For every beauty challenge you have, there’s an amazingly effective natural ingredient that solves it like magic.Below lets looks at the bizarre beauty treatments available.
Your skin will be singing after an 80-min. nightingale-droppings facial, the signature treatment at Maui’s Hotel Wailea Spa. Obviously, we’re not talking about ordinary bird poo because that would be gross (well, grosser). Collected droppings are treated with ultraviolet rays to kill bacteria, then pulverized into a fine powder. A pinch of the odorless brown dust, mixed with water, forms a paste that is applied to the skin. Nightingale droppings are apparently a well-kept Japanese beauty secret — a staple of geishas and Kabuki actors, who used it to repair skin damage caused by heavy makeup use. Nightingale poop “bleaches the skin [and] helps to exfoliate, which then prevents blemishes,” says lead therapist Lula Pacheco. “It gives you an even tone and texture.” A recommended weekly treatment costs up to $225, no obstacle to the spa’s jet-setting celebrity clientele. “They just love it,” she says.
24-Carat Gold Facial
Forget diamonds — gold might be a girl’s new best friend. At Santa Fe’s Nidah Spa at the Eldorado Hotel, clients can sign up for a 24-karat-gold facial — basically, a metallic sheet of liquid gold applied to the skin. UMO, a high-end Japanese skin-care company, has created technology that “dissolves the gold so it can be used to soften the layers of the skin,” says spa director Susan Keene. “It’s like gold leaf.” The superhydrating treatment lifts and firms the skin, reducing the appearance of sun damage and lines, she says. Though expensive — a session will run you $500 — it’s a hit with Nidah’s customers. This ultra-luxe beauty treatment is right at home at the Eldorado Hotel, named after El Dorado, the mythical city of gold.
Injecting your face with botulinum toxin not edgy enough for you? Or maybe you’re the kind of phobic who prefers snakes to needles. Either way, drop that Botox shot and try Sonya Dakar’s snake-venom facial — no fangs involved. The process is a simple cleansing, massage and mask, but the product is key. The venom compound, extracted from temple viper snakes, “relaxes the muscles completely,” says Dakar. “It sends a message to inhibit control and contraction.” Some 80% of her clients come in for this treatment in particular, she estimates. It’s certainly not for nothing: Dakar’s patrons include A-list names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Demi Moore. A bit of a sting at $385, but Dakar promises that “you’ll be younger-looking and beautiful.”
Dr. Harold Lancer, dermatologist to the stars, has a different definition of “baby soft” skin than most of us do. Lancer’s Beverly Hills clinic offers a placenta facial, which uses an “FDA-approved biological protein derivative from human placenta,” he says. The thick, white cream — “a living broth of human-derived, purified tissue,” as he describes it — is applied all over the face, eyelids, ear lobes, chest and shoulders after a thorough exfoliation and cleansing. A mesh mask stretched on top helps the hydrating treatment penetrate the skin. The hefty price tag of about $500 includes an in-house treatment and regimented aftercare, including a daily serum and cream.
Fish Pedicure and Body Treatment
Refresh calloused feet jammed into winter boots by stopping in at Selangor, Malaysia’s Sampuoton Spa, where the specialty is fish. Specifically, the tiny garra rufa — nicknamed “doctor fish” — which feed off dead skin. Stick your feet in a pool of water and enjoy what owner Joe Ng describes as a tickling sensation as the silvery black fish nibble away tough skin flakes. Customers emerge posttreatment with smoother, softer skin.
The garra rufa species is native to the Middle East, and fish therapy originates from Turkey, where Ng first discovered the practice. The Sampuoton Spa opened in 2007 and now sees up to 35 customers on a busy day, with a wallet-friendly price tag of $50 per hourlong soak. Flesh-eating fish treatments have also made their way to a few spas in the U.S., including Virginia and Florida.
Pamper tired toes with the caviar pedicure at Boston’s Spa Newbury. “Black sturgeon caviar, which isn’t far down the ladder from beluga, has a very high level of protein,” spa owner Selina Belisle says. “When it is topically absorbed by the skin, it helps to plump things.” The luxurious pedi experience includes a scrub, mask and massage for the feet. Not to worry: you won’t walk out of Spa Newbury smelling like a day-old fish market. A fresh green apple aroma is added to the products. And at $100, it’s cheaper than an ounce of beluga.
Fancy a roll in the hay in the Italian Alps? Don’t get fresh. Hay bathing, a tradition for more than a hundred years, is popular at the Hotel Heubad Spa. Burrow in moist, fermenting hay for about 20 minutes before being transferred to a couch to rest for another 30. The hay, heated to 40°C (104°F) opens up pores, which aids in detoxifying the body. The procedure is also supposed to soothe aches and pains and stimulate the metabolism, according to the hotel.
This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill hay, of course. For Heubad’s treatment, grasses are cut mid-July to early August from a specific area of the Dolomites, some 2,000 m above sea level. The hay-bathing practice was discovered by tired field workers who found themselves refreshed after sleeping in hay at night despite long hours of manual labor.
A tour of the Chodovar Family Brewery right outside Prague is not complete without partaking in a real beer bath. Visitors soak for 20 minutes in dark Bathing Beer — a family recipe of active beer yeast, hops draft and mix of dried crushed herbs — heated to 34°C (93.2°F). The heat helps sweat away toxins, hops exfoliate the skin, and the active beer yeast infuses it with vitamins. Optional, but recommended: toss back a glass of Chodovar lager. After scooping your beer-drenched self out, you can rest a bit underneath a warm fleece throw.
Beer soaks ($35) can be calming, according to the brewery. It can also help with skin problems like acne. Not for those with high blood pressure, pregnant women or anyone who might be tempted to drink from the tub.
Get rid of migraines with a simple squeeze — as long as you don’t mind snakes. A massage at Ada Barak’s Northern Israel spa is not for the faint of heart. Visitors are draped with a variety of nonvenomous serpents. Larger ones, like the corn and king snakes, provide a deep, kneading massage, while smaller milk snakes flicker over the skin for a soothing, fluttering sensation. (If you’re the sort of person who calls dozens of snakes crawling on your body soothing.) Barak herself stands by in case some attempt to slither away. Contrary to what you may have heard, snake scales aren’t slimy; they actually feel dry and smooth. Regulars say the $70 massage also eases aches and pains.
Lunar Massage in Washington, D.C.
Ideal for the high-strung professional, Washington’s Lunar Massage Studio offers the Crackberry, a 20-min. hand, thumb and arm massage that targets the modern malady known as “digital thumb” — an overexerted appendage sore from constant BlackBerry and iPhone jabbing. Targeted kneading releases tension in key areas.
Owner Joanna Robinson says the treatment, created on a whim, is a perfect fit for the nation’s capital: “I understand the D.C. nerdy culture and the young professional,” she says, referring to the massive corps of 20- and 30-something associates and interns who storm Washington each year. The $26 hand massage is for “the people who work very hard but make very little.”