Feb 200

Brooklyn spas are stress-free sanctuaries


Pilo Arts Day Spa & Salon featured in The Brooklyn Papers Newspaper Article - Winter Relief Pilo Arts aesthetician Maya Solovey applies a facial mask to a relaxed client in Bay Ridge.

The Brooklyn Papers / Greg Mango


Pilo Arts Day Spa

Pilo Arts' hair salon opened in 1978, and its day spa opened in 1984 making it the grandmother of Brooklyn spas. Pilo Arts Day Spa & Salon has its client traffic down to a science.

The bustling, first-floor lobby handles the tremendous number of clients who come for the extensive manicure, pedicure, makeup, hair coloring and cutting services. (This hair salon and hand and foot therapy area was recently renovated with a blend of Roman and Oriental influences, incorporating rice paper into the minimalist look.)

Spa clients are sent downstairs to the - currently being redecorated after hours - spa area. The distinct smells of a hair salon, and the noise, diminish as you descend the stairs.

The spa is installing a small waterfall into its relaxation room where lunches are served, explained John Haubrich, Pilo's director of operations. There will be a total of nine treatment rooms, and their current '80s-style rooms will be updated into a more current look including new, porcelain bowl sinks rather than stainless steel "kitchen sinks."

A real added benefit to the Pilo spa prices are the complimentary shower, sauna, steam, hand paraffin treatment and makeup touchup included in the service price. Jude LaBarca, Pilo's CEO, says the spa has been doing so well, they wanted to give back to the customer.

(You might want to tell the artists to go light on the makeup after your facial, when it's important to let the rosy cheeked you be exposed.)

I experienced a Pilo Signature facial with Master II aesthetician Maya. (A facial with a Master I aesthetician is $48, Master II is $53.) Maya, a 12-year Pilo vet dressed in nurse's whites, was pleasant yet still quite serious about the health of my skin and very knowledgeable about the array of facial product lines she uses - Decleor, Sothys, Gigi and others.

Each Pilo Arts facial includes cleansing and toning, a warm vaporizing mist, extractions, a relaxing face, neck and shoulder massage, customized mask and moisturizer with sunscreen.

Each service also includes a moisturizing, heated hand treatment, which kept my hands in toasty mitts while Maya performed her soothing rituals.

Steaming the face during the facial massage has the added benefit of combating the effects of winter's cold, biting wind and the dry, baking indoor heat.

Though I protested the extractions, Maya insisted this was the only way to get a really clean face as opposed to just a relaxed face. The extractions - squeezing black heads and white heads until I squeezed a tear or two - were followed by a startling, "high frequency" electronic device like a bug zapper "to eliminate any impurities," Maya explained.

But when that was out of the way, a soothing seaweed mask was applied and cooling pads set on my eyes, and it was time to meditate for a few moments.

Gigi products don't have a lot of perfume and are good for sensitive skin, said Maya, explaining why she used them on my face. She recommends facials once a month to keep skin healthy and younger looking. And truly, upon later examination, my cheeks were pink, my face was glowing and even the bags under my eyes were diminished.

The half-hour Swedish massage ($40) with Stewart, recommended for loosening up muscles tightened by winter's chill, took place in a large treatment room.

Though he was adept at hitting soothing pressure points on the face and head and feet, Stewart said an hour-long massage is standard and gives him time to really relax the whole body. For a 30-minute service, I'd advise instructing the therapist to focus on one area - shoulders and neck or legs. Otherwise just go for the 60-minute massage!

The spa also offers a series discount and there are a number of discount packages to choose from. Pilo also has an outdoor garden available to clients in season.

"[Pilo Arts] is the largest day spa in Brooklyn," says LaBarca. "We have 4,000 clients in Staten Island, so we're opening a 7,000-square-foot space there. We hope to be the largest in Staten Island, too."