One of the perks of the job as a beauty editor is being invited to try—gratis—dozens of spa treatments around town. (And sometimes beyond. One of the best press trips EVER was to Miraval, a luxury spa resort in Arizona that’s also a favourite of Oprah’s.) Don’t hate us for it. Because seriously? Not many people would be happy to also make the salary of a janitor. (Probably editors make less, actually.) If only I could pay my rent in spa gift certificates…
Over the years, I’ve heard many a beauty editor rave about the blissful paradise that awaited them inside the Stillwater. Somehow, an invitation evaded me (gosh, that sounds obnoxious, doesn’t it? But true) and I remained ignorant of what could possibly be different about the place. A spa’s a spa, right?
I finally made it there last month, and now I KNOW WHY. It’s not the decor, or the cosy waiting area with stacks of magazines, dimmed lights and your choice of lemon, cucumber OR orange water. (Although all are quite lovely, of course.)
It’s the estheticians.
A few months back, I posted a few excerpts from Hadley Freeman’s WONDERFUL book, The Meaning of Sunglasses: And a Guide to All Things Fashionable, about annoying/judgemental/underqualified beauty therapists. Let me refresh your memory with a few choice quotes:
“Quite why almost all beauty treatment places insist on having this Indothaijapanesechinajungle mélange has never been fully explained. Maybe it’s because there are few things that will make you more in need of another massage than being forced to listen to toucans for ninety minutes and then enduring the embarrassment of seeing your masseuse—typically, a twenty-year-old aspiring American Idol from Detroit—bang some bronze cymbal over your half-naked body.”
“The beauty therapist is a species of mankind more cruel than a gynecologist’s assistant (”I promise this won’t hurt. You may, though, feel some discomfort…”), and we all have our own horror story. One friend settled herself down to a harmless massage only to hear the giggling observation, “Oh! Very pimply!” Another went for a facial, and as the facialist peered closely at her skin she asked my friend, “So, how old are you? Forty-three? Forty-five?” overestimating by almost a decade.”
God, I wish I wrote that. SO TRUE.
But! I’m happy to report that I experienced none of that with my therapist (Antonia). In fact, it was a Facial First: she told ME to shut up and relax! God love her. The 90-minute Mineral Facial ($250) consisted of an initial skin consultation, cleansing, exfoliation, extractions, mud mask and face, hand and foot massage. But you know, I had to look all that up, because I was so blissed-out, I barely remember what happened in there. And then proceeded to walk on clouds for the rest of the afternoon.
It was a good day.
As for the products: LUXE LUXE LUXE. The Omorovicza line (available exclusively at the Stillwater) hails from Hungary, where there are, apparently, some famous healing waters that help your skin stay young, taut and plump. In fact, the Hungarians are getting a bit of a reputation for great skincare—Eminence Organics and ilike are two natural lines that I’m a big fan of, and they’re also from Hungary.
Fun fact (via Bella Sugar): In the 14th century, Queen Elizabeth of Hungary had such beautiful skin that at the age of 60, she married a 30-year-old man (and as the story goes, he thought they were the same age). Must be that Miracle Water!
The crux of the line is a blend of minerals and actives that complement (and heighten the effects of) the healing water. And best of all, they contain no synthetics. I felt like my skin just drunk up all the goodness. And although pricey if you want to take them home, I think you’re getting good value here because of the quality ingredients.
Stillwater Spa is located at 4 Avenue Road, Toronto, (416) 925-1234