This post has been a long time coming. One of the questions I get asked the most is where in the city to go for facials, massages, blowouts, and so on and so forth. I’ve been working on this post for months now but kept needing to go back and add to it… anyway, it’s finally ready now! So here they are.. all my favorite places! I will try to keep this post updated if I discover any new favorites… but I have tried a lot of spots and these really are the best of the best!
First off.. my top two facials.
Julien Farel Salon Oh my god. This place is pretty much heaven. With a sprawling space (it occupies the second floor of the Loews Regency Hotel) there is something for everyone, especially the busy. If I had to sum it up in a sentence, I would say that their expertise is in providing high-quality, effective services… as efficiently as possible, which really caters to the busy career-oriented. Don’t believe me? They have a special facial bed that allows for a pedicure as well. Or you could do the “power hour,” where you get a manicure, pedicure and blow-out… all at once. (I think this might be my ultimate fantasy?) I went in for their signature Double-Detox Facial, which is one of the best facials I’ve ever had. My aesthetician (Bree Neumann) was incredible. The facial uses all Natura Bisse products which I am a huge fan of. The products are gentle but very effective and my skin glowed for days afterward.
The Spa at the Carlyle. This place is fancypants. And they use all Sisley products, which you know I love. The last time I went was two or three years ago but it was completely amazing and decadent. I want to go back. (I also really love the facials at Sisley’s boutique, downtown in the West Village, but for the real, over-the-top experience, check out The Carlyle. It’s literally the ultimate of the ultimate.
The first time I ever went to a spa in the city, it was at Bliss, for a massage. I fell in love with their branding + product line. Recently, I got a facial there and fell back in love. My aesthetician (Sonia) was incredible and my skin glowed for hours after. She was very thorough with extractions, and offered me a brow wax as I was in need of it. (I love when they do that… it’s just so much more efficient to just get everything done all at once!) The spas are conveniently located all over the city and I always end up hanging out in the locker room after using all of the products!
I didn’t realize that BlueMercury also had a spa in the back, but they do! I went in for their Darphin facial and had an amazing experience. My aesthetician, Galen, cracked me up.. she was so stern! Most aestheticians compliment my skin and whatnot… but as she performed my extractions (probably the most thorough round of extractions I’ve ever experienced) she said, “I’m sorry if I hurt you.. you just have a LOT of blackheads.” Well… she got ’em all out. And yes, it did hurt, but it was totally worth the pain. This facial is great as it’s under $100 ($95), and super efficient. I was in and out in 45 minutes, but they did everything… a mask, extractions, an incredible arm + shoulder massage, and a scalp massage at the end.
VMV Hypoallergenics is this wonderful little hidden gem in Nolita. They sell some of the best natural products around. (Their Know-it-Oil is my favorite coconut oil). But not everyone realizes… they also have an amazing little spa in the back! I’ve been in for a massage but the Coconut Drizzle Body Polish treatment is fantastic – the perfect way to get your skin in shape for summer!
Asia Tui-Na. I store all of my stress in my neck and shoulders so I try to get a massage every month or two. Asia-Tui Na is about as no frills as it gets (think inexpensive massage tables and sheet partitions between beds) but they will get whatever tension you are storing OUT. If you like a gentle massage, do not go here.
Heyday Remember that you read about Heyday here first, as in a few years I have a feeling they are going to be e v e r y w h e r e, like a DreamDry/Dry Bar for facials. I went in a while back (I wrote more about them in this post) as I loved their no-frills approach to facials. For $60 you get a 30 minute facial (no extractions) or for $95 you can get a more comprehensive 50 minute treatment (extractions included). All of the products they use are safe; most are organic.
Nails, Nails, Nails…
I used to be a dedicated fan of the $8 manicure, until I read this. Now, I pretty much always paint my nails at home… or I’ll go to one of the three places below as they all treat their workers well.
