Posts Tagged: facial

Jul 13

Toronto Spa Adventures: The Ritz-Carlton

I’m not at all surprised that the Ritz-Carlton spa in Toronto bagged the No 1 spot on Travel and Leisure’s 2013 World’s Best awards. I visited recently and lay on a lounger wrapped in a waffle cotton robe in the rare spa sunlight (why are they always usually hidden in a basement) on the 5th floor. The light streamed through the windows and caught the floating jellyfish-like lights hanging from the high ceiling. I wriggled my toes with happiness, sipped a little citrus water and felt a mild ripple of annoyance that I couldn’t have spent more time here. I had to race out after my facial so no time to swim or bubble away in the Jacuzzi, but no matter, I decided to make the most of my time in this lovely light room and waited for my therapist to collect me.

MY BLEND spa lounge

MY BLEND spa lounge

I was booked in to try a MY BLEND facial, a new range from Clarins, I was excited to try it because the first spa treatment I ever had was a Clarins facial. I remember being so excited about the whole unfamiliar experience. Now, some hundred or so facials later I thought back to the rather tatty little treatment room in a sports complex ‘spa’ in Seven Sisters London and felt that yes, a facial at the Ritz was definitely a step in the right direction.

I floated off with my therapist through the sunny room towards the softly-lit treatment room, I made to get on the couch and then had a rather nasty shock as I was ushered towards a computer. I had not read the spa menu. Turns out the new facial’s “ultra-personalized experience begins with a thorough, 20-minute skin analysis by your skin coach using state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging technology.” So instead of seamlessly going from calm spa waiting room to super-chilled spa treatment room I now was expected to tap in 20-minutes worth of typing on a screen.

The salt water pool

The salt water pool

There’s no way I’m going to sound like anything but a grumpy old curmudgeon when I talk about this, so I’m just going to come out and say it. I don’t think computer screens have any place whatsoever in a treatment room in a spa. None at all. My happy calm spa-bubble popped. You couldn’t skip any of the pointless ‘what’s your email’ type questions and the screen was slow to respond. Losing my cool rapidly I was jabbing the screen now, grumbling to the therapist and starting to remember that tatty Seven Sisters spa as an oasis of relaxation in comparison to my luxe computer cubicle.

I asked the therapist if anyone liked this part and her answer surprised me. Older women loved it, they adored tapping their info in and having their skin photographed. Also younger clients thought it was great fun too. Exhausted 30 and 40 somethings like me though? Not so much. The machine analyses your skin and prescribes a bespoke facial treatment for you, blended in the room by adding “optimum concentrations of peptide complexes, vitamins and plant extracts to increase your skin’s natural defense potential, strengthen its regenerating capacity and protect it from premature damage.” All of which, to be honest – a good therapist could diagnose and prescribe by looking at my skin under a light. There was one bright spark though; your face gets photographed and the machine said that my skin was that of a late 20-something (I’m 43!) so I did end the process with a smile on my (surprisingly youthful) face.

A bit of a step up from the Seven Sisters sports centre.

A bit of a step up from the Seven Sisters sports centre.

Computer turned off, everything now improved dramatically. My therapist was great, I love the facial massage techniques that Clarins have, the plant-based products and well…  everything. My skin felt gorgeous afterwards, I could fool myself that it was almost as good as that 21 year old who skipped out of her first facial thinking I WANT TO DO THAT A LOT MORE.

So, this is a plea to Clarins MY BLEND: put the machine outside the treatment room, don’t spoil that hallowed spa space with day-to-day work paraphernalia. Out of all the places in the world I never want to see a computer, I think a spa treatment room is number one. Please just concentrate on your great therapists and treatments. With love, a fan.

I travelled as a guest of Tourism Toronto and stayed as a guest of the Ritz Carlton – all views are, however 100% my own. 

For more info:

Ritz Carlton.

Address: 181 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3G7

Phone: (416) 585-2500

Nov 12

Facing up to winter

Winter is well and truly here in Vancouver; my morning walks with Freddie the dog are becoming a lesson in the art of layering and cunning application of wet weather gear. I have never been so glad of anything as I am of my rubber boots.  But it’s not just ridiculously wet, it’s also bitingly cold down on the beach and my skin has been protesting.

In my efforts to keep things 100% Canadian, from food and drink to fashion, I decided that I should try and track down a Canadian-made winter skin care solution and guess what? There’s a company in Kitsilano (where I’m currently living) that does just that.

Skoah’s funky store on West 4th, Kitsilano

I went to see Skoah on West 4th Street to get a ‘facialiscious’ facial and came away with great skin care advice for the change in season too. During my treatment, my therapist, Katarina, gave me some savvy tips and showcased a wide variety of Skoah’s range. The first thing that I noticed was the creamy quality of the products; Skoah use shea butter, olive oil and coconut oil in a lot of their products and I have to say I really liked it. It felt nourishing and not at all harsh on my wind-chapped face.

Katarina’s advice for me was simple but it’s been pretty effective over the past couple of weeks. Katarina told me that I should go back to skincare basics; cleanse, tone and moisturise – I never tone as I always thought it was too drying but she steered me towards Tonik, an alcohol-free toner which balances the PH of the skin and helps strengthen it with hyaluronic acid.

I find most exfoliators are too rough for my skin, but Face Skrub uses perfectly round beads which gently polish the skin without causing it stress. The proof was looking at my skin afterwards – no redness at all and the blend of plant extracts that Skoah use to calm and soothe the skin certainly seemed to do just that for me.

A slick of this means winter is no longer a problem for my skin

Katarina also recommended that in winter I should look at ‘layering’ product on my skin like I do with clothes, so – using a serum to help strengthen my skin and reduce the capillaries bursting which happens when I go from cold to hot and back again, the Skin Quench contains ceramides which can help with that. Her final two pieces of advice were to lessen the effects of the intense changes in temperature by wrapping a scarf around my face whenever I go outside, so that my skin cools slowly and also to look at using an extra-thick product like the Face Balm, which has olive oil and shea butter to keep my skin hydrated and rice bran wax to form a barrier between my skin and the elements.

I’ve followed her advice and yes — it definitely seems to be working. The switch from autumn to winter seems less harsh on my skin and I love that it’s all from a Canadian company who are based right here in Vancouver.

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