I’m perfectly ensconced on a massage table, warm and cozy under a blanket, and I’m thinking about Ryan Reynolds. Am I lying in a spot formerly occupied by Vancouver’s famous son, I wonder? I’m at Touch of Joy in Vancouver (just a stone’s throw from the Cambie Street bridge), where tight-lipped owner Joy Stewart has a long history working with film sets in Vancouver including Deadpool. Stars flock here for her off-menu Venus facial—otherwise known as the “Red Carpet” facial—that instantly tightens, lifts and firms the skin with zero downtime. Designed to be performed on the day of an event, this pampering extravaganza targets laxity, while plumping and even contouring for a fresh and glowing red-carpet-ready face.
Touch of Joy’s new Pico Facial is a riff on that famously coveted quick fix facial, but in a new iteration: the treatment has been amped up—literally, with energy. The first non-medical spa in Vancouver to be granted use of the medical-grade PicoSure laser (the gold standard for pigment removal), it offers a hybrid between a results-driven clinical approach and an uber-luxe spa experience, providing the medical-grade skincare we feel we need, as well as the pampering we love.
For now, this hybrid medical-grade therapy/spa treatment approach is likely to stay exclusive to Touch of Joy. “We’re still firmly staying in the medical space,” insists Shantelle Murphy of Cynosure, the company that developed the PicoSure laser. “But Joy’s spa stood out for us because she customizes packages.”
The Pico laser uses short bursts of highly focused energy waves to rid your skin of unwanted melanin (think hyperpigmentation, sunspots, melasma, acne scars) while simultaneously performing Herculean anti-aging duty (it reduces wrinkles and pore size, builds collagen, evens out texture). Stewart follows this with her special form of light therapy—another first of its kind in British Columbia—a calming yellow and infrared light designed to heal your skin.
The big draw for me is the claim that—unlike many medical skin treatments—because it doesn’t employ heat, the Pico laser means I’ll be in and out (and won’t need up to six treatments before I see a difference).
Using trillionth-of-a-second energy wavelengths, the Pico laser breaks unwanted pigment into fine particles—not unlike blasting a rock into sand. “Sure, there are other more superficial lasers that can give you a glow, but it’s not enough to break down pigment in your skin,” explains Stewart. It also doesn’t puncture and destroy the dermis like so many others (the reason so many people stay away from lasers)—the time required to recover from the resulting sunburnt-like skin isn’t the easiest to pull off with the demands of everyday life.
I’ve always opted for spa facials as a relaxing and rejuvenating way to maintain my skin and, although Stewart enters armed with a clipboard, the vibe is pure spa. This is my happy place and my body slips into relaxation mode as soon as I spot the phalanx of creams at the ready. She begins to gently rub and scrub my face for a deep cleanse and exfoliation to serve up a clean canvas (“The prep work is what allows us to get into the tissue safely,” she says) and, so far, I’m having a classic blissful spa day. As she passes the Pico laser over my skin, it feels like she’s gently snapping microscopic rubber bands at my face. This is followed by the yellow light therapy and, before I know it, we’re back in traditional territory with a mask that nourishes and plumps the lipid barriers. While the cream sets in, Stewart gets to work on a neck, décolleté, arms, and hand massage. Far from the fluorescent glare of a medical clinic, I drift asleep.
Post-treatment, I stumble out of the room with that familiar groggy, but relaxed, spa sensation. The moment I look into a mirror I’m jolted awake: my skin is so smooth and it’s glowing so much, I might blind other motorists on my drive home.
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