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Whether you're looking for a quick refresh or a weekend-long revival, these luxe spa and beauty treatments will melt away stress.
Some stress is good. The right kind can help us stay clear-headed on a battlefield or in the trenches of an 80-percent-off sale at Holt Renfrew. It can also help motivate us to meet deadlines (worth noting, this article is two weeks late, which is when stress moves into the bad kind). The wrong stress—when cortisol is released and effs with your body—can wreak havoc on your skin, your health, even cutting your life short. So with that in mind, whether you’ve got an hour or a weekend, here’s how to get your de-stress on.
1. Yaletown’s BeautyMark may be closing its doors on March 15, but—beauty insiders rejoice—Varnish Nail Lounge will take up the mantle while Collective Skin Care stays put. In Collective Skincare’s pint-sized treatment room, Kathryn Sawers quietly goes about her work, fighting stress and anti-aging with her arsenal of pure, organic ingredients.The Tata Harper Total Complexion Reset is a 100-percent-natural, multi-acid peel packed with 22 high-performance ingredients that restore and even skin tone while brightening the overall look of your skin. Natural sources of Alpha Hydroxy Acid (derived from fruits, nuts, milk or sugar), Poly Hydroxy Acid (an anti-inflammatory) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (clears out follicles of excess debris and skin cells) work to purify, smooth, even, balance and hydrate all without a trace of chemicals.Collective Skin Care, Complete Radiance Revive Treatment (60 min), $195; Radiance Uplift Treatment (30 min), $702. Inspired by herbal medicine, Vancouver’s new clean OKOKO Cosmetique skincare is all about harnessing the power of rare and potent botanical actives and natural ingredients (liquorice, green tea, willow bark) to target skin issues (where stress often manifests itself bumpily and redly). The Majestic Radiance Facial at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Willow Stream Spa was designed exclusively by OKOKO to reboot, recharge and promote glowy skin using their small-batch, natural ingredients like L’Elixir de Pureté containing Dragon’s Blood (an Angelina Jolie-tested antioxidant).Pacific Rim Willow Stream Spa, Majestic Radiance Facial (60 min), from $2093. We always recommend heading to the spa to de-stress, but when the drive downtown doubles your angst with condo-construction road rage, it’s time to book Spa Mobile. Bringing Zen right to your door, owner Amanda Solomon-Guthrie offers up an array of soothing tricks—manicures are most popular, but there are pedicures, waxing, facials, tinting and even spray tans. Have beauty, will travel.Spamobile, manicure, $454. In downtown’s swanky new Spa by JW at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, temptation abounds: slot machines, poker tables or the new spa featuring hard-to-find UK-based brand Aromatherapy Associates (Gastown’s high-design temple Secret Location stocks its coveted face oil). The Douglas Wrap, the spa’s signature treatment, uses an infused bamboo exfoliation to prep your skin for its cocoon-like body wrap; a shiatsu foot massage encourages the release of toxins while Thai compressions and stretches round out your journey of bliss. Spa by JW at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver, Douglas Wrap (80 min), from $235
5. Joy Stewart from Touch of Joy doesn’t like to name drop. “In the facial industry, the facialist or the therapist is the main key and machines are just one of the tools we can use to achieve gorgeous skin,” she says. As in, it doesn’t matter the brand name of the machines she uses, it’s the therapist who’s wielding the tool that counts.Just in time for awards season, the Venus Facial (known as the Red Carpet Facial among locals) uses a radio frequency technology or Endermology (or a combination of both) that instantly tightens, lifts and firms the skin. Joy likens herself to an Omakase chef where she can tailor singular and unique treatments to each client depending on their needs. Designed to be done on the day of an event—there’s no downtime—the treatment addresses laxity, plumpness and even contouring for fresh, glowing and carpet-ready skin.Touch of Joy, Red Carpet Facial (2.5 to 3 hours), from $4506. Project Skin MD may have recently opened their Richmond outpost, but their tucked-away Granville Street location offers the full complement of minor cosmetic treatments, medical-grade facials (and 30-minute express facials) and potent chemical peels. In here, a NASA-developed treatment (we didn’t know that astronauts come back from space with wrinkles) called MAX+ LED-light therapy keeps the likes of Oprah and Michelle Obama happy as well as locals now, too. It’s a simple, safe treatment that delivers a kaleidoscope of colour light therapy that targets acne and aging: benefits include improved skin tone, collagen stimulation and fewer fine lines and wrinkles.Project Skin MD, MAX LED-light therapy (40 min), $145; pair it with a customized facial (75 min), $2557. When grape pickers at a winery in Bordeaux realized their hands remained youthful regardless of their age, Caudalie skincare was born. This French beauty line harnesses the red wine grape seed’s powerful antioxidants, or polyphenols, to help preserve collagen and natural hyaluronic acid.Whether drinking wine or getting slathered in it, it’s a toss-up, but the Vine Facial by Caudalie from CHI at the Shangri-La makes us light-headed and happy. This treatment’s patented Anti-Cell Burnout Complex helps fortify the skin’s natural defence system with spruce extract (which stimulates cellular defence and protects skin against oxidative stress); vitamin C (to boosts collagen and balance melanin); and vitamin E (targets sebum). In your own private treatment suite, you’ll start with an aromatic steam and then end with a detoxifying green juice.CHI, the spa at Shangri-La, Vine facial by Caudalie (75 min), from $1758. The Swiss don’t typically take sides, but the new Maison Valmont flagship in Oakridge is definitely on the side of anti-aging. The heritage Swiss skincare brand’s first spa foray in North America features two treatment rooms and a line-up of products only available here (including the hard-to-find il Profvmo perfume collection). Valmont skincare’s signature powerhouse ingredient, Triple DNA, comes from B.C. sockeye salmon, which offers cellular regenerative properties. In the Rituel Hydration Source Des Bisses facial, no machines are used, only the pioneering Valmont “butterfly movement” technique using just the therapist’s skilled hands.La Maison Valmont Vancouver, Rituel Hydration Source Des Bisses facial (90 to 120 min), from $295
9. After a day at Grouse Mountain, or a week at Whistler, opt for a staycation at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. The new Ski Recovery and Relaxation package delivers gold-medal relaxation after Olympic-style exploits on the slopes. Designed to ease aching muscles and soothe windblown skin, salve is found in the Deep Relief Massage and Advanced Care Facial—because the elements wreak havoc on your skin. Après-spa in your room with your signature winter cocktail, rest and recharge for a night then follow up with in-room wellness breakfast. Repeat next weekend.Hotel Georgia Ski Recovery, Deep Relief massage (50 min) and Advanced Care Facial (50 min), from $600
10. Opening its doors last spring after a multi-million dollar renovation, Victoria’s iconic waterfront Fairmont Empress hotel looks swish and polished in all her renewed glory. Its spa—earning top honours as Canada’s best spa by Condé Nast—offers refuge from the relentless gorgeous view in a subterranean mineral pool designed to cleanse, detoxify and warm the muscles. The Gentleman’s Get Fit Facial includes a multi-acid peel, deep cleanse with acupressure massage followed by micro-current technology.Empress Hotel Willow Stream Spa, Gentleman’s Get Fit Facial (90 min), $215