The Price of Beauty
Posted On Feb 24, 2017
Story By: Tatiana Boncompagni
Photography By: Jamie Nelson
Cleopatra’s daily milk and honey baths undoubtedly put a big dent in Mark Antony’s coffers, and Marie Antoinette’s extensive beauty regimen—saffron hair rinses and customized soaps—did little to endear her to the French. Flash to today: The pursuit of beauty has become an even bigger, pricier obsession. US women spend roughly seven billion dollars on treatments and products every year, a number expected to grow despite uncertain economic times. True, most women aren’t in the habit of dropping $500 on a blowout (or $3,150 on a facial by the Duchess of Cornwall’s aesthetician), but a girl can dream, can’t she? Here, four of the world’s most ultra-extravagant treatments.
Siberian Mink Eyelash Extensions, $500, plus $150 every 2 to 3 weeks, Pierre Michel Salon, New York City
“It’s the difference between wearing a regular coat and wearing a mink,” says makeup artist Monika Crouch of her Siberian Mink Eyelash extensions at the Pierre Michel salon. Mink eyelashes provide a fuller, more natural effect than synthetic or silk eyelashes, and are softer and more comfortable, too. These airy fibers hold a curl longer than regular mink, and are thin enough so that several can be glued to a lash. According to Crouch, mink lashes— available in a variety of lengths—tend to last up to three months, with regular three-week touch ups. Crouch belongs to a select group of eyelash extension experts with the skill to handle the tiny hairs. “It’s not that ‘big makeup’ look,” she says. “It’s glamorous, but not something people notice right away.”
try: Madame Madeline Authentic Mink Lashes ($37; madamemadeline.com) come in an easy-to-use strip that is glued directly to the lash line and can be worn up to 20 times.
Bee Venom Facial, £2,000; approximately $3,150, Heaven by Deborah Mitchell Salon, London
Created by UK-based aesthetician Deborah Mitchell, the new bee venom facial has gained a cult following that includes discriminating tastemakers such as Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. The headline making virtue: It’s a natural alternative to Botox. Dr. Howard Sobel, an attending dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at New York’s Lenox Hill Hospital, explains: “Bee venom has an active compound called Melittin that has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied to the epidermis, it begins to break down skin cell membranes.”
The results, according to Dr. Sobel, are increased circulation, tighter skin, and a temporary relaxation of facial muscles—which mimic the effects of Botox. The venom runs $42,000 per ounce, and Mitchell’s Gold Bee Sting serum is formulated with an extremely rare secret ingredient that helps activate the venom. It also contains Manuka honey and silt from a riverbed that’s rich in fish enzymes.
Clients are given a facial and body massage to realign posture and head positioning, amplifying the results of the treatment. “You walk out looking like a different person,” promises Mitchell. Her results are cumulative, but after just one treatment Mitchell assures that clients will see lifted brows, higher cheekbones, plumper skin, and a more youthful appearance. Recipients of the Gold Bee Sting Facial are immediately inducted into a “club,” with benefits that include first dibs on the miniscule lot of gold bee sting serum available for purchase. (She can make only 500 at a time.)
try: Rodial Bee Venom Super Serum ($200; nordstrom.com) uses marine collagen and bee venom to reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles and plump the skin.
24 Karat Gold Body Wrap and Massage, $4,000, El Dorado Golf and Beach Club, Cabo San Lucas
There’s just no shortage of skincare products touting the benefits of gold, said to battle everything from aging to acne. But when it comes to outright indulgence, nothing comes close to the 24 Karat gold body wrap and massage offered at the El Dorado Golf and Beach Club, a private residential community in Cabo San Lucas. According to the spa, gold works to accelerate cell renewal, inhibit the breakdown of elastin, and improve blood circulation. During the head-to-toe treatment, the body is exfoliated with an antioxidant scrub, wrapped in hot towels, and massaged by two therapists for 90 minutes. Aromatherapy oils, shea butter moisturizer, and a grape-derived stem cell repair serum are applied to hydrate skin and smooth the appearance of wrinkles. Next, real gold is painted onto the body and left on for 20 minutes before being removed with another round of hot towels. As a totally deluxe finishing touch, the spa technicians dust each guest in a shimmering gold powder. According to Spa Director Jamie Sherrill, “the gold works to accelerate cell renewal, inhibit the breakdown of elastin, and improve blood circulation. It really lightens, brightens, and tightens.”
try: By Terry Or de Rose Élixer Extrême ($170; barneys.com) is a tinted primer laced with pink gold to protect skin against cell oxidation and premature aging. At the same time, it corrects your skin tone with light-diffusing particles.
White Caviar Illuminating Facial, $1,000, La Prairie Spa, Hotel Bel Air, Los Angeles
Any party is made better with caviar. This philosophy also applies at La Prairie Spa at the Hotel Bel Air. The premier facial from the Swiss skincare giant is suited to those with hyper pigmentation issues, and uses a rare golden caviar extract. This fluid is packed with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that surround the fish eggs, regenerating collagen and promoting skin elasticity while slowing melanin production and protecting the skin from sun damage.
The 90-minute facial begins with a fruit enzyme cleanse and steam, a three-minute peel, a lavender face massage, a brightening vitamin C face mask, and a lifting caviar treatment. Then comes the application of white caviar face serum, La Prairie’s blend of golden caviar extract and peptides—a white tea and white flower complex providing antioxidant protection as well as larch tree extract for brightening. Clients leave with three products from La Prairie’s White Caviar range. “It’s a great seasonal facial,” says aesthetician Carla Watts, who encourages clients to return every three to four months for continued improvement, or once they’ve run out of product.
try: Pevonia Timeless Repair Cream ($188; pevonia.com) contains caviar extract and pearl powder extract, smoothing wrinkles while increasing suppleness and hydration.