Once upon a time, a visit to a beautician would involve choosing between a couple of facials, and maybe a neck and shoulder massage. These days, it entails deciphering intimidating-sounding words such as “microdermabrasion”, “light therapy” and “skin needling”. With ever-more scientific approaches to skincare taking over our regimes, we want to be confident we’re visiting a beauty salon or spa that knows its stuff. So we’ve taken the guesswork out of the beauty game, and rounded up five new salons and spas that won’t leave you (literally) red-faced.

Fenn, Paddington
The Intersection in Paddington is best known for its fashion boutiques – but beauty insiders are heading to recently opened Fenn. Helmed by two of Sydney’s top skin whisperers, Nicole Manning and Clare McColl, Fenn takes a holistic approach, combining contemporary and traditional techniques in a light and airy space designed by Akin Atelier.

Book the Fenn Foundation ($210), a one-hour treatment beginning with a double cleanse followed by microdermabrasion, then Omnilux LED light therapy while you’re enjoying a hand, arm or foot massage. Soak up a deeply hydrating face mask before your skin is topped with a serum, an oil and SPF to protect. Don’t leave without browsing the substantial retail offering, including products by Sodashi, Medik8, Being and cult New Zealand brand Emma Lewisham.

24 Glenmore Road, Paddington

Crown Spa, Barangaroo
The jewel in the crown of the new Crown Spa at Barangaroo is an extraordinary aqua retreat. Slip into the bubbles of the vitality spa before cycling through a steam room, sauna and Swiss shower in a jaw-dropping space by interior designer Blainey North, inspired by light refracted underwater.

Then, tear yourself away from the panoramic harbour views and submit to the ultimate indulgence: the White Caviar Illuminating Facial ($450) from beauty brand gold standard La Prairie. You’ll be tucked into a fluffy white marshmallow of a bed then pampered for the next 90 minutes with a hot-towel massage, the brand’s famous three-minute peel, a sheet mask, and restorative serums and a face mist to finish things off. All that’s left to do is retire to a day bed back in the aqua retreat, (complimentary for guests booking treatments of one hour or longer) and gaze lazily out across the harbour.

Level 6, Crown Towers Sydney, 1 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo

Luna Beauty & Apothecary, Surry Hills
When demand for her holistic approach to skincare, which fuses naturopathy with skin health, exceeded the capacity of her Victorian terrace in Surry Hills, Fay Halkitis moved just a stone’s throw down the road, into a larger terrace on Fitzroy Street. Inside, you’ll find facials and naturopathic consultations to cover skin conditions including acne, eczema and rosacea.

Its Essential Facial Treatment ($140) incorporates lymphatic drainage, aromatherapy, enzyme exfoliation, steam, a masque and a facial massage. Add-ons include sonophoresis (a treatment that uses ultrasound, which is said to improve the absorption of active ingredients into the skin), microdermabrasion and light therapy. Halkitis is a qualified naturopath and also has a herbal dispensary offering personalised tonics in a warm and inviting space that carries a range of the world’s top clean-beauty brands.

71 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills

Unoit Beauty, Darlinghurst
Beside City Gym in east Sydney you’ll find a gym for your skin. The non-surgical Ultraformer III treatment (from $300) aims to deliver skin tightening, lifting and reshaping using ultrasound. You’ll feel as though you’re lying on a tropical island under the warmth of the Laser Genesis Rejuvenation facial ($250), said to reduce uneven skin texture and pigmentation. Think of it as photoshopping your skin. Unoit also offers the infamous PRP “vampire” facial (from $399), in which blood is extracted from your arm and placed into a centrifuge machine to extract platelet-rich plasma, which is then re-inserted into your face – a technique that’s said to enhance your skin’s glow and elasticity. Founder Jessica Ross – a former ballet dancer with a gentle and genial bedside manner – deploys all her treatments in cocoon-like, luxurious white rooms.

Shop 3/99–101 Crown Street, Sydney

Solstice Skin, Bondi
You don’t need to make any big decisions at Solstice Skin in Bondi, which recently moved into the former Foile refillable beauty store on Bondi’s Denham Street. Every facial (from $150) is customised to your individual needs, based on a 15-minute initial analysis; the only choice you need to make is whether to opt for 60 or 90 minutes of restorative bliss. Founder Hayley Fogarty uses the German skincare range Dermaviduals, which allows her to customise serums for clients, choosing from 40 different active ingredients, including vitamins, minerals and botanicals.

Expect an array of treatments when you lie back in her linen-dressed treatment bed, running from an enzyme mask, steam and extractions to lymphatic facial massage, a deeply hydrating face mask and a restorative neck, shoulder and head massage. A qualified naturopath and corneotherapist (corneotherapy is a practice based on repairing and maintaining the skin barrier), Fogarty also offers skin needling, a procedure that pricks the skin to (purportedly) produce extra collagen and skin tissue, which may firm and smooth skin.

1/1 Denham Street, Bondi