Back to nature: Owner and licensed massage therapist Sheila Brody demonstrates the heated lava rock therapy at The Spa in Bay Ridge.
The Brooklyn Papers / Greg Mango

As the first days of spring unfold, for
some of us, the green shoots of daffodils sound an alarm – it’s
time to take stock of our own new growth. (Visions of both the
love handles and increased thigh circumference spring to mind.)

The idea of exposing that dried out, dimpled
bit of leg to the world doesn’t have to be cause for remaining
in hibernation. Rather it’s an opportunity to embrace rejuvenation:
spend a good hour and a half experiencing a body wrap at one
of Brooklyn’s spas.

Bay Ridge’s spa community is expanding
– ranging from interior makeovers inside the grandmother of Brooklyn
spas, Pilo Arts at 8412 Third Ave., to the new ancient Indian-themed
Tantra Spa at 8211 Third Ave. beneath the Cavale Tonuzi salon.

The way The Spa, on Third Avenue at 88th
Street, keeps customers returning is with treatments that change
with the season and by employing a down-to-earth, genuinely friendly
staff. (Aesthetician Shalene credits her island childhood in
Trinidad, for her passion to concoct all-natural body treatments,
incorporating rose petals or fresh oranges and other natural

The three-year-old spa, owned and operated
by Sheila Brody, a licensed massage therapist, offers the full
range of massages. But for your superficial springtime woes,
it’s really a body wrap (and possibly a good waxing) that’s going
to prepare your body to be unveiled on that cruise or weekend
in the Hamptons.

The Spa’s unique Parafango heated mud wrap
has to be tried at least once this year – though the aestheticians
recommend a series of six treatments for maximum results. (Brody
offers a 10 percent discount for this six-week commitment.)

While she guarantees a 6-inch loss from
your neck to your knees, there are many benefits built into the
series of steps that comprise the treatment. Your mood will benefit
from the aromatic oils and the tranquil environment and your
skin will be noticeably improved by the exfoliation and moisturizing
– literally from neck to toe if you go for the full body treatment
($135) or ($95) for half-body.

Despite the fact that I had a particularly
odiferous mud bath at the famed Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs and
Mud Baths in Calistoga, Calif. last summer where I pushed my
body, clad only in a grimace, into a buoyant bathtub of strong-smelling
volcanic ash, peat and steaming mineral water, I still managed
to embrace the idea of the Parafango treatment.

Brody said the Parafango – a mixture of
paraffin and Spanish sea mud – would combine the benefits of
temporarily banishing water retention with buffing and softening
of the skin. The mixture had a remarkably subtle, pleasant scent.
In the capable hands of the aesthetician, your bare body is literally
painted with a wide brush that coats your skin with the warm

The initial strokes are intensely hot,
like dripping candle wax, easing aches and pains and helping
the moisturizer to penetrate your already sloughed skin. After
each limb and the torso is painted, you are sealed in plastic
wrap and covered in blankets. You’re left to decompress for 20
to 30 minutes, listening to soothing ocean sounds while candles
flicker gently in the dimly lit treatment room.

Though a bit more expensive than a trip
to a therapist, this treatment combines beauty – taking off an
inch (for a day or two) – with peace and quiet away from the
kids (how many snow days were there this year?!) or the urban
environs in general.

The Parafango is an hour and a half treatment,
and worth every penny and every minute. You’re then unwrapped
limb by limb, and the Parafango is easily, smoothly peeled away
from your skin now that its texture is like cooled candle wax.
For the most part it comes away cleanly, though you may have
to unceremoniously stand on the towel and jiggle the last few
pieces out as I did. There’s no need for a shower, leaving behind
fragrant, soft skin without a sticky residue.

The Spa also offers a wide range of facials.

The facials are specialized, with the aesthetician
examining your face to determine which facial is right for you.
Most of the one-hour facials are $85. You can expect an expertly
executed facial complete with cleansing, exfoliating, steaming,
extractions, mask and moisturizer.

Be prepared to have your hair tousled and
your face blotchy when you leave – and if you have your eyebrows
waxed with the admittedly gentle, rose-scented Poetic Wax, you
might as well put a bag over your head – you’ll be such a sight.
(The aromatherapy wax is $12 for eyebrows, $8 for lip and $47
for full leg and bikini.)

If you’re nervous about the dreaded extractions,
where any and all unsightly blackheads are squeezed free, you
may opt for a "mini spa care facial" which includes
cleansing and a mask ($45) and is pure relaxation sans the pinching.

After each facial, I was able to notice
the results, a glowing shining face, (remember age 16?) for about
10 days afterwards. (Those initial blotches only take a couple
of hours to fade.)

And no, your boyfriend probably won’t notice,
but I noticed my skin was visibly cleaner looking than after
my usual regimen.

For instant beauty, you can end your visit
with a Bella Mani manicure with Rosalie. In this, she combines
hand skincare with perfecting the superficial look of your nails.
The Bella Mani is $45.

The staff’s down-to-earth friendliness
– a far cry from the upturned noses at Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue
spas – keeps their clients returning and lingering. Understandably,
the jovial staff does what they can to fit everyone in when they
ask to be squeezed in for additional same-day services, but they
do recommend appointments.


The Spa is located at 8806 Third Ave.
In Bay Ridge. For an appointment, call (718) 921-6100. The Spa
accepts Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, though
gratuities must be left in cash. A special for GO Brooklyn readers:
When making your appointment for a one-hour facial, mention "GO
Brooklyn" to receive a body wrap or body scrub for half
price or book a Bella Mani pedicure and receive half off the
Bella Mani manicure.

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