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November 24, 2009

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Prepping your skin for winter

A DIY Chinese beauty secret is moisturizing pork fat applied to the skin. But Cushla Norman chooses trendier, more upscale spa treatments to get ready for the drying winter.

Chapped and dry skin are the biggest complaints beauty therapists often hear in winter, but the gurus say these can be prevented by intervening and preparing our skin for the winter onslaught.

Water, crystals, pearls and marine life are some of the elements tipped to prime the skin for what winter may throw at us.

I went on the hunt for the ideal pre-winter facial, visiting three very different spas with three very different facials -- how did they transform my skin?

Oxygenating facial at Chuan Spa

Perhaps the beauty therapist could detect I was lacking some water in my biological makeup, because this facial was big on hydration.

Chuan Spa is very Chinese in design and their treatments draw on ancient China's healing principles of balancing -- metal, wood, fire, earth and water.

This facial was another from the marine files, using French marine-based products Thalgo.

A moisture-quenching mask refreshed my skin, and then a rehydrating serum was brushed on to stimulate the skin and let it regain that radiance.

I was pleased the beauty therapist paid attention to the skin under my chin and neck as this is one of the first places to show age and sag.

Post-facial, my skin felt smooth and very fresh, as if I had been outside battling the wind and the rain myself. It almost had a crispness to the touch and people told me my complexion looked very clean and clear.

The Chuan Spa beauty therapist even let me in on one of her skin secrets for winter -- pork skin! She says its rich protein is great for the skin, especially in the cooler season when we need to eat more foods with a higher fat content.

The oxygenating facial is 824 yuan (US$121).

Address: Level 3, The Langham Yangtze Boutique Shanghai, 740 Hankou Rd (Near Yunnan Rd)

Tel: 6080-0722

Collagen facial at Apsara

This facial is an aqua-phile's dream, with a deep hydration mask followed by a collagen mask.

The makeup removal and cleansing process was standard, although I got sick of makeup wipes being used and would have preferred a good old-fashioned warm face cloth to remove the excess.

The hydrating mask felt fresh -- it is marine-plant based and contains camomile. The collagen mask felt as if there were layers of wet paper on my face, and the cold fan stationed at the bedside blew a crisp breeze like a Shanghai southerly, which was a little uncomfortable.

However, the facial did work wonders, as this was the look I got the most comments on. I was told my skin looked bright, dewy but not oily, and my skin tone appeared even and smooth.

So, I was glowing but I could feel my face was heavily filled with products, like I had too much foundation on. My skin kept glowing for the next three or four days and that heavy feeling disappeared.

Biologie products from France were used.

Collagen facial is 560 yuan (US$82), regular facial 340 yuan.

Address: Bldg 4, 457 Shaanxi Rd N.

Tel: 6258-5580

Yin Yang Balance facial at SkinCity 5.5

I was touched by "the stone of love" at Skin City, and while it made no improvements to my love life, I was glowing like a little cherub.

The "love stone" is rose quartz, and during the facial two sticks of the crustal (said to give off healing energy) are used to massage a concentrate of pearl powder and sesame protein into the skin.

The rose quartz stones are soaked in rose tonic before each treatment to stimulate circulation and encourage new skin cell growth.

An algae spirulina mask, which detoxifies the skin, was also part of the treatment.

The look from this facial was more English rose than that Shanghai glow. The comments were that my skin looked clear and healthy. I also enjoyed the post-facial feel -- smooth and light.

This was a particularly pleasant facial -- I could choose my own music tracks and appreciated the fabric mittens used to wipe off excess cleanser. I also felt the therapists really knew what they were doing -- they assess your skin and choose the right facial for your skin type.

The only unpleasant part was the extraction of blackheads from the old "strawberry nose," but this is optional.

German products Babor are used. The Ying Yang Balance facial is 800 yuan (US$117).

Address: 476 Dagu Rd (near Shimen No. 1 Rd)

Tel: 6340-1235


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