Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CAP Beauty "The Facial": My Experience & Honest Review


At the ripe age of 24, I decided it was time to get my first facial ever. Despite being quite a skincare product junkie, I've never visited a dermatologist or seen any kind of professional regarding my skin. A big part of the reason I've never done so, besides the often exorbitant price, is because it's hard to find honest, unbiased reviews of facials and spa treatments in general. Being based in New York City, I am within blocks of dozens of beauty hot spots so I thought it would be a good idea to share my experiences with those of you who might be looking for in-depth reviews. 

Keep in mind, this was my first facial experience so perhaps something I thought was odd might be the norm and vice versa. To make things easier to skim and to hopefully maintain some kind of consistency across my reviews, I've broken up my thoughts into sections: price and booking, atmosphere, esthetician, treatment and random things to note. If there's anything I missed, please let me know in the comments!

THE PRICE & BOOKING

I had already been thinking about booking a facial for a few weeks when I saw a Gilt City offer for CAP Beauty, a West Village mecca for "natural" beauty and wellness products. I was familiar with CAP Beauty already, having visited the store previously and falling for the aesthetic and vibes, so the price was easier to swallow. The usual cost of "The Facial" is $200 for 60 minutes and $300 for 90 minutes, including gratuity. The Gilt deal was $150 for 60 minutes and I had an additional coupon code so I only paid $120 - quite a good deal in my opinion! "The Facial" is actually CAP Beauty's most inexpensive facial - the others run into the $300-$400+ range. I really appreciate that gratuity is already factored into the price - no awkward guessing how much to tip and no need for cash.

Making the reservation was relatively easy. All I had to do was give CAP Beauty a call, tell them my Gilt voucher number and choose a date and time. You have up to 24 hours before your appointment to reschedule which I think is pretty generous. I had to reschedule once due to a work event and all I had to do was call and choose a new time. CAP Beauty is open until 9pm on Thursdays (6pm on Mondays and 7pm on all other days) so those who don't leave work at 5pm have a chance of booking an appointment too.


THE ATMOSPHERE

The spa and the retail store share the same entrance which is good because you can browse the shelves if you're early for your appointment. The downside is that there isn't really a waiting area and if there happens to be a lot of people in the store at once, totally possible since it's a small space, it can be a little awkward.

The treatment rooms are located in the back area which is separated by a wall. I spotted two treatment rooms but possibly there was a third. Each room was pretty small and over half of the room was taken up by the bed in which you lay on. Though the room was small, I didn't feel claustrophobic or trapped. It was a comforting and cozy space with dim lighting and everything felt clean.

Before my session started, I was given a few minutes to remove my shirt and bra and instructed to lay under the blanket on the bed. I'm not sure if that's usual protocol for a facial but I didn't mind. The bed was curved up where your knees rest and the sheets that go over your body are very snug. After an hour under the sheets of that bed, I was pretty warm but still comfortable. If you have a naturally high internal temperature, you may be a little uncomfortable though.

THE ESTHETICIAN

My esthetician was Crystal and she was bright-eyed, attentive and accommodating. Upon checking in I was given a one page form to fill out regarding my skin concerns, allergies, skincare routine and all that fun stuff so my esthetician would have a bit of background by the time I was laying on the bed. Crystal started off by covering my eyes and examining my skin under a very bright light, noting my dehydration, oily and congested skin issues. Her assessment was 100% accurate so right off the bat I felt like I was in good hands.

While she cleansed my face she asked me a bit more about the products I used and I confessed I haven't been as diligent with my routine as of late and I haven't been eating well either. She gave me a couple of cleansing tips for my skin type and the rest of the session was spent in relative silence.

I wouldn't have minded if Crystal spoke more and chatted with me but it was also nice having some quiet time. My mind wanders a lot so most of the time I was listening to what was going on around me, amused by the sounds of Crystal warming up the products between her hands.

