Nowadays, anyone with an Instagram account and a modest following thinks they're a skin-care expert — and honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. But in the case of beauty editors — who try out new technologies, products, innovations and treatments every single day as their literal job — it's actually true. So it's not exactly shocking that they've uncovered the best of the best when it comes to facials. And they have strong feelings about their pore perfecters, speaking about their most beloved estheticians and the services they offer with a certain reverence others might reserve for cultural icons or respected world leaders.
With that in mind, we asked 18 American beauty editors where they get facials in New York City and Los Angeles. Suffice it to say, both coasts are positively teeming with complexion saviors. Those mentioned on this list include little-known spots for killer bargains, big names frequented by celebrities and everything in between. One spa even racked up three (!) rave reviews from different editors, so you know it has to be good.
Ahead, read up on where beauty editors turn for their all-time-favorite exfoliating, massaging, extracting, relaxing, masking, hydrating, smoothing, technologically advanced, cheekbone-revealing, glow-ifying experiences. Hopefully by the end, you'll be more than inspired to treat yo' self.
Hannah Baxter, Editor, Coveteur
The spot: Take Care Face & Body in New York City and Santa Monica
The treatment: "Every treatment with Sadie Adams, the founder, is bespoke and can involve anything from microcurrent, buccal massage (inside the mouth), touch therapy or energy work. In that respect, it's tough to qualify a trip to Take Care as just a facial. But if you suffer from TMJ or facial swelling like me, it's truly the only method I've found that yields instant results and helps reduce the overall swelling or pain over time as well. It's a fully restorative experience that leaves your skin glowing and your mind at ease."
Katie Becker, Beauty Director, Coveteur
The spot(s): Rescue Spa in New York City and Philadelphia; CAP Beauty in New York City and Los Angeles
The treatment(s): Custom facial with extractions with owner Denuta Mieloch at Rescue; the Golden Hour facial with Cara Peloso at CAP.
"Denuta knows a lot, lot, lot about skin and she isn't religious or dogmatic about anything, which I really appreciate. She is a listener and responder, so you can go in with your autobiography about everything you've been through with your skin and she will take it seriously and not come back to you with skepticism — my biggest pet peeve among facialists! Her extractions are practically surgical: She'll get that sucker out of your face, and even if it's a big one, it will heal quickly."
"Cara has a very special calming, steady soul, and equally exceptional hands. There is no one I'd rather have massaging the heck out of my face than Cara. You will leave with skin so pretty it looks like you're wearing makeup — and your mind and heart will feel totally refreshed, too."
Kristina Rodulfo, Senior Beauty Editor, Elle.com
The spot: Savor Spa in New York City
The treatment: Champagne Couture Facial
"This is, hands down, the best facial I've ever had. It had all the works: a good, deep cleanse, extractions, microdermabrasion and a fruit enzyme peel to reveal smooth, supple skin. My blackheads were totally gone and my skin looked so dewy and clear I didn't wear any foundation (which is a rarity for me). I also like Savor Spa because it uses an in-house line of all-organic products, and the owner, Angela Jia Kim, is really inspired by her Korean roots. She makes it easy for you to understand all the steps it takes to have great skin."
Emily Ferber, Editorial Director, Into the Gloss
The spot: Rescue Spa in New York City and Philadelphia
The treatment: "My favorite spot for facials is, hands down, Rescue Spa. Since they came to town (they're originally from Philly), my perspective on skin maintenance has changed. It's hard to find someone you trust! Now I feel like I can see Danuta Mieloch once a season, have everything checked out, extracted, exfoliated and massaged to keep me on the path toward even, bright, smooth skin. Everyone at Into The Gloss has Danuta tattooed on their bicep — we're that devoted. Splurge for the Bio Lift. Worth it."
Kathleen Hou, Beauty Director, The Cut
The spot(s): Georgia Louise Atelier and Joanna Vargas Skin Care in New York City; Shani Darden in Los Angeles
The treatment(s): "If I won the Powerball tomorrow, I would start booking monthly standing appointments for myself, my friends and my family at Georgia Louise and Joanna Vargas (I would probably run out of money very soon, but worth it). Both are facialists who are interested in science — none of that 'I'm just going to rub cream on your face' nonsense. That being said, they give a mean face massage, too."
