A Raw Deal: Where to Get a Food Facial in Philadelphia

When I heard about the raw food facial JuJu Spa & Organics in Philly, I had a flashback to those infomercials showing everything you can put through your juicer (whole carrots! a cactus!). I’ve never been much of a raw foodie, apart from ordering sashimi and green salads. But pureeing your meals and not cooking anything above 115 degrees supposedly delivers lots of benefits, including better digestion, stronger immunity, and—here’s where my eyes light up—radiant skin.

The thinking is leaving foods in their natural state helps preserve the nutrients, making the vitamins and minerals more readily absorbed by the body. Sticking to that kind of regime requires more effort than I’m willing to put in, let’s be honest. But I wondered if rubbing raw foods on my face would give me the same payoff as sipping zucchini smoothies and flaxseed soups?

I headed to JuJu to find out. The spa is located off South Street where the words “pure” and “natural” don’t come to mind like cheese steaks and dive bars do. I expected to find an industrial-size juicer in my treatment room or a big heap of veggies suitable for a rabbit to make a bed in. That’s not the case, which might be a comfort to some. Instead, the facial is designed using raw beauty products by Dr. Alkaitis, a researcher who studied chemistry at UCLA and turned his expertise with plants into a holistic skincare line. All of his masks, scrubs, and creams are handmade in small batches without any pesticides or genetically modified substances, and the ingredients are prepared at room temperature to maximize their bioactivity. Everything is so fresh, in fact, that you can actually eat the products. Yes, that’s right. You could put a spoon in the Organic Cellular Repair Mask and eat it for breakfast if you wanted to.

Local Intel: Best Green Spas in Philly

Eviama Life Spa | eviama.com
Green thumbs-up: Uses all organic ingredients in their holistic treatments that include facials, massages, and even compassionate waxing (one of the formulas is honey-based). Bonus points for designing an interior with renewable, salvaged, recycled and sustainable materials, non-toxic finishes and adhesives, and low-VOC emitting paints.

Tierra Mia Organic Nail Spa | tierramiaorganicnailspa.com
Green thumbs up: Only applies water-based, non-toxic nail polishes and crafts treatments with natural ingredients (think citrus fruits and coconut) that give back to the community. A percentage of proceeds from mani/pedis goes toward initiatives like Wiser Earth and Colombianitos, a children’s non-profit.

Body Restoration | bodyrest.com
Green thumbs up: Its signature vinotherapy face and body treatments use freshly crushed grapes grown in the nearby Chaddsford Winery to polish and brighten skin.

My facial started with, like most do, natural hot steam and extractions to detox my skin. Next, my face was bathed in an organic herbal toner, which is formulated with a unique base of aloe vera, wild chamomile and witch hazel to sooth any inflammation (I had plenty after those extractions—holistic or not, that part hurts). Then came a wonderfully emollient enzyme scrub made with phytonutrients and antioxidants to exfoliate my dull complexion. Its plant enzymes become biologically activated when mixed with water to slough away microbial bacteria and other debris. Afterward, my facialist massaged on a nutrient-rich mask that contained a blend of organic fruits and berries to repair dehydrated, environmentally worn-out skin (I can thank the high winds and pollen levels for that).

Surprisingly, the products didn’t smell incredibly garden-y, or much like anything, really. That could be because natural remedies don’t give off a crazy-intense aroma the way artificially scented ones do. In any case, the absence of fake fillers made for an extremely refreshing and lovely sensory experience.

To finish, my facialist wiped off my mask and patted on a velvety day cream with calendula and other botanicals to bring oxygen to the surface and stimulate circulation. When I left, my skin looked revived and at least five years younger, even if the effects were somewhat temporary. But I guess it’s like following a raw food diet for 24 hours—you’ll see more results if you keep up with the effort. Still, I felt pure and happy knowing that nothing toxic had touched my skin. And that gave me a glow that definitely lasted for weeks, no carrot juicing required.

How to get there: Consult offManhattan’s public transportation guide to Philadelphia. (JuJu Salon and Organics, 713 S. 4th Street, Philadelphia, 215.238.6080, jujusalon.com)