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We tested four custom facials in New York City — this is the best one

  • INSIDER’s Emily Christian sets out to find the best custom facial in NYC
  • We visit Rescue Spa, Silver Mirror Facial Bar, Heyday, and Shen Beauty
  • Emily reveals her favorite facial and gives awards for the “Most Luxurious” the “Most Efficient” and the “Most Approachable”
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories

Following is a transcript of the video.

[Emily] Hi, I’m Emily, and I’m on a mission to find the best custom facial in New York City. Working at INSIDER, I’ve seen some pretty wild beauty treatments. But I wanna sort through all the masks and technology to find out which facial’s really, truly designed to bring out the best in your skin. In reality, I get a facial about once a year if that. So while we’re meeting with some of the best estheticians in New York City, I’m going to be asking them what I can do at home to bring my skincare routine to the next level. We scoured online reviews, blogs, and Instagram to find New Yorkers’ favorite go-to customized facials. We chose four places that designed individualized treatments based on different types of skin concerns. So after this experience, I’m hoping that my skin looks refreshed and glowy even without makeup, and I’m hoping that I can tackle some of my personal skincare goals, like looking awake even when I’m stressed or keeping my skin hydrated while traveling. This is going to be an awesome couple of weeks. Let’s insert a montage of my self-care journey here. Up first: Rescue Spa. We are at Rescue Spa for their Fix-It-All facial, which combines new technology and top-notch products to give an overall solution to each skincare concern.

[Danuta] Our clientele is from probably 16 to 100.

[Emily] I’m feeling already super relaxed. There is a warm blanket on me, and it is a work day.

[Danuta] So our best facial is probably a Fix-It-All facial. It’s an amazing facial treatment for any type of skin. It’s a holistic approach with European techniques with modern technology. It stems from years of experience. So for cleansing, we’re going to use Lait U by Biologique Recherche.

[Emily] Danuta recommends cleansing two times: once to remove makeup and once to really clean the skin.

[Danuta] So you see how the first cleanse is all about removing your makeup. It’s really important to do that second cleanse where you’re really emulsifying the buildup.

[Emily] Do you have any tips for the best way to massage your own face when you’re cleansing?

[Danuta] Use your full hands. It does multiple things. It balances the skin. It exfoliates. It rehydrates. It preps the skin to receive the treatment before massage or before any type of treatment. P50 I could not live without. I’ve been using for 30 years, so I love it.

[Emily] Danuta’s personal specialty is her nearly magical massage technique.

[Danuta] She’s so supremely dehydrated, she literally drank that renewing pack, so I have to add a little extra.

Drink your water, people. I’ve been called out. Next come microcurrents and LED lights with oxygen.

[Danuta] It’s customized from the techniques that esthetician is using and the products and modalities. That’s why it’s really important to look at the skin not one-size-fits-all, but every skin is different, every concern is different, and our skin changes constantly. Emily: Danuta’s three tips:

[Danuta] Double cleanse, exfoliate, and self love.

[Emily] Up next: Silver Mirror Facial Bar. Silver Mirror Facial Bar’s signature treatment is a quick-and-easy, 30-minute facial that always includes an oxygen treatment.

Here at Silver Mirror, we want facials to be accessible and affordable for women. We believe in a no-frills approach. So you come in, it’s an open concept. We have some curtains, but you come in, get your skin treated, and then you’re out the door on your way for the rest of the day. A signature treatment is a 30-minute facial, so it’s especially for the person who really just needs a deep cleanse and a reset to their skin.

[Emily] We began with a double cleanse followed by an enzymatic foam. Ooh, that’s nice and fluffy. For exfoliation, we used a pumpkin enzyme. Oh, my gosh, this smells like pie. Do I look like a jack-o’-lantern? Silver Mirror’s signature treatment is the Purelift. Conductor gel is applied to the face. They say the gel allows currents to get beneath the skin to stimulate muscles. This can help tone and lift. That’s weird. This makes me laugh.

Come toward the cheekbones.

[Emily] A jelly mask calms the skin followed by a vitamin and enzyme cocktail for an intense glow. Every Silver Mirror facial ends with a full oxygen treatment My esthetician’s top three tips:

We always want people to be really consistent with their home care, so making sure that you do have something morning and p.m. Secondly, at this time of year, a lot of people can use a hyaluronic acid. So a hyaluronic acid is something that’s a humectant that binds moisture to the skin and helps your skin stay hydrated. And, gentle exfoliation.

