After a loooong, cold winter, it's the right time for a refresher course -- we're talking about your face. Skin gets dull, congested and D-R-Y during the colder months, and a facial is a wonderful rejuvenator.
But there's a lot going on in the world of skin care, and it seems that the days of the very basic facial are virtually extinct. So to learn about some variations on the theme, we went under the steam, the stone, the cream and, eeks, even the razor. And besides the relaxing, pampering experience (some more relaxing and pampering than others), the greatest benefit of all is beautiful, healthy skin.
Salon Blue and Spa 190
THE SERVICE Organic Passion Fruit Peptide Peel ($155, 60 minutes with extractions; $100, 30 minutes)
Skin is cleaned with an organic balancing cleanser -- it smells like figs -- then a peptide peel is applied to aid in rebuilding skin and reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It's combined with either an antioxidant or hyaluronic acid booster (depending on your needs, and it can be a bit stinging). After the peel is removed, your face gets a yummy chamomile steam while you're indulged with a heavenly neck, shoulders and décolleté massage. Afterward, a soothing pumpkin-infused masque cools the face down. Then, yay, a scalp massage. Final touches include moisturizer and a broad spectrum SPF.
OUR FACE Our skin was brighter, radiant and positively dewy afterward and, unlike more aggressive peels, wasn't a bit red or flaky.
266 Main St., Huntington, 631-351-1555, spaadriana.com
THE FACIAL Tourmaline Botanical Skin Resurfacing Facial, $135, about 60 minutes
Pick one of the seven or so Chakra cards that have words such as "harmony," "wisdom" and "insight" printed on them, which helps determine what kind of facial you need. We chose "nourishment," for our parched skin. The treatment included a natural microdermabrasion with ground tourmaline, extractions done with cinnamon and eucalyptus essential oils and some 15 other products including an aloe masque, a swirl of hot stones, along with a slathering of rose, tangerine and sandalwood oils. Besides the facial, we received a whirlwind neck, arm and foot massage, and some unusual knee shaking and pressure-point work.
OUR FACE Smooth, glistening clean, congestion free. The place had good energy, and there was a spiritual element to the facial, though the treatment itself was frenetic at points. Do not miss the Aveda tea (licorice root, chamomile and lavender) that you can have before or after the facial.
nuBest Salon and Spa
THE SERVICE The Fitness Facial for Men; $110, 60 minutes
So, we sent a volunteer to this one. Our guy, an athletic, 26-year-old marketing executive, had trepidations -- he was a facial virgin -- but, bottom line, guys need facials, too. It began with a thorough cleansing followed by an Omega 3 serum used for oily skin, then an application of a blue azulene extract (a compound made from chamomile) that strengthens the skin and improves elasticity. There was exfoliation, extractions and then a refreshing hydrating berry mask, followed by a gentle shoulder, head and neck massage. Final touches included moisturizer and eye cream.
THE FACE He loved it. He called the treatment table "cloudlike," and said his face felt "very moist, not red or beat up and gleaming a little bit. I think it's worth it. I felt relaxed the entire day."
The Spa at Red Hots
THE SERVICE Shaving Face With 02, $125, 50 minutes
Your skin is cleansed with a vitamin C formula, then there's a glycolic wash with a rotary brush that almost works as a broom to get rid of dry, dead particles. A mild peel follows, to decrease oil and impurities. Then, yikes, comes a scalpel with a rounded blade that is gently worked from forehead to the décolleté, removing dry dead skin and topical fine hairs. After the "shave," you get a hydrating mask followed by a high frequency zapper of sorts that soothes and increases absorption of all that cream. At the end, enjoy a cool blast of medical-grade oxygen.
OUR FACE Baby soft, plumped up and glowing like brand new skin and, natch, no hair. But note: this isn't the most relaxing facial. It's a bit scratchy, though the results are well worth it. And for the record, a lot of realllllly famous people do it, though we're sworn to secrecy.
While you can get facials in a lot of places, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Loads of people give facials -- not all of them qualified -- so, check out the creds and make sure you're working with a licensed aesthetician. And while you're at it, check that the environment is clean -- that includes linens and towels on the treatment table.
Guys should not shave before a facial. It's overdoing the exfoliation factor, and experienced aestheticians are familiar with working with beards.
Tell them everything. If you have sensitive skin, any allergies, are taking meds or something hurts or stings, make sure you let your skin professional know.
Dr. Cameron Rokhsar, a dermatologist with offices in Garden City and Manhattan, says people who use retinol products should stop a few days before treatment, as they could cause irritation. And, he says, if you have a cold sore, postpone. A facial could spread it.
Gloves on, please. If your treatment includes extractions, the aesthetician should wear gloves during this part of the process to prevent any exchange of fluids.