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Where in L.A. can you get lip fillers, V-steams, holistic facials and reiki healing all under one roof and then go on with a day of retail therapy?
Tucked away in buzzy shopping and lifestyle development Row DTLA is The Things We Do, a new beauty concept bar with an East-meets-West approach to self-care. Think of it as a medical spa that isn’t shy about dabbling in traditional Chinese medicine, whether it’s pairing the ultra-hydrating Heritage Facial with cosmetic acupuncture (both of which Jessica Alba recently received) or combining a minimally invasive thread lift with a calming cupping session.
“When I visit Asia and [get a] facial, there’s an understanding that I’m going for a full-day experience,” The Things We Do founder and aesthetic nurse injector Vanessa Lee tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They’re also going to scrub my body down, I might get a vaginal steam and I’ll probably get Botox, extractions and my skin tags removed. In the U.S. it’s just really different. You go in for Botox and then you go home.”
Korean skin care and Chinese gua sha tools are among the Asian beauty exports that have amassed a stateside following in recent years, but medical esthetics offices have yet to catch on. The Things We Do aims to change all of that, but in a very Instagrammable environment. Drenched in salmon and millennial pink hues, the studio was designed by L.A.-based consulting and design firm Wall for Apricots (known for its ‘gram-worthy interiors inspired by artist Anne Truitt) and features glass block windows and custom-made decor, wall sconces and ceramics by female artists.
On the menu are customized facials ($200) that incorporate face sculpting massages and micro-current for lifting, Cryogen clouds “to lock in your newfound results” and CBD-infused gummies (if you like) for the ultimate skin relaxation session. There’s also a range of cosmetic treatments for targeting a host of concerns, including injectables for smoothing out fine lines and plumping the lips ($650 to $1,500 and up), micro-needling with snail-egg stem cells for a smoother visage ($450), peels for treating hyperpigmentation ($200 to $1000) and facial acupuncture and cupping for calming irritated and dull skin ($200). The spa plans on adding full-body massages to its lineup soon, too.
Southern California-raised Lee has always had beauty in her blood. “When I was in college, my mom [said], ‘You have to be a nurse. We’re Filipino, this is what we do,'” she says. She ultimately earned her nursing degree at Mount Saint Mary’s University in L.A., but followed the footsteps of her grandmother, “a really well-known beautician” in her province in the Philippines, where beauty salons were the family business.
Lee’s Filipino lineage spills into every corner of the skin care studio. The spa’s walls are wrapped in a fabric inspired by batik (a traditional textile from the Philippines), the bathroom boasts iridescent floor-to-ceiling tiles inspired by capiz shells (one of the Southeast Asian country’s major exports) and treatment rooms are named after the matriarchs in Lee’s family. Her heritage also inspires the spa’s treatments: the Healing Facial is infused with malunggay (also known as moringa), a common vitamin-powered ingredient with “natural antiseptic and antioxidant properties” often used in the Philippines.
The in-spa shop (which will soon expand into a full retail boutique offering non-toxic teeth whitening and feminine hygiene products) stocks results-driven skin care from clean beauty line Botnia, sheet masks from Skinesque, herbal supplements by Evergreen and The Things We Do’s own cruelty-free range of skin care ($47 to $72), which has been flying off shelves so quickly that the studio can barely keep it in stock online and in store. (Lucy Hale is among the line’s fans.) Later this month, the brand will launch its first beauty tool: An at-home micro-needling infusion stamp that comes with a skin-plumping concoction of snail mucin and moringa leaf.
Next, Lee is eyeing spaces in New York and Hawaii and “absolutely” plans to open an East Coast outpost within the next year.
Lee credits her beautician grandmother as the catalyst for it all, but in a very unexpected (and otherworldly) way. While working at another L.A. skin care studio, one first-time patient interrupted Lee mid-treatment: “She was like, ‘I’m sorry, I have to tell you there’s a woman in the room with us and she now has a message for you. Oh, and I’m a medium,'” she recalls. The woman described her grandmother “spot on” — down to her favorite pleated floral dress and pearl necklace — and reaffirmed Lee’s instinct to quit her job and break out on her own.
“What more affirmation do you need?” says Lee. “Your grandmother coming through a medium while you’re injecting her under-eyes in West Hollywood.”
The Things We Do at Row DTLA, 787 South Alameda St., Suite 100, Los Angeles; (213) 278-0358; thethingswedo.co
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