"Georgia always has some newfangled machine she just got from Korea, plus she got the entire world to ask for the 'penis facial.' Joanna is a wizardress with the microcurrent machine. I'll never forget the first time I went to her for a facial and she did the half-and-half reveal. She did half my face and left the other untreated. It was actually kind of mean because the untreated side looked like I had eaten night cheese, and the treated side looked so much better. I don't go to LA very often, but I got a facial last time from Shani Darden and she, Georgia and Joanna could be facial sisters. You don't leave any of their facials looking busted (read: red, inflamed, oily)."
Sable Yong, Digital Beauty Editor, Allure.com
The spot: Trinity Esthetics in Flushing, Queens
The treatment: "I go there usually because my mom goes with me — she lives in Flushing — and that's something we do together, but also, these ladies are thorough. It's usually, like, two hours of cleansing, extractions, hydration masking and a neck/shoulder massage. The extractions aren't pleasant, obviously, but they're so thorough that you're only red for the day and once they heal there are no marks left at all — it's pretty impressive. As far as I know I've never selected off a menu of treatments — usually, one of their estheticians just assess what my skin needs and we go from there."
Siraad Dirshe, Beauty Editor, Essence
The spot: Rescue Spa in New York City and Philadelphia
The treatment: "I actually used to travel to Philly to get facials here for about two years — Diana Yerkes is the best. At the time, they didn't have a location in New York (thank goodness they opened one last year) so I would take the two-hour trek for my facial fix. What I love is that this is a Biologique Recherche (one of my favorite skin care lines) spa. I've gotten a few treatments done here over the years, from microdermabrasion to oxygen facials to peels. Honestly you can't go wrong with Diana. You always leave super-glowy and very relaxed.
David Yi, Editor, Very Good Light
The spot: Red and Whiter Spa, New York City
The treatment: "It isn't fancy, isn't related to Biologique Recherche or any trendy K-beauty treatment; the spa is very low-key and doesn't have the latest flavored coconut water, but it's absolutely wonderful. This place is no-fuss and absolutely gives you more bang for your buck. Each of the estheticians knows exactly what they're doing, and their extractions are super methodical. I leave feel cleansed, renewed — and as if I really received a great deal. I get the mini/express facial that's $60 for 30 minutes. In that time, your face will be picked apart — it may hurt. You will wince. But after, your pores will absolutely glisten."
Jamé Jackson, Beauty and Style Writer, BuzzFeed
The spot: Cynergy Spa in Brooklyn
The treatment: "Whenever I can sense my skin is feeling stressed, tired, or just downright moody, I head to Cynergy Spa, a black-owned spa in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. My favorite treatment is their Ultimate Facial, which includes a back massage, a botanical mud application down the spine and a deep pore-cleansing facial. I have extremely sensitive skin, but even on my skin's worst, allergy-ridden days, I can still get this facial and not leave feeling like my skin is on fire. It was very important for me to find a black-owned spa, not just to support black businesses, but because I wanted to ensure my aesthetician knew about the problems I was experiencing, could treat them and also had experience working on clients with my skin color. The reality is that much of skin care is still targeted to white consumers, so I wanted a spa that I knew I can trust to keep my melanin skin happy, healthy and hydrated."
Kara McGrath, Executive Editor, Fashion & Beauty, Bustle
The spot: Christine Chin Spa in New York City
The treatment: Glow Facial
"The spa is a small but really relaxing space, and Christine and her team are the sweetest. The Glow Facial definitely lives up to the name — my skin is at its glowiest after one of these. I love the back-to-back masks at the end, especially the cooling clay one (it's pink, so very photogenic)."
Sara Tan, Senior West Coast Fashion & Beauty Editor, Bustle
The spot: Yoli Glo in Los Angeles
The treatment: "I could wax poetic about Yoli's facials for days. There is a reason she has become the go-to facialist for many beauty YouTubers and Hollywood actresses in LA. Her facials are unlike your traditional spa treatment — she first welcomes you with homemade tea or cider and cookies before spending over an hour poring over, well, every pore on your face. Yoli doesn't use any fancy gadgets or even a steamer during her facials — just her hands, her favorite Tatcha products and two Akari gold-leaf covered acupressure sticks to encourage lymphatic drainage in your face. After the facial, you'll leave with a glow-y and clear complexion fit for the red carpet."
