Hungarian-born medical aesthetician Gita Gabriel is gentle and intuitive in the way she approaches skincare. Her methods are holistic, blending both old and new world customs. These are just some of the reasons that her namesake spa, Gita Gabriel Spa, has been one of New York City’s hidden gems for a quarter of a century. Gabriel has a legion of happy clients who would gladly follow her anywhere. One of whom is acclaimed film director Wes Anderson. In fact, Gabriel played herself in the one of Anderson’s films—The Royal Tenenbaums. In the movie, she gives actor Gene Hackman a facial.
Despite her celebrity status among Manhattan’s elite, Gabriel is both humble and earnest. “I like to guide my clients in the right direction to take better care of their skin and bodies. I love seeing results and happy clients!,” she tells BeautyInThe Bag.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been an aesthetician for over 30 years and this year will be my 25th anniversary for my spa, Gita Gabriel Spa.
Where did you learn about skincare?
I’ve been certified in Hungary, France, and the United States. I’ve attended countless seminars over my 25 years in business to learn all the cutting edge skin and body care techniques.
What is your specialty or signature procedure?
The Biologique Recherche Soin Lissant Restructuring facial with turbo lift is popular among our clients for its toning and rehydrating effects for all skin types. This facial is perfect before fillers or non-invasive surgical procedures.
What do you offer that women or men can’t find anywhere else?
A personalized, super private spa service with the majority of treatments conducted on our unique amethyst biomat with infrared rays and negative ions, which helps increase blood circulation, burns calories, improves the skin, reduces stress and pain and much more. Facial treatments also include Charme spray, which is low pH acidic water that provides hydration, soothes chronic skin conditions while cleansing and tightening the skin. Hand and foot massages are also included during the facial for a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
What treatments do you use for yourself?
I like to alternate products, I often switch products according to the season, current skin condition, or if I am traveling. I mostly use products from Biologique Recherche and Institut Esthederm as well as Karin Herzog. I also use Charme spray from head to toe everyday.
What is your personal beauty philosophy?
I believe your skin reflects on the way you feel inside. If you are stressed or not eating well, or have an unstable home skincare regimen, results will show on the surface.
What technology would you not want to live without?
Pellevé® is a wonderful non invasive treatment that helps produce your own collagen for tightening of the skin with no down time and no damage to the epidermis. Alternating between Pellevé and Clear + Brilliant laser treatments improve skin quality and minimize the effects of aging.
What is your choice for facial hair removal and why?
I recommend threading or tweezing rather than waxing because it’s less damaging to the surface. Electrolysis or laser hair removal treatments are also good choices for facial hair removal.
Malynda Vigliotti, aka Boom Boom, is a self-proclaimed eyebrow queen. She was educated at The Fashion Institute of Technology and has worked in the fashion and beauty trenches long enough to be considered an expert. She originally opened Boom Boom Brow Bar in Santa Rosa, California, but moved the business to New York City’s West Village in 2008, where Boom Boom and the Brow Bar have since been featured on The Real Housewives of New York City. She believes that the eyebrows are the most important feature on the face and sees no reason why everyone should not have thick, gorgeous brows. Boom Boom loves living in the Big Apple, and is proud to say that at the end of the day, her brows ALWAYS look good.
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you become a brow expert?
I have always been obsessed with brows and I wanted to create a place where women could get a quick brow shaping that was fun, affordable, and convenient. I lived in California for a bit in 2005 and was annoyed that there wasn’t a place to get a wax that was convenient, so I took a little money and a whole lot of personality and started the concept of the brow bar. I eventually sold the business and returned to the Big Apple and opened Boom Boom Brow Bar in the West Village. All it took was a disco ball, some intrigue, convenience, and affordability (everything on the menu is under $50) and now we do about 500 bow shapings a month. I don’t believe in thin brows or thin women, but I do know a perfectly done brow is an instant eyelift—no Botox necessary!
Do you have any tips for our readers to figure out what brow shape is best for them?
Brows are sisters not twins, they should be complimentary, but not identical. And, they should be unique to each individual. The space between brows should be equal to or a little wider than the eyes. Use a makeup brush or pencil to assess.
Start: Hold the brush parallel to the side of the nose; where the brush meets the brow is where the brow should begin.
Arch: Hold the brush parallel to the outside edge of the colored part of the eye (the iris); where the brush meets the brow is where the highest part of the arch should be.
End: Extend the brush diagonally from the nostril, following the outside edge of the eye toward the brow; where the inside edge of the brush hits is where the brow should end.
Is brow waxing strictly a salon service or can it be tried at home?
Waxing is efficient, inexpensive, and yields baby smooth skin. Sure, a client can do it at home, but getting the wax the correct temperature, working up the courage to pull it off, and cleaning up the mess is a production. Waxing is probably the cheapest of all beauty regimes if done professionally; I charge $24 and it takes only 10 minutes— that’s a lot of bang for the buck! If you get the recommended one shaping a month, it’s less than $300 for the year!
How often should brows be professionally shaped? Can touchups be performed at home?
The goal is to get hair on the same growth cycle so it grows in at the same time and can be removed at the same time. Once hair is on the same cycle, brows can be groomed just once a month.
Brow shaping can be painful. Do you have any tips for easing discomfort?
