As much as I love December and all of its holiday cheer, I'm not going to lie and pretend its not flippin' stressful. The days are shorter, the traffic is heavier, and the lines at every store are ridiculously long. Then you add in the occasional family drama, the lack of coverage at work, and the ever-growing mountain of unwrapped presents staring at you from the living room, and before you know it you're in full-on panic mode trying to decide whether to make Snickerdoodles or Peanut Butter Kisses for your neighborhood cookie swap.
Maybe I should just buy whatever I can find at Costco and put it on a fancy plate...No one will know the difference, right?
I MEAN, REALLY. WHO HAS THE TIME TO BAKE 10 DOZEN COOKIES?
Honestly, the pressure we put on ourselves at this time of year is maddening. Sure there is much fun to be had, but all the preparations can be downright exhausting. And this is exactly why I think it's important to take a breath amidst the crazy and remember to practice some self care. Anyone who's been around these parts before knows I am a big supporter of pampering yourself, be it taking 10 minutes to throw on a face mask, or half an hour to soak in the tub.
As for me, life is already bananas before you throw the holidays on top of things. And while I do my best to try and find some semblance of work-life-Christmas balance, I can still end up pretty run down. Fortunately, this year the Universe threw me a line. A few weeks ago The Red Door Spa reached out to me with an invitation to have a complimentary service at one of their locations. Founded by Elizabeth Arden, The Red Door has been performing award-winning spa services for over 100 years and currently has 30 different locations nationwide. When it comes to pampering there's very little that can top an actual spa day, so I (of course) graciously accepted their offer.
When it came to choosing which Red Door I wanted to visit, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Being from Connecticut it's pretty easy to jump on the train and take a day trip to NYC. I love visiting the city at Christmas time with all of the lights and decorations, so I decided a spa day was the perfect excuse to go. I mean...if I'm going to experience The Red Door, how can I pass up the opportunity to go to their flagship location on 5th Avenue?
To make things even better, my mom had been wanting to have a girl's day with me for a while, so I invited her to come along. She booked herself for an Olive Oil Manicure (which I'm not gonna lie, sounds pretty divine), while I opted for the Signature Facial. Being the giant ball of tension that I am, I was tempted to book myself for a massage, but when I think of Elizabeth Arden and all of their amazing skincare, I decided a facial was something I just couldn't pass up. The Red Door also offers a TON of other services - from makeup application to body polishes - so you have plenty of options to find the perfect way to #treatyoself.
So last Friday mom and I headed off to NYC. The walk from Grand Central to 5th Avenue at the holidays was honestly a ton of fun. I'd never seen the Saks 5th Avenue Christmas display and it was pretty spectacular. And even though we apparently picked one of the coldest days this year for our trip, its less than a mile from the train to the spa and we had plenty of shopping to distract us along the way. It also happens to be right around the corner from Rockefeller Center, so you can easily plan to see the tree or do some ice skating after your treatment (we definitely took advantage of this)!
From the minute we arrived at The Red Door I definitely felt like all of the staff were incredibly friendly and courteous. We were immediately offered some lemon water which, after all of the walking around in the cold, was greatly appreciated. Since I was getting a facial, I was told that I would need to head to the Women's changing room to get out of my street clothes. At first I was confused. I mean, a facial just involves your face, right? But seeing as I was a total newbie to the process, I decided I would just roll with it. Plus, how can you say no to a super cozy robe?
The changing rooms were totally beautiful and exceptionally clean. From the marble countertops, to the red flower detailing, I thought the whole aesthetic was the perfect blend of femininity and elegance. You also get assigned a roomy locker where you can stash all of your stuff during your visit to keep it safe.
Once I was snuggled up and robe-ified, I meandered my way down to the relaxation room. This quiet, dimly lit space is filled with comfy chairs and blankets for you to cozy up in until your treatment begins. There was a pitcher of fruit infused water in case you wanted to get your hydration on, as well as a selection of yummy teas nestled into the bookcase. It was definitely nice to have a few mindful moments before my treatment began, and soon enough my esthetician appeared to take me to the facial room.
Having never had a facial before I really wasn't sure what to expect. Maya, the esthetician doing my facial, was really cheerful and friendly and did a great job of explaining what was happening along the way. First she cleansed my skin and removed any residual makeup I had on. She also did an evaluation of my trouble areas and offered some suggestions for what I could do to improve my skincare at home (apparently I need to exfoliate more).
Then I was clued in to why it was necessary for me to change into a robe and terrycloth cover up. All of The Red Door's facials include a glorious facial massage that also includes your neck, arms, and hands. If you're feeling at all nervous about the whole process of getting a facial, the massage will definitely help you to relax and enjoy. Throughout the duration of your massage your face is also gently steamed to help open up your pores for extraction later on.
Speaking of which, I'm not going to lie and say that extraction is as fun as getting a massage. I was more than happy to have the gunk removed from my pores, but the process can be a little uncomfortable. It's no more painful than getting your eyebrows waxed, and doesn't take a whole ton of time, but Maya definitely had to ask me jokingly afterward if I still loved her (to which I responded...yes. I do. Beauty is pain.)
After the extraction is finished a soothing mask was placed over my face and covered with towels, and my hands were wrapped in warm mitts. As someone who is extremely claustrophobic the sensation of having my face and hands covered was a little unsettling, but I took a few deep breaths (thank you yoga) and found that once I relaxed it was actually really quite cozy.
Once the mask was removed the last step of my facial was to apply a hydrating serum to my skin. Maya asked me to touch my face and I was pretty amazed at how soft it felt. I couldn't believe my hour with her was already up (I could have totally gone for some more of that massage). She made some suggestions of different products I could benefit from using, and then lead me back to the relaxation room. My mom was already there waiting for me, so excited for me to feel how soft her hands were post-manicure.
Once I had a few minutes to take in the post-facial bliss I decided to head back to the changing room to get dressed. Having only hearsay to go by, I was really afraid that my face would be super red and irritated after my facial. Fortunately I think my face looked totally great, if not extra glowy! The Red Door also offered me a complimentary makeup touch-up after my treatment, so I wouldn't have to leave the spa with a totally naked face.
All in all my experience at The Red Door was really pretty fantastic. The staff were all super friendly and courteous, and the atmosphere was quiet and relaxing. For my first time having a facial I think I was really pleased with how my skin looked and felt, and could totally see myself going back for another at some point in the future. I felt so thankful to have been invited to their spa, and am so appreciative that it came at a time I really needed a little pampering!
If someone in your life is feeling extra stressed this holiday season, why not send them to the spa? Hook up a lucky loved one with a Red Door gift card and let them indulge in whatever treatment is calling their name. So many people feel guilty pampering themselves and never think to book a massage or a facial, but with a gift card you're giving them the promise of that special me-time they totally deserve. And if you are the one that needs that me-time, you know I'm the last one to judge if you decide to gift a spa day to yourself. While I was really happy with my trip to New York, it's not the only city that calls The Red Door home. If you're curious whether there is a Red Door Spa near you or your loved ones, you can view their locations here.
What spa service would you love to treat yourself to?