When face creams first started running into the hundreds of dollars, customers may have initially done a double-take, but quickly got used to the idea of ponying up serious cash in pursuit of younger, smoother skin. Will they do the same for a facial?
Until now, even the most high-end facials have hovered in the mid triple digits, and those are by facialists such as Tracie Martyn and Kate Somerville, whose clients reportedly have included Madonna, Kate Winslet, Debra Messing, and Penelope Cruz. In fact, the average cost of a facial in the U.S. is about $100, according to the latest research from the International Spa Association. Given the norm, it’s no surprise that the $1,100 Oxy-Star Anti-Pigmentation Treatment at L.Raphael, a premium skincare brand and chain of six spas around the world (including one at the Four Seasons in New York and another in midtown Manhattan), is shaking up the industry.
Factor in the 20 percent tip that’s standard for spa services, and the bill ratchets up to more than $1,300.
It’s a 50-minute to-do that’s supposed to brighten the face and diminish acne, pigmentation and pores, and L.Raphael founder Ronit Raphael, 49, says that the price is relative. “It’s an investment in yourself and you can’t put a cost on that,” she says.
According to Raphael, the Oxy-Star is the next best thing to a facelift. Oyx-Star has appealed to movie stars, who book it before red carpet appearances because of its immediate dramatic effect. Though she’s tight-lipped about which boldfacers have had it done, she did say that Eva Longoria and Dita von Teese have visited an L.Raphael location within the last year.
The Israeli-born Raphael created the four-figure service almost 11 years ago when she launched the L.Raphael brand in Geneva with a seven-story “Temple of Beauty” on the tony Rue du Rhone near Patek Philippe (there are now three in Geneva, two in New York City, one in Cannes, and a seventh opening in Kazakhstan in September). At the time, she was running eight Ronit Raphael spas throughout Israel (there are now 12) and getting a name for her deep cleaning and anti-aging facials. She was approached by a local medical company that told her about a high-speed jet stream machine that doctors were using on diabetics to help with faster healing of scars and bruises.
“They asked if I wanted to use it for facials. I tried it and saw that it did wonders for the skin, and that’s how Oxy-Star started,” she said.
That so-called miraculous gadget is what aestheticians use to apply most of the products in the treatment to the face, neck and chest, and is supposed to amp up their potency. Besides the machine itself, pricey and rare white truffles, which the brand claims help block the production of dark spots and make for a radiant complexion, are the main ingredient in Oxy-Star, and their extracts are in the ampoules, serum and collagen and firming masks clients are sprayed, massaged and slathered with.
Both are why the facial is so expensive: the high-speed gadget is priced upwards of $100,000, and the products themselves run the brand a few hundred dollars for each service.
The cost doesn’t seem to deter takers. Every L.Raphael location has two of the devices, which means getting an appointment isn’t easy since bookings fill up far in advance.
A surprising 35 percent of Raphael’s clients are men, who, she says, can’t hide skin damage and aging with makeup the way women can.
The priciness of Oxy-Star is an eccentricity, says Mia Kyricos, the chief brand officer for Spa Finder Wellness 365, the world’s largest network of spas. “Of course there are exceptions, especially in urban markets, but for the most part you don’t have to pay so much for a facial that’s just as effective,” she said. “That being said, I’m sure your skin will look fantastic, and it’s fun to say you did it.”