The marketing brochure of Hair Port Ltd., the Salon and Day Spa, never mentions the word "beauty."
The omission is intentional, said Karen Bryan, owner of the Sterling spa with her husband, Bill. Bryan, who opened her shop as a hair salon in 1977, said today's women -- and more and more men -- turn up their noses at the notion of beauty. But they are slaves to what she calls "maintenance."
For Bryan, 49, the challenge has been to evolve with her customers, who are increasingly practical, time-pressed and tuned in to what their bodies need.
"We have to take away that feeling of `This is self-indulgent,' " she said. "It is not self-indulgent to exercise, eat well." The same goes, she said, for getting a facial, a pedicure or a massage.
Bryan began gradually, adding such services as nail and skin care at the original Sterling Park shop. She moved to a larger space in the Countryside Shopping Center in 1986 and, two years ago, turned it into a full-service day spa. She realized that "people want one-stop shopping."
Bryan designed Hair Port's "quiet room," where clients wait between services, to reflect comfort and well-being -- not luxury or pampering. The decor -- Victorian-style furniture in muted colors and sponge-painted walls -- was carefully chosen as a stress-reducer for people who spend much of their time fighting traffic.
"If you notice in here, the colors are not feminine," Bryan said. No pinks, no pastels. The frilly look is out, in part because it would turn off her fastest growing client segment: men.
Male clients make up 20 percent of Bryan's day spa customers, up from zero five years ago.
This reflects a national trend as the image of the day spa as a necessity for health and well-being takes hold, said Hannelure Leavy, founder of Day Spa Association in New Jersey.
"They're beginning to realize you can still be macho and get a facial," said Hair Port spa manager Reid Berry, noting that several Washington Redskins players are regular clients ("People are going to say, `Now we know why they didn't do well. . . . They were worried about getting a sunburn,' " Berry laughed.)
Of course, most men choose the Hair Port men's "sports facial," which takes 30 minutes as opposed to an hour and involves only the basics -- facial mask, exfoliation and neck massage (no seaweed, for example).
But Bryan said her services for men and women are increasingly overlapping. In her latest marketing materials, she did away with the Men Only section. And she no longer relies as heavily on girlfriends and wives to persuade men to come in.
Leavy said she is not surprised that men are getting bolder about the day spa experience. "Once a man experiences a facial, he's hooked," she said.
"It was a well-kept secret," said Ron Bury, 59, who gets a facial every month or so at Hair Port. His wife suggested that he try it several years ago, and he liked the way it made him feel. "It helps a lot with stress," he said. "That's one of the primary benefits."
Bury said he feels comfortable at Hair Port, although he said Bryan might try keeping more men's magazines around.
Tony Hopson has gone to Bryan for years to have his hair cut. He also has had the occasional massage but thinks he's ready to step up his day spa usage.
He credits Bryan with putting men at ease. Indeed, Bryan, who still does hair one day a week, "is one of the very few hairdressers that is really knowledgeable about a razor cut," said Hopson, 52. "I'm very particular about my hair."
Gender aside, one of the biggest changes in spa consumers is the question they ask when they call to make an appointment. "They used to say, `What does it cost?' Now they say, `How much time does it take?' " Bryan said.
Her most popular time slot, she said, is 7 a.m. Saturday. "They can get in here and be on the ballfield by 9."
Another growing service is the express package, which takes about as long as a leisurely lunch. Years ago, it was not unheard of for Loudoun County women to drive to Washington for a day at a spa. Today, Bryan said, they want the spa not to be a special occasion but part of their routine.
"And they don't have time to go to D.C. and spend four hours," she said. Instead, her clients often feel the same way about the spa as they do about an exercise routine -- there is always time for 30 minutes a day. Then, "it's not pampering; that's taking care of yourself."
Bryan said she rarely has time to enjoy her own spa, although she makes sure to have regular pedicures. She spends most of her time at the front desk, where she can help customers and listen to their comments.
One thing she has learned, she said, is that the front desk shouldn't be in front. She is looking for a way to handle scheduling and phone calls in another part of the shop to remove the hustle and bustle from clients' view.
Bryan said people want to step into the spa and forget about the outside world, something a ringing phone makes difficult. She understands the desire to escape: She held an office job for a single day before telling her mother she could never do that for the rest of her life.
"I started going to beauty school the next week," she said.
CAPTION: Joyce St. Onge gets a pedicure from Camvan Huynh at the Hair Port salon and day spa in Sterling, which offers a range of services. Clients, said owner Karen Bryan, want "one-stop shopping."
CAPTION: Most of the Hair Port clients are women, like Janice Harvey, above, relaxing during a facial. Men, however, are the day spa's fastest growing client segment, making up about 20 percent of customers.