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Face cream spares no expense

Plus: bottom's up at Bliss

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The Price of Beauty
The only thing that seems to be escalating in cost more quickly than Manhattan apartments is facial cream. Once upon a time, $50 for a jar of a special moisturizing concoction was considered a splurge. But the latest luxury products give the famously dear Crème de la Mer ($85 for one ounce) a run for its money. Susan Ciminelli's Special Reserve Cream is $150 for two ounces, 1.7 ounces of Phytomer's Vie goes for $285, and one precious ounce of Clé de Peau's La Crème is $450. "The essential oils which hydrate and invigorate are very expensive," explains a Susan Ciminelli rep. Vie took ten years of research to develop, and it contains special French marine-spring water and seaweed extracts. "The seaweed soothes and firms, but it's costly to extract," say the Phytomer folks. Still balking at the price? Think of it this way: It's less expensive than a face-lift.

Island Outpost
For the past few years, Calypso, the NoLIta-based clothing store, has provided New Yorkers who couldn't get to St. Barth with diaphanous sarongs and brightly colored string bikinis. Now its just-opened beauty emporium is offering up a range of lotions and scents to give even the most concrete-bound Manhattanite a sun-drenched feeling. In addition to Calypso St. Barth signature lotions and fragrances, Calypso Beauté sells bath products usually found in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, such as Côté Bastide's fig shower gel and The Cross's precious rose-petal-shaped soaps. One whiff of the Tainos body oil from St. Barth will take you to the islands faster than holding a shell to your ear. (252 Mott Street; 212-625-0658.)

Bottoms Up
Having skin as smooth as a baby's rear -- on your rear -- is an elusive goal for those of us who spend the days glued to our desk chairs. So the Bliss Spa -- where microdermabrasion treatments are more commonly used to smooth the skin of clients' faces -- has introduced High Thighs ($225, offered at both Bliss Spa locations; 212-219-8970). The skin from mid-cheek to the tops of the knees is pelted with tiny aluminum crystals and sucked up with a pencil-eraser-size vacuum. And while the feeling is similar to being scraped by a nail file, the aftermath is wonderful. The technician follows up with a kneading massage with pine-scented oil, and a parafango "depuffing" wrap. Your butt may be bikini-ready, but can they find a cure for sand in the suit?
KRISTINA RICHARDS

Japan Society
A slew of accomplished females -- including Robin Wright Penn and Parker Posey -- have become devotees of a new fragrance line called Geisha. The perfume ($75, at Bergdorf Goodman), made from exotic combinations of flowers, herbs, teas, woods, and essential oils, comes wrapped in hand-dyed rice paper, and an accompanying white-rice powder ($60) is packed with a girlish marabou puff. Our recommendation: Dab some on and head to boxing class.


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