I’m all for a good, high-end facial, but I do feel like many are a transactional experience. You walk into a dim-lit room, get your relaxing, hour-long service and walk out. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great—but there’s something special about a private experience that leads you to an array of lush greenery in a historic home, that you and its resident have all to yourself.
That’s what happened when I received an invite to Flora Mirabilis. The invite said the address would be provided upon confirmation of appointment. All I received was a description of the location (a very enticing “charming oasis in LA, built by Charlie Chaplin in 1923″), and an invite to one of founder and longtime aesthetician, Jordan LaFragola’s “magical facials”—which I learned upon research, start at a cool $300.
On the day of my April appointment, I parked on a residential West Hollywood street, where it took me a while to find this tucked-away gem. Upon further inspection, I saw a small sign attached to a gate that said “Flora Mirabilis” (the sign was later removed once I came inside). Aha, I thought! I then dialed the gate code I was given, and out walked a beautiful soft-spoken young woman, who I learned was indeed LaFragola, the co-owner of this hidden establishment she shares with her partner, Christopher Cuseo.
She took me through a plant-filled walkway that housed two bungalows. We entered the one on the right, and it was filled with pure lush greenery. It was a genuine escape from the hustle and bustle that lies just outside her gate.
“The property’s history is so special, with so much creative, artistic energy embedded in the walls, that it’s palpable upon entering the space,” LaFragola—who previously offered her services at The Beverly Hills Hotel Spa—tells skyelyfe. “One day, we went on a run to hike Runyon Canyon, but when we got there, it was crowded, and we decided to run through the neighborhood instead. We happened to run past the property, which we had never noticed before. It had a small ‘for rent’ sign on the front, we called the number, and two days later we moved in!”
LaFragola—who says the home’s owner was “very particular about who he rented to”—led me straight to the home’s charming, plant-filled bathroom as soon she walked me in. I was greeted with a robe and slippers, and headed to the facial bed once I got into my comfy apparel. The bed faced a window on the right side, while I faced a direct view of beautiful plants hanging from the ceiling and adorning the walls. I was instantly transported to a state of ease. Aside from the beautiful scenery, there was a sense of intimacy and obvious exclusivity; like you were the only one who would ever be privy to this experience.
“We see clients one at a time, so the service is very personal and individualized,” LaFragola explains. “I focus a ton on the healing power of physical touch, and I’m massaging and working the skin throughout the entirety of the facial. No applying products and just leaving them to sit. I get a feel for where people hold tension and stress in their faces, and pay extra attention to those areas. Working those areas not only improves the appearance of the skin, it also gives people a bit of an emotional release. When clients leave, they leave with an intense feeling of relaxation and rejuvenation.”
She was right. I did leave feeling more relaxed after my experience. The final step was the application of her signature, 10-ingredient Flora Mirabilis Face Oil. The luxe, micro-batched, plant-based formulation is a blend of omega fatty acids and non-comedogenic oils that won’t clog pores. Her secret, handmade potion is one she won’t reveal too many specifics about, but she does share that the unique wood-resin-floral scent was purposeful in smelling “a bit ancient and haunting.”
She further explains, “Because these ingredients are so embedded in human history, there’s something familiar about them, which most people remark on. They feel like they know the scent somehow, but can’t quite place it. The scent is also a complete byproduct of the active ingredients—none of the ingredients are used for the purpose of providing scent. Each ingredient has been proven through research studies to truly benefit the skin without causing irritation or sensitivity. These ingredients have been used in skincare for thousands of years, so there’s a history of anecdotal efficacy.”
The famous Face Oil is what initially put the brand on the map in 2016, years before the recent expansion into a service studio with the development of additional skincare products.
“We had the formula tested by a third-party laboratory to make sure it was genuinely skin-safe and effective,” LaFragola says. “In the study, which took place over a month, not one person had a negative reaction to the oil. We can officially claim that our oil is dermatologist tested and hypoallergenic. We then took it a step further and had the oil reviewed by the Environmental Working Group, so the oil is also EWG Verified, meaning it meets their strict standards for healthy products.”
All of her products, she says, are “like having a green juice for your skin.”
As my relaxation hour comes to a close, I head to the bathroom to slip out of my cozy robe and back into reality. I step out to find two glasses of water to stay hydrated. And, as a final parting gift and perfect touch, I’m sent away with the acclaimed Flora Mirabilis face oil, in its detailed wooden box and its sleek, artistic glass bottle.
“Once people have the experience, they can’t help but tell everyone they know,” LaFragola says, as I scurry home to flaunt my fresh photos on Instagram. And apparently I’m in good company. Jimmy Fallon, Sally Hershberger and Mae Whitman are among fans of the brand.
For more on facial experiences, HERE‘s everything to know about an at-home Dragon’s Breath facial I tried last year.