MADONNA, PRINCE, SNOOP DOGG, AND CHER have more in common than chart-topping pop songs; they're also all clients at the famous Ole Henriksen Face/Body spa in Los Angeles. In fact, owner Ole Henriksen has been perfecting the complexions of some of Hollywood's biggest names ever since Barbara Streisand first walked through the doors 31 years ago, just months after the spa first opened in 1975.
In 1981, Ole Henriksen Face/Body moved to a space on the exclusive Sunset Plaza section of Sunset Boulevard. Then, in 1996, Henriksen decided to move it again to a larger location across the street, where it remains today. He hired architect James Meraz and spent almost $1 million designing a spa environment that's intimate, comfortable, and warm, with both Asian and Scandinavian influences (Henriksen is Danish, but his passion for skincare was piqued when he was a teenager living in Indonesia). He renovated the premises in 2005, creating a new relaxation area, lounge, and a wet room with state-of-the-art equipment, which incorporate steam, brush cleansing, facial Vichy, and hot and cold water therapy, from the German company Nemectron.
In a city known for being a hotbed of cosmetic surgery, Henriksen is a believer in growing old gracefully and naturally. "One thing that has been imperative for me is that all of the products we use in our services are soothing, anti-aging, firming, and tightening but also organic," he says. Indeed, most of the spa's treatments are based on botanicals, sea minerals, and fruits, including the Micro/Mini Peeling Treatment ($115, 75 minutes), which includes an almond polish and lemon strip peel; the Cucumber-Honey-Milk-Total Face/Body ($115, 60 minutes), which consists of a sea mineral scrub, tropical rain rinse, honey body mask, fresh milk rinse, and grated cucumber face mask; and the spa's popular signature service, the African Red Tea Body Cocktail ($155, 90 minutes). It's a smoothing, purifying treatment performed in a wet room with a brown sugar body scrub, tropical rain rinse, fresh orange juice, and an exfoliating blend of organic yogurt and African Red Tea leaves. "Renée Zellweger loved the results of this treatment so much, she jumped in my lap the first time she had it done," says Henriksen.
Ole Henriksen relaxes in his eponymous Los Angeles spa.
In addition to Zellweger and the numerous other celebrities Henriksen deems regulars, the spa also has clients who come from as far away as New Zealand and tourists from all over the world who drop in to buy products from Henriksen's award-winning namesake skincare line, which he developed four years ago. The products, such as Express the Truth Wrinkle Resistant Crème, which contains African Red Tea, evolved from many of the spa's most popular treatments. "Retail is huge for us," says Henriksen.
Clients can also purchase hand-brewed creams and potions that are blended specifically for individualized skin needs. In fact, personalization is an important part of the service philosophy at Ole Henriksen, which boasts an 80 percent return rate. The most popular facial is the Eight-Step Custom-Designed Treatment with French Enzyme Peel and Collagen ($105, 75 minutes). "The eight steps allow the operator to focus on the most important concerns, whether it's lymphatic drainage, deep-pore evacuation, or firming," says Henriksen. "When we train our staff, there are certain guidelines I set down, but I allow operators to put their own talent and creativity into it. I don't say 'my way is the only way.' It's whatever works best for the operator and for the client."
The African Red Tea Body Cocktail ($155, 90 minutes) and other water-based treatments are performed in the wet room.
With clients in mind, Henriksen changes the menu every fall. Less popular items are replaced with new and innovative ones. He also keeps the names of treatments simple and straightforward, so they're not confusing, and he aims to be at the forefront when it comes to technology. In 1995, he was the first to bring microdermabrasion to the West Coast. His latest launch is the Thermodyn Treatment, a hot-and-cold treatment for the face that boasts immediate firming benefits to the skin, like a mini face-lift, according to Henriksen. "The impact is immediate," he says, adding that clients like Jessica Alba, Carmen Electra, Hugh Jackman, Charlize Theron, and Mark Wahlberg swear by it.
Despite the spa's high-profile clients, recognizable name and esteemed reputation, much of the menu and the products are surprisingly affordable. For instance, a Eucalyptus Steam is a complimentary add-on with all body treatments, $32 without. A 20-minute hydrotherapy soaking treatment in the dual-jet tub room is $32, and very popular with clients. During the treatments, guests soak in sunken tubs scented with their choice of essential oil while they sip chamomile tea and gaze at the flickering lanterns dotting the earthy slate walls.
The complete line of Ole Henriksen skincare products is available in the spa's newly renovated retail area.
It's all part of what Henriksen refers to as the choreography of a spa experience. "I wanted to create sequential body treatments that flowed flawlessly and had a certain choreography to them," he says. "In the wet room, I didn't want to do just a wrap or scrub or mud mask. I wanted to create a series of sequential body treatments, because a great spa experience should be like a beautiful orchestration. It should be a magical experience, where you take clients on a journey that has them floating on Cloud Nine."