RECOMMENDED: See this year's New York spas guide
Wink Eco Beauty Bar: Green Glama Facial
602 Vanderbilt Ave at St. Marks Ave, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (718-230-3443,winkbeautybar.com). 60-minute facial regularly $80. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for 15 percent off any 60-minute facial or 20 percent off any facial-and-body-treatment combination through Mar 31.
For one serene hour, skin care specialist Marlene Melendez worked on restoring my winter-ravaged face with a lavender-infused moisturizer and all-natural products, including a rosewater tonic. After exfoliating my face and neck with a mixture of dry milk and cornmeal, Melendez removed the mixture with a warm towel and painlessly extracted the blackheads.
Best part: Melendez massaged my scalp and kneaded my shoulders, while a customized mask of white clay and honey purified my face.
Why it's worth it: My skin felt velvety well beyond the 24-hour mark.—Molly Gallagher
The Blind Barber: Men's shave
339 E 10th St between Aves A and B (212-228-2123, blindbarber.com). $30.
Since this Tompkins Square Park storefront doubles as a popular nightspot for bewhiskered (possibly intoxicated) hipsters, I was wary of stopping by in the evening and booked a Saturday-afternoon appointment instead. After prepping my face with hot and cold towels, Nick, a barber with a decade of experience, applied soothing preshave oil, then confidently scraped my face clean with a straight razor, finishing with a proprietary aftershave smoother.
Best part: The price includes a free signature cocktail or well drink, and quaffing a bourbon before or after adds an air of manliness to the whole thing.
Why it's worth it: It's hard to say what I enjoyed more: the slanting light coming in off the southern exposure or the cocktail-lounge turntable skipping at the end of side one of Born in the U.S.A.—Joshua Rothkopf
GC Salon and Spa: Instant Glow Facial
213 W 40th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, second floor (212-750-0808,gcsalonandspa.com). $65.
Times Square is normally the last place I'd seek solace from the daily grind, but I'd make an exception for this 40-minute, lunchtime-appropriate experience. Using all-natural products from the house skin-care line, my aesthetician, Caroline Perera, cleansed, exfoliated, steamed and prodded my face until it was springy and blemish-free. Tech-savvy instruments—a coarse-bristled, motorized brush that buffed the skin and an electric wand used to seal pores—impressed even this jaded spa vet.
Best part: The goose-bump-inducing scalp massage that capped off the service instantly melted away any feelings of discomfort I experienced during the preceding extractions.
Why it's worth it: This express treatment is just as effective as the hour-long Deluxe Deep Cleansing facial ($100), which Perera says "just includes lots more extractions" (read: pain), meaning you can achieve a fresh-faced glow while saving both time and money.—Cristina Velocci
Soho Sanctuary: Sanctuary Signature Facial
119 Mercer St between Prince and Spring Sts, third floor (212-334-5550;sohosanctuary.com). $135.
In the seasonal battle of frigid weather versus my mug, Mother Nature was winning. Ace aesthetician Jessica Allen gently rejuvenated my dehydrated skin, administering cleansing milk, cleansing cream, a sensitive-skin mask, normalizing oil and moisturizer from the all-natural Dr.Hauschka product line. A light steaming, warm lavender compresses and a nearly pain-free extraction concluded the 60-minute session.
Best part: The crazy-good massage woven into the experience. Allen anointed my temples, face, neck and dcolletage with lush Dr.Hauschka creams, gently pushing on pressure points and lulling me into a placid state.
Why it's worth it: I emerged from the spa with skin so luminous I felt good strutting out on a Friday night completely barefaced.—Mari Uyehara
Julia March Integral Skin Care: Organic Bliss Facial
177 Prince Street between Sullivan and Thompson Sts, third floor (212-253-2242,juliamarchskincare.com). $180.
Originally from Slovakia, proprietor Julia March is a third-generation healer and licensed skin-care therapist whose bag of tricks includes Eastern European folk remedies, microdermabrasion, acupressure and Reiki. For this 75-minute session, the skin guru employed a face mask of oats, honey, seaweed and essential oils to erase to erase the effects of a brutal cold snap. As the mixture set, she focused on my pregnancy-ravaged feet; with such luxurious attention, I think I may have levitated. (All clients receive a neck, shoulder, arm and hand massage.)
