The Coolest Spa Treatments We've Tried

Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
From that creepy vampire facial Kim Kardashian made popular to the bird-poop thing we'd rather not go into detail about, people are willing to undergo more and more out-there procedures for the sake of staying pretty — us included. Yep, even the Refinery29 staff has gone to strange lengths for a little treat-yo'-self relaxation. While you won't see us smothering avian feces on our faces anytime soon, a few treatments we've done stand out from the typical massages and facials. 

From cupping to floatation therapy, check out some of the wackiest and coolest things we've tried at the spa. And, feel free to share your own experiences in the comments. We're always willing to get weird in the name of beauty. 
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Elettra Wiedemann, Executive Food Editor
“I love the Russian bathhouse in NYC's East Villlage. There is nothing particularly glamorous or chic about it, but it's damn effective. I like a massage or facial as much as the next person. But, the only word to describe the feeling you have after sweating in a room that is 240 degrees, while a burly Kazakh man beats you with birch branches, and then throws you into an almost freezing pool is 'REBORN,' my friend. Plus, it comes at a fraction of the price of most fancy spas and (bonus!) you look photoshopped in real life for days afterwards. People have commented on my glow over a week after a trip to the RBH. I am the first to admit that the RBH is not The Ritz — it's dingy, it's dark, and people love it or hate it. I love it, I love the crowd that goes there, and I love the results.”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Erin Donnelly, London Contributor
“I had one of these hammam bubble massages in Cappadocia, Turkey, a couple of years ago. Very odd, but blissful. You get hot and steamy in the sauna, attempt to cover your bits with a dishtowel, then lie down on a marble slab while the masseuse goes to town. You're patted down with what looks like a standard rag, but it foams like crazy and soon you look like Olaf from Frozen. But, who doesn't love lots of bubbles?”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Jada Wong, Brand Experiences Assistant Beauty Editor
“I used to go to this physical therapy center in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, for my carpal tunnel. It was super-small and super-run-down, but let me tell you — it was basically a spa. Okay, so maybe there weren't any fancy white robes or slippers, and there was always a woman eating lunch and chatting loudly on the phone in one corner. But, who cares? Those ladies know how to get every single knot out.

"I went in every other week for deeper-than-deep tissue massages and cupping. Even though the carpal tunnel was in my wrists, the arm muscles stem from the back and shoulder muscles so I had to get treatment there. The massage was so painful that I would clench my teeth and pray that it'd be over. The cupping was oddly very relaxing — the PT would put little suction cups on my entire back and wait a few minutes to get what the Chinese call "tired air" from my body. This translated to dark-red, two-inch-wide circles all over my back. Not pretty, but damn, I felt good when I left that place.”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Kristin Vukovic, Freelance Content Editor
“I got this super-awesome Native American-inspired facial at Primland, a luxury resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My facialist separated my toes with warm river rocks, and placed larger warm stones on the chakra meridians. She balanced my Native American birthstone, amethyst, on my navel — a point which represents life and birth. She cleansed and polished my skin with Naturopathica products, and massaged my face with smooth, turquoise stones (Native Americans believe they are fallen pieces of sky).

"I love that each facial is highly individualized to the needs of the client, and incorporates spiritual elements. I also love that the spa consulted native descendants and local historians about the spa treatments, a blend of Native American holistic remedies and European spa therapies, which makes them really unique and authentic.”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Maria Del Russo, Beauty Writer
“The coolest treatment I've ever had was floatation therapy. It was when I was about 16 during a summer ballet intensive, where they encouraged us to seek regular spa treatments to keep limber (if only life was still like that). They hooked us up with a spa, and I saw that they had a 'flotation tank.' Basically, it's a huge tank filled about a quarter of the way with very, very salty water. You climb on in, and then, because of how dense the salt water is, you float. I swear, it was more relaxing than a massage. Just being able to forget about my limbs, completely let loose, and float was one of the most blissful things I've ever experienced. I even fell asleep — which was one of the strangest sensations, ever. Since then, I've been meaning to find a place in NYC that also has a flotation tank, because nothing has come close to that relaxation.”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Megan Cahn, Senior Beauty Editor
“I had long heard of the powers of an Isabelle Bellis facial before I finally made it to her Upper East Side penthouse office — which felt more like a well-curated Bohemian sanctuary with its plants and alpaca throws than the aforementioned — but I had no idea what I was in for. Luckily, I had the day off, because once I met Isabelle (who is gorgeous, and French, and was wearing a chic denim jumpsuit), she told me the comprehensive treatment she requires all her clients to do on their first visit lasts two hours.

"So, with a clear schedule and a curious mind (What is she going to do for two hours?) I relaxed into the most comfortable facial bed I have encountered and let her work her magic. It started off with a guided massage/body scan in which she lead my energy and focus from my toes up to the top of my head, leaving me in a relaxed, meditative state. She then used products from Joëlle Ciocco, famed French derm and her former teacher, to massage and extract — but mostly massage — my face to get the circulation flowing and my skin glowing. She massaged so much that she even went inside my mouth with latex-covered hands to release the tension in my jaw. I was certainly surprised when she asked me to open my mouth, but it felt strangely good and therapeutic, and after the whole experience I was much more calm. But, more importantly, my skin felt taut yet soft, and I was radiating. Over the next few days, not one, not two, but three people commented on how great and glowing my skin looked.”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Phillip Picardi, Senior Beauty Editor
“My weirdest experience ever was the Master Pore Blaster Facial by Renée Rouleau. Basically, after light exfoliation and a peel, Renée puts on this gross, alien-looking phyto-bubbles mask — it starts to foam and froths on the face, and it feels kind of like Pop Rocks all over with a light little sting. The concoction contains ingredients like marigold, rosemary, and lime tree, which help soften the pores and detox the complexion. After it was off, I felt amazing — restored and renewed. It was definitely selfie-worthy.”
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Illustrated by Jasmin Valcourt.
Megan McIntyre, Beauty Director
“I equate the Ginger Coconut Body Melt at Paul Labrecque to a fruity cocktail come to life. Once you strip down and lay yourself on a table, your technician will rub you down with a freshly made scrub composed of organic ginger, brown sugar, lime juice, and essential oils. The scrub is left on the skin, and the technician then pours warm, organic coconut milk over your entire body and wraps you up in a heated blanket to help the oils penetrate the skin. As you stew in your tropical cocoon, your technician will apply a hydrating facial mask and massage your face and pressure points to stimulate lymphatic drainage. After you shower off the concoction, your skin is left brighter, dewier, and smelling delectable. Seriously — I was weirding people out as I walked down the street sniffing my arm and smiling."
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