Category Archives: Spa

The Best Home Spa-ing Experience I've Ever Had

Now that we’re into cozy season, my tea intake has increased substantially. I sip it most afternoons for a boost of antioxidants. Good for the body, soul and skin. Which is why La Bella Figura Healing Facial Steam Tea is genius. Tea for your face. So brills. A few Sunday’s ago, I experimented with my first facial tea steam. Just as you would if you were drinking tea, boil some water, but instead of pouring it in a mug, fill up a medium-sized bowl and steep the tea. Then, drape a towel over yourself and the bowl and let the steam from the tea purify your face (make sure it’s clean first!). I felt like I was at the spa and not hunched over my kitchen island with a towel over my head.

Chicago-based La Bella Figura actually grew many of the flowers and herbs used in the tea in a Chicago community garden. Love! This tea smelled phenomenal with a mix of jasmine flower, calendula, lavender and marshmallow root (all known for soothing properties) and cardamom which delivers anti-inflammatory benefits. It was a gentle detoxifier. After steaming for about 10-15 minutes, I took advantage of my open pores and masked with LBF’s Bio Active Healing Mask which has so many fantastic ingredients, one primary being manuka honey sourced from New Zealand, known for its healing enzymes and unique antibacterial components.

Before rinsing the tea down the drain, I soaked a cotton pad and used it as a toner post-mask.  My skin was glowing after this adventure, and the ritual was good for the soul. Sundays are notorious for the mental “Monday’s coming” games and a little pampering is what a girl needs to prepare for the week.

Check out the Facial Steam Tea, as well as this adorable gift set which gives you a chance to try a bunch of LBF skin treats. And maybe wait to Cyber Monday…our sources tell us that there is going to be an unbelievable deal at LBF (we’re not being cute, we truly don’t know what it is yet!)

Basking in the ARCONA Glow

The benefits of getting an Arcona facial are plentiful. During the blissful 60 minutes and even in the days following. Those days can best be described as basking in the Arcona glow. With each day post-facial, skin gets brighter and more radiant. I took some vacation days last week (for “birthday week”) and booked an Arcona Facial at the Ruby Room in Chicago. Having had a phenom Acure Facial earlier this year, I was so excited to try their signature Arcona treatment. The Arcona facials differ from the traditional European style facial and instead shed that dead skin with natural fruit enzymes. While the enzymes and steam get to work, you’re treated to a neck and shoulder massage that is heavenly. Paul was my esthetician and he just WORKED my muscles. Dare I say a highlight of birthday week? He also complimented my skin, noting that my collagen levels and elasticity were “excellent.” Sure knows how to make a girl who just entered her 30s feel fab!

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Leaf and Water Holistic Skincare

I wish I could sit here and tell you I’m a seasoned pro with facials, I really am not. Before this, I’ve had one bona fide spa facial in my life and I was an experience I’ll never forget even though it was years and years ago. Not many gals get a chance to have a facial at the Clarins Institute in Paris but luckily I did. When the gals at Spa Week invited me to get a facial at a local spa as part of National Spa Week (happening right now until April 22nd!), I jumped at the chance. I wanted to re-live that experience and leave the spa completely relaxed and without a care in the world. That’s exactly what happened when I left Leaf and Water Holistic Skincare.

Having a facial with Holly Luedke at Leaf and Water Holistic Skincare was an experience I’ll be repeating and I can’t wait for that to happen. The spa was small and intimate, a great environment that immediately made me feel at ease and relaxed. Holly is a licensed Naturopathic Aesthetician (one of the few in my area) and started Leaf and Water in 2007 with a philosophy that beautiful skin is healthy skin and that healthy skin is best achieved via natural methods. As I am progressing towards more natural products, both makeup and skincare, this was intriguing to me. We began our time together with an overview on how Leaf and Water works, which included an intake of my skincare concerns then started the facial.