Best part: March takes a holistic approach to skin care, customizing her facials to each client based on a lengthy diagnostic questionnaire. In my case, she used a variety of natural concoctions (many homemade) that exfoliated, zapped blemishes and soothed eczema I didn't even know I had.
Why it's worth it: Three days later, my skin had yet to return to its characteristic dryness, and my makeup use plummeted.—Amanda MacBlane
Bellissimo Hair Spa: Full-body Swedish massage
29-07 39th Ave at 29th St, Astoria, Queens (718-937-7773, bellissimohairspa.com). $70.
The soft-spoken technician at this pretense-free spot was skilled, focused and thorough, applying the perfect amount of pressure and variation on my limbs, back, fingers and toes. As the owner, Raul Mesias, explained afterward, traditional Swedish massage has a top-to-tail focus, so the session included both foot reflexology and a cranial rub.
Best part: I didn't think I needed a facial massage, but the technician was able to untangle two previously unrecognized knots of stress above my cheekbones.
Why it's worth it: Similar one-hour treatments can cost quite a bit more in Manhattan, making this no-frills joint worth the trip.—Michael Martin
Cynergy Spa: Seaweed-Mud Body Treatment
87 Fort Greene Pl between DeKalb Ave and Fulton St, Fort Greene, Brooklyn (718-403-9242, cynergyspa.com). $150. TONY deal Mention TONY for 20 percent off any single treatment through Feb 29.
After giving me a cup of cinnamon tea and a hot washcloth in the waiting area to cleanse my hands, Cynergy's owner, Marsha-Ann Boyea, scrubbed my skin down with a dry, coarse brush, covered me in a detoxifying combination of organic seaweed and mud, and wrapped me in a thermal blanket for about 20 minutes. Afterward, I received a refreshing massage using grape seed and rose oil.
Best part: Boyea's sweet disposition and delicate-yet-firm touch totally unclenched my muscles, weary from clinging to subway poles.
Why it's worth it: Once I got over a bout of modesty, a deep calm washed over me and lasted well beyond the allotted hour.—Rachel Brodsky
Asia Tui-Na Wholeness: Deep-tissue massage
37 E 28th St between Madison and Park Aves, suite 800 (212-686-8082,asiatuinawholeness.com). 60-minute massage regularly $60. TONY deal Mention TONYwhen booking for $5 off this service; new customers only.
Although the setting is slightly clinical, this massage holds its own against one at a ritzy resort. My therapist, Elaine, warmed up my back with a towel, using forceful head-to-toe movements (a signature of this modality, which emphasizes rhythmic compressions) before implementing long, kneading strokes that popped several joints in my back, neck and ankles. To conclude the hour, she scooted a hot bag of herbs from my neck down to my lower back and removed any residual oils with a warm, damp cloth.
Best part: After correctly guessing that my extremely tense neck and shoulders were from sitting at a computer all day, Elaine returned to the area multiple times to ensure that every last knot was eradicated.
Why it's worth it: Besides the seriously low price, this massage will leave you euphoric for days.—Sarah Rammos
Graceful Spa: Body scrub
205 W 14th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-675-5145, gracefulspa.com). 50-minute scrub $60.
This affordable minichain offers two kinds of full-body skin scrubs: one with sea salt and another with a vanilla-latte brown sugar. Curious about the difference, I asked my aesthetician, May, to treat different parts of my body with each, so I could compare. To start, she covered me with warm water and steam, then gently rubbed the coarse grains into different areas of my entire body—salt on the back, sugar on the front.
Best part: After I rinsed off both solutions in the shower, a brief rubdown with thick lotion seemed to lock in moisture for days.
Why it's worth it: Though I felt a little like a turkey being brined, the satisfying scratch of the salt buffed my skin and removed any traces of dead cells without leaving me smelling like a bakery.—Adam Feldman
Greenhouse Holistic Spa: Hot-stone massage
88 Roebling St at North 7th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-3113,greenhouseholistic.com). 60-minute massage regularly $80. TONY deal Mention TONYwhen booking for 10 percent off a 60- or 90-minute hot-stone massage through Feb 15.
