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Tummy rubs....

Plus: Caffeine's new buzz

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SoHo Bizarre

Two new surprisingly esoteric venues have just joined SoHo's burgeoning beauty scene. At the optimistically monikered Life Is Beautiful spa (177 Prince Street), owner Larry Costa is a big fan of emu oil -- taken, it seems, from the Australian bird -- which he slathers over clients before wrapping them in Mylar ($220 for a two-hour treatment). For the less adventurous, there are also great scrubs and massages (both $75). On June 15, dermatologist Laurie Polis will open her Mezzanine Spa in the SoHo Integrative Health medical facility at 62 Crosby Street, where you can enjoy a range of services, including a Chinese herbal facial and an exfoliation in which you are wrapped in banana leaves while oil drips onto your forehead and the wax is removed from your ears with the aid of a hot candle. Well, we'll try anything once.

Feel the Knead

While the crowds labor through their crunches in the Reebok Sports Club, more enterprising souls are attempting to deflate their middles -- without a drop of sweat -- at the club's Paul La-Brecque Spa. The spa has just introduced a half-hour tummy-flattening session, which uses lymphatic-drainage massage and aromatherapy to stimulate the midsection and rid the stomach of excess fluid. "The massage tones the tummy, plus it's good for the internal organs," says spa director Regina Viotto. But don't throw out your Abs of Steel tape just yet: You'd need to get the rubdown twice a week for the next six weeks in order to be beachworthy by mid-July ($65; 160 Columbus Avenue).

Neutral Territory

This season's wild palette of shoe colors has kicked off a wave of nail neutrals for toes -- after all, no one wants her polish to upstage her green fish-skin Jimmy Choos. "Neutral polish always looks classic and well-groomed," points out shoe impresario Warren Edwards. "Not since the seventies have I had so many requests for neutral pedicures," reports Mariana Diaconescu of the Pierre Michel salon. "Customers are very concerned about clashing with their shoes." Or try these shades at home: M.A.C's subdued coral Gidget, Chanel's new Pêche Buff (below, B, Jimmy Choo), Estée Lauder High Gloss in White Petal (below, A, Warren Edwards), and Frédéric Fekkai's barely there Stonewash.

Coffee Talk

Pretty soon, your cosmetics bag may pack more caffeine than your local Starbucks. Hard Candy's new coffee-flavored and caffeine-laden lipsticks offer an oral perk. Clinique's All About Eyes mixes in caffeine for its de-puffing abilities, while Juvena's Slim You Perfect anti-cellulite gel-cream and Bliss Spa's Lower Body Blaster use it in the hopes of slimming the rest of you. At the new Skin Care Options store (at 230 Mulberry Street), caffeine can be infused into any of seventeen face and body potions. But does this jumpy stuff actually do anything? "It constricts pores for a couple of hours," confirms New York dermatologist Michele S. Green -- but it won't necessarily squeeze you into your bikini. "If it did," Green says, "I'd be bathing in it."
Sarah Bernard


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