Updated by Dana Schuster, July 2005
Get painted by the pros at M.A.C. (See below.) Multi-Service
Carsten Institute of Hair & Beauty
Call ahead to schedule an appointment with graduating students from the institute. Tue-Fri, morning to 3:30 pm, haircuts are free, color is $30, partial highlights are $40, and full highlights are $45.
• 41 Union Sq. West, 2nd fl, 212-675-7735
New York International Beauty School
Want a new look? Strapped for cash? Feeling bold? Try a makeover from a student in training. Services range from hair coloring and cutting to facials, and the prices — $5 to $18 —are unbeatable. No appointment necessary.
• 500 Eighth Ave., 8th Floor, between 35th and 36th Sts.; 212-868-7171; nyibs.com
Jade Beauty and Wellness Spa
You can get it all done —waxing, facials, massages, tinting, manicures, pedicures, and acupuncture — at this Upper West Side spa that stays open until 9 p.m. on weekdays. (Late manicures are unheard of on the UWS.) Prices are competitive for individual services: $10 for a manicure or eyebrow wax. But, the packages are the best deals. For $98, you can get a 20-minute massage, facial, manicure, and pedicure.
• 2573 Broadway, between 96th and 97th Sts.; 212-362-5763Artisan Spa
At this spot near Union Square, cushy reclining chairs, a large-screen TV showing movies, some hot tea, and $12-for-10-minute shoulder massages all make the sometimes-boring mani/pedi experience pass a little faster. The basic manicures and pedicures are amazingly quick—the combo takes 45 minutes and costs only $35 ($10 for the manicure and $25 for the pedicure). Your hands may not last an entire week, but for $2 extra you can seal your newly buff nails with Nailtique, and in any case, at those prices you can afford to come twice. More luxury is available at twice the tariff—for $50, your pedicure will include the option of a honey-and-milk soak, hot-stone foot massage, marine mask, or sea-salt scrub.
• 143 Fourth Ave., between E. 13th and E. 14th Sts.; 212-260-1338
No doubt about itóas much as we could all use frequent massaging, paying over $100 for each rubdown can be anxiety-producing in itself. At Graceful Services, there may be no impressive lounge, but the strong Qi Gong massage goes straight to the muscle spasm. Flowing white curtains separate you from the next client, and the rooms are spanking clean. For $60, youíll enjoy your hour and feel stress-free for at least a day or two.
• 1097 Second Ave., between 57th and 58th Sts.; 212-593-9904; gracefulservices.com
Sal Anthony’s Movement Salon
Sal Anthony’s empire near Union Square includes, somewhat inexplicably, this fitness studio (two studios, actually) in a landmarked building. Here you can get a $65 one-hour rubdown ($100 for 90 minutes) from therapists versed in Swedish, Shiatsu, and Thai massage.
• 190 Third Ave., at 17th St.; 212-420-7242; movementsalon.com
If you can’t get naked in front of other people, don’t bother with Tui-Na. If, however, you can deal with lying nude in a darkened basement room with an equally nude stranger (of either gender) on the table next to you, you’ll get a true massage bargain here ó once the energetic Tui-Na masseuses start working on your muscles, you’ll lose any anxiety about where you are, anyway. And at $40 an hour, it’s pretty easy to let go.
• 222 Lafayette St., between Spring and Kenmare Sts.; 212-941-6038Wu Lin Services
One of the many basement-level Chinese massage parlors that downtown worker bees can walk into for stress-relieving rubdowns, staying fully clothed (just don’t wear linen). There are several beds in the room; massages are sold in odd-minute increments: $7 for 10 minutes; $11 for 16 minutes; $21 for 31 minutes; $32 for 46 minutes; $42 for 61 minutes.
• 145 Grand St., between Lafayette and Crosby Sts.; 212-925-1276Waxing
Elite Day Spa
The prices are cheap, but the highly skilled and efficient technicians at this fashion district salon will make you feel like you’ve paid a lot more. Lip, $6; eyebrow, $15; bikini, $13-$19; brazilian, $25; full leg, $33; arm, $26.
• 24 W. 39th St., between Fifth and Sixth Aves.; 212-730-2100 European Nails by Lucy
This small east side spot is known among the Birkenstock-wearing and the Birkin-bag-carrying alike for fabulous, thorough waxes. Eyebrow, $7; half-leg, $17; full leg with bikini, $39; bikini, $15 to $26; brazilian, $45; underarm, $10; arm, $20.
