Is THIS The Secret To A Smooth Bikini Line?

Is a facial still a facial if it's not performed on your face? That's the question we set out to answer after hearing about all the buzzy new beauty treatments that apply the principles of traditional facials to non-facial areas, like the décolletage, butt, and bikini line.

We sent six members of the Refinery29 beauty team to various spas, clinics, and even a doctor's office, to experience firsthand what it's like to have an aesthetician get up-close-and-personal with our ingrown hairs, or treat our feet with the kind of TLC normally reserved for the face. Ahead, read our testers' reviews of the most unexpected body facials popping up on menus — and prepare to be surprised.
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The Bikini Line-&-Vulva Facial

We tried: The Peach Smoothie
Price: $55
Location: Haven Spa, New York City

“I didn't know what to expect when it came to this facial. When I was booking the appointment, all the receptionist told me to do was come with my vulva shaved or waxed about 48 hours out. I knew the treatment was supposed to help remove ingrown hairs, and as someone who chooses to keep my pubic area groomed, I knew I had more than a few. I was looking forward to it.

"The aesthetician, Rena, explained the process — cleansing, extraction, acid peel, and mask. To note: Having someone cleanse my vulva was one of the stranger events of my life. Once I was clean (this was done with a cloth, FYI), Rena got to work on extracting my ingrown hairs with a sterilized needle and tweezers. It definitely hurt at first, but after a few pulls, I asked to look — and once I saw that it was simply a very precise tweezing, the pain immediately melted away. Rena said I have a 'sensitive vulva' (which I took as a compliment, obviously).

"After the extractions, she applied a green-tea acid peel to ensure there was no bacteria in the follicles. This stung — another strange sensation for my lady bits that day. Then, she applied a clay mask to my vulva and bikini line and told me to sit back and relax for 15 minutes. Surprisingly, considering the fact that I had a mask on my vulva I'd be writing about, I dozed off easily. After gently waking me up, Rena toweled me off, applied some Neosporin, and sent me on my way.

"I'm happy to report that the experience was much more pleasant than I expected it to be. Two days out, I'm free of all ingrown hairs (including a painful sucker that had been right along my bikini line for I-don't-want-to-mention how long). Rena suggests folks do not try this at home, and recommended I come back for monthly treatments. (Bonus: The salon's waxing services include aspects of the facial, so you don't develop ingrowns in the first place.) And while I'm not sure this will become a regular thing for me, I'm happy to have checked 'vulva facial' off my bucket list."

— Maria Del Russo, beauty editor
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The Neck-&-Décolletage Facial

We tried: Ultimate Lift Neck & Decollété Treatment
Price: $75
Location: Ole Henriksen Spa, Los Angeles

"The décolletage — the fancy name for the chest and collarbone area — has long been one of my favorite features on my body. I've always thought of it as a very sophisticated place to show a little skin with an off-the-shoulder something. But, despite my fondness for the area, I never thought much about paying extra care to it until recently, when little broken capillaries, rough patches, and new freckles started popping up. Fight back with a neck-and-chest facial? Sign me up.

"As someone who is pretty jaded when it comes to spa skin treatments — I feel like I've tried just about everything — the Ultimate Lift Neck & Decollété Treatment was both unusual and deeply relaxing. The first thing to know: It's only 25 minutes, but that time is jam-packed with all the most effective methods you're used to experiencing on your face. The main focus is on the tops of the breasts, across the chest (but not the shoulders), the entire front two-thirds of the neck, and all the way to just above the jawline. Before beginning, my aesthetician, Christian, patted some cooling gel around my eyes and covered them with soft masks.

"After cleansing my chest and neck with warm compresses, he gently exfoliated the area with a grainy scrub in upward strokes. Next came a lemony peel, which he massaged in and let sit until it tingled a bit. After removing it, he coated my skin with a soothing, chamomile-laced mask and brought out a Novasonic machine to use over the mask. I'd never experienced this before; it felt a bit like a humming metal wand. Christian explained that it helps to stimulate the skin and increase circulation.

