I'll Have What He's Having

By Ratha Tep Posted February 12, 2007

Anyone who's poked around my medicine cabinet over the years knows I'm a bit of a skincare fanatic. I've tried all the lines, from Oil of Olay to Erno Laszlo and La Mer (I have my ways to get a discount). I also have no qualms asking people about their skincare regimen. So one night about a year ago, while I was talking to Brian Bistrong, the rather glowing chef of Manhattan's The Harrison, I had to ask: What did he do to his skin? If he could have great skin working in a hot and greasy kitchen, I had to know his secret.

It turns out Brian had had a facial that morning at a tiny place on Hester Street in Chinatown called Toto Beauty & Health, where he went once a month (we later wrote about this place in a profile of Brian in F&W). My hygiene fears outweighed my skin concerns so I put his advice on the backburner—until a few weeks ago.

I was feeling particularly Wintered Out (symptoms: dull, sallow skin), so I made an appointment. The facial was $50, half the price of most facials in the city if not less. The tradeoffs: You had to change in a cramped bathroom and get your facial in a communal room. I also got poked, prodded and drummed (yes, drummed) so much that the words "lymphatic drainage" kept running through my head during the entire session, even though I wasn't positive what the term meant. When it was all over, I was rather sore, and scrutinizing my face in the ill-lit bathroom, I didn't notice a difference.

Sitting around the table at Family Dinner that night, two of my friends looked at me and whispered to themselves. At the end of the night, I confronted them. They had said I glowed so much I looked like someone in love. I'm crediting Toto.

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