• 214 E. 82nd St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves.; 212-772-0720 The Perfect Shape
While most places have upped their threading prices, The Perfect Shape keeps this old-age technique low in cost. Threading starts at $5, waxing ranges from $10 to $45.
• 295 Park Ave. South, between 22nd and 23rd Sts., 212-473-7400 Randee Elaine
The menu of services here lists twenty body areas that Randee Elaine will wax (other areas are negotiable), with prices ranging from $7 for chin or eyebrow to $35 for full leg with bikini. No body-hair issue is too embarrassing to be discussed and dealt with, which makes this place exceedingly popular with men.
• 180 Seventh Ave. South, between Perry and W. 11th Sts.; 212-229-0399; randeeelainesalon.com
Manicure & Pedicure
The faithful flock to Bloomie Nails for relaxing pedicures in heated, pulsating massage chairs and mini-screens at the drying stations playing VH1. Considering that the manicure-pedicure is $40.50 ($5 extra for razor-scraping of your soles), it’s no wonder the places are often packed.
• 132 Seventh Ave. at 18th St., 212-366-4545; 170 W. 23rd St at Seventh Ave.., 212-741-0105; 294 Eighth Ave. at 25th St., 646-638-2727; 120 Second Ave. between 7th and 8th Sts., 212-260-6749; 219 Eighth Ave. at 21st St., 212-366-6199
Brighten up an otherwise drab stroll down Third avenue for a $9.50 manicure, $21 pedicure, or a $30.50 mani-pedi special ($3 extra for razor-scraping). Working late? No worries. Cleo Nails is open until 11 p.m. for night-owls too manicured obsessed to sleep.
• 270 Third Ave., between 21st and 22nd Sts., 212-677-4900 Jeniette
It might be worth the $21.00 cost of a pedicure at Jeniette just to hang out in one of their extremely comfy chairs for a half-hour. Considered the best pedicure bargain in town by many of the city’s snazzier toes, Jeniette has a famously friendly staff, a good, relaxing foot massage, and a comprehensive polish selection.
• 58 E. 13th St., between University Pl. and Broadway; 212-529-1616; jeniette.com SoHo Nail
A favorite of fashionistas, SoHo Nail boasts possibly the least expensive ($23) quality manicure-pedicure in town. But you’ll pay in other ways, namely the time spent air-drying afterward, as this joint owns no drying machines. Ask for Lucy or the owner, Susan Kang. They’re favorites of SoHo Nail regulars.
• 458 W. Broadway, 3rd Floor, between Houston and Prince Sts.; 212-475-6368
Faced with over 140 lipsticks, 120 eye shadows, and addictive odds and ends like Studio Fix powder, you may drown in this sea of colorful, stageworthy makeup. Fortunately, the professionally trained M.A.C. artists can rescue you. In addition to free makeover assistance, the store offers makeup lessons ($90 for a 90-minute session; includes complimentary color chart and mascara, or pay $40 for a 45-minute application service) in which the pros do half your face and you do the other half. Watch for their big in-store events.
• Multiple locations; maccosmetics.com Molton Brown Emporium
Molton Brown knows the underappreciated power of a good hand massage and the sweet sound of “complimentary.” Even its free 30-minute mini-facials, which include cleansing, toning, exfoliating, and a mask, end with a good old fashioned digits rubdown. The emporium also offers free make-up appointments, and for the freebie-hunters on the go, free hand massages, too. Call to schedule an appointment.
• 515 Madison Ave.; 212-755-7194; moltonbrown.comShu Uemura Beauty Boutique
Free, free, and free! Shu Uemura offers 30, 60 or 90-minute complimentary makeup lessons with a staff makeup artist. The latter two come with a Japanese mini-facial, also known as the beauty house’s signature “Skin Care Technique.”
• 121 Greene St., between Houston and Prince.; 212-979-5500Facial
Christine Valmy International School
$27 for an hour and a half facial? Don’t keep this deal a secret from your friends. Call a week in advance for an appointment with one of Valmy’s students, supervised by an instructor.
• 437 Fifth Ave., 212-779-7800