Preventative Skin Care

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Though the treatment may indeed work, anyone who has subjected their face to a coating of Japanese Nightingale droppings for a facial must admit that the beauty industry has totally jumped the shark. Lightening, brightening, tightening—yes, all women (and many men) want these things. But surely there is no individual, no matter how baby soft her complexion, who can endorse coating one’s face in bird excrement without cracking a smile. There must be another path to clear, luminescent skin.

There is­. Or at least there’s a way to put off the need to try outlandish treatments or an early onset of Botox. It lies in good old preventative maintenance: a thorough at-home regime and regular facials—preferably, a functional yet decadent European-style facial consisting of a steam, cleansing, extractions (if necessary), exfoliation, hydration, and, as a bonus, a neck massage.

On the Essential Skincare treatment menu at Sense, A Rosewood Spa, at the Hotel Georgia, the Georgian Signature Facial leaps out. “Your face will be hydrated, purified and deeply cleansed,” it promises. Lindsay Koropchuk, Sense’s spa manager, confirms that a little effort now is key in preventing the need for extraordinary measures later. “Regular facials and proper skin care at home are like fitness for the skin,” she says. The trick is choosing “the right treatment or product for your skin, which means having a detailed consultation with your skin therapist at the start of your treatment.”

The Georgian Signature Facial begins all the right ways. You choose the background music, the sheets on the bed are luxuriously soft, the room is spacious but cozy, and your hands and feet are coated in warm shea butter. The aesthetician softly kneads the surface of your skin to encourage blood flow and diminish fine lines. Indigenous B.C. seaweed and glacial clay in the Ancient Secrets spa product line, Beauty Through Balance, reduces inflammation and hydrates several layers deep into the skin. The results are, naturally, splendid.

At the Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Pacific Rim, your Customized Deep-Cleansing European-style Facial begins in a cozy cocoon of soft linens. A skin assessment determines which high-end skin-care collection is best for you. The Swedish-conceived Kerstin Florian line, rich with antioxidants and mild enough for sensitive skin, is a favourite of clients. You will emerge from the peaceful, candle-lit room in a state of bliss.

Spa Boutique in Kitsilano does a European in-and-out facial. The procedure is nuts-and-bolts against the dreamy hotel spa experience, but the 45-minute treatment is perfect for a lunch break and, using Paris’s Yon-Ka products, the results are luminescent.

Though you can’t rest on the laurels of a good facial for much more than three days, you can keep it up with a four-step routine at home. Once you ease into the habit, it’s a rather enjoyable process, but it starts with a bit of work. Since it’s rare for one skin-care line to encompass all the answers for one person, test-driving products is critical.

If you’re getting regular facials—every five weeks to three months, depending on your budget—then a minimal and gentle at-home exfoliation routine should suffice. This will slough off dead skin cells, which otherwise could clog pores and make the skin appear dull and dry.

Use a cleanser morning and evening. Find a gentle, cream-based formula that doesn’t dry out your skin, and massage it into your face for at least a full minute—longer, if it feels good. This will loosen dirt from your pores, reducing the opportunity for breakouts, and draw blood to the surface of the skin, making it appear plumper.

The right moisturizer is like a tall glass of water for your skin. Find one that contains antoxidants and vitamins, and doesn’t feel thick on your skin or cause you to sweat after application, both of which mean that it’s too heavy for the amount of oil your face produces.

Finish with sunscreen. Mineral sunscreens use zinc oxide, which is good for healing and deflecting the sun’s rays, doesn’t irritate sensitive skin, and is the answer for people who play outside.

Will these four steps and regular facials prevent wrinkles? No. But your skin will be brighter and smoother, hence younger looking. You will still look like yourself. And you won’t have to tell anyone that you put bird poo on your cheeks to make it happen.

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June 18, 2012