I touch down at JFK after a delayed flight, feeling sleep-deprived and looking frazzled. With little downtime between a series of meetings and a host of social events, I frantically dial my Manhattan nearest and dearest in search of a miracle makeover. Several desperate calls later and I am pointed in the direction of Mist Beauty Spa, run by the beauty polymath Nachi Kanemaru Glick, whose career has spanned roles as a facialist, make-up artist and waxing specialist, from Kanebo Cosmetics in Japan to Mac in Canada and De Niro’s Shibui Spa in New York – the city where she eventually opened Mist in 2008.
I arrive at what looks like an office building on West 28th Street, ring the buzzer, take the lift and virtually smash into a rather gorgeous, slender blonde sporting giant sunglasses – I swear it’s Kate Hudson but, in my running-late panic, I can’t be sure.I am met by Nachi in what she calls her beauty “atelier” – a tiny room not much bigger than a single parking space. Small it may be, but its pastel-blue walls and her calming energy are immediately soothing. I feel like I have entered a top-secret beauty den.Nachi explains how her experiences as a therapist have led her to realise that many spas’ set lists of facials may not address each client’s particular skin type or concerns – and, without a consultation, many people simply choose the wrong type of facial for their skin. She has decided to simplify her own offering, which consists of either a 60/70- or 90-minute facial tailored to the client – to both their skin type and their lifestyle. She is the ultimate in Japanese bespoke, a fairy godmother of the Omakase (meaning “to entrust” or “to protect”) facials.She asks me about my life and I explain that I have a hot date on the agenda, so would appreciate some wizardry, given my panda eyes. She giggles and launches into a long discussion about New York dating rules: “First thing’s first,” she says. “In America, men don’t like hairy women.” The fur needs to go…
Without further ado, she sets about removing my hair, using GiGi lavender crème wax for the Brazilian, upper leg and eyebrow shaping. She is a demon with a wax strip and tweezers. I lie on the treatment bed as she contorts me into what can only be described as surreal yoga poses, holding my legs up and around so she can get into the most intimate of places. Surprisingly, it is virtually pain-free. I stare down at the transformation. Not a hair remains.
We move on to the main event, the Omakase 90-minute facial. Nachi begins with a double cleanse using Puri Soft from Dr Grandel’s Elements of Nature range, which contains the wonder ingredient “epigran” – a multiactive wheat-germ concentrate. The gentle gel formula smells grassy and leaves my skin feeling fresh. Nachi then steams my face for 10 minutes, while performing a massage on my décolleté, shoulder, back, arm and hands with eucalyptus aroma oil. Her touch is firm but soothing, and I feel completely relaxed.
Nachi then does some extractions – she believes it is important to perform them as thoroughly as possible. “But,” she says, “I have developed my own technique for minimising the pain and scarring.” True to her word, the extractions are thorough and, although not entirely pain-free, considerably less uncomfortable than usual.
Next she exposes my skin to a high-frequency blue LED – it is painless save for a slight tingle. Its aim is to kill bacteria and reduce pore size. She then applies a light glycolic peel from Dr Grandel, an odourless clear liquid with a watery texture that is left on for six minutes.
Now for the pièce de résistance – the “Nachi” face massage. “I feel that you need to exercise the muscles in your face just like you exercise other parts of your body,” she says. “I try to provide this ‘exercise’ via my massage.”
With no formal technique, her massage is intuitive; she says it’s like a “moving meditation”, where she closes her eyes and her hands are guided to the areas that need the most work. It feels like a yoga-gyrotonic hybrid facial. She oscillates between slow and fast, smooth and short, sharp rhythmic movements; the pressure is firm, but not painful.
She places a hot towel on my face for another steam before applying Dr Grandel Hydro Active Moisture Mask. She then uses microcurrent light therapy to tone, tighten and firm my face. The anti-ageing device claims to accelerate and enhance the skin’s absorption of applied products; Nachi explains that this is because the microcurrents stimulate the production of collagen and elastin.
She wraps up the session by spritzing a rose toner spray to hydrate my skin and applies a vitamin C cream. One last gentle arm and hand massage, and I’m ready to hit the town. The bottom line: Nachi has made it onto my Manhattan speed-dial. Waxing and facial specialist? More like miracle worker. Not only of minimum discomfort (both waxing and extractions), my experience was also exceptionally relaxing and highly effective. My face felt firmer and plumper, with reduced pore size, my skin was fuzz free and I felt like I had had a top-to-toe rejuvenation session that prepared me for the onslaught of hectic meetings and emails to come… not to mention my date.
I predict a meteoric rise for Nachi, so recommend booking an appointment while there is still no waiting list. She is the best-kept secret I wish I didn’t have to give up.
Spa Junkie pays for all her own travel, therapies and accommodation.