Spa Junkie at... The Institute, New York

Allantoin? Tamanu? Collaxyl? Our covert reporter returns to test an exotic, 11-product-strong über-facial

Having eked out the bag of beauty goodies picked up after facial number one, a low-on-supplies Spa Junkie returns for number two…

Four weeks later:

Havingpersuaded a member friend to give me a visitor pass, I have returned to TheInstitute and am lying in a room with soft lighting and gentle music,on sheets infused with calming chamomile essential oil, ready for a two-hourcustomised facial.

The four weekssince I was last here have been particularly busy and hectic. I have beenoutside in the sun a lot and have done watersports – and this has taken a tollon my skin. The therapist studies my face under the magnifying lamp. “There isgeneral redness and dryness,” she says. “Plus I can see inflamed follicles aroundthe left jawline – a little congestion family.” I sigh. She means acluster of spots.

She begins thefacial by using the signature Erno Laszlo Active Phelityl Pre-Cleansing Oil ($45 for 193ml), whichconsists of avocado, kurzii seed, sunflower, safflower and sesame oils. “This is one of Lazlo’s original formulas,”says the therapist, “and one of the products that the brand remains famousfor. I’ll follow it with Phelityl Cleansing Gel [$39 for 85ml], which includes cucumberextract and green tea, then tone with the Hydraphel Skin Supplement [$49 for 340ml]. Thisparticular toner contains hydrating glycerine and calming allantoin.”

As she massagesthe oil into my skin and works through the cleansing ritual, it feels andsmells amazing: gentle, yet firm, and aromatic. It does tingle a little, which Iput down to the fact that my skin is dry and sensitive.

“Now I’m goingto massage your skin with Erno Laszlo’s Timeless Skin Serum [$125 for 48ml],” she says. “Itcontains pomegranate seed oil, which repairs skin quickly, and vitamin E, whichstrengthens.” It’s certainly soothing.

But before Ican get too comfortable, it is time for the painful process of the extractions. My therapist dons some gloves. “I’m going to avoid the inflammation around yournose, but I’ll have to use the lancet on the ‘congestion family’, as they are ina deeper layer of the skin.” It hurts – but I know it’ll be worth it.

The painfulpart over, she uses a Light Controlling Lotion ($45 for 193 ml) that contains eugenol, aclove-extract antiseptic, to remove any residual bacteria that mayconstrict my pores.

The applicationof Transphuse Line Refining Cream ($225 for 48ml) begins a more pampering phase of thetreatment. She says that this cream will stimulate cell rejuvenation. She also usesthe 3-9 Balm ($245 for 48ml), which contains tamanu oil – a very good healing agent.

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To ensure that allthe nourishment penetrates to the skin’s deeper layers, she uses the hand-heldBT-Micro tool for ultrasonic exfoliation. She moves it around my face for a fewminutes – it feels hot.

Next is a coolHydra-Therapy Skin Vitality Mask ($55 for four 35ml sachets) with allantoin and vitamin B5. “Allantoin is ahealing anti-irritant, while B5 helps retain moisture,” my therapist says.“As the mask works its magic, I’m going to massage your arms and apply ErnoLaszlo’s Intensive Décolleté Cream [$95 for 48ml].” It feels heavenly ­– über relaxing.

Once the maskhas dried, she peels it off and removes the oily residue, before placing aBioptron lamp over the inflamed areas on my face. She explains that this light-therapy device will help the skin to heal bystimulating the body’s natural regenerative process. It’s like lying out in thewarm sun. 

After aboutfive minutes, she applies a hydrating serum, which contains vitamins A,C,E and shea butter for cellregeneration, as well as hyaluronic acid. And the finishingtouch: Active Phelityl Intensive Cream ($65 for 48ml) – Marilyn Monroe’s favourite product.Its main active ingredient is safflower seed oil, which helps retain moisture.

I glance at theclock to see that I have been here for two hours, but one look at my skin and it really is glowing and red-carpet ready.

The bottom line:

When I left The Institute the first time, my skin wasradiant, my pores felt clean and my whole face looked fresh. This sensation andappearance lasted for several days. The experience was intense – itreally felt in a different league.

The secondfacial was even better – one of the best treatments I’ve ever had. My red, drypatches and spots were taken care of, while my skin felt less sensitive and looked youthful.

I enjoyed usingthe samples I took home. Ritual usage has proven them to be effective – my skinfeels moisturised and soft – and the 3-9 Balm has become my go-to,can’t-live-without product.

The Institute is a new generation of spa that still remainsloyal to its founder’s principles, and the result is a very special, stylishspace, brimming with history and scientific knowledge.

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While the $3,000 annual membership price tag may seem a little steep,it’s worth noting that those who sign up receive a custom skin rejuvenation and maintenance programme, plus 15 nutrient-packed facials and regenerative peels performedwith Laszlo’s serums.

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