In a neighborhood where indulgence is practically a way of life, Face Place has found its perfect home.  Opened by Ernie Benson in 1972 in L.A., Face Place served an impressive list of celebrity clients with the amazing facials and treatments that made it famous, and made an appointment a near impossibility. Ernie sold up in the mid-nineties, and in 2005 one of those high-profile celebs, superstar hair stylist Sally Hershberger, convinced new owners Tony Silla and Paul Rogers it was time to bring this sensational spa to New York.  She even offered up a space inside her Meatpacking District salon to set up shop.

What a good idea.  Now the cozy space is packed with women waiting their turn for the most incredible facial ever experienced.  It’s more than just relaxing.  It’s filled with anti-aging ingredients and high-tech gizmos designed to tone and tighten.  Add a perfect pedicure (some people actually call it a “medicure”, that’s how soothing it is) and you’re in for a pampering experience unlike any other.

So, what is it about a Face Place facial that makes it so special?  “It’s our single-minded focus on really caring for the skin,” explains Tom Woodhouse, esthetician extraordinaire, a man with gentle hands and a soothing voice.  “We are really focused on maintaining a clinical approach to caring for the skin, and with that in mind, everything we do is results oriented.”

The facial begins simply enough, with a deep cleanse and a toning treatment that brightens, firms and rejuvenates the skin.  That’s pretty much where it parts company with the ordinary.  After your face is wrapped with a combination of flannel and muslin soaked in a Yucca solution, Tom tops it with the “heat dome”, a sci-fi inspired device designed to warm the skin, and loosen the pores. “It has a lot of perks over steam,” says Tom.  “It is gentler on the skin, it doesn’t dehydrate the skin the way steam does.  It also distributes warmth evenly to every area of the face.” Think of it as a sauna for your face.

Ten minutes under the heat dome, a little suctioning with a vacuum and the dreaded “extractions”, and you’re ready for the next, and maybe a little scarier, step:  the galvanic mask.  Your face is wrapped in muslin and surgical cotton soaked in Vitamin C and Zinc, which brightens, evens the skin tone and protects against all those nasty things relentlessly attacking our faces every day.  On top of that, a leather mask fitted with tiny electrodes, shooting pulses of electrical power through the mummy mask and into your skin.  Tom calls it “the miracle worker”.  “It is the same type of electricity used in physical therapy,” he says.  “It heals the skin, encourages new collagen production and new skin formation, but you’re also getting a very powerful firming, toning and tightening of the skin”.  In other words, you may or may not look ten years younger, but you’ll definitely feel like you look ten years younger.

While you’re waiting the 18-20 minutes it takes for the mask to work its magic, there’s another spell being woven down under, on your feet.  Erica Marton, Face Place’s adorable star mani-pedi-ist has been cutting, shaping, massaging and generally treating your tootsies to the best hour of their lives.  What makes this pedicure different?  “I use three different types of buffing implements,” she explains. A foot file.  OK.  A pumice bar.  Mm-hmm.  And… a Dremel drill.  That’s right, electrodes on your face, a mini-drill on your feet.  But trust me, getting rid of flip-flop calluses has never felt so good.  It’s a little trick Erica learned in South Florida, from a Brazilian pedicurist in the middle of a hurricane.  As Erica describes it, “it was a really slow day, and she busted out her drill and started using it on one of her clients, and we were, like, what is she doing?  Then she tried it on me, and that night I ran to Home Depot.”  In a hurricane.  That’s how good this is.

The Dremel brings down calluses just enough, but leaves a little to protect your feet.  According to Erica, “we have calluses for a reason, it’s like your little bodyguard”. But, she warns, don’t try this at home.

Just as she’s finishing up the most luxurious foot massage you’ll ever have, Tom is back, removing the electrodes and working his own magical massage.  At once, both face and feet feel pampered and pretty.

Yes, the treatments are exquisite.  Their products are to die for.  But what really makes Face Place special is that you feel like you’ve spent an hour with your friends.  I felt like I’ve known Tom and Erica forever.  It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re treated like a star.  “I love the working girl just as much as I love the celebrity,” says Erica.  “Everybody’s the same to me.  I love each and every one of them.”

Photography: Anton Brookes

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