The Daily Telegraph (London)

Geisha facial®, the ‘latest beauty secret’ of Victoria Beckham, brought to the masses

New York’s women take their beauty seriously. Their efforts to stop the hands of time and make the most of their looks are awe-inspiring, with electrolysis, teeth whitening, lymphatic massage, blow dries, manicurespedicures, brow shaping, facials, and body scrubs all featuring regularly in their regimes. They’ve even made Botox and laser peels seem like the norm.

So it comes as no surprise that they have been quick to embrace the latest magic, beauty enhancing ingredient: nightingale droppings.

Japanese geishas, who are renowned for their clear, porcelain-like complexions, have used the bird excrement for centuries as a cleanser – but now a spa in New York has brought it to the masses.

And the news that Victoria Beckham – who is said to have struggled with acne since her teens – reportedly uses the secret ingredient has done the popularity of the bizarre practice no harm.

According to Closer magazine, when Posh, 34, was in Japan recently, she admired the clarity of the women’s skin and learnt that it was thanks to the droppings, which contain an enzyme called guanine that leaves the skin clean, smooth and supple.

So she tried it for herself, and a friend told the magazine that “for the first time in years, she doesn’t have to wear foundation to hide blemishes.”

In New York, Shizuka Bernstein has been offering the “geisha facial®“, which costs about £100, at her spa since January. She counts television news reporters, Broadway stars and supermodel Karolina Kurkova as converts.

Throwing scepticism – and squeamishness – to the wind, I booked an appointment with Shizuka to see for myself. After a detailed explanation of the benefits of Japanese beauty ingredients, Shizuka cleaned my face with two cleansers – one clay and the other containing green tea, ground pearls, sake and Mount Fuji water, bottled at the source.

Following that, she mixed the nightingale droppings – which are powdered and sterilised using UV light – with rice bran and water to make a paste.

The concoction smelt pungent, but medicinal rather than unpleasant. She applied the droppings, and then massaged them into my face for five minutes. It was then wached off and a collagen mask was applied before she massaged me again with camellia (another Japanese ingredient, known for its non-clogging hydrating properties) and lavender oils.

Shizuka, who is 50 but looks at least 15 years younger, tells me that the nightingales are farmed in Japan and fed only organic seeds. Their droppings are then scraped from the cages and sterilised.

“My mother used to tell me stories when I was a little about the geishas and Kabuki actors in the 18th century who wore lead-based face paint,” Tokyo-born Shizuka says.

“The make-up was so heavy and difficult to remove that a lot of them became very sick or even died from lead poisoning. Somehow, I don’t know how, they discovered that nightingale droppings had an enormous cleansing effect. They must have tried everything.”

In Japan the nightingale has always been a symbol of great beauty. “It’s a really pretty little bird,” she says. “They are very easy to keep and they are songbirds which makes them popular pets in Japan and across Asia.”

The excrement produces the same results as a light acid peel, but it causes none of the redness or the need for recovery time. There’s no burning sensation and no man-made chemicals. Because of this, the facial can be done on the day of a red-carpet appearance or an important party, she explains. It’s also safe for pregnant women to use.

Following my experience, I have to admit that my skin looks extraordinarily healthy and bright. My squeamishness was banished after smelling the inoffensive powder and realising that it had been finely milled, cleaned and sterilised. There’s really nothing to feel queasy about, and – as one of my friends was wondering – absolutely no chance of catching avian flu.

By Melissa Whitworth

Published October 16th, 2008 in The Daily Telegraph (London, UK)


Other Shizuka New York Day Spa 2008 Press Releases
Beautiful with Bird Poop (RTL TV in Germany) – That Americans come up with crazy, weird beauty treatments is nothing new to us. At least we thought so until our New York reporter Silke Haas told us she had a facial with bird droppings!
Shizuka New York featured in – Candice Sabatini of features Dr. Shah’s Pore Reduction treatment with Botox at our Manhattan Day Spa.
Shizuka on NBC’s Today Show – TV host and beauty expert Jill Martin interviewed Shizuka as she and her assistant applied the Geisha Facial® mask and massaged it into Kathie Lee’s and Hoda’s skin.
Bird Poop Facial is the Soup’s Clip of the Week 
Spa Treatments Too Bizarre To Believe – Odd beauty regimens aren’t new. The recent popularity of treatments that use animals and animal byproducts and non-synthetic ingredients is., Style Section. Published October 11, 2008
My, What Lovely Armpits – The Underarm Overhaul was featured in the June 9, 2008 issue of New York Magazine.
Inside a Big Idea – Donny Deutsch interviews Shizuka Bernstein about the Geisha Facial® on CNBC’s The Big Idea.
Geisha “Bird Poop” Facial on CNN – The Bird Poop ‘Geisha’ Facial was featured on CNN on June 10, 2008 for its use of powdered nightingale droppings.
Geisha Facial® “para la cabeza de Juan Carlos” – Shizuka Bernstein appeared on Mega 97.9’s El Vacil—n where she applied the bird poop facial mask from her Geisha Facial® on to host Juan Carlos’s head.
All Shizuka NY 2008 Press Releases