I visited Nua exactly one week before Savvy's launch date, and my skin was definitely suffering from the stress I was feeling, as well as from the heat of Tokyo in August. To clear my pores and get rid of the generally dull look of my skin would take nothing short of a miracle. As I stepped inside the simple yet tastefully decorated waiting room, I silently hoped I had come to the right place.
Before heading in for my treatment, I sat down for a few minutes with Nua’s director, Nicola “Nikki” Talbot, to get some background information on the salon. Opened in 2009, Nua’s goal was to fill what Nikki and her husband, the owners of the spa, saw as a hole in the Japanese beauty market. Herself a former model, Nikki was surprised to see how few salons in Tokyo offered Brazilian waxing, or any bikini waxing at all for that matter. Today, Brazilian wax treatments are still Nua’s best-selling offering, but its menu has expanded to include a whole range of options, from hair removal to skin treatments and even manis and pedis.
I chose to try an IPL underarm hair removal treatment (¥4,000) and a Dermalogica facial (¥12,600 for 60 minutes or ¥14,175 for 90 minutes). Friends of mine who had done IPL had nothing but rave reviews for it, and the idea of (eventually) never having to shave my underarms again was very appealing. But as Nikki explained, it doesn’t work for everyone. The light used targets the dark roots of the hair, which isn’t possible if you have either very light hair or very dark skin. Nua is one of the only English-speaking salons in Tokyo to offer IPL, so it’s a good choice if you have any questions or concerns you’d like to address before your first session.
In the treatment room, my therapist, Hinako, tested the machine on a small area of skin before proceeding. Once she got started, the whole thing couldn’t have taken any longer than five minutes for both underarms. It was quick, almost painless (there is a very slight pinching sensation), and after six to eight such treatments (spaced every six to eight weeks), I should be free of underarm hair for good. I will definitely be completing the course, and I can’t wait to see the final results.
Next, Hinako moved onto my facial. I’ve never used Dermalogica products at home before, but I once had a Dermalogica facial at a day spa in California and I vaguely remember being pleased with the results. After using a foaming gel cleanser than she said is specially formulated for combination skin like mine, Hinako lightly scrubbed the area around my nose using an ultrasound exfoliation machine. It tickled and scratched a bit, but I could also feel it scraping away dead skin cells and other unpleasantness that was likely the cause of many of the skin problems I had been experiencing.
Later, when she was inspecting my skin to let me know which areas I should focus more on during my daily skincare routine, Hinako said that she wouldn’t be performing any extraction on my t-zone, as the ultrasound exfoliation had done the trick. I have to say, I was very skeptical, but I kept my mouth shut and just enjoyed the cool, soothing sensation of the facial mask, the relaxing massage, and the calming scents of the Dermalogica products. As Hinako’s skilled hands lightly moved across my face, neck and head, I found myself so relaxed that I actually started to doze off. And when she came back into the room to remove the facial mask, I realized that I had fallen into a very restful, if brief, sleep.
When I stepped from the treatment room back into the lobby, the first thing Nikki said was, “Your skin looks great!” And even if she tells all her customers the same thing, I was surprised to see that it was actually true! I looked in the mirror and saw no signs of the ugly blackheads that had been there just an hour earlier, despite the lack of extraction. Overall, my skin was clearer, smoother, and more radiant. It even seemed a shade lighter (I cycle everywhere, so I tend to spend all summer with a tan), and I didn’t feel the heaviness of excess oil that can be a byproduct of Tokyo’s humidity.
I didn’t try one of Nua’s famous bikini waxes this visit, but I am thinking of going back for one. The salon doesn’t use any strip wax, which means that even though it may take a bit longer than other places, it’s likely to be less painful and produce better results. But the thing that really made me feel at ease was how friendly, helpful and understanding all the therapists were. “Our mission is for people to feel comfortable, because it’s such a personal thing,” Nikki says. “We have a lot of customers who are just visiting Japan, but even if we know we won’t see them again, we still want them to know that they’re what’s most important to us.” After having had some horrible waxing therapists in the past, this sounded particularly appealing to me.
Nua is conveniently located in Omotesando, so schedule your treatment to coincide with a shopping trip or lunch with the girls and make an afternoon of it. There is also a branch in Hiroo, and a Singapore location will be opening next month.
Address: #102 Lamial Jingumae, 4-8-17 Jingumae, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo
Open: Mon-Fri 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat 11 a.m.-7 p.m., closed Sun