A luxury New York City spa is turning bird poop into cash with a skin care treatment that includes imported Asian nightingale excrement. The treatment, which costs $180, is promoted as a way to keep the face soft and smooth.
Approximately 100 people head into Manhattan’s Shizuka New York skin care salon each month to get the treatment, which spa owner Shizuka Bernstein has been offering what she calls the Geisha Facial for about five years.
An enzyme in the droppings reportedly keeps the skin soft and smooth, a practice favored by actors and geishas in Japan for some 400 years.
"I try to bring Japanese beauty secrets to the United States," Bernstein said.
The treatment begins with steam to open the pores and soften the skin. Cream is then applied and then comes what Bernstein calls "the nightingale part."
She pours the cream-colored poop, dried and finely ground, into a bowl, mixing it with rice bran using a small spatula. She applies the potion to the client’s face with a brush, rubbing it in with her hands.
Dr. Michele Green, a Manhattan cosmetic dermatologist, said that while the nightingale facial "definitely has some rejuvenating effect, I don't think it's any different than, say, an apricot scrub or a mask that you could buy in a local pharmacy."
Bernstein noted only droppings from birds of the nightingale species are used because they live on seeds, producing the natural enzyme that is the active ingredient.
"We don't do Central Park facials," Bernstein said, "because those birds eat garbage."