- Low Temperature Wax: It’s kept at a lower temperature, so it’s very gentle and never burns.
- Hair Length: Remove hair when it’s about ¼ of an inch long, so wax can stick and grab hair for removal. If it’s too short, the wax won’t stick enough, and if it’s too long, hair breaks off before the root making the process more painful.
- Exfoliate and Moisturize: Softer hair follicles surrounded by clean skin release hair the best. Exfoliate to remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, so the wax sticks better, and then apply a moisturizer to soften the follicle.
- Ibuprofen: Take an anti-inflammatory a half hour before waxing to prevent swelling and dull pain.
- Tanning Beds: Avoid 24 hours prior.
- Menstruation: Avoid doing the week prior when nerves are more sensitive.
- Meds and Chems: Stop using AHA’s 4-5 days prior and if using any meds like Retin-A, Retinol, Accutane, Proactive, and antibiotics, stick to plucking, not waxing!
What’s the best way to highlight brows?
I prefer using a powder like my Boom Boom Brow Boostiers to fill in holes, add definition and depth—it’s more natural looking than pencil. Go for a lighter color over darker, just make sure it goes with the natural undertones of skin and hair. And, if brows are too light, they should be tinted. Tips: always use a vegetable based dye around the eye area; never lift brow color, use deposit only color; go a little bolder to define brows and match the color to skin and hair undertones; and always use SPF on brows for protection.
You also can use the matte concealer side of my Boom Boom Push Up brow highlighting pencil on the brow bone to create lift and camouflage stragglers that are growing in while waiting for a brow wax. The sparkle side can be dabbed on the inside corner of the eye for a dash of pop and you can line the lower inside of the eye with the matte side of the pencil to make eyes look bright and happy.
Setting out to create a comfortable environment for her skincare and waxing clients, aesthetician Jodi Shays founded the Queen Bee Salon & Spa in Culver City, CA in 2004. A native of Bristol in the west country of England, Jodi has over two decades of experience in skincare and hair removal. Self-trained in the ways of waxing, she was mentored by the late Nance Mitchell of Beverly Hills. With Mitchell’s guidance, Jodi realized that waxing need not be a horrid experience—that it could be fun and less painful at the hands of someone who had a passion and love for what they were doing. Enter the Queen Bee Salon & Spa, which was founded on the belief that a highly trained staff will consistently provide perfect service. Since opening Queen Bee, Jodi has developed a cult following that includes celebrities like Hilary Swank, Busy Philipps, and Kathy Griffin, among many others, inspiring her to open the second Queen Bee location in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.
How did you get your start as an aesthetician?
I feel as though I came out of the womb an aesthetician. Since there wasn’t much need for what I loved in the UK, I knew if I crossed the pond that I would be in the land of beautiful people and could practice my passion. After spending several years being mentored by some amazing aestheticians, I decided to go solo and eventually opened the first Queen Bee Salon & Spa in 2004. I recently opened the second Queen Bee location in beautiful Brentwood, California in February 2012.
What sets Queen Bee apart from the competition?
Our key point of difference is our dedication to provide the most perfect service. We only use the best products on the market and strive to stay ahead of the game when it comes to research and technology. We focus on results and pride ourselves on outstanding customer service with an amazing staff of highly trained and educated ladies who take the time to educate each one of our clients. Queen Bee yields an environment that clients feel good about walking into and luxury services that won’t break the bank.
What treatments are most popular amongst your clients in the summer months?
Brazilian waxes and custom airbrush tanning—purely because in California, people spend more time at the pool/beach. I have found that a great deal are also savvy to harmful UV rays and prefer a safer tan to a more harmful one.
Why is client history and proper knowledge so important to review before performing & choosing the correct peel for a client?
We do a thorough examination of our clients’ skin to determine if it’s in the right condition for us to peel it. You can’t just go in and ask for a peel—we in fact turn people away. We have people who will lie to us to get a peel—but because our staff is extremely knowledgeable, they can determine if somebody is using a retinol or other peeling product.
What is the difference between soft and hard wax? What are the pros and cons of each? Why does Queen Bee use soft wax?
We use a hybrid of soft and hard waxes. You have to have a wax aggressive enough to pull the hair from the root and we have found that hard wax does not always do this. Yes, hard can be less painful, but we have tried every wax on the market and if we thought hard wax was the best, we would be using it. Queen Bee uses a soft wax that doesn’t adhere to the skin, it has a buffer in it that leaves the skin soft and not sticky.
What makes Queen Bee airbrush tanning services so incredible/how do you achieve and keep, a flawless spray tan—what should a potential client look for in a salon?
Our department, headed by Liz Pino, is full of a bunch of perfectionists. Liz and her team actually take the time to talk to you about what you want—if you want to go darker on your legs and lighter on your face, we’ll make it happen and make it look good. Not many places offer the amount of customization that we do.
Liz Pino’s key tips: “When wanting to maintain a good airbrush tan, you always want to treat your skin well. Keep it moisturized with water based, alcohol free, moisturizer. Pat your skin dry after every shower and don’t scrub your tan. If you need to exfoliate at all, do so very lightly and minimize it to your dryer areas, i.e. don’t scrub your tummy or chest.”