Here's a secret not many people know. It's usually better to go to a small, local day spa like Euphoria Spa in NYC than a large, glamourous resort spa for ongoing maintenance of your skin and body. Why? Because when you develop a relationship with an esthetician or massage therapist, they get to know your skin and body, and you get a more effective treatment.
High-Tech Skin Care Equipment
I also like to get facials from people I know will adhere to the highest standards because I'm an esthetician myself. I'm a stickler for sanitation and I sometimes have a hard time trusting the esthetician to do everything right when no one is looking.
The owner of Euphoria, Kristen Haines, is an ex-social worker and an esthetician who started by giving facials out of her apartment. I met her at an industry conference and we hit it off. While she's now too busy to give treatments, she recruited an A-list team of the best people she worked with at other spas when she opened Euphoria in 2006.
Euphoria is located on the second floor of a brick building on a side street in Tribeca, and it's modest but comfortable. It only has four treatment rooms but they manage to pack a lot in.
First Stop: Microdermabrasion
Kristen put me in the hands of her lead esthetician, Jennifer, who examined my sensitive skin. I have broken capillaries around my nose (very common), some age spots (sun damage from a childhood without sunscreen), and the laxity that comes with age (sooner than you think).
She had a lot of tools and products at her disposal and prescribed a customized, high-tech treatment that combined diamond-tip microdermabrasion to exfoliate and IPL to target broken capillaries and age spots.
We decided that our primary goal would be to even out my skin tone, and she recommended I come in three times about a month apart, to see the best results. Because I had recently had a chemical peel and microdermabrasion, she decided to hold off on the HydraFacial the first time. "Be an artist," I said, which meant I trusted her to pick the right products and procedures for my skin.
After a thorough cleansing she gave me a non-crystal microdermabrasion treatment, which exfoliated my skin deeply without any discomfort. It has a much different feel from crystal microdermabrasion, where you can feel the crystals moving across your skin, and which leave a residue. "Those machines are dinosaurs," says Kristen, "but we keep it because women who started out with it years ago are used to it and like the feel."
Next Up: IPL
The deep exfoliation prepared my skin for the IPL treatment, where we were targeting the broken capillaries and brown spots. With IPL, the esthetician or technician covers your eyes and holds a hand-held unit right up against your face, targeting a specific area. When she presses a button, and your skin is experiences an intense "pulse" of heat and light. I've had IPL before, and it wasn't very comfortable.
But Euphoria has a machine from Syneron that combines both infrared light and radio frequency energy, which does the same or better job with less pain. I was really happy with that part of it. Some of my broken capillaries disappeared instantly, and I definitely had a refreshed look afterwards. The brown spots can be tough, and the easy work had been done before, so they didn't really respond.
Sometimes you just have to keep going over them again and again, in separate treatments, to get results, Kristen said. You can also follow up with home care products that work to lighten brown spots.
I was genuinely surprised at how good and refreshed I looked after my treatment, and booked another one to see what kind of progress we could make. Plus, I wanted to try that HydraFacial!
On my second visit I asked Jennifer to hit a big sun damage spot on my thigh. I noticed that it hurt more than the IPL on my face, which meant the melanin was absorbing more heat, which broke it up. The spot got darker within minutes. In the days after it blistered, formed a crust, and healed over to reveal a much lighter spot.
Jennifer also gave me a HydraFacial, which combines diamond tip microdermabrasion with several steps that use a spiral-shaped "hydra-peel tip" that does a little exfoliation itself. Jennifer skipped the microdermabrasion because of my super-sensitive skin. Even so, it was overstimulating. I like to try things out, but my skin just didn't like it. Jennifer said HydraFacial is especially effective for people with acne.
A customized treatment that includes IPL usually costs $500 per visit. The HydraFacial, which Euphoria calls HydraFresh, is $285 for 60-minutes, including the microderm. But Euphoria has plenty of other less expensive facials, including a 60-minute Fresh Air Facial for $135 (add microderm and it's $195 -- a good deal!).
Euphoria also offers massages starting at $120 for 60-minute, and I had an excellent deep tissue massage from Alex. She has strong hands and likes to get at the root of the problem. She also showed me some stretches to help with my chronically tight right hip. I appreciated that!
My only quibble is the two chaise lounge chairs, which are white and showed the dirt at the bottom.
Euphoria is a neighborhood spa, and they do a bit of everything. You can get nutritional counseling, a spray tan, or learn how to massage the person you love. And the Bridal Bootcamp starts nine months before the wedding so brides can be breathtaking when they walk down the aisle.
Plus, you can trust them! And in my book, that's everything.
Euphoria Spa in Soho:
Type of Spa: day spa
Location: 18 Harrison Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10075.