We’re kind of like your sassy skincare best friend. You’re here to find out what’s goin’ on with your skin. We’re gonna tell you how it is and what it is, and we’re gonna help you fix it.

[Emily] Up next: Heyday. Heyday’s signature facial includes a deep cleanse and extractions to reset clients’ skin. And they feature a handheld LED treatment.

[Alexandria] Heyday was created five years ago on the basis that there was a huge gap in the market when it came facials. It was generally perceived to be reserved for people who were famous or wealthy or alternatively if you had a problem, you spent hundreds of dollars going to a dermatologist. So Heyday essentially fills that gap not only with the service itself but also when it comes to education.

[Emily] Bye! Heyday uses a variety of product lines to perfectly customize the facial to the individual’s skin, and they all smell amazing.

[Michelle] If we had piña coladas, it would be perfect.

[Emily] That’s exactly what it smells like too. That smells good too.

[Michelle] Everything smells edible, but don’t lick it. Everybody always tries. Now, we don’t use steam. We only use hot towels. That is because towels are less dehydrating than steam, and we can control the temperature better.

[Emily] So something I love about this facial already is just the efficiency. I feel like this is accessible for every day. You could just come in, write down all the problems you wanna solve, and immediately you’re in here solving them super quick, super easy, super fun because everything smells great. I like how many warm towels happen in this facial. We continued with a mask. And some extractions. Extracted. How do I look?

[Michelle] You look amazing.

[Emily] That thing’s intimidating. Oh, it’s nothing.

[Michelle] It makes a noise like it’s gonna hurt, but it doesn’t hurt.

[Emily] It feels a little spiky. The signature touch: a wonderful hand and arm massage.

[Michelle] I like to give a little hand massage. Everybody’s always on their phones and typing away and texting, so it’s nice to…

[Emily] In our case, holding cameras.

[Michelle] Holding cameras, carrying bags, holding on on the train. It’s nice to just get it all.

[Emily] We finished up the treatment with LED light therapy. Michelle left us with three tips to take home.

[Michelle] Cleanse your skin twice a day, hydrate your skin every day, and SPF. I cannot stress enough SPF.

Finally, Shen Beauty. the Shen signature treatment is a 60-minute facial that encompasses a holistic approach to skincare. But they also offer à la carte options like their revealing eye therapy.

[Lara] My facials are an intersection between holistic and really science-y, so I like to do both, and I really believe in facial massage and the power of touch and also the really good gadgetry like microcurrent and LED. OK Emily, take a deep breath in through your nose, and exhale.

Lara’s combination of aromatherapy, massage, and reiki techniques make this facial totally blissful. The first mask was made of algae, kale, and spinach.

A lot of people are working against themselves to an extent sometimes. It’s really interesting that we sometimes have to kind of dial people back a little bit because they’re doing too many things. Emily: They use natural ingredients like honey, which acts as a base for Laura’s signature treatment. A quick treatment with cucumbers and icicles leaves your eyes looking well rested. Laura: My top three tips for pretty much everybody is don’t overcleanse and strip your skin, gentle daily exfoliation, and a vitamin C serum in the daytime.

[Emily] It is time to make my final decision. This is going to be very difficult because I feel that finding the best esthetician for you is a very personal decision. I’m going to tell you which one I liked the best for myself, my skin, and my concerns. But first, I’m gonna tell you what I liked the best about each place so that you can go out and find out which will fit your skincare needs. Rescue Spa was all-around luxurious. It was absolutely a beautiful experience. Danuta knew exactly what she was doing, and I’m not surprised that it’s been consistently named the best facial in the city. So I think if you’re looking for something absolutely luxurious, soothing, Rescue Spa is the facial for you. Silver Mirror Facial Bar is amazing because of their innovative setup. I’ve never seen anything like that with an open-concept facial bar. It reminded me a lot of a dry bar for your hair. So if you’re looking for something that is quick and easy and efficient, Silver Mirror is definitely the facial for you. I really like Heyday because their facials are really approachable. They encourage their clients to come back and treat their skin monthly and make facials a part of their routines. I also really liked that their estheticians are incredibly knowledgeable and comforting. So if you’re a first-timer getting a facial, this is definitely the place for you. My favorite facial was Shen Beauty. I really loved how I learned a lot about my skin while also set in a nice spa environment. It was absolutely relaxing, informative. I loved Laura and her use of aromatherapy and reiki. I just felt good energy in there, and for me personally, it was a perfect fit. No, that felt weird.

All right, I think we’re good.

OK, that’s enough.

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