Facialist Finds Inspiration at Mt. Fuji

October 15, 2005


NEW YORK – Japanese facialist Shizuka Bernstein’s eponymous skin care line may capture the Zen of Eastern philosophy, but Shizuka New York Skincare System is designed to deliver results, too.

Bernstein, who developed the line with her husband, cosmetic dermatologist Robert M. Bernstein, sought to meld her Eastern holistic knowledge with Western dermatology. The result is a four-item anti-aging skin care collection based on ingredients native to Japan, such as sake, mushroom extract, soy, green tea and pearl protein. The lineup includes Foaming Cleanser for Normal to Dry Skin and Clay Cleanser for Oily Skin for $48 each, and Skin Freshener and Moisturizer, for $62 each. She is currently mulling over line extensions such as an eye cream and vitamin C serum for mid-2006.

Bernstein acknowledged that the beauty industry is bursting at the seams with new offerings, but said her insistence on manufacturing these products in Japan and using Mt. Fuji water as the principal ingredient sets her collection apart.

The products launched in Bernstein’s Midtown day spa, Shizuka New York Day Spa, located at 7 West 51st Street, New York, NY 10019, in July. The plan is to eventually roll them out to apothecaries, boutiques and high-end department stores, as well.

Industry sources expect the collection could reap more that $300,000 in first-year retail sales.

Trained as a medical aesthetician, Bernstein brushed up against the pharmaceutical industry while working at her husband’s practice and later while renting space at a fellow Manhattan dermatologist’s office.

“I began thinking that natural botanicals could deliver results similar to those achieved with pharmaceuticas, and be less irritating to the skin,” recalled Bersntein.

“Natural products work more slowly,” she added, “But are much safer.”

Bersntein, who began getting regular facials at age 20, opened a modest-sized spa in Midtown six years ago. Her business grew and soon necessitated a larger space. In June, Shizuka New York Day Spa moved to its current location, a 3,000-square-foot day spa with six treatment rooms and a staff of seven aestheticians. Bernstein recruited Japanese architect Fusayo Yokota to design the interior, which, like the products, blends Eastern hospitality with Western practicality. Each treatment is followed by a cup of green tea and two miniature Japanese biscuits.

She also seeks to distinguish her day spa from dermatologists’ offices by making treatments more pleasant. for instance, after a microdermabrasion, she places a collagen mask on skin to soothe redness.

Bernstein also has studied the intricacies of the Japanese tea ceremony, and said it has influenced how she treats her clients, right down to the movements for massage. She said, “I wanted to bring a lot of Japanese influence to the spa.”