When it comes to unconventional beauty treatments, we're surprisingly eager to throw our bodies in the line of fire—especially when said fire happens to come in the form of caviar (or, even better, red wine). But, what happens when you tell us there's fecal matter (seriously) in our complexion-brightening facial? Well, our bravado goes out the window, that's what.
Still, it's January, and the pressure is on to keep our skin from drying out and our thighs from losing muscle tone. So, we researched eight crazy spa therapies right here in NYC that promise to trim our trouble spots, brighten our mugs — and yes, we even got our lady parts in on the action. From over-the-top luxe treatments to disconcerting methods that are less-than appealing at first blush, these are some of the craziest tightening, relaxing, and toning spa services in the Big Apple. Time to melt the holiday-season stress away!
Elizabeth Arden SmoothSculpt Body Treatment
Remember that time Gwyneth Paltrow walked the red carpet with blue, circle-shaped bruises all over her back? Do you want to one-up Gwyneth Paltrow? The Red Door Spa’s SmoothSculpt Body Treatment, which also has roots in Asian holistic medicine, is said to offer the same lymphatic drainage (more on that later) as cupping, but without the pain and bruising. Sounds like a win to us! Sorry, Gwynie.
So why should we care about our lymphatic system? A sluggish one can be the culprit of low-energy and a dull complexion, so drainage — while not always necessary — keeps swelling and inflammation down. But because nobody’s fond of intentional bruising, the Red Door Spa created this non-invasive therapy that applies pulsating pressure and suction directly to the skin with a mechanical wand. The suction and pulse action of the wand helps to break down fat and stagnated fluid trapped within the layers of skin, and, if claims be true, promotes healthier blood flow for enhanced cell renewal. Yes, using electrodes to zap away flab seems like a ‘50s ad-gone-wrong, but SmoothSculpt is said to deliver smoother, tighter skin for an $80 one-hour session. The weirdest part? In addition to abdomen, thigh and buttocks treatments, you also have the option to do this on your face.
Euphoria Spa Sweet Cheeks Treatment
We can’t say we pay much attention to our behinds, save for when it’s downward dogging in a stranger's face twice a week (or when we’re squeezing it into a pair of new jeans). But if there’s any way to apologize for all the neglect, it’s with a 30-minute facial...for your butt.
Euphoria Spa’s Sweet Cheeks treatment — your ticket to a supermodel-status derriere — offers a fruit-enzyme peel and sugar scrub, which digests and sloughs off dead skin cells. The treatment is done by hand, and also uses a microcurrent to stimulate muscles for a temporary lift. Even better? The $75 service gets rid of unsightly bumps and breakouts, so it’s perfect for a little date-night prep. We just have to get over the awkwardness of someone other than our boyfriends putting their hands all over our butts.
Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Arden
YinOva Center V-Steam Treatment
Why yes, the YinOva Center’s V-Steam is a facial for your vagina. Intrigued? How can you not be? While the Center isn’t a spa, per say, it focuses on women’s productive health by using traditional holistic medicine. The V-Steam, in particular, is regularly practiced in Asian and Central American countries to combat painful or irregular periods, and, as Nicole Kruck, LMT explained, the sensation is quite similar to that of any other spa treatment: profoundly relaxing.
So how does it work? While sitting on a comfortable stool, a pot of warm water filled with organic herbs like rosemary and basil is placed underneath. The steam from the pot rises into the vaginal canal and up to the cervix, eventually entering the uterus. Not only does it help to pull out any impurities, but the herbs help strengthen the uterine lining. During the 10-minute steam, the therapist massages your back, hands, and feet.
Kruck recommends the treatment for all women, but especially those who have frequent yeast infections, painful menstruation, or cervical dysplasia. Included in the hour-long, $150 treatment are two steams, a targeted massage, and a full consultation. And you thought your first Brazilian was awkward.
Shizuka New York Geisha Facial
This treatment has picked up some steam recently (no pun intended), but it’ll still never cease to amaze (and disgust) us. Shizuka New York Spa owner Shizuka Bernstein took very literal inspiration from Japanese Geishas — who regularly used nightingale droppings in their beauty regimen for everything from removing makeup to brightening and healing skin — to create her signature Geisha Facial. The natural guanine enzymes in the uguisu no fun (powdered nightingale droppings) work to break down dead skin cells, leaving you with a lustrous, radiant complexion. And, though slathering bird excrement on your mug might sound like slow, painful, bacteria-ridden torture, Bernstein assured us that the crucial ingredient is fully sanitized through UV exposure before it’s milled into a fine powder and combined with delicate Japanese rice bran. Phew!