After discussing my various aches, lead massage therapist and founder David Greenhouse rubbed me down from head to toe, using heated massage stones to relax my muscles. Though his firm kneading caused me to grit my teeth at times, I could feel the deep-seated knots in my shoulders and upper back giving way.
Best part: My keyboard-based day job leads to pent-up stress in my shoulders, while my waitressing gig causes tightness in my legs. Greenhouse eased the stiffness in my upper body and still had time to soothe my sore calves.
Why it's worth it: The therapists do their best to help you decompress even after you leave: Greenhouse showed me stretches I could do at home to relieve my tension.—Marley Lynch
Face to Face: Back or chest treatment
20 W 20th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, suite 603 (212-633-0404,facetofacenyc.com). 60-minute massage regularly $140. TONY deal Mention TONYwhen booking for 20 percent off through Mar 31.
I knew I was in for a high-end pampering session as soon as I walked into the spa and was offered a glass of wine. Once I decided which body part to focus on—my back, in this case—owner Enrique Ramirez examined my neglected dorsal pores, and set about remedying them. Using soothing strokes, he applied a Declor cleanser and exfoliator, followed by an Aura Research hydrogen-peroxide mask (meant to disinfect and open pores), before performing thorough extractions. While the mask was working, he expertly massaged my feet, lower legs and grape-addled head.
Best part: The final step of the treatment is dictated by what your skin needs most—it might be a moisturizing paraffin mask to combat winter dryness or a fruit-acid peel to treat breakouts.
Why it's worth it: Unless you're as bendy as Mrs. Incredible, chances are your oft-neglected reverse could use the hour of close attention that this clarifying experience provides.—Sarah Theeboom
Aura Wellness Spa: Signature back facial
49 W 33rd St between Broadway and Fifth Ave (212-695-9559, spaaura.com). $120.TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for 20 percent off all facials (except express facials), regularly $120 to $150, or 10 percent off all 60- and 90-minute massages (regularly $120 and $160) and Korean body scrubs through Feb 29.
"Your back is very clean," said Itsuka Kobayashi, Aura's "back facial" specialist, as she quickly mapped my skin. It's her job to get that hardest-to-reach area prepared for swimsuits, low-cut gowns and the like. Kobayashi customizes her treatments: microdermabrasion reduces visible scarring while high-frequency light therapy kills the bacteria that encourages acne. Given the Usher--level smoothness of my posterior, I receive a foaming cleanser, a light exfoliation and a clarifying masque; other less fortunate souls would get a more heavy-duty regimen. Each portion of the treatment is punctuated with hot towels, healing lotions and mini massages and scrubs. She even identified and took care of a half-dozen blemishes in need of extraction.
Best part: I followed the relaxing, detailed service with downtime in Aura's Korean igloo-style dry saunas (complimentary and unlimited with any hour-long treatment) before heading out to the frigid city.
Why it's worth it: I learned there's at least one body part I don't pay enough (meaning any) attention to. Kobayashi recommends five to six monthly treatments for serious issues, so start now if you want to look hot on the beach this summer.—Robert Haynes-Peterson
Chris Chase Salon: Shu Uemura ume conditioning treatment
182 Ninth Ave between 21st and 22nd Sts (212-206-7991, chrischasesalon.com). $50.
Many hip NYC ladies rave about pricey but effective Keratin treatments, but this salon also offers a series of conditioning services created by Japanese wonder brand Shu Uemera that offer shorter-term smoothing results for a fraction of the cost. My upbeat stylist, Jenna Montefusco, offered me a glass of wine, before helping me select the best conditioner for my hair type (moisturizing and volume-enhancing are among the options). She washed my strands with Shu Uemura's cleansing oil shampoo, then painted the conditioner onto my hair in small sections.
Best part: The replenishing tonic tamed my frizzy tresses into smooth waves, and the extended scalp massage that set the conditioner in my hair was killer.
Why it's worth it: The treatment eliminated the buildup caused by my usual products, and I opted to add a blowout, which yielded several compliments while I was out on the town that evening.—Sharon Steel
Oasis Day Spa: Dry-scalp treatment
1 Park Ave between 32nd and 33rd Sts (212-545-5254, oasisdayspanyc.com). 40-minute treatment regularly $50. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for 15 percent off this service Mon--Thu through Feb 29 (excluding Feb 14).
