Year-Old Virgin,” still came up in the discussion. Melay explained what happened in that famous scene.

“His chest hair was really dense and coarse,” Melay said. “And wax hurts a lot more because you’re ripping it. Opposed to pulling it out this way (with the hair’s grain) because your hair’s growing out that way, wax goes the opposite way, so it hurts a lot more.”

Through all Melay’s years of sugaring, she has had a couple sessions — maybe two people — end early because people couldn’t handle it. While it’s a rare occurrence, Melay knows what to do to help people who are having an issue.

“Usually, if I see someone is struggling, I’ll slow down,” Melay said. “I also have a little ice pack I can have you hold.”

She also explained why she pats the area she just worked on.

“That’s a good technique to kind of lessen the pain,” Melay said. “Your brain can only handle one signal at a time with the nerves. So if you’re feeling pain and you put pressure or friction on it, then your brain’s gonna receive the pressure or the friction, not the pain.”

Melay does that by muscle-reflex now and the practice has been reviewed positively.

“I’ve heard a lot of good things from that,” Melay said. “Clients will be like ‘I really appreciate that you do that. I’ve been to a different esthetician and she just won’t do that.’”

Melay explained one of the several advantages to sugaring versus waxing, which pertained to a hairline near the knee.

“You see how there’s a sharp line here?” Melay asked. “You can’t do this with wax, but you can kind of feather (the hair removal) in, so it’s not such a harsh line. Sometimes that’s good for males who come in for their shoulders because they don’t like the hair there but they like their chest hair. So I can do a hard line but then I can feather it in so it looks more natural. You can’t do that with wax.”

Time to turn over

As Melay continued sugaring the back of the legs, she showed she knows the importance of bedside manner because she asked if everything was OK.

And the shorter strips on the back of the legs were harder to sit through. It might be because they were shorter pulls since the hair grew a bit sideways.

“You’re allowed to cuss,” Melay said.

But swearing wasn’t necessary, which is a good thing.

About three months into owning and running Orb & Crescent, Melay estimated she receives about two clients per-day.

“I really thought I’d be a lot busier than I am, but maybe people just don’t know that I’m here,” Melay said inside the building she shares with Salon by the Sea, which is just steps from the roundabout.

That said, Melay helps guide her customers to getting their hair done at the salon. In return the salon has brought customers to Melay and that’s helped. The practice is called cross-marketing.

One element of running the business in Ocean Shores that Melay has learned is sell to the people in town.

“I’m trying to focus more now just on like the people around here,” Melay said. “Before I was trying to (reach) a bigger Grays Harbor (clientele) but I think I need to focus on the people in Ocean Shores.”

Melay said focusing more on the coastal city has helped since she’s getting some recognition, including attention she received from a nearby sandwich shop earlier in the day.

“When I got that sandwich, she was like ‘are you the owner of that sugaring spa?’” Melay said.

Melay said a customer at the sandwich shop recognized her, too. Melay thinks it’s just going to take time to build up her customer base.

“It’s all about word-of-mouth in small towns like this,” Melay said.

In addition to her stellar sugaring work, Melay has an interesting past. In addition to going to school in Seattle for massage therapy to be a masseuse, she also worked in Alaska for a little bit, where she fished.

Then, in 2016 she went back to school to become a master esthetician. She graduated from that school the next year. She worked elsewhere for a job in sugaring. During her evolution through the industry, she taught others how to sugar.

Later on, when she thought it was time to start her own business, she decided to move from King County to Grays Harbor to open up Orb & Crescent. Melay said it was “too expensive” to open up such a spot in King County.

It took a few months for her to open her spa. Besides finding a place for Orb & Crescent, she also had to get her business license and then buy all the equipment, materials and furniture for her space. But she’s glad about where she is.

“My room is actually really quiet, so when I do have a facial and all the hairdryers are on out there and people are talking you can’t hear it from in here, it stays pretty quiet,” Melay said. “It’s pretty fun because they’re good at telling all their clients that I’m here, so it’s a good way to cross-market.”

Melay, who’s worked in the industry for years, spoke a little about her favorite part of her career.

“My favorite thing is getting to know my clients,” Melay said. “Since I see them once every four weeks, we build a really cool relationship. They kind of come in and it’s almost like seeing your friend once a month. I don’t know, I just love getting to know people. It’s about the relationships I build.”

Check her website by searching “Orb & Crescent Ocean Shores” to see the variety of services and products she offers.

For people interested in making an appointment call 971-403-2031, email, or head to her spa’s website — The spa hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. She’s also open on Saturdays by appointment only.

Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at