From sessions that use low-level electrical currents to those that employ cold strips of gauze, here's how to get your skin in tip-top shape.
Ideal for: Those worried about fine lines—or the onset of fine lines—but are wary of Botox
Though microcurrent facials employ the same microcurrent technology used to treat Bell’s palsy and muscle paralysis, its cosmetic effects haven’t been backed by hard science. Nevertheless, the treatment has a following that includes seemingly ageless celebs like Jennifer Aniston, and has become popular enough in recent years that you can now purchase products to replicate the procedure at home. So what are they exactly? Touted as non-invasive face lifts that offer more, erm, natural results than Botox or fillers, microcurrent facials use low-level electrical currents to essentially “train” or, as local esthetician Kathryn Sawers puts it, “re-educate” your facial muscles into appearing tighter and more toned. The treatment involves two pronged electrical wands being circled on your face—you feel a slight tingle, though nothing uncomfortable—the currents from which are meant to increase the production of ATP in your skin. This, in turn, is said to boost elastin and collagen, helping your skin to look smoother, firmer and more sculpted. My complexion looked refreshed after one go, though repeat visits are recommended for those looking to tackle wrinkles or incoming fine lines. (This is a workout or “training” session for your face, after all—and, like with exercise, consistency is key.)
From $125, 60 to 90 minutes at Collective Skin Care (1268 Pacific Blvd.)
LED and Oxygen Facial
Ideal for: Busy bees in pursuit of clear skin—and who don’t have a second to waste
This no-fuss facial, offered at Kitsilano’s new Fig Facial, is designed with busy bees in mind. The treatment uses multi-LED light therapy to brighten skin while addressing common issues such as acne and inflammation, and will have you in and out the door within 30 minutes. (Walk-ins are welcome and you don’t have to disrobe for any lengthy neck or shoulder massages.) Kick back in one of Fig’s luxe velvet-curtain-covered pods for a double cleanse and then bathe in the glow of a red light (for collagen stimulation) and blue light (for killing acne-causing bacteria). The session wraps with a contraption that blows a steady stream of 95 percent pure oxygen onto your face as you engage in a 20-minute body-scan meditation with the help of a professional talking to you through pair of headphones. (This will either be very relaxing or way too new age-y, depending on what your relationship with meditation is like.) The oxygen is meant to calm and cool the skin while enhancing the absorption of products that will subsequently be massaged into your face by an esthetician. The process is quick, efficient and gets the job done—and delivered in a decidedly un-spa-like (and ridiculously chic) environment. It’s worth a visit for the unconventional experience alone.
$75, 30 minutes at Fig Facial.
VIP O2 Facial
Ideal for: Sensitive skin havers and those curious about a certain French beauty brand’s “Jesus in a bottle”
The VIP O2 Facial represents a few firsts: it’s one of three facial treatments from cult French skincare line Biologique Recherche to be introduced at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Willow Stream Spa earlier this year (in fact, this is the first hotel spa in Canada to work with BR); it utilizes “Instant Skin,” the first BR machine in Western Canada that analyzes and tracks your skin’s health; and it’s the first facial I’ve experienced that forgoes hot towels and extractions. (BR believes that heat and extractions cause irritation and redness in the skin.) Instead, cold gauze stands in for warm facial cotton in the application of various products, including BR’s hero item or so-called “Jesus in a bottle,” the Lotion P50: a toner that gently exfoliates the skin to dissolve dirt and excess oil over time. Ice cubes are used to remove BR’s moisturizing Masque VIP O2, which helps to even out and refresh complexions. After one visit, my skin felt soft, radiant and not the least bit inflamed. Plus, the VIP O2 offers a great way to sample some of BR’s cult products if you’re on the fence about forking over the plastic. (Which I may or may not have done afterward…)
$199, 60 minutes at Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Pacific Rim.
Ideal for: Those looking for bright, instant and chiseled gratification
You’ve likely heard about cupping therapy for the body—a form of alternative medicine characterized by the circular red imprints it temporarily leaves—but facial cupping is a thing, too. The treatment involves small silicone cups—think miniature, more cone-like menstrual cups—which are gently dragged across the skin to pull facial muscles up, promoting circulation to get the skin all glow-y. The treatment is short and sweet and has zero downtime: because the cups are constantly in motion, you’re left with no hickey-like bruises to recover from afterward. And the suction that the cups create have some pretty great contouring effects, too: it de-puffs visages, minimizes fine lines and—what was most noticeable to me—defines areas like your neck, jawline and cheekbones. In this way, facial cupping is a lot like face rolling—both have picked up so much steam in recent years that you can buy tools to DIY the treatments at home—though the benefits of having an esthetician perform the procedure is that they can scale back the cupping as needed so your skin doesn’t ever become inflamed. (You’re drawing blood to various areas, after all.) You’ll likely notice plumper, more sculpted skin after one session, though regular visits are suggested for longer lasting results.
$75, 30 minutes at Collective Skin Care.
Personalized Lux Facial
Ideal for: Those who want a full-body experience (and a chance to squeeze in an afternoon nap)
This practically top-to-toe facial is for the traditionalists: those who enter a treatment room with expectations of a soothing facial (and neck, shoulder, arm, foot and leg!) massage, and an extraction process that removes every morsel of underlying gunk from your skin. It’s offered at Sunja Link Body Shoppe, a beauty-and-wellness boutique in Mount Pleasant, so, naturally, the same hard-to-find clean-skincare goods that are stocked on the shelves are employed in the hour-and-a-half sesh in the back treatment room. Think exfoliators, masks and oil-based serums from cult brands like Dr. Loretta and Jao—all specially selected to suit your specific skin needs. The treatment includes a foot soak and rub, too, which helps revitalize tired feet, and finishes with your esthetician massaging cool jade and rose-quartz stones on your face to aid in the penetration of products and the drainage of lymph nodes (which is meant to de-puff the skin). Good luck staying awake during this one—consider it a thorough once-a-month complexion refresh and a relaxing-to-the-point-of-snooze-status treat.
$140, 90 minutes at Sunja Link Body Shoppe (3638 Main St.)