"He removed the calming mask with a warm towel and moved on to extractions (bye, random blackheads!), wet microdermabrasion (a serum-packed oxygen treatment to plump the skin), and a tapping massage to help with lymphatic drainage. An application of serum and rich cream finished things off.

"As I left, Christian told me to never spray perfume on my neck or chest, because most are packed with alcohol, which dries out the skin and, in some cases, can create uneven pigmentation.

"Afterwards, I was crazy-relaxed and had to use all my willpower not to keep touching my neck and chest — they were so soft! My skin looked incredibly glowy and, thanks to the pure novelty, it also felt like one of the most luxurious things I'd done in a long time."

— Lexy Lebsack, West Coast beauty editor
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The Back Facial

We tried: The Back Facial
Price: $65
Location: Mario Badescu Spa, New York City

"The back is a tricky body part. It's one of the hardest to access when washing — that is, if it's even on my radar (most of the time, it's an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation). It's also often the first place that starts to sweat during hot and sticky days, which, in turn, leads to the occasional breakout.

"The 'bacne' that I've experienced isn't that bad; it's the aftermath of a breakout that proves to be a pain, leaving my back with a constellation of dark spots. I haven't made treating them a priority, so when I heard about a facial that could, I jumped at the opportunity.

"The 50-minute procedure itself was pretty simple: The aesthetician used the Mario Badescu cleansing lotion to clear my back of any excess grime, opened my pores with mild steam, and then went in for the extractions, which were the painful part.

"After, she applied the Mario Badescu flower-and-tonic mask to help purify, cleanse, and decongest my skin, then followed that up with a glycolic-acid treatment to help fade the dark marks. Finally, the healing and soothing mask was used to infuse my skin with moisture.

"Before I left, the staff made sure I knew how to properly take care of my back once I was out of their care — a gesture I appreciated. The treatment didn't clear my spots up entirely (not that I was expecting it to), but in my opinion, the best kinds of facials are the ones that you leave with more info than you came in with."

Taylor Bryant, beauty news editor
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The Foot Facial

We tried: The Foot Facial Treatment by Suzanne Levine, DPM
Price: Some insurances accepted; $275 and up if paying out of pocket
Location: Institute Beauté, New York City

“It was unusual to arrive at a doctor's office for a pedicure-like treatment. Translation: I was feeling a mixture of nerves (doctor visit!) and excitement (pedicure!). However, while it did feel strange, I learned that you don't have to have foot concerns to take part: Suzanne Levine, DPM, the board-certified podiatric surgeon who administers the treatment, explained that Institute Beauté seeks to relieve foot issues you might not even know you have. Think of this as a cross between a foot physical and a really thorough medical pedicure.

"First, any polish is removed and your nails are clipped and filed to a smooth finish. Next, a urea-laced spray is applied to the toes to moisturize and soften, any hangnails or ingrown toenails are treated, and the cuticles are groomed. Then, the hero tool — an electric device that buffs the nails even smoother — comes out.

"Onto exfoliation: Dr. Levine's own glycolic-acid pads, followed by a grainy, green tea-infused scrub, which has a warming effect to help increase stimulation. (Oh, and it felt amazing, too.) This is where any rough patches or calluses are removed. To finish things off, a heavy-duty moisturizer is applied.

"Note that this foot facial doesn't actually come with a paint job. However, what Dr. Levine left me with was even better: She informed me that I had a fungus affecting two of my toes. I knew these nails looked a little odd — they were a little thicker and not as smooth as the others — but I never would have known I had a condition that could actually be fixed if I hadn't gotten this treatment. She suggested a laser treatment for the fungus and gave me helpful recommendations on how to take care of my feet at home."