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Ruby Room + Exclusive Deal for Chicago Readers

One of the first places I discovered when moving to Chicago three years ago was the Ruby Room. It was affirmation that I’d moved to the right area! In a city with all of the big shops and department stores, it is so nice to have a sanctuary with niche brands (beauty + accessories) and spa and healing services. Actually, Ruby Room opened in 2002 as a healing center — putting a modern twist on ancient healing rituals. From there, it’s grown to a salon, spa, beauty boutique, yoga lounge and more.

Last weekend, I had the most amazing Ruby Room experience. I had the Acure Facial, one of their newest services and one that they exclusively offer. Jenifer, the esthetician that I saw, actually wrote the spa protocols for Acure and Ruby Room is the first spa in the country to debut the service. They carry the Acure Organics line as well, which we are really excited about! Everything is truly natural —the creators of the line actually grow a lot of their own ingredients—and super affordable (nothing is more than $30)

All Ruby Room spa services begin like a yoga practice: by setting your intention. You’ll select a card and there’s an accompanying Ruby Room Aroma Flower and Gem Essence filled with essential oils that is used throughout the service to keep your energy positive and clear. I selected ‘b Open’ and the Flower and Gem Essence included pure rose oil, my favorite.

The facial from Jenifer was like none other – a total mental cleanse and detox for the skin. It began with Acure’s Olive + Mint Facial Cleansing Crème, which might just be the best combination of ingredients. The smell of mint is invigorating! From there, Jenifer used Acure’s Brightening Facial Scrub and a blast of steam which felt fantastic. She also did a few manual extractions (NEVER do this at home!) on the stubborn “plugs” of buildup in my pores around my nose and forehead. The rest of the facial was pure bliss, especially the Acure Argan Oil massage. I definitely left there with an energized chakra and brighter skin.

Chicago readers, pay close attention! Ruby Room is offering Product Girl readers a special promotion during the month of March!

  • Take $20 off any 60-minute service* and receive a complimentary makeup touch-up. Just mention Product-Girl.com when you book the service!  I hope that some of you will take advantage of this. I highly recommend the Acure Facial (so new it’s not on their website yet!)

Also, for those not in Chicago, Ruby Room does a “weekly win it” on their Facebook page and the first week of March they will be giving away an Acure product! Their Facebook is also a lovely addition to my news feed, with their daily readings and messages of encouragement!

 *excludes colon-hydrotherapy

**Ruby Room provided spa services free-of-charge to me for review purposes. Al opinions are my own.

From the Expert: Q&A with Cecilia Wong

Cecilia Wong, founder of her namesake salon and skincare line, is a lifelong wellness enthusiast turned expert. Most teenagers suffer through bouts of acne and pick at blemishes, but Cecilia sought regular facials and took an interest in treating skincare issues beyond just the surface. Her philosophy was simple and straightforward — treating our bodies with pure, organic ingredients would in turn make skin glow.

After studying and mastering her trade in Hong Kong and New York, the Cecilia Wong Skincare Salon was born in December 2009. At her salon, she treats her clients to custom blended skincare designed with organic ingredients. In 2011, Cecilia also launched her own product line to treat all types of skin with the purest oils and organically grown herbs and botanicals. After just one use of her Milk Exfoliating Cleanser, I was hooked and needed to know more about the woman behind the brand.

PG: Your focus is on aromatherapy and healing. Tell us about the ingredients you use in your products, and how do they work?
CW:
Each ingredient featured in a Cecilia Wong Skincare product was selected based on the healing traditions of holistic medicine. My formulas radiate healing energy, benefiting one’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Each ingredient is known to have powerful healing properties and contains high concentrations of both nutrients and vitamins. These ingredients are synergistically blended and energetically balanced, and work on a cellular level in the skin to restore harmony and vitality while addressing the psychology of the cell, bringing one’s whole being into balance. Some of my star ingredients include: Black Currant Seed, Meadowfoam, Red Clover, Red Raspberry Seed Oil and Blueberry Seed Oil.

