City Pulse

By Jennifer Witt

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I’m a beauty cheapskate, and a shameless one at that. I just don’t recognize the difference between a $200 hair cut at a fancy-pants salon and the girl who snips my locks to my liking for $20 at the Supercuts down the street. Same policy for my bi-monthly manis and pedis. I go to my neighborhood Korean place for their M-W $16.99 special and leave with beautifully pristine nails on my hands and feet. I’ve never had a complaint and always left 100% satisfied.

When I was offered a special Barielle treatment at the Bergdorf Goodman BuffSpa, I went mostly out of curiosity to see what would be so special that they could afford to charge over double what I was paying. Would they be using 24-carat gold clippers to trim my cuticles? Soak my feet in mineral water imported from the Amazon rain forest? As a roving reporter, I set out to play the role of ‘Bergdorf Brunette’ and see about this VIP treatment I had until then only read about in semi-trashy novels.

I’ll admit: I do feel like a princess even setting foot in Bergdorf’s. Even though I’ve been there a million times, I take on an ‘Eloise at the Plaza’ sense of wonder and amazement at how everything seems to glisten; it all regularly feels larger than life to me.

So being invited to sit for a special high-end manicure and pedicure amongst the ladies that keep Louis Vuitton in business was atypical to say the least. I hope I dressed up enough to look like I belonged.

Of course, as I sat down and soaked my feet in a bath of scented liquid, I was offered more choices in caffeinated beverages than an entire Starbucks’ menu. Tea in hand, book on Astrological Compatibility in the other, I was chatting on the phone with my hands free headset and yes, I think I was playing the part with the expertise of a Hollywood actor.

The lovely woman who tended to my manicure and pedicure began with exfoliation, which I rarely do on my face (tsk, tsk), so my feet were confused at first, then ultimately delighted at the attention! The exfoliation was three-fold: a dry scrub, followed by a wet scrub and finally a polish and Buff (like the name of the place), with the Titania Pumice Sponge. Soon enough, my feet were restored to a baby-soft finish, like the days before I was introduced to pointy toe, sky-high, pain-instilling heels, which had wiped out my closets population of hush-puppy comfortable shoes. Fashion over function!!

Next, I was treated to an intense nail-cleaning, cuticle-pushing and foot-cocooning in a mask of Barielle’s (the spa’s brand of choice) Deep Sea Mud Foot Cream. It was warm and squishy and it distracted me from the chapter on Libra’s Perfect Love Matches, which I had been highly engrossed in until that point.

And next, the crescendo – the foot massage! Ten whole minutes spent in heaven with a highly dexterous woman kneading my feet, hitting all those pressure points and resulting in a lot of vocal “oooh’s” and “ahhh’s” from my end.

In keeping with an Atkins type of philosophy, I needed protein! So a Barielle Nail Rebuilding Serum was applied, followed by the PERFECT shade of red (tricky, oftentimes, they turn out too pink or orange), the standard two layers and a top coat to seal it all in. Walking over to the manicure station was like walking on air and never before had my feet looked so darned cute! Now I can understand those foot fetishes, cause I was practically drooling!

Same deal with the manicure and over an hour later, I was sipping some bottled spring water and waiting for the coats to dry. The woman at the drying station next to me smiled and asked why I looked familiar and if I was the one who recommended she change from scarlet to fuchsia on her last visit to Buff. I lied and said, “of course that was me” and then I went off to look at the latest from Vuitton.

Originally published May 2005

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