Welcomed on the 19th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel by sweeping views of London's Hyde Park and its skyline, this is a spa worth writing home about.
An appointment with Dr. Luca Russo of the Four Seasons' Rejuvenation Clinic and Medispa is not only the most thorough facial experience you will ever have, but it is also one of the most interesting and educational by a long mile.
The appointment began with an insightful explanation by Dr. Russo, a leading cosmetic surgeon in London with over 20 years experience, about the most common skin mistakes the average person makes. The sun is the biggest threat to our skin and whilst most of us may think we take the necessary precautions to prevent sun damage, we may actually be doing it all wrong.
So, what are we doing that is causing our skin such woe?
According to Dr. Russo, the first common mistake is not applying enough sunscreen. Think about it - when you buy sunscreen the instructions usually just advise towards 'applying sunscreen to clean, dry skin'. But have you ever thought about how much is actually needed? Dr Russo recommends applying at least 1 tsp of sunscreen at each application. That's surprisingly more than you may think!
Secondly, we don't apply sunscreen often enough. We've all heard the re-applying every two hours rule. But I mean reeeeally - who of us actually does that? Besides, it's not exactly practical if you're wearing make-up and have meetings back to back. Dr Russo explained the difference between UVA and UVB – the latter being those that leave you with a sensation of burning or stinging on a hot day.
In places like London where cloud cover is a standard feature on the weather report, these rays are filtered and so are rarely felt. This doesn’t mean, however, that our skin is safe because subtle yet dangerous UVA rays still lurk around. This is why, despite spending a lot of time indoors or in a grey, rainy country, it is still important to protect your skin.
Lastly, we don't apply sunscreen at the right time. Sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes before leaving the house or going outside. Not allowing time for sunscreen to be absorbed into the skin means that its effectiveness is significantly decreased. Make a habit of cleansing your skin first thing in the morning and applying sunscreen before you go about the rest of your morning routine. This will ensure you're meeting the 30 minute rule whilst getting you out of the house in time.
Now about that facial...
With a heated treatment bed and electric controlled curtains that wave London goodbye as you lay down, these treatment rooms create a snug and tranquil environment.
The facial started with a gentle cleanse and exfoliation. Dr. Russo explained that the skin operates on a 24-hour cycle so contrary to the 1-2 times a week that is usually recommended, daily exfoliation is necessary. He recommends exfoliating in the evenings as this is when your skin is ready for the dirt of the day to be scrubbed away and also allows your skin to rest overnight. Exfoliating in the morning means that a thinner layer of skin is exposed to harsh sunrays.
An LED roller containing small spikes and light therapy was run over my race to stimulate cell regeneration. The light gives skin the energy it needs to repair whilst the small pricks into the skin stimulates collagen production leading to a more youthful appearance. This part of the facial is a bit uncomfortable if you are not used to it, though it is completely bearable and at no stage did my face feel too sore, bleed or anything drastic like that!
A soothing serum containing gycolic acid was applied to my face before a deep pressure facial massage stimulated skin further and pushed me into a whole new sphere of relaxation. Gycolic acid is part of a group of active compounds which contain tiny mollecules that penetrate the skin with ease and depth, making it most effective for treating acne, oiliness and fine lines.
Dr. Russo has developed products which are due to launch in Harrods this September, each of which cater for a women's everyday skin needs and make achieving the 'three skin rules' more realistic. For example, there is a facial cleanser which contains sunscreen thereby ensuring that your skin is protected the minute you start your day.
This spa is a place to be truly present. Watching the city lights of London from the still, comforting warmth of the sauna after my facial was a highlight.
If your skin needs serious attention or if you are interested in learning about how you can prevent and reverse sun damage – Dr. Russo at the Four Seasons London at Park Lane is your man!
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