While his new collaboration with Shibui Spa in New York City consists of just three signature facials, Italian skincare guru Pietro Simone makes zero apologies for the fact that the treatment menu for his eponymous London clinic is literally 15 pages long.
“My clientele demands to know the details about what we’re doing, what we’re using, and why,” says Simone, a veteran of the spa world who spent years as an esthetician and corporate trainer for skincare brands like La Prairie and Sisley Paris before breaking out on his own. “I think being one-hundred percent transparent in our treatment explanations makes a huge difference in client trust. A detailed explanation helps them feel more secure and safe.”
But for every hyper-informed, facial-savvy spa-goer in our midst, there are doubtless an equal number who feel overwhelmed by too much choice—a growing phenomenon at spas all over the world. As they’ve tried to keep pace with the staggering amount of skincare brands flooding shelves at department stores, pharmacies, and Sephora, spas have been rapidly expanding their facial menu offerings.
For every hyper-informed, facial-savvy spa-goer in our midst, there are doubtless an equal number who feel overwhelmed by too much choice—a growing phenomenon at spas all over the world.
“To stay competitive and differentiate themselves, spas have adopted a similar approach of overextending their menu selection to try and capture every single guest that walks in,” says spa industry consultant Anna Moine. “Compounded now with the explosive growth of ‘devices,’ it is indeed challenging for guests to make a selection.”
The good news: the facial-menu pendulum is already starting to swing in the opposite direction.
“I’ve noticed that the more successful spas are now paring down their menu, and are moving towards customization,” Moine notes. “The esthetician will guide the guest through the process by starting with a basic facial and adding options to it, whether that’s a deeply nourishing mask for parched skin or a lip contour patch. This can also lead to “cross-pollination” of product lines, which in essence benefits the guest, since the facial will truly be tailored to her skin needs. Similar to the Sephora approach of offering ‘hero’ products and not the complete product range, spas have improved their product/menu selections by cherry-picking the best of each product line they wish to carry.”
Though it offers a comprehensive list of 16 facials, the treatment menu at Lake Austin Spa Resort in Texas was recently downsized. “We’ve offered more facials in the past, but shortened the menu last year to make choosing a treatment more effortless,” says Senior Spa Manager Janette Goodman. “We revise our menu every year, more often if new technology arises.”
Given their backgrounds and expertise, it isn’t surprising Simone, Moine, and Goodman can offer great tips for selecting a facial you’ll both benefit from and truly enjoy. So without further ado . . .
How To Pick The Right Facial
- Hone-in on one or two main skin goals. “Focusing on main goals like hydration, anti-aging, or firming is a good way to choose the perfect treatment,” says Goodman.
- Do your homework and ask questions. If you can find online reviews of specific facials, by all means read them. And don’t be shy once you get in the room. At the very least, says Simone, be sure to ask your esthetician what to expect during the facial, as well as afterward—i.e., the results.
- Seek out specific “hero” ingredients. At Lake Austin Spa Resort, these run the gamut from traditional chemical superstars like retinol and hyaluronic acid to more natural fare like rose. If you’ve already gotten great results with at-home skincare featuring a specific ingredient, a spa facial “themed” around it will only amplify those benefits.
- Start with a basic facial and add “boosters.” Moine encourages partnering with your esthetician to customize a treatment tailored specifically to your needs. “Ask whether your facial can be augmented with add-ons to address specific issues,” she suggests, “such as breakouts or sensitivities due to environmental issues or the change in seasons.”
- Opt for an optimal experience. Let’s be honest: a big reason that spas are so beloved is because they offer an escape from hum-drum everyday life. So if, say, you’re intrigued by the idea of hot oil being dripped on your forehead while a soundtrack of Tibetan monks banging gongs plays softly in the background, go for it. As Goodman points out. “All of us make choices in our own way.”
Dana Wood is the Contributing Beauty Editor at InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She has been writing about beauty and wellness for decades, and no matter how many times she taps the words “hyaluronic acid” or “healing modalities” into her keyboard, it never gets old. Dana spent a total of 20 years at Condé Nast, serving as Beauty Director for W, Cookie, and Brides. A transplanted New Yorker, Dana now lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. Her peak spa experience? Dana says it’s impossible to decide between the Coco-Mango Body Buff at the Driftwood Spa at Jakes in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, The Land of Beautiful Waters Anti-Aging Facial at Four Seasons Nevis, and the 80-minute 5 Senses massage at the Spa by JW in Marco Island, Florida.