As a beauty writer, one of the most frequent questions I'm asked is where to get a good facial. The thing is, a "good" facial varies depending on whose asking: different skin types and budgets make it hard to pick a #1 Best Facial to recommend across the board.
I've been lucky to get to try out a ton of different facials and treatments first-hand over the past year or two, so for my New Yorkers and LA friends who have DM'd me this question in the the past, this one's for you. Below, find my favorite facials in both cities, and details including what I liked, how dramatic the results were, and the total cost when it's all said and done.
50 Minute Facial | Heyday | NY + LA
When my skin is freaking out for what seems like no reason at all, I’ve been known to impulse-book a facial at the nearest Heyday. With five locations in New York City and one in Los Angeles, tons of people can try this option out for themselves, and I can’t recommend it enough.
At $95 for a 50 Minute Facial, the price is so right – more than anywhere else I’ve been before, Heyday gives clients a little bit of everything. I love this method because, after figuring out what steps your skin enjoys and benefits from the most, you can go on to research other facials that include these aspects on more intense levels. Your esthetician will personalize parts of your treatment according to your skin type and concerns, and will always send a follow-up email post-treatment recapping what went down and what you need to work on to keep improving your skin in the future. There are also add-ons you can opt for during your appointment, including professional peels, light therapy, beard therapy, and microdermabrasion.
Sometimes, facialists can get a little guilt-trippy when it comes to telling you everything you’re doing wrong with your skincare, and the experience becomes more stressful than relaxing. Fortunately, I’ve found all the employees at Heyday to be super kind and informative. Anytime a skincare newbie (or a beauty-lover who doesn’t want to break the bank) asks where they should go to get their first good facial, I recommend the Heyday in NoMad as a great option.
Clear & Brilliant | Union Square Laser Dermatology | NY
This one’s a little more intense than a standard facial, since it uses a fractional laser to really transform skin from the inside out. When I decided to try out this treatment to write it up for Elite Daily, I had my fingers crossed I would be able to remove all of my acne scars in just one treatment. My doc let me know that it would likely take closer to three, and after seeing the results of the first round, I’m definitely eager to give it another go. My scars did lighten a bit, but the most notable difference I experienced was a major improvement in my skin texture. Where I once had small bumps and irregularities, my skin was smooth, soft and clear, not to mention tight and bright.
Clear & Brilliant isn’t the strongest laser out there for correcting texture and pigmentation, but its appeal lies in the fact that there is virtually no downtime. Heavy-duty lasers like Fraxel can call for weeks spent out of the sun letting skin heal – even though my face felt hot and scratchy to the touch post-Clear & Brilliant, it looked amazing within an hour, and I was able to throw on makeup and get on with my day completely unbothered. As a busy New Yorker, the efficiency of this treatment was almost as impressive to me as the actual results. One full-face treatment starts at about $450, so this one isn't exactly a last-minute impulse splurge, but if you think you're a good candidate and your skin needs serious help, you'll be guaranteed some impressive results.
A Before and After shot of my forehead texture pre and post-Clear + Brilliant.
Cryolift Facial | NKD NYC | NY
NKD NYC (pronounced like “naked”) is a small luxury wellness center with great vibes and unique treatments, and in addition to spa experiences you've never tried before, they've also got some of the friendliest staff around. On my visit, I relaxed in their full-body Infrared LED Light Therapy bed for twenty minutes prior to getting a cryofacial.
Typically, my preferred facial has peels and extractions galore, but the cryofacial improved my skin without my face even being touched. Cryotherapy utilizes a liquid nitrogen vapor to cause vasoconstriction in the skin, which leaves the face looking tight and bright, and fills in lines right before your eyes. My cryolift facial had my skin looking better in just twelve minutes, and even though I did, you don't even need to remove your makeup to reap the benefits, so I'd definitely recommend this one to any girls on the go who need just a moment of Me Time. I believe one session costs about $75, which is super reasonable given the advanced cryo technology.
In addition to tightening and brightening, cryotherapy can calm redness and depuff, and with regular exposure, can even help stimulate collagen. Curious to see this one in action? I don’t blame you, since it’s definitely a little strange (in the best way possible). If you head over to Elite Daily’s Instagram profile, you can watch me get the treatment for a video on their Instagram TV page.