— Samantha Sasso, beauty editorial assistant
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The Butt Facial

We tried: The Fanny Facial
Price: $130
Location: Smooth Synergy, New York City

“Around two years ago, my butt went from being my star feature — lifted, toned, smooth, oft-complimented — to...fine. Nice enough, but nothing to write home about. College, or maybe just gravity, caught up with me; I wasn't spinning as much as I used to, and when I did, I got little red bumps that faded to dark spots (the curse of being pale-skinned). So, whenever I get the chance to restore it to its glory days, I jump.

"A year ago, I got the Tip Top Tush treatment at Matthew Schulman, MD's office, which involved an IPL photo-facial to lighten dark spots and a chemical peel to smooth out little keratosis pilaris (KP) bumps. I left with a butt so smooth and soft, it would have made an infant jealous.

"This time, I opted for the Fanny Facial at Smooth Synergy, which is actually more of a workout than a soothing rubdown. The treatment is 45 minutes of micro-current shocks, i.e. electric muscle stimulation, to your butt, designed to encourage lymphatic drainage and increase circulation, strengthen the muscles, and lift the skin to smooth out cellulite. All of this happens gradually over the course of regular sessions every two weeks. Translation: I wasn't going to walk out with a brand-new ass. My aesthetician, Michele, started by gently buffing my cheeks with a scrub, but that was the extent of the pampering.

"Next, she affixed 12 micro-current pads (they work in pairs — you need a positive and negative charge) to my butt, upper thighs, and outer thighs, and turned on the machine. The power of the shock ranges from 1 to 10; I was between 5 to 6, and wouldn't have been able to handle more my first time. Every couple of seconds, I was hit with a vibrating sensation that forced the muscles to involuntarily contract.

"It wasn't painful, but it wasn't pleasant, either (the sensation is mostly just strange, as these are muscles we rarely work at the gym), though my technician swore many clients find it relaxing. The pads got peeled off 45 minutes later, and I slipped my skirt back on and made my way into the office. I made sure to drink lots of water throughout the day to help with the drainage. When I got home, I examined myself in front of the mirror, and while my butt looked the same as it had pre-Fanny Facial, there was just enough muscle fatigue to give me an idea of how tight and toned my butt could look over time if I committed.”

— Alix Tunell, senior beauty editor
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The Scalp Facial

We tried: Scalp consultation and customized treatment
Price: Consultations start at $400; treatments start at $120
Location: Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic, New York City

"I never seriously considered scalp health to be a priority in the vitality of my hair before visiting the Philip Kingsley Clinic in Manhattan. Don’t get me wrong, the scalp is a very buzzy beauty topic right now, but as someone who has never had scalp issues, I just didn't know about it. Needless to say, I entered my pre-appointment consultation with Liz Phillips, resident trichologist, feeling skeptical of how my head would benefit from the facial.

"The hour-long discussion touched upon my medical background — diet, exercise, stress levels, medications, genetic predispositions, and hormone levels. The goal is to determine the likely causes of any hair or scalp problems and create a game plan to alleviate them. Next, the customized treatment.

"In the treatment room, I met my technician, Stephen, who deemed my scalp 'unremarkable,' meaning that there are no specific areas of concern. Good news! He began by applying a moisturizing cream to every inch of my scalp, then put me under a steamer for 15 minutes. The heat is said to help the moisturizer penetrate the skin and hair follicles in my scalp. Not only that, it was incredibly calming.

"After the steam came a scalp massage, which felt amazing and stimulated the hair follicles to better absorb the moisturizing cream.

"My hair was then thoroughly washed and conditioned. He applied a tonic to my scalp to cleanse away any dead skin cells and prevent debris and product buildup. After towel-drying my hair, I could tell that the treatment had made my hair softer and smoother to the touch. A win in my book! I left with a happy and healthy scalp, which I am told translates into happy and healthy hair. Now that’s an idea I can definitely get behind."

— Megan Decker, beauty editorial intern
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