What I Learned From Getting a $3,000 Facial

Photo: Stocksy/Liliya Rodnikova
"What type of music would you like: classical, new age, Asian-inspired, or Ayurvedic?" my facialist asks me before she begins my treatment and shortly after she's tucked me into a heated bed. This is the first time that I've ever had a say in what I listen to during a facial—which makes me curious to learn what else this $3,000 treatment entails.

I'm at The Peninsula Hotel in New York, preparing to get their new (uber-luxurious) anti-aging facial, which is being offered until the end of the month. As someone who's recently turned 30, I've noticed some fine lines starting to take up real estate on my face (who invited them?). I'm eager to see the effects of such a robust, intricate treatment that's aimed at stimulating the skin at a cellular level via products from German-based brand Medical Beauty Research (MBR).

I'm eager to see the effects of such a robust, intricate treatment that's aimed at stimulating the skin at a cellular level.

"This facial is really decadent, and the MBR line is really good at anti-aging," my facialist Lucy tells me. And so it begins. My skin's cleansed three times (a charm) and the last cleanser is infused with fruit enzymes, which gently exfoliate the dead skin cells. I opt out of extractions since my skin's already inflamed, and I want to keep things cool and collected.

My face is then covered with a very cold algae mask that's supposed to help repair the barrier. As it hardens (it's one of those peel-off sorts), I get a foot massage followed by one on my scalp (my personal fave). Then the algae is peeled off and feels really satisfying.

As serums are slathered onto my décolletage and face, I'm realizing that it doesn't seem that different than any other facials I've gotten in terms of steps and how it feels overall. The price tag comes from the products themselves, as MBR's offering a customized treatment with its medical-grade active ingredients meant to restore elasticity in your complexion.

Once it's over, I peer into a mirror to see that seriously impressive post-facial radiance. While the experience was a lovely one, I realized that I'm not the sort to pencil in a facial for the end result. Instead, I go to one as an act of self-care and to do something kind for myself. If you're someone who's looking to solve real, anti-aging concerns with top products, the Peninsula facial has your name written all over it, but if you're more like me—in it for the experience—a more cost-effective option will still check all the boxes. But being able to choose your own playlist? That's worth its weight in gold.

This is what a cryofacial is really like. But this is the facial treatment you should do at home once a week, according to the pros.

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