Cleo Spa is around the corner from me on Park Ave. and they do a fantastic (and FAST!) manicure-pedicure. I always get the CND Vinylux polish which is amazing as it lasts so much longer than regular nail polish, without damaging your nails the way that a gel can. It’s $7 extra but completely worth the money. I will say that Cleo is pricier than your average New York salon, but again… I don’t want to go somewhere where the aestheticians aren’t treated well.. and they do a good job here.
Paintbox Nails is the ultimate if you want a girls date and a really cool gel manicure. The founder, Eleanor Langston, was a beauty editor and all of the nail designs (and polishes) are based on seasonal trends. I am not a very big nail art person but all of their nail art is completely non-tacky. Usually I will just get something subtle or a negative space manicure. I will say that it is expensive, so I usually go with a friend… and have two glasses of wine… and then I feel as though I’ve gotten my money’s worth!
Van Court is where I had what was literally the best manicure/pedicure of my life. (If you go, ask for Jenny!) The founder, Ruth Kallens, thought of every. single. detail… which makes me really happy (for example – they’ll clean your jewelry for you while you get your nails done!) The salon aspires to provide the cleanest manicure possible. All of the polishes are as close to natural as possible and all of the products they use during the process are hand mixed, on site (the scrub was particularly amazing… made from Himalayan sea salt with oils). Jenny The only downside (for me) is that they are located way downtown in the Financial District. Otherwise, I’d be there every other week.
For the Reallllly Busy (Or if you just hate wasting time!)
MB45 is going to be such a game changer. Dedicated to time, efficiency and style (and located at 93 Worth Street in Tribeca), you can get a blowout and a manicure (performed simultaneously) for $65. They also do gel manicures, braids, and updos… quickly, and meticulously. Be prepared to have a new weekly obsession.
O&M is where I last had my hair cut. I saw Jason and he cut nearly four inches off (it reaallly needed to be cut). The brand is based in Sidney (they also sell their own line of products). My cut was great… and the amenities were nice. They serve three different types of infused water, and when I asked for coffee I was brought my very own mini french press. Also, the scalp massage was incredible… complete with an aromatherapy towel! I really loved my cut and the prices are relatively affordable, for Manhattan standards (a cut is $110.)
Serge Normant at John Frieda (in Chelsea) is one of the prettiest salons I’ve ever been to. You will want to instagram everything (including the mural by one of my faves, Donald Drawbertson). I got a great cut here by Stephanie Stanko. If you have long hair and hate cutting it, she’s your girl. She got rid of all my dead ends, added in some long layers, and had my hair looking fabulous.
Sally Hershberger I try a lot of salons (cuts, blowouts) for review on my blog but the only person I will let color my hair is Lucille Javier at Sally Hershberger. She was Aura Friedman’s assistant for years and went out on her own a couple years ago. She is just so talented when it comes to ballayage/hair painting. My hair is pretty routine blonde-ing… but her instagram has some fun examples of her work.
Dreamdry is hands down my favorite and the absolute best spot to get a blowout in the city. There are two other very prominent blow-out bars in the city and I do not like them. My hair has long layers and when I ask for “beach waves,” I walk out looking like a poodle. The stylists at Dreamdry just get it. I’ve been going there for years (21st street location) and have literally never had a bad blowout. Jay Jackson is my favorite but you really can’t go wrong with any of the other stylists. I recently saw Travis and he was amazing too (also: best scalp massage, ever!)
So many friends of mine (and celebrities that I follow!) always rave about Anastasia Beverly Hills’ brow services, but I was always very loyal to Benefit’s Brow Bar. I still do really love Benefit (they do a fantastic job tinting and I like my brows a little bit darker as I can look washed out otherwise) but recently, my friend Kat dragged me to Anastasia’s Brow Salon at Sephora (on 5th Ave at 48th Street) and it was the best brow shaping I’ve had… in my entire life. My whole face looked different afterward (in a subtle, but better-different) sort of way. Consider me hooked!