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My Facial with Cornelia Zicu

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Cornelia Zicu loves to talk about skin. She’s a less-is-more proponent who knows a whole lot about ingredients and believes that the right skin care regimen can delay the need for cosmetic procedures. And for those of us who’ve followed her for years, it’s hard to find fault with that assertion. Her facials leave your face firm and glowing without the blotchiness that comes with an over-eager esthetician on a search-and-destroy mission to squeeze every last pin-prick of sebum out of skin.

We became friends over a decade ago, years before she opened her namesake Cornelia Spa on Fifth Avenue atop the Ferragamo building. One treatment and I was hooked. But after a parting of the ways with her partners, the Cornelia spas went on minus its inspiration and founder. It’s ironic then, that Zicu is back in her original Fifth Avenue space, but this time as Global Chief Creative Officer for Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas, which now occupies that tony address.

Zicu helps train the estheticians and establish new treatment protocols for the chain’s 30 locations nationwide. There are oxygen, microdermabrasion, and collagen facials on the menu, but if you ask Zicu, the best treatments are ones that are catered to a client’s particular needs on a particular day. And that’s what I was fortunate to experience with the grand dame herself.

Her Grand Debut Facial, exclusive to the Red Door Spa at the Chatwal Hotel, is a pricey two-hour, four-handed service with Zicu custom-blending and administering a variety of skin-specific potions while an additional esthetician exfoliates and massages arms and legs. It’s pure sybaritic luxury. Most shocking were the warm towels and vigorous facial massage techniques that brought the blood to the surface of the skin, only to quickly be cooled down with icy orbs rubbed over those same key areas. “I confuse the skin, raising and lowering the temperature, to make it ready to accept the ingredients,” she explained. A quick application of the Red Door Spa Age Defense Multi-Peptide Moisturizer ($120) and I was out the door with the softest skin imaginable. And (dare I say), makeup-free.

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