These budget-friendly facials will set your visage aglow without setting your bank balance back
Mon Jan 25 2010
Aveda Institute: Elemental Nature Facial for Self Renewal
Five readers can get a free Self Renewal treatment at the Aveda Institute; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Except for a prescrubbing inspection by the instructor, this beauty-school experience was identical to the double-the-price professional version. After a free cup of Aveda's Comforting Tea, I was treated to a foot soak, a "sensory journey" aroma-therapeutic facial, and a head, hand and foot massage. I emerged from the session radiant. 233 Spring St between Sixth Ave and Varick St (212-807-1492, avedainstituteny.com). 90mins, $50.
Best part: My facialist cleansed my skin with the same signature licorice-peppermint tea that I was served in the lobby. It feels much better than it tastes.—Alyssa Pinsker
Dermalogica in Soho: Eye Rescue MicroZone Treatment
The Eye Rescue is supposed to brighten, firm and revitalize the eye area, using a variety of products that are tailored to your skin type. As I reclined in a chair behind the counter, the therapist turned on a steam machine and went to work applying cleansers, exfoliants, masks and moisturizers. She also gave me a pressure-point-focused eye-drainage massage and used an ultrasound machine to remove dead skin cells and reduce the appearance of fine lines. Afterward I felt refreshed and relaxed, but wasn't sure I looked any different. A few hours later, however, a friend commented on how bright-eyed I seemed, and I was sold. 110 Grand St between Broadway and Mercer St (212-219-9800, dermalogicainsoho.com). 20mins, $35.
Best part: The therapist sent me home with a "face map." This five-minute process, free to anyone who walks in off the street, is an analysis of 14 different zones on your face, accompanied by a list of prescribed products to deal with your specific issues. Sure, it's a sales strategy, but it was still cool, and I didn't feel pressured to buy anything whatsoever.—Amy Lowenstein
Relax on Cloud 9: Minifacial
Technician Tara cleaned my face with kukui nut oil, rubbed my temples and gave me a lavender-eucalyptus-sandalwood inhalation treatment for relaxation (sigh!). She evaluated my skin (combination, not the dry, dry, dry I thought it was) in order to customize each stage of the facial—exfoliator, mask and hydration treatment—which made my skin look so awesome, I never wanted to put on makeup again. 694 Clove Rd at Martling Ave, Staten Island (718-448-3412, relaxoncloud9.com). 30mins, $45.
Best part: While my gel-based colloidal oatmeal mask got to work, Tara set heated pads on my stomach and eyes, and massaged my arms, neck and hands while rubbing in an incredible-smelling oil infused with sage and ylang-ylang. It felt luxurious and a whole lot longer than a half hour...and I think I fell asleep.—Amy Zavatto
Season Spa: Minifacial
Aesthetician Jennifer Wong ushered me into a small room with an unexpectedly comfortable bed and proceeded to mollycoddle me with a parade of cleansers, creams, toners and moisturizers that actually felt like they were healing my wind-worn skin. With the minifacial, you have the choice between extraction and a combo facial-shoulder massage. (You can get both for $55). Either option is followed by an eyebrow shaping and a 15-minute mask (collagen for me, because of my aforementioned dry skin), during which you may be treated to the sounds of other people coming and going in the thin-walled space. Look, this venue ain't fancy, but for 40 minutes of doting and soothing salves, the treatment was more than worth the money. 165 Hester St between Elizabeth and Mott Sts (212-966-7416, seasonspa-nyc.com). 40mins, $35.
Best part: In a screw-you to winter (and a nice, upscale touch in a standard Chinatown spot), the treatment beds are heated. Plus, there are double rooms if you want to bring a friend along.—Billie Cohen
Spa Beauty and Beyond Salon: Express Facial
Owner Stephanie Januszko first assessed my skin to determine the best masque to use—in my case, a hydrating collagen variety. After cleansing, steaming and massaging my face, she applied the concoction and placed cool compresses over my eyes. All throughout, Januszko was cheerful and friendly, making the experience just what an extraction-free facial should be: relaxing. 108 Nassau St between Eckford and Leonard and Sts, Greenpoint, Brooklyn (718-349-6020, beautyandbeyondsalon.com). 45 mins, $45.
Best part: Januszko's facial massage was firm enough to stimulate my skin without making it feel as if it had been abused.—Amanda Meffert
Tone's Spa: Express Facial
Before I stepped inside one of the inviting private treatment rooms I had to fill out a card that asked about my skin-care regimen and physical health. I'm glad I did, because after owner Catherine Branch discovered I have very sensitive skin, she advised against the potentially irritating Gold facial I had booked and suggested the (cheaper!) Mini facial instead. The aesthetician applied gentle scrubs and various lightly scented moisturizers while a small steamer opened my pores. After extractions, she applied a clay mask, letting it dry for five minutes before removing it with both warm and cool compresses. She also spritzed my face with a lavender-oil spray and rubbed a cooling lotion around my eyes, cheeks and mouth. 1018 Castle Hill Ave at Chatterton Ave, Bronx (718-904-8656, tonesspa.com). 25 mins, $35.
Best part: Not only did I look well-rested after the treatment (when, in actuality, I was sleep deprived), but none of the lotions or creams burned my irritable skin or made it break out.—Rachel M. Sokol
Tribeca Beauty Spa: Minifacial
I felt like I was sitting topless in my dentist's office—unknown tools were placed atop stark white counters, and a single light arched over the examination table. Nevertheless, I sat back and let my facialist, Nadia, do her thing. She selected several firming scrubs to work into every pore, and though I normally loathe people touching my face, her gentle massage felt too nice for me to care. She explained that her European-style facials consist of mostly massage in order to create a glowing, firmer appearance in just a few hours. Once the lavender mud mask hit my skin, I closed my eyes and drifted off for ten minutes. Just as Nadia had promised, I wasn't red or puffy after I left—in fact, I was ready to hit the bars. 8 Harrison St between Greenwich and Hudson Sts (212-343-2376, tribecabeautyspa.com). 30mins, $50.
Take note: The spa caters to more than seven different types of skin (including those prone to acne and scarring), stocking moisturizers, mud masks and exfoliants tailored to each need.—Anna Brand
Woodley and Bunny: Mini cleansing facial
This minifacial, it turns out, isn't so mini: Skin-care guru Candelaria Micheo used seven different products throughout the customized treatment, and chattily explained each one's restorative benefits as she lathered, spritzed and Morse-code--tapped them onto my face, shoulders and arms. I left feeling shiny but rejuvenated, and not an ounce redder than when I walked in—a first for me with a facial this intense. 196 North 10th St at Driggs Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-218-6588, woodleyandbunny.com). 30mins, $35.
Best part: The Huile & Baumes Eye Contour Serum, massaged around the eyes and temples, smells as good as it feels (calendula, rose hip and black currant—yum!).—Ashlea Halpern