PG: Winter poses its share of skincare challenges. How can we keep our skin looking healthy and hydrated this time of year?
CW:
Here are my top there my tips for warding off dry skin and retaining your body’s moisture level in the wintertime: 1: drink water regularly, 2: maintain humidity in your dwelling, 3: apply a nutrient rich skin cream daily. By avoiding the over consumption of dehydrating beverages – like coffee and alcohol – it will prevent the onset of dry, flaky skin, which in turn results in fine lines and wrinkles.

PG: Everyone has a favorite. Of your organic line of products, what is the one you are most passionate about?
CW:
I love every single product in my line, but the one that I’m most passionate about is my Black Currant Serum. I created it because I wanted a product that would deliver an instant result. I wanted users to see that a product without chemicals can really work! I have heard so many client stories sharing how my serum truly helped to revive their skin, especially for those who have skin rashes, dry patches, eczema, and who are concerned with aging. These stories are usually from clients who have tried everything on the market, with no great results.

PG: We hear you are a master juice. Can you share a recipe?
CW:
This is one of my favorite recipes I especially in the winter season to prevent cold and flu.

- Handful of spinach

- 1-2 oranges

- 1 apple

- 3 teaspoon of elderberry syrup (you can find this at any health food store)

- A slice of ginger

- 1/4 red or green pepper

- 2-3 radishes

- 1/4 beetroot

- A splash of lemon

For more from Cecilia, check out her blog! And, if you’re in New York, go see her in person. Her salon is located on Fifth Ave, between 26th & 27th streets.

Spa Nordstrom: Live Like a Real Housewife, Part III

Tucked away in the back of that photo is the Spa Nordstrom pedicure station. It’s private and fancy, and where your feet get some major attention. Filled with pillows and the current issues of People and US Weekly, it’s like a private retreat within a private retreat. If you’ve only ever been to pedicures at the nail salons, then you’re missing out on a real treat. And what a treat this finale was to my day of spa-ing at the Michigan Ave Spa Nordstorm.

The Spa Pedicure begins with an herbal foot soak — like the one you get at the beginning of your spa treatments. From there, begins a serious hour of pampering. It was the longest pedicure I’ve ever had the pleasure of enduring. It’s such a myth that you should not get pedicures in the winter. I can’t tell you how many times I hear the “well, no one is seeing my feet,” or “I wear socks every day in the winter.” I actually think I say those things sometime, too. Oops! All false. Pedicures are so necessary this time of year!

From foot soak to foot scrub and skin removal. My calluses have calluses, and a little part of me scoffed at the foot file the pedicurist pulled out.  I thought, “What’s that going to do? Massage my heel?” But I quickly changed my tune, for reasons that would be TMI to get into. Needless to say, I purchased that foot file that day. For the curious, it’s called the Biosana Swiss Foot File. Spa Nordstrom sells it for $18. It’s double-sided, and even the “smoother” side should be used with caution. Damp skin is best otherwise you might literally hurt yourself.

I also opted for the paraffin dip before the polish application. For as much as I’ve mastered the DIY mani, I can never shape or paint my toe nails quite like they do at the spa or salon. I think that’s why I enjoy pedicures so much. I really feel like it’s something I can’t do myself (at least not as well). But callus maintenance, that I need to do. Very excited to have found a product that is effective without me having to essentially do a full cardio workout.

And, I’m proud to report that I stuck to the esthetician-mandated exfoliation detox. I went 15 days without any physical or chemical exfoliation (save about 5 uses of the Clarisonic). I’ll admit, it was eye opening. I was sure my pores would clog and skin cells would build up, but it was a much-needed break. My skin looks and feels better. I’ve also gotten into the habit of only washing my face at night and just rinsing in the shower in the a.m. I can tell that my skin is maintaining healthy moisture levels.

After a day at the Spa Nordstrom to kick off a New Year, I feel pretty great. My next move is to figure out when I’m going back!

Disclosure: The spa services were gratis, courtesy of Nordstrom. All opinions are my own.

Spa Nordstrom: Live Like a Real Housewife, Part II

Two takeaways from my day at Spa Nordstrom.

1) You haven’t LIVED until you’ve had a hot stone massage massaged onto the bottom of your feet.

