Of all the spa therapies available, facials are stellar for improving one’s appearance and providing a psychological boost. With recent advances in biochemistry and skin cell function, the ingredients used in facials stop just short of miraculous. Facials have many effects including
- Increasing skin cell respiration
- Increasing blood circulation
- Increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to skin cells
- Increasing collagen production
- Increasing moisture content
- Removing cellular waste and debris
- Smoothing and polishing the skin surface
- Increasing well-being
The Skin Analysis
A qualified esthetician examines the skin closely, looking for blotches, redness, wrinkles, hydration, texture, and imperfections. After completing the analysis, the technician will suggest the best type of facial for your particular skin, taking into account the current climate and season. A facial that works wonders in early spring may differ 180 from a facial recommended for skin subjected to the sun and wind. Estheticians may also offer dietary and lifestyle suggestions for improving the skin’s texture and general health.
A facial consists of deep cleansing, exfoliation, vaporization, extractions (if needed), a facial, neck and shoulder massage, Some spas also offer a hydrating hand massage or a foot massage to help relieve stress.
- Yeast Complexes—are known to increase cell replication, assisting in an increased cell turnover and helping shed old, damaged surface cells.
- Amino Acids and Peptides—are known to increase collagen production
- Glycolic Acid—helps exfoliate skin cells rapidly, increasing skin circulation and polishing the skin
- Clay and Mud—excellent ingredients for drawing out impurities and healing blemished skin; antiseptic properties; soothes and softens skin
- Squalene oil—hydrates the skin, reduces lines and wrinkles, and counters the effects of sun damage
- Rose Essential Oil—calms redness and ruddiness and strengthen capillaries
- Green Tea—soothes the skin and provides antioxidant nutrients that reduce inflammation and promote healing
- Seaweed—delivers iodine and other essential elements to the skin, delivering vital nutrients to the skin’s cells and rejuvenating the skin
- Caviar—rejuvenates the skin by supplying moisture and soothing lines
- Hot stones—hot stones are used to smoothe and soften the skin, help with the penetration of essential oils and the delivery of minerals to the skin. The application of stones is followed by a custom mask.
- Botanical Essences—a wide range of plant and flower essences and essential oils are used in custom and signature facials. Botanicals are generally rich in antioxidants and nourish and support the skin and its structures. Botanicals also soothe and soften the skin leaving it with a polished glow.
- Bird Poop—bird poop is notoriously rich in nitrites, which apparently benefit the skin. The Bird Poop or Geisha Facial, available at Shizuka New York contains nightingale excrement. The Japanese manufacturers of the powder treat it with ultraviolet light to kill bacteria. Estheticians mix the powder with finely-ground rice bran to neutralize its slightly musky odor. The mask is intended to soften the skin and provide a lighter, porcelain-like sheen.
Under-makeup primers are often used in order to obtain a smooth matte finish and provide a nice base so that the foundation can glide evenly over the skin. However, other types of primers contain special particles that reflect light and almost make the skin appear to glow from within. They are a great addition to any makeup routine, lending a temporary illusion of youth and health to the complexion and supplying a much better “quick fix” than most overpriced “wrinkle creams” and “look younger now” scams can ever hope to achieve.
How Illuminating Primers Impart Glowing Skin
Most modern facial highlighters and skin-illuminating primers use a chemical variation on old photographic tricks to allow the wearer to get the appearance of glowing, youthful skin. To minimize wrinkles, remove shadows and bags under the eyes, and draw attention away from discolorations on the skin, photographers used a variety of key lights that sometimes took well over an hour to set up. They also used a number of different substances, including a sheer chiffon-like material called mousseline de soie, on or in front of the camera lens to softly blur the resulting image.
These techniques perfected a subject’s skin without requiring an overly thick, fake-looking mask of makeup to be applied beforehand. (Of course, after-development retouching helped a lot, too.)
Illuminating primers place a sheer layer of crystallized minerals like mica and pigments like titanium dioxide or iron oxides over the face; thus light is diffused by the small shiny particles, flaws are minimized, and the skin is very subtly tinted all at the same time. The tint, which tends to be either whitish or pinkish, may be further lessened by wearing foundation and powder over the illuminating primer. This is why illuminating primers are not as obvious as highlighting powders, which are usually applied over foundation and may end up looking just plain strange in direct sunlight.
Great Illuminating Face Primers to Try
- Pixi Brightening Primer No. 1 Pearl Essence: Light pink and very pretty, though using too much can definitely look overly sparkly in daylight.
- Clarins Instant Light Complexion Perfector in 00: Mainly nicely matte, whitish-pink finish; but provides a very subtle glow using alumina; this one could actually be worn instead of foundation as long as the skin is relatively clear overall. Great for brightening up dark undereye circles. This also comes in two shades (light/02 and medium tan/03), which are not very natural-looking.
- Benefit High Beam (silvery pink) and Moon Beam (golden pink): These are restrained but effective and the brush applicator makes them easy to apply.
- ERA Glaze in 24 Karat (whitish gold) and Platinum (silvery white): Can be sprayed over entire face or sprayed onto a sponge or contouring brush to highlight specific areas: the top of the cheekbones, tip of chin, or bridge of nose.
- Stila All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminizer: 4 different softly pretty shades that give a natural opalescent glow rather than a blinding shine.
- Tarina Tarantino Pearl Glow Primer: Leaves a lovely pearly luminescent sheen on the face that can help blur minor flaws. Comes in an illuminating eye shadow primer, too; try it under the eyes for dark circle camouflage.
Try Testers or an Inexpensive Facial Highlighter Product First
Some of these products are fairly expensive; so to see if you like an illuminating face product, make sure the brand you try has an in-store tester and then check the results under different light sources. Or test out a cheap drugstore shiny primer such as Wet ’ n Wild MegaGlo Face Illuminator ($3) or e.l.f. All Over Color Stick (1$). Cheap illuminating primers tend to be greasier, shinier, and more brightly colored than their expensive cousins, but can give consumers an indication of whether or not they like the effects of such products before they splurge on one.