The secret to softer skin? €135 bird poo
Bird faeces for beauty? That's what goes into facials at a luxury spa where the traditional Japanese treatment using imported Asian nightingale excrement mixed with rice bran goes for €135 a pop.
About 100 women and men go into the Shizuka New York skin care salon, just off Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, each month to get the treatment, which is promoted as a way to keep the face soft and smooth using an enzyme in the poop to gently exfoliate the skin.
Spa owner Shizuka Bernstein, a Tokyo native married to an American, has been offering what she calls the Geisha Facial for about five years.
"I try to bring Japanese beauty secrets to the US," says Bernstein, who learned the treatment from her mother.
The Geisha Facial faeces treatment, while relatively rare in the US, is no secret in Japan, where it was first used in the 1600s by actors and geishas.
Dr Michele Green, a Manhattan cosmetic dermatologist, says that while the nightingale facial "definitely has some rejuvenating effect, I don't think it's any different than, say, an apricot scrub or a mask that you could buy in a local pharmacy."
A common misconception is that any old bird faeces, even from pigeons, is used. Bernstein says only droppings from birds of the nightingale species are used because they live on seeds, producing the natural enzyme that is the active ingredient.
"We don't do Central Park facials," she says, "because those birds eat garbage."