Modern life. It subjects our weary, iPhone-twiddling hands to early arthritis. It assaults our bleary heads with more informational overload — Work meeting! Dinner date! Political strife at home and abroad! — than a teenager’s Twitter timeline. We need every minute of blissful escape we can manage.
So, this month, as you hit the Back Bay on the inevitable holiday shopping spree, gift yourself with a big reprieve from reality. We found five of the most luxurious spa treatments available, promising big results and invoking lavish ingredients — and yes, cost substantial cash. Don’t worry. If the prices start to stress you out, there’s always a massage for that.
Gold Facial at Equinox
The price: $165
The promise: Firmed, younger-looking skin.
Lore has it that Cleopatra slept in a gold mask nightly. Why? One: because she’s Cleopatra — did you expect sliced cucumbers? Two: because gold has mythic anti-aging properties, which today’s spa technicians generally attribute to the metal’s purported ability to reduce free radicals, stimulate new cell growth, improve circulation and detoxify. The result should be healthier, more elastic skin that glows with youth. Or at least, with whatever 24k gold powder (combined with silk extract in the facial) still hasn’t washed off. (131 Dartmouth St.; 617-578-8918; equinox.com)
Vampire Facelift at Skin Deep Med Spa
The Price: $750
The Promise: A natural facelift using your own blood.
Fear not: no fangs or squawking bats required. Billed as an alternative to Restylane, this unique treatment involves drawing your blood, separating the platelets, then injecting them back into your face — or another area, like weathered hands, that might benefit from the effect of fillers. Over two to three sessions, spread four weeks apart, the effect is plumper skin (without chemicals) lasting up to 18 months. One side effect: slight garlic allergy. Just kidding. (231 Newbury St.; 617-266-7546; skindeepmedspa.com)
Power Facial at Exhale
The price: $245
The promise: Smooth, hydrated and reinvigorated skin in one hour.
There’s no reason a spa session can’t be both a relaxing experience and intensely focused face therapy. This 60-minute customizable treatment starts with an exfoliation, extraction (read: clearing the pore clogs), and plenty of fabulous-smelling, detoxifying elixirs calibrated for your requirements. Then you’ll choose between Cool Beam therapy, exposure to antibacterial lights that soften lines and reduce inflammation, and ultrasonic microdermabrasion, where sound waves gently pound away expired cells and excess oils, evening complexion and replenishing tissue with nutrients. (28 Arlington St.; 617-532-7000; exhalespa.com)
Precious Ceremony at Bella Sante
The Price: $450
The Promise: Relaxed features and brighter, more luminous skin.
The Precious Ceremony — with its pretty precious name — is a treatment comprised in part of something referred to as the Diamond Ritual. There’s a reason for the name: It uses Carita skincare masks and creams that contain a blend of actual diamonds and sapphires. The indulgent facial is two hours long, involves hot and cold stones, and ends in a foot soak.(38 Newbury St.; 617-424-9930; bellasante.com)
Gemstone Vitality at Spa at the Mandarin Oriental
The Price: $270 - $295
The Promise: A Zen-inducing massage aided by crystals.
It sounds like something a New Age aunt who runs a Vermont co-op would come up with: a lengthy (110-minute) massage that combines indigenous ingredients (a scrub of ground calendula seeds, native to New England) with the power of locally mined gems like garnet, amethyst and smoky quartz. Guests hold each, feel their vibes, learn about purported unique properties (garnet, for instance, supposedly boosts stamina), and select whichever resonates for use in the massage. Heads up, we're told that they might be updating their spa menu in the New Year, so take advantage of this treatment while it's still on offer! (776 Boylston St.; 617-535-8820; mandarinoriental.com)
If your budget is closer to pauper than prince, here are a few low-cost alternatives to these lavish splurges.
Quickie facial at Skoah ($45). The men-focused day spa offers a 20-minute cleaning, exfoliation and hydration that is a perfect brightening pick-me-up before a power lunch. (35 Newbury St.; 857-350-4896; skoah.com)
Bali Paradise Experience at G2O Spa & Salon ($65). Rally a crew of two to eight pals and its only $65 per person for the spa’s signature 40-minute body treatment, combining blended fruit extracts and customized oils with time in a special room of therapeutic steam, ice fog and tropical shower. (278 Newbury St.; 617-262-2220; g2ospasalon.com)
Complete Facial at Avanti ($100). Look, a Benjamin is nothing to sneeze at. But in the world of spa treatments (particularly in Back Bay) a full 60-minute facial for exactly a hundred greenbacks is a really solid deal. (20 Newbury St.; 617-267-4027; avantisalonboston.com)