West 26th Street, where Naturopathica’s Manhattan spa is located, is one of those interstitial spaces in Chelsea—neither here nor there, a once-was, not-quite-there-yet kind of street. A perfect match, then, for my state of mind—recently laid off from my main gig, between jobs, waiting for the next thing. I needed respite from the job boards, the Slack messages, and most of all, from myself.
Lucky for me I’d just been asked to review the day spa. On the agenda: a one-hour full-body massage and a seasonal facial. Perfection. We turn to spas for many reasons: for relaxation, for stress-relief, or for a specific healing ritual. I often turn to spas for solace. Being attended to gives me the permission to let someone else do the driving while I soothe my restive mind.
A Next-Level Holistic Approach
Naturopathica built their business on the idea that the condition of our skin reflects our overall wellbeing and our body’s health, believing that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Naturopathica spas take that holistic approach to the next level, offering herbal remedies, tinctures, aromatherapies, and topical treatments to improve skin’s function and appearance. If my skin was indeed a reflection of my health and mindset, then this guy needed some healing—and pronto.
But was it love at first ahhh? Not quite. Walking into Naturopathica can feel a bit abrupt: from the gritty New York streetscape you enter a crisp, white reception room, then are briskly guided to a co-ed locker room (private changing rooms are available) where you await your first therapist. I give them points for efficiency.
For my particular state of mind, all of this was just what I needed. The spa may have been quiet due to the early hour, but the stillness put me into an alpha state that instantly calmed my nerves. The spa’s vibe builds slowly, which worked for me. It was only when my brain slowed down that I could really enjoy the beauty of the space.
First off, the aroma of herbals and botanicals. Where many spas will fill a room with candles and incense that can leave one feeling almost sooty, Naturopathica mixes scent, humidity, and temperature with precision. The air feels fresher the longer you stay. While there are no vast lounges with ocean vistas in this ground-floor New York space, the dimly lit halls and luxurious decor recall a chic hotel that at least make you feel like you’re on vacation.
I know my Chill Massage was perfect because I can’t remember it . . .
The Perfect Massage for an Overworked Brain
As for the treatments, I know my Chill Massage was perfect because I can’t remember it. I had asked the therapist, Richard Gascon, for a relaxing treatment rather than the deep-tissue kneading and pounding I usually get at my gym. With long, connective strokes, passive stretching, and rocking (and no talking, thank you), Richard let me float off on a little puffy cloud. The massage oils were full-spectrum CBD, kava, and ginger meant to activate the body’s endocannabinoid system. So, while I didn’t quite fall asleep, I definitely felt the brain waves flattened out for a blissful hour.
Where Naturopathica obviously shines is in their skin treatments, so I was excited to try their Autumn Glow Facial. I’m blessed with naturally oily olive skin, so my regimen is light to non-existent, but I do tend to get clogged pores and occasional acne. Esthetician Raquel Cabral gently cleansed my face with a glossy Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm followed by Naturopathica’s unique fruit-based exfoliating Ginger & Carrot Root massage. My only minor quibble was the Chocolate Vine Mask and Marshmallow finish which was meant to evoke the aromas of Autumn, but smelled like a pumpkin-spice latte. A trigger warning might be in order.
All in all, my spa experience was a lovely way to decompress after a traumatic week. I emerged feeling rebooted and balanced.
If I have any unsolicited advice for Naturopathica, it’s to take a cue from the new hotels that are reviving the flower-district history of this neighborhood with a bit of greenery on the street. Amazing what a little nature, scientifically applied, can do for one’s wellbeing.