Still, if you’re hesitant to shell out $180 for an ingredient that you might expect to find lying on the sidewalk, know that you’ll likely have to travel to Asia or Europe to get your hands on the beloved…poo. Plus, the Geisha Facial finishes with a hydrating camellia oil facial massage, an antioxidant Green Tea Collagen Mask, and of course, a cup of gourmet Japanese tea. We can’t think of a brighter way to kill an hour!
$180, available at Shizuka New York, 7 W. 51st St., 6th Floor (between 5th and 6th avenues); 212-644-7400.
Caudalie Red Vine Bath
With treatments like the Crushed Cabernet Scrub, The Merlot Wrap, and the Vinosculpt Instant Lift Facial, the Caudalie Spa at The Plaza Hotel specializes in Vinotherapie (yes, that’s its official name). What sounds more luxurious than relaxing in a wine bath? The spa’s vino-heavy treatment allows its guests to feel unabashedly opulent with a 15-minute, warm-water jet bath. You can choose between the Red Vine bath and the Grape Marc bath. The former uses Red Vine leaf extract, which improves blood flow and strengthens capillaries, reducing the appearance of cellulite, while the latter uses extract from the solid remains of the grapes after pressing to exfoliate the skin and energize the body.
In addition to providing a relaxing soak, the grape-seed polyphenols protect the skin from free radicals, which are often the culprit of those pesky fine lines. Caudalie’s treatment manager, Régine Berthelot, recommends the treatment for anybody who travels often, but even if you’re not the jet-setting type (or even the fly-home-for-the-holidays type), Vinotherapie sounds like a cure we can all get behind.
Photos: Courtesy of Shizuka Spa; Courtesy of Caudalie Spa
La Prairie White Caviar Illuminating Facial
Looking for the ultimate wintertime luxury? Douse your visage in $1,000 worth of caviar with — yep — La Prairie’s White Caviar Illuminating Facial. The 90-minute treatment treats hyperpigmentation and dullness, and increases elasticity with its signature mix of Dioic acid, Vitamin C, and tragranate licorice extract; all working together to even skin tone and slow melanin production.
But, before you run out to the grocery story looking for a glowing complexion, turns out the White Caviar Systéme doesn’t use the same roe as the kind we eat — the magic ingredient here is a rare golden caviar extract, which nourishes and energizes the skin, helping to regenerate collagen to increase firmness and elasticity.
Sounds out-of-this-world expensive? Don’t worry, La Prairie makes it worth your while by sending you home with the entire White Caviar Illuminating Systéme, including face cream, SPF hand cream, and a spot treatment. Besides, can you really put a price on visibly tightened skin?
We may be just a week into our New Year’s resolutions, but we all wish we could instantly obliterate cellulite without the gym (especially right before a big date). For ladies looking for a little short-term satisfaction, Bliss Spa’s FatGirlFirm body treatment promises to reduce the appearance of pesky dimples (and shave off up to 6 inches) by immediately firming and smoothing skin with a muscle-stimulating microcurrent. The downside of this Jetson-esque treatment? You can expect the results to wear off within a few days, so don’t revert to your old cheeseburger-a-day ways so fast.
The detoxifying treatment starts with a few body measurements to track your slimming progress, and after your problem areas are identified, an aesthetician applies an ampule containing red-algae, guarana extract, and ivy to help release trapped toxins and encourage lymphatic drainage. The hour-long service continues with a thermal clay mask, and the muscle-stimulating current, which helps visibly contour the skin. Though you can choose which areas you’d like to target, treatment for the abdomen, thighs and buttocks sells for $180. How’s that for an overnight (and one-night) solution?
Exhale Spa Vibrational Therapy
Looking to heal your aura for the new year? Exhale Spa’s Vibrational Therapy — no, not those kinds of vibrations — tunes you up by creating differing frequencies to work within the body. The non-invasive 30-minute procedure works from the inside out, leveraging tuning forks to increase mental focus, relieve pain, release tension, and enhances the body’s natural vibrations for full-body balance, so it’s not exactly a hands-on approach to relieving muscle strain.
Still, the therapy originates from the idea that our bodies are more than two-thirds water, as the vibrations stimulate targeted points on the body for an overall energized feeling. The entire $100 treatment is done by hand, though, if you’re looking for a more intensive session, it may be combined with traditional targeted acupuncture or massage.
Photo: Courtesy of La Prairie