Manager Carmine Fischetti vigorously massaged drops of Moroccanoil's original formula into my head, explaining that this treatment is especially popular during the colder months (heaters can dry out your scalp) and with clients who color their hair regularly (ditto for the chemicals in many dyes). I relaxed and sipped tea for ten minutes, then hopped over to a washing station for a shampoo, light dry and conditioning.
Best part: As a scalp-treatment newbie, I appreciated how the affable Fischetti explained each step of the process.
Why it's worth it: Walking up Park Avenue afterward, I caught a glimpse of my silky-smooth hair's sheen in a cab's window.—Tim Lowery
The Sanctuary Salon: One-hour hair spa treatment
527 Atlantic Ave between Third and Fourth Aves, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (718-243-9300,sanctuarysalonbrooklyn.com). Regularly $55. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for a complimentary fashion blow-dry through Feb 14.
After an initial consultation and analysis, my stylist doused my dye-wrecked locks with an Aveda Damage Remedy as I sipped champagne. A few minutes later, after the salve had time to penetrate, came a thorough shampoo and blow-dry. My mane emerged so healthy-looking that I was tempted to swing it around in commercial-style slow-motion.
Best part: As I waited for the hair products to penetrate, my hand and arms were given a deep massage and warmed with hot towels. Then, before my hair was rinsed and shampooed, I received a mini aromatherapy session.
Why it's worth it: The extra TLC made the session hypnotically relaxing.—Rachel R. White
Hiro Haraguchi Hair Salon New York: Hair restoration treatment and blow-dry
41 E 57th St between Madison and Park Aves, suite 400 (212-593-3030,hiroharaguchi.com). Regularly $150. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking to receive $20 off this service.
Though this process was invented to decrease postdye damage and fading, the experts here have found it also works as a perfect remedy for dry, coarse or otherwise underappreciated strands. Hair therapist Yuko Tatemoto shampooed my uncolored (but nonetheless frizzy and unruly) mane before applying a treatment to restore the hair's cell-membrane complex, which helps your locks retain moisture. In this process, CMC was infused back into the hair follicles, leaving my mop shockingly manageable.
Best part: Unlike deep-conditioning treatments I've tried in the past, this one didn't weigh down my curls or leave them limp and greasy.
Why it's worth it: This regimen left my hair easy to style, and I had a weeklong string of good-hair days I never thought possible.—Genevieve Tax
Mousey Brown Salon: Scalp Rx
732 Lorimer St at Bayard St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-486-7971,mouseybrownsalon.com). $20. TONY deal Mention TONY for 15 percent off any I.C.O.N. products through Feb 29.
The homey vibe and pleasantly chatty staff here will immediately put you at ease. The owner, Meredith Chesney, kicked off this service by applying an invigorating mix of peppermint and eucalyptus oils, followed by a thorough head massage. The blend contains a natural form of salicylic acid, which removes any buildup or dry skin on the scalp. She rinsed the first batch of oils from my head with a double dose of shampoo and conditioner—the latter was light enough to work from root to tip without worrying about any greasy residue. The final touch was a handmade blend of rosemary and argan oils, which penetrated the hair follicle and left me with a mane that I couldn't stop running my hands through.
Best part: The peppermint oils had my head pleasantly tingly for hours after leaving the salon, and my newly sleek hair smelled refreshingly like rosemary until its next wash.
Why it's worth it: While this treatment is recommended to deal with the harsh, winter weather, its oils and herbs can also help undo a summer's worth of chlorine damage or stimulate hair growth.—SR
Hands and feet
Relax Foot Spa: Foot reflexology
202 Hester St at Baxter St (212-226-8288) • 193 Center St at Hester St, second floor (212-226-5635) • relax-footspa.com. $30.
A mere 30 bucks buys you an hour-long reflexology session at this minispa. My masseuse, Xiao, began working on my head, neck and back, while my feet soaked in a warm herbal tonic. After 10 to 15 minutes, I eased into a recliner, and he got to work on my feet.
Best part: Having your feet and calves rubbed with moisturizer after the massage remedies any throbbing from the preceding compressions.
