With everything we know about beauty and skincare, a one-size-fits-all facial feels like such a dated approach. It's not only antiquated—it's a practice that can be seriously problematic for certain skin types. (Looking at you, Sensitive Sally!) So why is it left up to the treatment-receivers, who may or may not have any working knowledge of their own skin and what it needs, to choose which facial to select from the laminated spa menu? Shouldn't we leave that up to the professionals we're paying to administer them? Well, duh.
These thoughts have run through the heads of the founders of Cap Beauty, Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima, many times. It's what inspired them to create a place in New York City's West Village that would serve as a center (and product-junkie's dream come true) for all-natural, good-for-you, skincare and wellness products—plus a relaxing, chilled-out spa that offers completely customized treatments for the visage at hand. (And no tipping: brilliant!)
I entered my facial in need of a miracle. I had a breakout. This wasn't the once-a-year, giant honker right under my nose, but a colony of tiny, angry red bumps speckling my left cheek and chin—a result, explained Stephanie Lauren Brown, my skin guru for the 1½-hour visit, of hormones and stress.
And suffice it to say, I've been feeling pretty stressed lately: by the time you read this I will be married, back from my honeymoon, and enjoying my new post-wedding life/wondering what to do with myself after the "year of Jesse" (as my friends have come to refer to it). But on the day of my facial, I was about three weeks out and desperate for a little skin magic.
The second Brown saw me under the light of truth, she diagnosed my skin as sensitive and fragile and recommended that I "don't worry too much about exfoliation—it's much better to err on the side of less in long-term skin health." Instead, she recommended I double cleanse (two minutes each cycle!), follow with "a little soup" of toner and strengthening oil, and top with an extra moisturizing cream. (I'm freaking out over the Living Libations RoseGlow Crème that I bought after the session.)
Over the course of the next hour and a half, while I lay enveloped in a cocoon of down, Stephanie smoothed, slicked, and sprayed cleansers, masks, oils, and toners, and extracted only what was necessary. "Some aestheticians are extraction-happy. It's a very satisfying action to do—I'm not going to lie—but [the blemishes] are going to come back so you're kind of fighting an uphill battle," she told me while giving me a deep, lymphatic draining massage that I swear eradicated my puffy, Chipotle-lunch face.
Within minutes, my skin looked amazing. The trouble spots were obliterated, I was glow-y and moisturized, and I've since been taking Stephanie's advice to drink a ton of water and feed myself really well. "A lot of antioxidants, and a lot of sleep," she explained. "Those are the things that really show up on your face."
As for when I should go back (and I will), Stephanie recommends, "just after ovulation, when testosterone peaks, and the oil is the most productive it is all month. It's the best time to get a facial because extractions can be coaxed out with the most lubrication." How's that for a personal recommendation?
I ended our session with a warm cup of the house drink, a mix of Cap Beauty Coconut Butter, Sun Potion He Shou Wu, and Sun Potion Tocos Rice Bran Solubles (heaven), and we talked about my at-home regimen for prenuptials and beyond. Now if only someone could guide me through writing vows.
Can't make it in for a facial? We spoke with the owners Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima to get their must-have picks for cold weather skincare.
1. "Spicy, hot, and full of transformational herbs. It's hot cocoa that's actually good for you!"
Sun Potion Anandamide, $24, capbeauty.com.
2. "This problem-solver is super effective at taking off the top layer of dead skin after a summer in the sun. It warms up on the skin (almost hot), calms it down, and then starts working its magic."
May Lindstrom The Problem Solver, $90, capbeauty.com.
3. "High-quality Himalayan sea salt, luxurious rose attar oil, and Dead Sea water make this the perfect way to relax your muscles after a long day."Shiva Rose Bath Salts, $50, shivarose.com.
4. "Antibacterial and good for inflammation or irritation, this honey can be used topically or taken internally when you feel like you're coming down with something."Wedderspoon Manuka Honey, $44, capbeauty.com.
5. "Great for transitioning into colder months because it's dense and super hydrating. Plus, it's full of probiotics and essential oils."
de Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm, $92, capbeauty.com.