2) Confess all of your skincare sins to your esthetician. You can’t hide…and if you try to, she can’t help you.

All treatments at Spa Nordstrom begin in the relaxation room with a foot soak. The soak released an aroma of eucalyptus and rosemary, and was a definite treat for the feet (and other senses!)  I also expressed my incredibly high tolerance for heat, and the water temperature was perfect. Perhaps its years of taking piping hot baths, but hot water for most people is “lukewarm” to me.

The starting point of the day was the Healing Hot Stone Massage. During January, this service is 25% off. Note to all spas:  run a HEAT therapy promotion in January— it was the coldest day of the season when I was there. A hot stone massage is intended for relaxation. I’ve always opted for the deep, Swedish massage, but have to say that this was just as effective. The heat penetrates and helps ease tension from your muscles.  The stones are placed on various pressure points throughout the body, and the experience is so much more than just tension relief. Improved circulation and total mental abandonment. When was the last time you just let your mind go? After the experience, I really want to lobby my insurance company to add this to the list of approved medical services. Or the very least, can I use my flex spending account? 

Next, I got my RHBH on during the Oxygen Infusion Facial. This is so luxurious, and would be highly effective for aging skin.  From a machine that sounds like a ventilator, the esthetician uses a tiny wand to infuse oxygen and hyaluronic acid into your skin. There’s an immediate plumping effect (she even did my lips — so RHBH!), but it does subside.

During the hour I spent with Carolyn, the licensed esthetician, she gave me some TOUGH love. She subtly asked me what I was using to exfoliate my skin, and then after excitedly telling her what I did, she revealed to me that I was overdoing it. She explained that my skin was “vibrating” – esthetician speak for “this chick is committing major skin care sins.”  I had no idea. I felt so sinful. Like I got tricked into confession, and wasn’t ready for penance. What can I say, I’m addicted to sloughing off dead skin.  To remedy the sitch, Carolyn put me on a TWO-WEEK exfoliation detox and instructed me only to wash my face once a day. It’s been about 9 days, and my skin is much improved. Total blessing in disguise. Although I’m twitching a bit for my Exfolikate.

Stay tuned for Part III….in which I reveal the best foot file I’ve ever encountered and to find out if I stuck to esthetician orders and stayed true to the exfoliation detox.

Disclosure: The spa services were gratis, courtesy of Nordstrom. All opinions are my own.

Relax Like a Real Housewife at Spa Nordstrom

For as much as I shop Nordstrom, I don’t Spa Nordstrom. Which is, retrospectively speaking, a self-inflicted beauty injustice. Spa Nordstrom is such a hidden gem! Not only is it a great place to relax and indulge, it’s also a great place to shop. There’s not many more than a dozen Spa Nordstrom locations nationwide, and I have easy access to two. Suddenly, I feel selfish. And blessed.  

During the month of January, Nordstrom is running a special promotion at its Spa locations for a trio of services: Healing Hot Stone Therapy Massage, $75, 60 min., (reg. price $100); Intraceuticals Oxygen Infusion Skin Care Facial, $150 (reg. price $195); and Spa Pedicure $45 (reg. price $55) Very “New Year, New You.”

Chicago is not short on magnificent (get it?!) places to spa. I think Spa Nordstrom strikes a balance between quality and affordable luxury. Plus, it’s Nordstrom. So when you’re in that post-spa zen state of mind, you can wander a few floors down and treat yourself to those Vince Camuto “Ladell” Pumps you’ve (I’ve) been wanting.  

Courtesy of Nordstrom, I spent the better part of my day last weekend indulging in the January special. It was almost like that episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills where everyone goes to Adrienne’s house for a spa day. Minus the drama, of course. The Oxygen Treatment Facial is perhaps the fanciest treatment I’ve experienced, and it totally resembled one of the machine’s that was in Adrienne Maloof’s spa room.

I’ll save the rest for another post, and leave you with a few photos I snapped while in the waiting area. I felt like a kid in a candy store. So many displays of products and different lines that the store doesn’t carry. Continue reading