Let’s face it, most of us have at least one beauty woe. Fortunately, there’s a growing arsenal of high-tech weaponry out there to choose from. We identified the common skin enemies faced by the Expat Living team and set about matching them with the appropriate choice of weapon – from laser and radiofrequency, to soothing organic facials. And all in the line of duty!
Radiofrequency and LED photomodulation
Combining radiofrequency (RF) and light-emitting diode (LED) photomodulation, EstheClinic’s Instant Youth anti-ageing treatment (priced from $380) tackles signs of ageing – from smoothing lines, lifting and firming to brightening and evening out skin tone. A total of six to 10 sessions are needed.
After a quick cleanse, my face and neck are treated with RF energy for around 40 minutes. Known for stimulating collagen production to tighten and firm up the skin for a smoother and more contoured appearance, this part feels almost like a hot stone facial massage, which I find very relaxing! Extra attention is paid to my eyes and laugh lines. The second part of the treatment is LED photomodulation, which involves a non-thermal light technology used to brighten and even out skin tone. It also stimulates collagen and elastin production to renew firmness. Depending on your skin type, this process takes from 25 to 35 minutes and involves lying (and, in my case, sleeping!) under what looks like a heat lamp.
This combined treatment is totally non-invasive, with no downtime or redness – in fact, it can be done during a lunch break! EstheClinic also offers the two treatments separately: Lift Me Up Radiofrequency and Soothe and Becalm LED Photomodulation. While I left the clinic with my skin feeling smooth, and looking a bit brighter and more even-toned, it would take more than just one session to see any real anti-ageing results. I would definitely consider returning for followup sessions (EstheClinic recommends six to 10 sessions) to work on eradicating my fine lines.
– Amy Greenburg
Ultra Hydrating Signature Organic Facial
Known for its bespoke organic facials for sensitive skin, Pure Tincture offers the Ultra Hydrating Signature ($340, 120 minutes), a gentle yet powerful treatment to hydrate and nourish. My therapist Minnah started by introducing the products that would be used during my treatment, while I happily sipped on a cup of warm ginger tea. I was initially scheduled for a Josh Rosebrook Advanced Hydrating Facial, but after Minnah had analysed my skin condition – it was dry and dehydrated with redness and sensitivity around my nose area – she advised that we switch to the Ultra Hydrating Facial instead, while sticking to the hydrating products from the Josh Rosebrook line.
The facial involved cleansing, steaming, a purifying mask and scrub, extraction, eye massage, head, neck and shoulder massage, a hydrating mask, eye mask and a LED light treatment. I was honestly dreading the extraction (I have a very low pain threshold) but surprisingly, the pain was tolerable. The highlight for me was the eye massage, as it was extremely soothing for my tired eyes. After the session, my skin was soft, supple and glowy. The redness from the extraction was minimal and my face felt thoroughly hydrated for the next few days.
– Grace Bantaran
Skin Perfecting Glycolic Hydration Facial
The Skin Perfecting Glycolic Hydration Facial ($280) at The Belle Clinic is a lunchtime treatment that combines a medical-grade peel with extraction and a moisturising facial massage. The gentle glycolic acid peel exfoliates upper layers of dead and damaged skin to reveal new, healthy skin, while the second half of the routine plumps and hydrates the face.
It starts with a consultation with the knowledgeable Dr Maybelle, who has over 18 years of clinical practice under her belt. After informing me of the possible side effects of chemical peels, Dr Maybelle examines my face and explains the problems my skin is undergoing. There’s no sugarcoating of words; she tells me exactly what I need to know in order to improve my skin.
In the treatment room, Dr Maybelle applies a layer of glycolic peel to my bare face. Such peels can only be administered by a certified doctor, so the treatment is monitored and customised by Dr Maybelle herself. The number of layers applied, concentration used and duration are personalised to suit the individual’s skin. The sensation is entirely tolerable, because it’s a gentle product. For about two minutes, I feel itchiness on my forehead, where it’s the most sensitive; that’s the only discomfort. After that, my therapist uses a neutraliser to counteract the acidity, and then treats me to a divine facial massage that puts me to sleep. The facial itself takes an hour.
It’s amazing what an effect the five-minute peel has on my complexion. My face appears immediately brighter and clearer, and while the scars and spots will take around a week to peel and lighten, I walk out of the clinic with a radiant glow. There’s no downtime, either; you can return to your activities right afterwards. The facial can be done every four to six weeks, and can be combined with other treatments like lasers or Botox.
– Anthia Chng
Aveda Tulasara Facial
It’s always refreshing to find somewhere that isn’t tucked away in a cavernous shopping mall, and Trimmings is one such place. Amidst the old army barracks of Loewen Gardens, this spa is in a separate building adjacent to the noisier hair salon, allowing it the necessary peace and quiet.
The ancient Indian healing art of Ayurveda is at the core of both the Aveda products used for this facial ($160, 75 minutes), and in the treatment’s emphasis on tulasara (Sanskrit for “moving towards balance”), the practice of bringing skin into balance – all well explained by my therapist, Celeste. The difference between the 90-minute and 75-minute facial is an extra 15-minute massage, and you can choose between a back, neck and shoulder treatment, or add 15 minutes to your face and head massage towards the end. I opted for the former.
