Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Get the all-natural facial that's Gwyneth-Paltrow approved

Rich and creamy meets wholesome and dreamy. Ryan Gosling on a spoon? Almost. There's good news for natural skin-care junkies in Toronto. You no longer have to hit West Palm Beach or be on Gwyneth Paltrow's holiday gift list to hook up with a Tammy Fender facial (the fair blonde's a big fan). Like all high-quality small-batch things, 889 Wellness's skin-care treatments are in hot demand. Unlike other status facials that rely on resurfacing your face, Fender's orchestration of chemistry, botany and aromatherapy yields an all-natural, handmade holistic facial that feeds skin on a deeper level. Last week, I poached myself a pleasurable pink with my overzealous St. Bart's surfing hubris and needed to calm my cheeks.

My journey to moisturized bliss begins with a genuinely warm welcome at reception. Holistic skin therapist Pauline Bakowski cleanses the skin of excess oils and environmental pollutants, and uses kaolin clay to exfoliate and decongest pores. A toner of roman chamomile acts as a vasoconstrictor to shrink my little red capillaries. Her tapotement technique – rhythmic percussion of the fingertips – wakes up the nervous system, releases lymphatic build-up and ensures I absorb the majority of product by tapping the tonic in. With 25 minutes of this facial devoted to scalp, shoulder and décolleté massage, by the time she applies the finishing, much-buzzed balm, I'm riding on a high of feel-good endorphins.

The benefits

Story continues below advertisement

Fender's intensive repair balm, which won its first fervent raves from her post-op Florida clients, features prized helichrysum to tighten connective tissue and encourage cell turnover.

The spa

As the city's pre-eminent holistic lifestyle concept offering yoga, nutritional counselling, doula care and childbirth prep, 889 Wellness inspires a near evangelical following. The spa's menu works synergistically with these offerings – a smartly conceived beacon to urban dwellers looking to unplug from the static of city life. Founders Christine and Emily Russell share a vision for the bigger picture of wellness. Sure, the spa leaves you smelling deliciously edible, but the experience also reflects wider cultural and social trends. This is the kind of place where expectant moms check in for the Pea in the Pod massage while upstairs in a yoga studio that looks like a posh hotel, sophomores stretch and purr in spinal twists next to grandmothers in stoic shoulder stands. It's no surprise that when the discerning team behind Thompson Hotel Toronto searched for a green spa and yoga partner, 889 Wellness was top of the list. This plum pick placed the Russell sisters at the forefront of Toronto's wellness entrepreneurs, attracting such clients as Alexandra Weston, Belinda Stronach, Woody Harrelson and Rachel Weisz. While yoga at 889's second location at Thompson has been thriving since last spring's launch, the eagerly awaited sister spa will open on April 1.

The basics

889 Wellness Spa at 889 Yonge St.; 416-925-7206;; $135 for 75 minutes

Special to The Globe and Mail

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to