Havana Nights Spa founder Sandra Casanova has had a long-running appreciation for beauty. “My friends were all coming to me for their makeup, hair, and waxing,” she says. “As a kid I was always looking at people as I was talking to them and thinking, ‘What can I do to make them look prettier?”
In studying the faces of those she encountered, her attention would continually shift to the eyebrows. “The eyebrows frame the face and give expression to the face,” she says. “If eyebrows go inward, maybe that person is upset. If you raise them, they’re surprised—they play a very important role in communicating emotion.”
Casanova offered eyebrow shaping services when she opened her spa in Chicago’s Lincoln Square neighborhood 12 years ago, but after meeting several clients who had faced challenges with their brows, she realized the value in offering a service that extended beyond the wax and tweeze: permanent makeup.
“Permanent makeup is a really good solution for helping women to look their best at every age,” she says. “I have clients who are 18 years old and clients who are 80 years old.” Casanova also notes that within that age range comes a bounty of reasons for seeking out the service, from issues with vision or dexterity that hinder the makeup application process, to the loss of eyebrows entirely due to aging, alopecia, or chemotherapy. She meets with clients in her Northfield office to discuss and design the desired shape and color before numbing the brow area and applying permanent pigmentation to the skin. While many professionals rely on a digital machine for the process, Casanova prefers to do the work manually to control the results, alleviate any unnecessary damage to the skin’s tissue, and expedite the healing time.
Casanova’s work continues beyond the brows with her services in reconstructive dermagraphics, a practice used to correct birth defects such as cleft and disfigurement from illnesses, accidents, and surgeries, including mastectomies. While putting an emphasis on the results themselves, Casanova also acknowledges just how paramount the process of getting there can be. “The work I do in reconstructive dermagraphics involves a lot of talking and understanding in what the client is feeling—it involves a lot of compassion,” she says. “I always tell them you’re going to leave here today looking better and feeling better—we help them to regain their confidence.”
With 19 years in the beauty industry and 11 of those years spent working in permanent makeup and reconstructive dermagraphics, Casanova finds that her most prized moments come at the end of the procedure. “One of the things I enjoy the most is when my work is done, I hand clients a mirror and get to see them looking at their reflection and smiling,” she says. “They thank me, they hug me, and they can’t take their eyes off of the mirror—I treasure those memories.”
Sandra Casanova’s office is located at The North Shore Center for Facial Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery in Northfield, 330 West Frontage Road, 847-441-4441, permanentmakeup-chicago.com.