Maya Allen, Assistant Editor, Byrdie
The spot: FaceGym in New York City
The treatment: Game Face
"Let me be up front: This is not your typical facial. It's as literal as it sounds — you legitimately take your face to the gym. I love working out, so the thought of a cardio session for my face instantly intrigued me. I've tried a lot of facials, and none of them have given me the immediate, magical results of this one. You sit in a chair and the specialist starts going to town on your facial muscles, using hand movements to stimulate, apply pressure and wake up your muscles. The treatment involves everything from micro-contouring techniques to oxygen blasters to give you a non-surgical face lift. It releases tension and essentially leaves you with a natural-looking contour. After my 45-minute session, I was in love with how sculpted my face looked and how lifted my features were — and this effect lasted for days. It might not be the most relaxing treatment, but it works."
Chloe Hall, Beauty Writer and Producer, Elle.com
The spot: Mario Badescu Skin Care in New York City
The treatment: The European Facial
"It's all about the 75-year-old Russian estheticians with a combined 88 years of experience. Not only do they offer advice about skincare, diet and overall health, but they also moonlight as therapists and comedians during your treatment."
Cat Quinn, Beauty Director, Refinery29
The spot: Soho Sanctuary in New York City
The treatment: Sanctuary Signature Facial
"As someone with a history of cystic acne, I'm used to leaving facials in blotches and tears — but this experience completely changed my mind. My facialist started the appointment by telling me all the good things about my skin (rather than scolding me about my zits and the products I'm using). She then curated a treatment specifically for me, carefully smoothing and massaging on each layer; the spa uses Dr. Hauschka products, which are super gentle and don't inflame my skin. I usually cover my face and run home from facials, but the extractions were so gentle, I barely had a red mark. My face was glowing, but more importantly, I left feeling happier and more confidant, too."
Jessica Cruel, Deputy Beauty Director, Refinery29
The spot: Sisley Boutique in New York City
The treatment: The Classic Facial
"This little boutique has a hidden treatment room in the back. There's no menu advertising the facials, you have to ask to get the details. The room is very intimate with the treatment table and all the machines. The products all have a subtle scent that isn't too overpowering. It's a little hidden gem. The design of this entire shop is similar to a Parisian boutique; there is this amazing wallpaper that I'd love to have in my own bathroom."
Kirbie Johnson, Senior Reporter, Popsugar
The spot(s) : Olga Lorencin Skin Care Clinic and Le Jolie Spa in Los Angeles
The treatment(s): The Red Carpet Facial at Olga Lorencin; Forma Facial at Le Jolie
"Olga tailors her facials to you, so I let her do whatever she wants to my skin. That said, her Red Carpet Facials are coveted for a reason: You look good instantly, and the more you get, the better your skin gets."
"The Forma Facial is one of the more relaxing facials I've gotten, even though it's touted as a 'non-surgical facelift.' It's one of the only treatments I've gotten in which my boyfriend actually notices. The point of the Forma is to firm and lift while stimulating collagen and elastin, and I love how smooth and taut my skin looks after. Le Jolie recommends four to six treatments of Forma to achieve optimal results, which are supposed to last several years. It is quite pricey, but beauty is pain for our wallets... isn't that how the saying goes?"
Stephanie Montes, Freelance Beauty Editor
The spot: Joanna Vargas Skin Care at The Sunset Tower Hotel in Los Angeles
The treatment: The Supernova Facial
"Joanna Vargas is the skin whisperer to the stars — she's so good and she opened an LA location to be close to her celebrity clients, particularly around red-carpet season. I popped into her gorgeous salon before the Oscars earlier this year to experience her famous Supernova Facial and I've been trying to re-create that glow ever since. In a nutshell, the treatment incorporated five high-tech machines used back to back, a rubber molding mask, and a seriously relaxing de-puffing massage (I may have snored through that part). I swear my skin has never been so hydrated, looked so glow-y or felt so lifted."