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Beauty and the beat

It's been an exciting and busy year in Chicago's spa, beauty and fitness worlds, with dozens of openings and hundreds of new beauty products hitting the market. Here's what blew us over-and what just blew.

Illustration by Anne Benjamin

Best spa experience You’ll have to travel to the ’burbs, but once you arrive at Silken Tent(2300 Chestnut Ave, Glenview, 847-510-1240, thesilkentent.com), you won’t want to leave. The complimentary water ritual, organic café selections and eco-friendly shopping area got our attention, but the amazing massage therapists—not to mention the best facial we’ve ever experienced—have had us hooked since the spa opened in August.

Worst spa experience We hate to be reminded of our facial at Spa 195(195 N Harbor Dr, 312-552-9000, spa195.com). Our aesthetician (who wore so much horrible perfume that we left with a headache) constantly jiggled us whenever she bumped into our rickety massage table in the tiny room; she scrubbed our face with a terrible scratchy cream for 20 minutes; and she “customized” our facial by adding a chemical peel (which felt more like an exfoliator)—without telling us that the peel would be an additional $50. It was an experience we can’t wait to forget.

Best beauty product When England got the hot new product No7, we were jealous. And when we flew across the pond to pick some up only to find out they were sold out, it was a bummer. So we were thrilled when Target picked up London’s best-selling antiwrinkle product in March: No7 Restore & Renew Beauty Serum($21.99 at Target; 1154 S Clark, 312-212-6300, target.com) actually helps reduce signs of wrinkles in four weeks. Don’t have wrinkles yet? Get No7 Soft & Soothed ($7.99) to leave skin fresh and smooth.

Worst beauty ideaAnal bleaching first emerged in the porn markets, then it hit New York and Los Angeles, but it’s finally made its way to Chicago ($75 at Trim; 1629 N Milwaukee Ave, 773-276-8746, trimwax.com). We aren’t welcoming its entrance. We never realized our butt hole was the wrong color in the first place, and we’re going to ignore those who want us to whiten our rosy bottom.

Best new workout Jumping around on personal foot trampolines called Kangoo Jumps for 45 minutes was the most fun we had working out in 2007. When we found out we burned twice as many calories as we did in a regular aerobics class, we officially got hooked on exercise. Take the class at Crunch (350 N State St, 312-527-8100, crunch.com).

Worst gym trend Ever since gyms became the It place to meet someone, women and men have upped their beauty shticks, and we’re really hoping the days of wearing makeup, skorts (skirt-shorts combo) and tiny wife-beaters will end as soon as 2008 begins. It’s time to bring sexy-sweaty back.

Most anticipated 2008 event It’s a toss-up between two openings. The Fairmont Hotel is adding an 11,000-square-foot spa, complete with eight elegant treatment rooms, to its fancy hotel in February (services we’ve sampled on vacays at other Fairmont hotels have been off the charts). Then there’s the 23,000-square-foot Trump spa, complete with 53 private guest treatment rooms at the Trump hotel. And yes, we got a sneak peek of the spa, and of course it’s marble. What else did you expect?