As a teen, the only thing I knew about spa facials was what I’d seen in Legally Blonde. In the film, Elle and Emmett found the snobby Mrs. Windham Vandermark at a spa in a fancy, remote location, where she and other rich middle-aged women paid hundreds of dollars to lay wrapped like mummies, cucumbers over their eyes. Of course, that spa is an exaggeration of the real thing, but its depiction is indicative of an obstacle the industry faces: the idea that the spa is an exclusive, elitist hallmark of our mothers’ generation; inaccessible, unwelcoming, and demanding of our time and finances.
That isn’t to say the spa industry is suffering. In 2016, American spas experienced a 5 percent revenue increase compared to the previous year, and nine out of 10 spa owners were confident these increases will continue. But the spa industry is also rapidly adapting, as millennials are more concerned about sustainability, customization, and convenience than their parents and grandparents.
The New York-based Heyday is one such example. The small chain — with locations in Nomad, Tribeca, and the Upper East Side — bills itself as “taking the facial out of the spa and into your life.” Facial options are straightforward and limited, with 30-, 50-, and 75-minute appointments that go for $60, $95, and $135, respectively. Add-ons, including microdermabrasion, LED light therapy, and “beard therapy,” are available for $35 each, or $30 if you’re a member.
I arrived for my 50-minute Upper East Side appointment with little idea of what to expect. Intimidated by the possibility of damage to both my wallet and my somewhat sensitive skin, I’d never really looked into it. But rather than screaming luxury and wealth, Heyday’s small, quiet lobby was, more than anything, comfortable.
Heyday facials aren’t one size fits all, so the first thing my aesthetician (or “skin therapist,” in Heyday parlance) did was determine the current state of my skin. Having looked at it under a light, Natalie determined that it was slightly congested, topically dry, and, on a deeper level, very dehydrated. As such, she customized my facial by double-cleansing, softening with warm washcloths, and applying multiple masks — a volcanic ash mask that helps detoxify the skin and a moisturizing mask — before doing a short extraction. After applying a vitamin C serum, a moisturizer, and an SPF, Natalie prepared several samples of products she thought would be particularly suited to my dehydrated, congested skin.
I left Heyday feeling as relaxed and fresh as you might expect from any facial, but I also felt that I’d learned a lot about my skin. I’ll be totally honest: My skin feels legitimately smoother and less red than it did previously. For a single facial that costs about as much as a midrange gym membership in NYC, I’m not sure I’m ready to commit, but if my financial situation somehow changes, I’ll sign up in a heartbeat.
Silver Mirror is another facial bar, from the founder of Korean skincare website Peach & Lily. With a single location on the Upper East Side, it offers a wider variety of “fast and affordable” treatments, such as the “Winter Skin Fix” or “Just for Men” facials. For those who get frequent facials, the ability to choose what you want to tackle before going in is a benefit, but at $80 to 135 each, plus add-ons, and considering the fact that these treatments are recommended once every two weeks, this is hardly sensible for the thrifty millennial audience that is the business’s target clientele.