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This brutally long, cold winter has been especially hard on two parts of the body that are difficult to shield from the elements: the face and hands. On Tuesday, with winds whirling menacing snowflakes under my hat and through my cashmere gloves, I declared a moratorium on suffering.

I made a beeline to Pilo Day Spa & Salon in Bay Ridge, which has been making Brooklynites feel and look better since 1978.

The lower level spa is an oasis of quiet. Master aesthetician Mariola ushered me into a treatment room for a consultation. After changing into a robe, my chapped hands were moisturized, dipped into a paraffin bath and slipped into mittens. She then tucked me into a luxurious treatment bed.

Mariola lowered her enormous magnifying glass over my illuminated face and declared that I had sensitive, dehydrated skin with clogged pores. ("Well, someone needs to repaint this ceiling," I muttered to myself.)

But Mariola, with 12 years in the business and seven at Pilo, knew what to prescribe for my disgruntled nature and stressed visage - a luxurious, hour-long Vitamin C facial ($110). Among the highlights of this dreamy state of bliss were massages of my face, neck and shoulders. During the exfoliation, Mariola even employed heated, flat stones to melt the aches from my shoulders and to massage the grains across my face.

The experience was so relaxing, even the extractions weren’t memorable.

The facial employs vitamin C serum (with the invigorating scent of fresh-peeled oranges), moisturizing seaweed patches that are massaged into the skin, and an organic mud mask.

While the mask worked its magic, Mariola pulled the paraffin off my hands, massaged a moisturizer into them and into my arms and then stroked them with heated, moist towels before tucking the now-limp noodles back under the blanket.

After the mask was removed, my skin immediately looked dewy, the bags under my eyes were diminished, and perhaps equally important, my mood was improved.

While I waited for my next treatment, I was ushered into a plush relaxation room and offered a champagne flute full of mimosa. I noticed my hands on the stem of the glass.

The rebellious nature of my nails - peeling, soft and dry - has always been a source of angst. Regardless of the expensive basecoats or balanced diet with vitamin supplement, my nails refused to look presentable. With the battering they took this winter, the damage was obvious and embarrassing.

It was time for an extreme makeover.

I was escorted upstairs to the invigorating salon where pop music played, monitors displayed fashion shows and friendly staff and clients traded banter and bustled about.

Seasoned nail pro Ella has been using the Light Concept Nail system ($95) for four years, and has been working at Pilo for 22 years. (I hesitate to mention her name because I would rather keep her as my own secret fairy godmother.)

Light Concept Nails is an odorless gel resin system, derived from light-cured dental technology that doesn’t discolor nails. While I thought the glossy, French nails looked great just as they were, polish can be applied and Ella can even tint the nails pink, opaque or lavender. A silver or gold topcoat is also available, she explained.

Ella carefully buffed, filed and applied tips and resin to my fingernails for the next hour-and-a-half to achieve the promised set of hard, natural-looking nails.

To maintain the nails, fills ($95) are necessary at least once a month and oil should be applied daily to moisturize and maintain the glossy shine. (Pilo sells Light Concept Nail oil for $10 a bottle.)

Pilo also offers many, many more service packages to improve skin and nails, including the affordable "Pick-Me-Up" package: a Pilo signature facial, manicure and pedicure ($109).

After Ella had buffed my last nail, I left Pilo, and mercifully, the snow had stopped falling.


See Spa Directory for more information about Pilo Arts Day Spa & Salon.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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