Admit it, venturing as far south as I live (Bensonhurst) only happens once (Mermaid Parade) maybe twice (Siren Festival) a year for most northerners. But would you make the trip if you knew that the subway stops which immediately precede the famed Stillwell Avenue station could save a ton of money on haircuts, blowouts, massages and facials?
I’ve been in this area for most of my 30 years and in that time I’ve found primpatoriums a-plenty. OK, they’re not exactly Bliss, but this is the South, and we aren’t as interested in the calming faux paint technique used on the walls as we are with the small amount of money coming out of our fake-Coach wallets.
I’ve put together a listing of what I think are the ‘best-of’ beauty-finds with in these parts. Take the trip down—make a day of it and visit Ruby’s Old Tyme Bar & Grille on the Boardwalk and Stillwell Avenue. Have the Ruby’s house beer on tap and make sure to check out some of the thousands of photographs that line the walls. Say hi to Frank, the best bartender in the spot.
On the Bay Parkway stop off of the D line you will find my go-to spot for a great blowout: New Hair (2246 86th St., 718-373-2782). They will either take those kinks right out of your fro and give you pin-straight hair or they’ll twirl your lanky locks to bouncy perfection all in less than an hour from wash-to-finish. The best part, though, is the incredible head massage that is included in the ridiculously low price tag of $12-16 depending on the length and thickness of your hair. I highly suggest asking for JoAnn as your wash-girl. Giving her a better-than-average tip for her amazing wash will get you an even better massage at your next go. She never forgets a face, especially if it’s Lincoln’s or Hamilton’s.
I had an awesome facial that lasted a good 90 minutes, even though it was advertised for only 60. One night recently I stumbled into Fragrant Spa (2477 86th St., 718-333-2198) located off the 25th Avenue stop on the D line and asked for specials, which are usually listed on a dry-erase easel outside. They didn’t
have any, so I sort of made my own. I convinced my aesthetician, Debbie, to take $5 off the normal $45 price of a 60-minute deep-cleaning facial. The room is semi-private with 3 tables, enclosed by Kill-Bill style pocket doors. 90 minutes after entering I found myself completely relaxed after having had a full on face massage (awesome!), neck, shoulder, and head rub-down… all of this on top of beautifully polished skin. I will admit Debbie got me on a $10 up-sell for the seaweed mask. Worth every cent!
My pick for the best-cheap massage in South BK has less to do with ambience and more to do with the $40 price-tag on a 60-minute full-body massage. Not far from the D line at 20th Avenue is Four Seasons Beauty (1906 86th Street, 718-259-5555). Pinky, a woman who must’ve run with the nearby Side Show in Coney, has a way of contorting her body atop of yours while tweaking and twinking all of the tension out of your limbs. She is in fact known to jump on your back and knead your knots with her knees. I suggest calling in advance for an appointment, as they perform many other services including nails and facial tattooing and the wait can be pretty lengthy. I have yet to try either of the aforementioned services here but their pedicure technique seems pretty kick-ass and I hear from a good friend of mine that the girl to see is Sue.
While my pick for outstanding eyebrows isn’t as close to the beach as most of my suggested spots, it’s totally worth the trip on the Q line to Avenue H. I have been a customer of Raheela’s (1117 Coney Island Ave., 718-859-3133) eyebrow threading salon for years now and I am yet to find a comparable salon for shaping, speed and price. At $7 for eyebrows and only $1 more if you choose to do your upper-lip at the same time, you’re not finding a better deal. With upward of 7 women performing threading services simultaneously, the wait is usually pretty short. But if you are like me and demand perfection in an eyebrow then I suggest waiting for Raheela herself. You’ll find that most of the patrons there are doing the same.