The facial is a completely non-invasive, relaxing treatment that can be done regularly, at least once a month. It involves deep cleansing, a mask and activator that has a mild peel effect, extraction, and a wonderfully relaxing facial massage using Aveda’s radiant oleation oil. I’ll be completely honest and admit I slept through at least half of the treatment, which meant that not only did I leave with smooth, glowing skin, but I was also completely rested and relaxed, which did wonders for my eye bags, too.
My skin had a far more even tone than when I had arrived, without any redness at all. Even my husband commented that my face was looking smoother, which is a minor miracle.
– Amy Brook-Patridge
Pico Pores and Scars Laser with Picocare
Before your treatment at Amaris B. Clinic, you’ll need to undergo a consultation with Medical Director Dr Ivan Puah, who will determine if it’s suitable for your skin condition. As I’ve got a few stubborn acne marks and pigmentation spots, as well as some existing acne, Dr Puah recommends the Pico Pores and Scars Laser with Picocare, which targets problem areas. He stresses that improvements – specifically reduced pore size and acne marks – may be seen after the first treatment, but I’ll need a series of sessions for full results to be experienced. After cleansing, my therapist applies a numbing cream on my face.
As a newbie to laser facials, I’m nervous about the pain involved. However, once the treatment starts, I barely feel anything from the first round. Every now and then, Dr Puah checks in with me to see how comfortable I am, which makes me much more at ease. A total of four rounds are carried out, and the level of discomfort increases slightly with each round. Out of 10, I’d say the most painful round was at four – not bad, considering how I don’t have a high threshold for pain. It’s a stinging discomfort akin to ant bites; nothing too major thanks to the numbing cream and Dr Puah’s professional hands.
I walk out of the clinic with red patches all over my face, and am advised to head home for the rest of the day. My skin feels slightly raw, so I amp up the sun protection and hydration. I make sure to apply sufficient sunscreen during the day and sheet masks for the next three nights to soothe the skin. While this laser treatment is suitable for most people, if you have sensitive skin you may, like me, feel some itchiness; this typically goes away a day or two post-treatment. Two days later, the redness has completely subsided. My sun spots are still there but my pores have become much smaller, without a doubt. I’ve even received comments that I’m looking years younger!
– Anthia Chng
Premium Facial Care (Whitening Treatment)
Japanese beauty salon Facia Ginza, which employs a unique facial slimming massage technique that promises to help customers correct bones, improve facial symmetry and contour the face.
Lying face-up, my treatment ($248, 90 minutes) begins with a massage that largely focuses on my décolleté and back. I often find that my sinuses are quick to clog with a conventional face-down massage, so this is a technique I much prefer. My therapist’s hands weave in and out from underneath my back using her fingers to hit all the right pressure points and relax my muscles for the next phase. Shifting focus to my face, she firmly kneads my facial muscles and jawline to enable the slight bone adjustments that, I’m told, will ultimately restore symmetry and help circulation. The pressure is slightly uncomfortable but bearable and short-lived.
After cleansing and steaming, my pores are prepared for the next phase. Using an electroporation machine, my skin is cleared of dead skin and put in an optimum state to receive the Japan-sourced Wove Style whitening essence and subsequent face mask that is applied – at this point I am back to my “zen” state of slowly drifting off.
The before and after pictures show slight improvements, so I believe that full effects can be achieved with consistent treatments. Additionally, my tension headaches that I experience on an almost daily basis seemed to decrease significantly in the following week. Likewise, my skin appeared much more supple and bright.
– Leanda Rathmell
Limelight IPL Procedure
The Cutera Limelight at Cutis Medical Laser Clinics is a popular way to get rid of unwanted pigmentation. Limelight uses US FDA-cleared Intense Pulse Light (IPL) technology to draw out brown spots from a deeper layer of the skin. It’s ideal for any part of your face, neck and décolleté with redness, tiny veins, freckles or brown spots.
During the treatment, pulses of light are delivered to the skin, which are then absorbed by the pigments and small blood vessels. You may feel a mild pinching sensation similar to a rubber band snapping on your skin, but most patients find the procedure quite tolerable. It’s common for your spots and freckles to turn darker after the procedure, then flake off after a week. At least four treatments are recommended for noticeable lightening effects.
Breakouts Be Gone Facial
Good skincare and beauty services can and should be affordable and accessible. That’s the mantra of new beauty salon SkinFitness. Their Breakouts Be Gone facial ($159, 75 minutes) is a targeted treatment that combines deep cleansing, exfoliation and extractions with IPL light therapy to banish breakouts and keep them at bay for healthier skin. A detoxifying and calming mask is incorporated to help remove impurities and the hydration of the skin. Your skin will be left purified, calm and in the clear.
Located in the heart of the CBD, this spiffy spot also offers a range of body treatments for both women and men, including waxing and spray tanning. Here, each brand is carefully chosen by founder Amy Bourke herself. One that has passed the test is Aussie skincare brand Aspect, a hit amongst doctors, plastic surgeons and therapists for its high levels of active ingredients. The best part? For a limited time, you can get a free Aspect starter kit (worth $129) for free when you purchase any facial! The handy, travel-friendly kit includes a cleanser, a vitamin C serum, an exfoliating night serum and a moisturiser.
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