I love spas. The whole indulgent process of being shepherded from massage to steam room to facial while being plied with fancy cucumber-infused water is my personal version of nirvana. Plus, wearing a bathrobe all day is actually socially acceptable (and encouraged) there. Pure bliss.
However, as much as I would love to, I don’t have the time (or the credit limit) to spend my life lounging in such close proximity to pitchers full of cucumber water and steam rooms that are as big as a two-car garage. I pretty much only frequent them on family trips (thanks, Mom!) or when I find a particularly attractive Groupon deal. I’d guess two to three times per year—max. And believe me, I’m grateful for any self-pampering I can get, but I also know that my skin looks way better when I get regular facials.
Luckily, it’s 2015—halfway through the decade every college grad and his cousin have decided to start companies dedicated to making our lives easier. Let's count 'em: There's Beautified for booking last minute salon appointments, MassageNow for massages...now, Glam Squad for in-home hair and makeup, Vive for on-demand blowouts...But with my penchant for facials, there are two I'm particularly interested in. They are as follows:
Most of the time, facials take planning. What weekend day do you have open in order to pencil in blissing out for an hour? It can be stressful. The idea behind Heyday is that it fits into your daily life. Book an appointment on their app (coming soon—so stick to their website for appointments for now), show up at their convenient Flatiron storefront, sit down, and get a fully customized facial in a 30- or 50-minute session. And with treatments starting at $60, they’re more affordable than your traditional spa, too (but they still use high-end products like Naturopathica and Grown Alchemist).
When I stopped by for a 30-minute facial, my skin was a mess—red, irritated, and sensitive. Their head aesthetician, Jeni Sykes, gave me some advice: “No more lasers, no more scrubs, no more extractions.” She told me to go on a product diet and use only the most gentle, soothing things on my skin. She then did a calming facial full of gentle, healing masks and detoxing massage techniques. A few hours after I left, I got an email from Jeni with personalized morning and evening routine and product recommendations (things like One Love Organics' Vitamin D Active Moisture Mist for morning and Dr. Alkaitis' Organic Soothing Gel for night). She then laid out some expert advice on what ingredients to look for in products and which to avoid. Unlike at a typical spa where aestheticians push products on you at check out, this was a refreshing (and totally pressure-free) way to receive a product pitch. The result? I bought several things from her list. The service is also tech-savvy enough to know that tipping digitally on an iPad with your credit card is much easier than the awkward cash hand-off. Points there.
Founded by two fashion industry veterans whose friendship was forged over a mutual love of spa treatments, The Ritualist is an app for on-demand facials (plus massages and, soon, body treatments) that you can get anywhere from your office to your studio apartment.
I booked my facial for a rainy Tuesday night. The aesthetician showed up on time, set up super fast, and had me relaxed on her table in mere minutes. Similar to Heyday, the experience here is all customized. “I don’t believe in one-treatment-fits-all,” said co-founder Marta Cros. “Everyone has different skin, so how could the same facial work for all of them?” After a quick evaluation, the aesthetician blends a custom product preparation from the Ritualist’s in-house skin collection of seven concentrated boosters. Formulated from plant extracts and vitamins, they have names like Un-Wrinkle and De-Pigmentation and are intended to target specific problems. Between soothing masks and lymphatic massage, I nearly forgot we were in my tiny shoebox of an apartment (until the aesthetician asked if she could use my microwave to heat something up—a small price to pay). After the relaxing treatment, I drowsily rolled off the table and straight to bed. The best part? Not having to step into the less-than-fresh NYC subway with my newly clean face.
At $145 per treatment (including tax and tip), it's not necessarily a regularly feasible option, but the convenience can be worth the premium every once and a while (birthdays, promotions, gifts...). As a perk, they give you a goodie bag full of personalized product samples so that you can recreate the treatment on your own, too.