Why it's worth it: Xiao's commitment to getting the job done (versus chatting) means you can bask in some much-needed quiet time.—Sophie Harris
Jin Soon Natural Hand and Foot Spa: Magic Clay Slipper for Hands
421 E 73rd St between First and York Aves (212-249-9144, jinsoon.com). Regularly $32. TONY deal The first 50 readers to mention TONY when booking receive a free CND Scentsations lotion (8.3-ounce bottle, normally $12).
Once inside this antiques-shop-turned-salon, I was offered tea and ushered to a small table. One of the friendly technicians whipped my nails into shape and scrubbed my arms from fingers to elbows before slathering them in an almond illuminating mask. A final shaping and paint job—you can select from myriad Chanel, CND and Zoya shades, among others—made my digits photoworthy.
Best part: The mask has a fresh, understated scent and gives your skin a pearly glow.
Why it's worth it: When I visited my newborn nephew a few days later, my once winter-chapped skin was still as soft as his... well, you know.—Karen Snyder Duke
The Grotto Spa: Paraffin Manicure
Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave at Hughes Ave, Staten Island (718-876-8700,thegrottospa.com). $28.
Think of this 45-minute treatment as a much-needed upgrade to your usual manicure: After the standard regimen of filing, oiling and cuticle-clipping, I dipped each hand three times into a large container of bright purple wax. My arms emerged pale and prosthetic looking, and were immediately wrapped in clear plastic and terry-cloth for 10 minutes, so that the wax could so the wax could moisturize my skin and harden. Afterward, my attendant stripped the mittens and wrap, very slowly pulled off the skintight layer of paraffin and proceeded with the usual hand massage and polish, plus clear topcoat and more oil to seal in the softness.
Best part: The wax pulls out impurities and moisturizes dry skin you probably never knew you had.
Why it's worth it: For not much more than a standard manicure, my hands emerged velvety soft without feeling greasy.—Annemarie Dooling
Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa: Bergamot Orange Pedicure
222 West Broadway between Franklin and North Moore Sts (212-925-5441,sweetlilyspa.com). Regularly $68. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for 20 percent off the seasonal Bergamot Orange Pedicure (usually $68) through Feb 9.
Once I was comfortable in an overstuffed floral-print armchair, a foot bath of sea salt and bergamot essential oil (known for its mood-lifting properties) arrived in a charming, farmhouse-style enamel bucket, and the congenial technician, Soni Shrestha, massaged my feet with an individual bergamot orange soap—made especially for the salon by Red Hook--based company Saipua. She then expertly tended to my nails and cuticles, exfoliated my gams using an invigorating sea-salt-and-citrus scrub and applied a bergamot-oil-spiked whipped shea-butter cream to my feet and calves. Following a precision paint job with toluene- and formaldehyde-free Zoya polish, I settled into a cushy sofa to air-dry—in keeping with the salon's emphasis on natural nail care, you'll find no infrared driers here.
Best part: While many salons skimp on the massage element of a pedicure, Shrestha gave my soles and calves a lengthy kneading, tending to each gam for more than five minutes.
Why it's worth it: The personal attention, cellphone- and TV-free serenity, and use of well-being--enhancing natural products turn this pedicure into restorative ritual rather than mere maintenance.—Lisa Ritchie
L'Institut Sothys: Hanakasumi Foot Ritual
37 W 57th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-688-9400, sothyspa.com). Regularly $60. TONY deal Mention TONY when booking for 25 percent off this treatment through Feb 29.
Like many New Yorkers, I walk a lot—and not always in the most comfortable shoes. This 30-minute foot treatment was the perfect cure for my tired dogs: My massage therapist, Simona, worked out the kinks in my feet and calves, and the improvement was apparent as soon as I stood up. My legs felt like jelly—in the best way possible.
Best part: Although this isn't a traditional pedi, the technicians use Sothys's lush line of products, which incorporate rice powder and Japanese cherry blossoms to thoroughly exfoliate the skin.
Why it's worth it: Despite the relatively short time slot, the experience is luxe: I reclined on a heated massage bed with a warm cloth over my eyes while Simona worked her magic.—Amy Plitt