Putting Your Best Face Forward

By Bob Kappstatter

Okay, my macho creds: I have sky-dived, scuba-dived, flown dogfights (with a retired Air Force jock in the back seat talking me through), gotten up-close-and-personal with a running herd of wild-eyed, frothing buffalo at a Western roundup, been charged by African hippos trying to flip our small boat, and taken the first test ride of the season on the Coney Island roller coaster (almost as scary as the subways back then).

So why the macho fear and loathing when my editor assigned me to get a men’s facial at a top-end Manhattan salon?

It’s not that we haven’t dabbled in massages on past assignments, including that foot massage in Hong Kong (“This part left foot go kidney, this part right foot go liver.”). And then there was that full body massage in Philly that began with a hosing down and ended up with a story that began: “I knew the moment of truth had arrived when she asked me to drop the towel.

So, I faced the assignment, so to speak, like a man and came out a better person for it. At least my face did. And yes, I learned real men do get facials.

Mine was in the famed Loews Regency Hotel on Park Avenue at the exclusive Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa, a 10,000-square-foot warren of salons and private treatment rooms whose clients range from the corporate world, show business, politics and media, with prices worth the results. Celebrity French hair stylist Julien Farel, whose clients have included Ivanka Trump, Kate Moss, Selma Hayak and Richard Gere, is also the developer of a popular line of anti-aging and haircare products bearing his name.

Farel said his salon is more than happy to give a man a full treatment. “Within an hour, we can give you a power haircut, a pedicure and a manicure. You’ll feel like you’ve gone through a car wash!” he laughed.

As I lay shirtless under a sheet in a private treatment room, Oksana Shenker, the salon’s lead aesthetician, did her magic, gently but firmly rubbing a string of unguents and cleansers into my grizzled city-worn face.

Facials involve a 10-step process that begins with a skin cleanser, then a toner, she explained. “Then I analyze the skin to determine what is the best treatment I can choose to exfoliate the skin,” she said. “That can include microdermabrasion, a gentle scrub, dermaplaning or chemical peel. It all depends on the type of skin.”

Along with the skin treatment, she also gave me some very relaxing face, neck and shoulder massages, laughing when I told her they were putting me to sleep. I wouldn’t be the first client to snooze on her, she responded. “Some even snored!”

The final step was application of a drying face mask, and once peeled off, a final facial cleansing and face cream application.

A look at my mug in the mirror at the results and I was honestly hearing Maria from West Side Story in my head, singing “I feel pretty.”

My face really did look and feel great—a lot smoother, with fewer tension lines.

Farel later explained his philosophy for men keeping themselves in shape as they age. “Men do want to look great, and for that, they must focus more on their hair, skin, and teeth. We can definitely make someone look better on those first two,” he said. “Once they try it, they become good customers—and keep up with their appearance.”

Farel said he believes women can be the inspiration for their men to take those steps. “First off, women never know what kind of gift to get a guy, and a gift certificate for a facial is the ideal answer. And the results benefit them too! Once the men try it, I think there’ll be no way back.

“And besides,” he added, “women run the world, so whatever she says, he’ll do it!”

For more information on the Julien Farel Restore Salon & Spa, visit