Jurlique Vitamin C Facial | Great Jones Spa | NY
If you want a day-long treat-yourself experience, somewhere like Great Jones Spa is without a doubt the place to be. They offer everything from mani pedis and waxing to massages and facials. They've even got a water lounge with a three-story waterfall! I was treated to the Jurlique Vitamin C Facial when I visited, which normally costs $175. It was definitely one of the most luxe, pampering facials I'd ever received, and Vitamin C has been a major lifesaver for my skin over the years in regards to brightening and lightening my acne scars, so I'd definitely shell out the cash to experience this one again. They've also got an anti-aging Dr. Dennis Gross Retinol Firming Facial that I haven't tried, but would bet is absolutely fantastic, as Dr. Dennis Gross products really did wonders for my skin when I went through more oily, acne-prone periods. Even though the facials are pricy, you are granted thirty minutes to two hours of time to take advantage of other amenities at the spa while you wait, including the Chakra-Balancing Steam Room, River Rock Sauna, Cold Plunge Pool, Thermal Hot Tub, and showers. When you think about all those benefits, the cost of the facial feels far more justified.
Relaxing in luxury post-Jurlique facial at Great Jones Spa
If GJS isn't for you, another fun NYC location for facials and other fun treatments (massages, pools, saunas, etc)
I enjoy is the AIRE Ancient Baths. Equally gorgeous and relaxing, and incredibly Instagrammable.
Forma | Le Jolie Spa | LA
During their NYFW pop-up in Soho, I got the chance to try out Forma from this legendary LA spa, and now I’m wishing I lived closer to the real thing so I could go all the time. The services offered are anything but affordable (I believe this one costs between $6-800 per session), but the results are nothing short of mouth-dropping. So, so worth it if you're really struggling.
Hailed as the “non-surgical facelift,” Forma is a super unique treatment that uses radio-frequency technology to target layers of skin beneath its surface, stimulating collagen formation and helping out with the skin's overall elasticity. It basically chisels your face in minutes, and the results are visible and impressive, lasting up to a couple weeks. According to my esthetician, five treatments in five weeks can create results that last five years. I documented the process for an article on Elite Daily, and my before-and-after photos were truly insane. I couldn’t believe how sculpted the process had made my cheekbones in a matter of minutes, and my skin stayed chiseled for over a week to follow. Apparently, everyone in Hollywood is doing this facial on the reg, so now it finally makes sense to me why so many stars look like they’re practically aging backwards. Obviously, shelling out this kind of cash for a treatment is only okay if you're able to do so (my facial was comped, or I could never), but it's a lot less invasive than a real facelift, so if that's something you're interested in, this one might be worth a shot.
During the Forma treatment.
A Before and After side-by-side. See how much more sculpted one cheekbone is?
Return to Nature Organic Facial | Ole Henriksen Spa | LA
Last but not least! Ole Henriksen is one of my favorite skincare brands of all-time, so when they offered me a facial experience here in New York City straight from their LA-based spa, I jumped at the chance, and now I wish I could visit their LA spa on the daily. I was treated to the Return to Nature Organic Facial, which normally costs $215 for one hour. Like the Heyday facials, this one had a little bit of everything, only it was a lot more luxe. The anti-aging and hydrating process utilized Omega 3 & 6, bioactive peat enzymes, and antioxidants to really refresh my skin. There was also a mini Acupressure massage towards the end that was total bliss. This facial ends with a healthy application of the two products from the brand's Transform Plus collection, both of which I've been swearing by ever since. I definitely left the treatment feeling pampered and looking rejuvenated, so this one was a major favorite for me.
I know it can be daunting to splurge on facials when you aren't sure if they'll help your skin or make matters worse, but hopefully this little guide made it easier for anyone debating one of these options. If you're really stuck, I recommend talking to a dermatologist and asking him or her what areas of your skin need the most work, and what kinds of treatments he or she would recommend. Trust me, once you find the steps that work, they can become totally addictive, in the best way possible!