Salt float tank is new attraction for Brookings

Cierra Murphy has a vision for Blu Salon, which she opened in Brookings this spring. 

“I just want people to come to a place where they feel like it’s modern, upbeat, happy, positive and ultimately the most relaxing place they’ve been,” she said.

Murphy isn’t afraid to try new things: one of Blu’s features is a salt float deprivation tank, “which is a first for Brookings,” she said.

Murphy is compelled to help others feel good about themselves; it’s the reason she went into cosmetology and owns two salons in Brookings County.


Murphy grew up in Badger, graduating from Arlington High School before coming to Brookings. She attended South Dakota State University and learned a lesson that can’t be taught in a classroom.

When she was a junior, her roommate died in a car accident.

“I just learned that life is too short not to do what you love and I love to do hair,” Murphy said.

She had already invested three years into a college education and wanted to finish her degree, but decided to pursue cosmetology at the same time. 

She graduated from Stewart School in Sioux Falls in 2010 with a cosmetology degree with microdermabrasion. She graduated from SDSU in 2011 with a degree in sociology with an emphasis in HR and a communications study minor.

For 11 years, Murphy worked at The Carousel, which was owned by the late Jan Anderson, “a phenomenal boss. She was nothing short of amazing,” Murphy said.

She opened Salon 629 in the fall of 2018 with help from her husband, Forrest, who farms near White. 

Even though Murphy was a wife, mother of two, and running her own salon in White, she wanted another one in Brookings. 

Beginning Blu 

“I love the community of Brookings,” Murphy said. “Everyone in Brookings takes so much pride in their community.”

She had a vision for how the place should feel.

“I wanted a space for people to feel like they can come and get pampered and feel like maybe they’re in the Cities for a day. And just very relaxed,” Murphy said.

She had noticed a lot of people headed to Sioux Falls to get the spa experience and “I just wanted to keep everyone local.”

Murphy did research in the Twin Cities metroplex and put a lot of thought into the new salon, right down to the name.

“I wanted to use ‘blue’ or ‘gold’ because of SDSU,” Murphy said, but she was a bit stuck on the name itself until she got some help.

She was eating lunch with Marisa Milton and Chellsy Chapin “and I told them both that I wanted to name it blue or gold, and Marisa came up with the idea of doing Blu without the ‘e’,” Murphy said.

Inspiration took over.

“I kind of chimed in with Beauty Lies Underneath, which is my whole reason for having a salon and spa in Brookings, to really emphasize the feeling of feeling good but also looking good,” Murphy said.

With everything in place, she opened March 16. 

And closed down March 23 due to COVID-19.

Beauty in the age of COVID

Now back up and running fully staffed, Blu does things a little different because of COVID-19.

“We are all wearing masks,” Murphy said. 

Salon employees are used to cleaning up after themselves in normal times, but the pandemic just ramps that up, she added.

“Everything is sanitized constantly. Our front receptionist follows everyone around and basically sanitizes behind everyone,” Murphy said.

“We’re using new everything after every client. All of our capes, towels – like anything that’s used is completely taken off of our vanities and re-done for every client,” Murphy said.

It was all good practice for a recent inspection.

“We all were very clean, so it was good,” she said.

The staff alternates hours, and the salon has plenty of room, but Murphy prefers to play it safe.

“We have just kind of staggered who stays late,” she said. “We just work with a more flexible schedule.

“It’s just working out well, surprisingly,” Murphy said.

Blu Salon

Murphy likes helping people feel good about themselves.

“I love to see the way people look at themselves in the mirror after they’re done. To make somebody feel like they are just a whole new person or feel like they’ve just … conquered the world in their own way after getting all dolled up,” Murphy said. “Them being so excited and so happy is just such a warm and fuzzy for me.”

There’s a lot at Blu to help them feel like a whole new person.

They serve men and women.

“We have a couple of gals that actually specialize in men’s cuts,” Murphy said.

“We have everything hair, skin, nails,” Murphy said. 

That includes haircuts, coloring and extensions; manicures and pedicures; massage; and eyelash extensions.

“We do offer a sauna, as well as the salt float deprivation tank,” Murphy said.

A salt float deprivation tank is a new experience that Murphy is proud to bring to Brookings. Because it’s so new, staff will give folks a tour to help them understand just what it is.

“It essentially looks like a big bathtub that’s covered over your head. It’s filled with about a thousand pounds of Epsom salts and it’s dissolved,” Murphy said. “You actually get in the tank and you pull the cover over top of you and you just lay there and float.”

The water and room are body temperature, so you’re comfortable, she added.

“It’s zero sensory. You wear ear plugs so you don’t have noise,” Murphy said. “You just lay there and you float, it just automatically allows you to float.”

Since you’re floating, it’s easy on joints or other problem pressure areas. 

“It’s good for a lot of things,” Murphy added.

Blu Salon offers a lot more, she said, and it’s all listed on the website, online or call 692-6622.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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