By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
When I was thirteen, the inevitable fate of adolescence came upon me. Mercifully, the hair trends of the late 1980′s saved me from being the victim of teenage ridicule. With no more than four strands of hair sprayed high into “the wall” above my head, I was left with a substantial set of dark brunette bangs to cover my acne – the horrific proof of one going through puberty. When my mom suggested I get a facial, I enthusiastically accepted the offer to experience what I thought to be a luxurious spa treatment. But alas, this facial was not to be the least bit relaxing. I can only imagine the hideousness that the facialist witnessed under the magnifying mirror as she picked and squeezed her way across my hormonally charged forehead. I vowed never to receive a facial again and opted instead for a dermatologist and a tube of Retin-A.
Fast forward 10 years: I’ve since reneged my original vow, and subsequently relived the trauma of my 13th year time and time again at various Manhattan salons. But, for whatever reason, I was strangely optimistic when making my way to the reputable skincare spa, Mario Badescu a mere two weeks ago. The staff at MB was quite gracious and never once winced upon seeing the less-than-perfect skin I presented to them. After ogling the numerous signed photographs of celebrities like Jennifer Aniston and Sarah Jessica Parker thanking Mario Badescu profusely for “everything,” I couldn’t help but feel vaguely like a celebrity myself – desperately seeking refuge, relief and anonymity in this gem of a spa found hidden off 2nd Avenue on 52nd Street, in a residential area of Manhattan. I was escorted to a private room in a designated section of the spa, away from the hustle and bustle being caused by new (and in my opinion unnecessary) renovations.
Perhaps my optimism played a part, but the Mario Badescu facial is hands down the best facial I’ve ever gotten. Not only is their famous European Facial an extremely reasonable $65, but they also add some small touches that make all the difference in the world. For example, the hand treatment is like the extra side of salad dressing that your waitress gives you without adding an annoying 50 cents to your bill. My hands, chafed from the extreme change in weather, were immediately slathered with a rich moisturizing cream and placed gently into toasty warm gloves for the duration of the facial (and they later emerged from those gloves feeling softer than ever before!). I practically fell asleep when Maria, my wonderful facialist, left me and my face alone to “steam.” Upon her arrival back into my consciousness, Maria created a relaxed atmosphere by massaging the creams and lotions not only into my face, but into my tense neck and shoulders as well. Cleansing my face thoroughly with only the best products for my particular face, Maria prepped me for some major work to be done. Sans tools (as is the rule at MB), she picked and squeezed her way across my substantially broken out chin-line as aggressively as the facialist did back when I was 13. But I was a trooper this time. I had been through the discomfort of bikini waxes and electrolysis by the time I was 25 – a few minutes of painful blemish control was nothing in the name of flawless skin, right?
It should be noted that Mario Badescu makes skincare their priority. Although they offer all the same types of services as other spas (i.e. waxing, massage, manicures etc.), their exceptional (and very reasonably priced) line of products for every need and every skin type is what makes MB so unique. Maria knew exactly what types of cleansers, toners, masks, and special treatments to use on my face based on my particular skin problems. She recommended that I have another facial in no more than 3 weeks in order to keep the skin clean and rid of bacteria. Those with better skin than me could wait a bit longer. But I have to say, getting a facial here (or any other treatment for that matter) was so wonderful, I can’t think of a reason not to come back as soon as they have an appointment open (which, ironically, could be 3-4 weeks considering how popular MB is). A seaweed treatment, used to disinfect and revitalize my skin, tacked on another 20 minutes or so. All and all, the facial, along with any of the extra treatments one might opt for, is a bit of a time investment. However, the experience is certainly worth the wait.
After my facial, I’ll admit to being a bit aghast by my appearance. Even though Maria gave me fair warning, I was still surprised to see what seemed like more blemishes on my chin line than I had when I walked in that day. But seeing the glow and clean landscape of the rest of my face made me very happy (and rest assured, my entire face looked fantastic by the next morning). As with each of MB’s clients, I was immediately ushered into the product room to discuss my future skincare regimen. I’ve always felt that my skincare specialist should have flawless skin in much the same way that my personal trainer at the gym should have a fantastic body. Wendy had just that. I was looking at her canvas of clean, glowing, make-up-less skin and listening to her say that we have the same skin related issues. So, needless to say, I swore to do whatever she told me to do – and that’s just what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks to great success. I begin by cleansing my face with the Cucumber Enzyme Cleanser and following up with the Special or Regular Cucumber Lotion/Toner (depending on my level of breakouts). I use their oil-free moisturizer under my make-up and end my day with the miraculous Buffering Lotion to reduce breakouts and redness overnight. About twice a week, I use the Acne Mask or the Healing & Soothing Mask. I also recommend their Hyaluronic Eye Cream (for the sensitive, extra dry skin around the eyes) as well as their famous Drying Lotion (for those white-head emergencies).
Granted, the products I mentioned are designed to keep my acne-prone skin under control, but I have no doubt all of their products are just as effective. You can purchase products, as well as gift packages and certificates, easily from their website – www.mariobadescu.com. If you’re still clueless about what to get “him” for the holidays, MB has a great line of skincare products and spa treatments designed just for him! And why not treat yourself to one of their luxurious spa packages for the holidays? You deserve to feel like Jennifer Aniston for a day, don’t you?!