November 30, 2004

Get Your Glow Back With Soothing Therapeutic Facial

It was shaping up to be a "Desperate Housewives" kind of week. I had a sick kid, a dead fish, a clogged toilet, a clogged nose and a bruised foot from dropping a 6-pound box of dishwasher detergent on it. And it was only Tuesday.

So, when aesthetician Renee Rivera of Casa Verde Spa offered a complimentary therapeutic facial, I jumped -- well, limped -- at it.

Journalistic ethics forbade me from accepting the facial as a freebie, but I did agree with Rivera's assertion that to write about facials, one should experience them.

First, I was ushered into one of the spa's back rooms with a glass of lemon-flavored water. Candles glowed as I filled out questionnaires about my skin care and make-up routines, lifestyle and expectations.

Then Rivera appeared and took me into the treatment room, where I was asked to disrobe (underwear optional) and slip under the massage table sheets while she stepped outside to review my paperwork.

It was immediately obvious this would be a treat for the senses - - the bed was heated, more candles glowed softly, New Age music burbled.

Once I picked my preferred scent from the essential oils -- lavender -- the rest was pretty much a blur. There was wonderful, warm steam on my face -- my sinuses were ecstatic -- and warm towels and lovely oils and gentle massaging of everything from scalp to fingertips.

By the time the hourlong treatment was over, only two words floated into my mind -- pampered and purified. If this didn't cleanse and detox my skin, I thought, nothing would.

Reluctant return

Afterward, I stumbled into my clothes and tried to tame my massage-mussed hair, and then Rivera came back in with a lovely cup of herbal tea, sat down and reviewed what she had done.

First, she had exfoliated my skin to remove dead cells. The gentle stream of steam had helped cleanse my pores so the masks could penetrate better, she explained. The steam also helps with sinuses, allergies and congestion, she said.

She had customized two masks for my sensitive skin, using lavender-scented lotions and oils from the Aveda line, which touts pure, plant-based products. The goal of the first mask was to detoxify and purify the skin. In between, a detox massage of the neck and chest helped to cleanse the body, get the blood flowing and clear the lymph nodes, she said.

Next, she massaged in another oil to balance my skin's pH (acidity) level. A second, cooling mask was designed to rehydrate my face. And finally, a scalp, hand and arm massage were purely for relaxation.

As I left, I felt serene. My naturally oily skin felt pleasantly smooth.

When I put on makeup in the car, I thought I looked more radiant. My sinuses were definitely clearer, which alone was worth the $49.50.