It was really nice that Crystal didn't push products at me at all. In fact, I wish I had spoken up to ask what she was using on my skin at each step. I asked if she could write down all the names of the products she was using and she said she would (which she did) although she mentioned some of the masks she uses aren't available for purchase. I assume they were some sort of concoction of a few different things since I could hear clinking of various bottles and jars.

I asked Crystal how often she recommends people go for a facial and she said about once a month. At the end of the session she gave me two samples of products she used as well as the full list and mentioned that next time I come back we'll reassess and she might add in another serum or retinol. I guess that's a gentle way of encouraging people to book another session, which I like - not too forceful but a nice way to establish a continuing relationship.

THE TREATMENT

Overall, the 60 minutes were very soothing and zen and it was a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. The flow of the treatment is pretty much exactly what is described on the website:

"Beginning with a thorough cleanse followed by an exfoliating treatment, stimulating massage, and nourishing mask our Facial revitalizes and strengthens the skin. The core of this treatment, a healthy and heady dose of detoxifying massage, purifies, sculpts and transforms the skin through the magical touch of our brilliant therapists."

Crystal cleansed my skin very thoroughly with an oil cleanser and expertly massaged my skin at several points which was very relaxing. I tend to clench my face a lot so being able to release some of that tension was very much needed. In addition to massaging the face, my neck, shoulders and chest also got some attention. I'm usually a very ticklish person but I didn't feel ticklish at all throughout the session and it was incredibly relaxing. 

To wipe off the cleanser, mask and exfoliating treatment, Crystal wrapped my face in a very warm cloth (I believe it was a new one each time) and essentially cocooned my face. The heat was a little much in the first few seconds but when she unwrapped my face, it felt so refreshing. 

What wasn't included in the website description were the extractions which, for me, took perhaps five to 10 minutes (it was really hard for me to gauge time during this treatment). The extractions were painful at times but totally manageable. I only winced a bit towards the end but Crystal soothed my skin right after with a nice mist and serum. My skin felt normal within minutes. The temporary pain was worth it because the pores on my nose haven't looked this clear in a long time. 


THE RESULTS

On my initial assessment form I had written that I wanted clean and glowy skin and the end result was exactly that. When I walked out of CAP Beauty my skin was visible radiant but not oily feeling at all. My skin was a little red in some spots from the extractions but not overly so and not sensitive either. I don't think I could have expected anything better so I consider my $120 well spent. Oh, and after my treatment, Crystal had a freshly prepared warm beverage waiting for me. I honestly forgot what she said it was but it reminded me of some kind of healthy hot chocolate without the chocolate if that makes sense. It was interesting and a nice touch since CAP Beauty sells a lot of health supplements (personally I'm a skeptic when it comes to supplements but to each their own). 

I'm very pleased with the outcome of my skin and am definitely intrigued by the line Crystal used on my skin: Marie Veronique. I've never heard about this brand before but upon doing some research, I'm already liking what I see. The price points are, of course, a little high but I think very reasonable for the amount of product you get and the quality of the ingredients. 


After many years of fearing facials, I'm really happy with my first experience at CAP Beauty. It was a lovely hour spent that made me feel pampered and refreshed. I really like the brand's earthy vibes which has just the right mix of bohemian and luxury, without being over the top or pretentious. Crystal is a knowledgable esthetician and she made me feel very comfortable throughout the session, even during the extractions. I'm sure if I did come back every month we would have more fluid conversation. I'm also really excited to have learned about the Marie Veronique skincare line. I have since perused her website and made a couple of mental notes of products I want to incorporate into my routine down the line. If you have $200 flat to treat yourself, by all means this is a place I can get behind. 

I have a few facial spots on my list to visit next, probably not for another few months but on my list nonetheless. If you have any recommendations in the New York City area, please let me know! Do you get regular facials or indulge once in awhile? I'm curious to hear about everyone's professional skin regimen!

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