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SkinCareLab, located in the same Soho building as the ever-booked downtown Bliss Spa, is small, sleek and silent - though it may not be after gets out. Owned by Brad Katchen M.D., a skin-care expert to stars like Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker and Kristin Davis, the spa is soon to become full-service with a manicure-pedicure station and five treatment rooms, each with a private shower.

My skin therapist, Jacqueline, leads me to my room, where I slip into a robe and onto the table for my 60-minute SkinCareLab facial. I have combination skin, that's on the oily side, so she begins with a Citrus Herbal Cleanser from a line called Epicuren. Next, she massages me with a scrub, rinses and paints on a hot peel - a cinnamony glycolic solution that she says will exfoliate dead cells, bring livelier ones to the surface and "allow the skin to breathe more oxygen". A dose of 02 cant be bad, I think, as I feel the slow, cool burn. The peel done, she puts on Mask I, a nut-scented coating intended to tighten and firm. Over it, she applies a minty Mask II, to give me a rosy glow. As my face hardens, Jacqueline rubs my shoulders, hands and feet with fruity oil, and I'm in heaven. She finishes my face with a "skin invigorator", followed by another gel moisturizer.

SkinCareLab technicians don't do extraction -blackhead picking- on your first visit, so I face the street with no red marks-just pink cheeks that feel clean, cleanlclean. Carole Braden