Since 1987, Optaderm has been brightening the complexions of Vancouverites with one of the city's most affordable facials. While they offer a range of services including lasers and IPL for hyper-pigmentation, their basic European facial remains the stalwart choice many have come to rely on. This one-hour treatment includes a massage, deep cleansing, peel and soothing masque. They also offer extractions, featuring a European method that employs oil to lubricate the skin for easy removal of blackheads without the use of heat, which can often irritate skin.
By keeping their prices low, Optaderm hopes to encourage people to consider facials as part of their overall healthcare regimen – for life. It's not uncommon for their aestheticians to treat different generations from the same family. Good skincare habits can never begin too early.
Optaderm also creates its own skincare line, made in Vancouver. They feature formulas packed with peptides and vitamins that are all pH balanced to work gently yet effectively on all skin types. Customer favourites include the Double Action Cleansing Lotion (starting at $7.50) and the Phenomena Eye Cream ($98.50).
The Intraceuticals Oxygen Treatment is Sense's most popular facial. It combines the amazing benefits of refined hyperbaric oxygen with Intraceutical's signature Hyaluronic layering technology. Some even claim that it's their secret alternative to surgical procedures – and no downtime to boot. In fact, skin is left looking luminous, hydrated and supple.
The 50-minute infusion facial includes two cleanses (one manual, another with the Clarisonic), treatment serum delivered with hyperbaric oxygen, and finished off with a facial gel, eye product and cream. The 80-minute facial includes a few pampering extras such an enzyme exfoliation, extractions and massage of the face and décolletté.
Fans of Absolute's luxurious and award-winning spa chain (including A-list beauties like Elle McPherson and Gwyneth Paltrow) can always count on a Zen-like ambience to start a treatment off on the right note. Their 75-minute signature facial is customized for each client after a detailed skin analysis. Your facial will always include a custom-blended mask to treat your specific needs as well as Absolute's signature de-stressing scalp, neck, shoulder, hand and arm massage.
While providing an unbelievably relaxing and soothing experience, the Tighten & Transform facial at the Willow Stream Spa also features some new technologies to, well, tighten and transform your face. Its name and promise will not disappoint.
Using three different energy sources, this facial specifically targets the underlying causes associated with aging. It's a unique and effective treatment, but isn't painful in the slightest, despite the impressive results.
This "age management" system uses red LED light therapy, impulse micro-currents, and transdermal delivery. The facial begins with an exfoliating multi-acid peel for face, neck and décolleté. Then the red LED light and microcurrents are used to help increases collagen production, accelerate cell repair and energize muscle tone (especially good for nasal labial folds, loose jowls and drooping eyelids). Finally the transdermal delivery uses pulsating frequencies to help drain the lymphatic system while infusing the skin with essential nutrients.
The Bliss Facial at Sabai Thai combines the luscious products from organic skincare line Eminence with Saba Thai's philosophy of whole body healing. The result is a holistic treatment that leaves your face nourished and restored while the rest of your body is treated to reflexology, massage and lymphatic drainage.
The Bliss facial features the Rosehip and Maize Exfoliant that combines the use of ground maize with a vegan lactic acid to leave your skin supple and better able to absorb the Peach and Coconut Masque that's to follow. The masque is full of vitamins and minerals, helping to nourish and detoxify skin. Your treatment ends with a dose of the Couperose-C Serum to strengthen skin cell walls and help reduce redness from capillaries, and a final treat of the Linden Calendula Moisturizer to hydrate and nourish the skin.
You'll leave with your skin glowing, your body deeply relaxed and your mind at peace.
I won't lie: Dermaplaning involves a surgical blade – but the results of this facial, at the hands of a qualified aesthetician, are magical.
At Project Skin MD, Gwen Dele Costa is the medical aesthetician with the gentlest touch, who makes blade-skimming seem downright relaxing. This is Project Skin MD's most popular facial by far, with demand growing with each new client who tries it and tells 10 of her friends.
Dermaplaning provides a kind of exfoliation that's unique and unparalleled. After prepping the skin with a thorough cleanse, Gwen uses a surgical blade to gently lift dull skin cells and fine vellus hair (aka "peach fuzz"). You'll feel the light, scraping pressure of the blade against your skin, but there's no actual scratching or other abrasive technique.
After dermaplaning, your skin is glowing, hydrated, smooth and without a trace of redness in sight. In fact, it's even safe, if not ideal, for those with rosacea. Many prefer dermaplaning over microdermabrasion or chemical peels because it's so gentle. This is a favourite pre-wedding treatment (and can be added to any other facial) for brides insisting on flawless, fuzz-free close-ups.
And no, your hair won't grow back darker or thicker. Dermaplaning doesn't stimulate the hair follicles, so hair returns as per normal. It's perfect for all skin types except those with oily skin.
Skoah's philosophy of "skin fitness" encourages people to think about their skin health as they do their overall health. Skoah considers itself a "skin gym," not spa; their customers "members," not clients. This down-to-earth approach incorporates a large degree of education, and their most popular facial, the "Facialicious," includes time with a trainer (aka aesthetician) who will explain your skin's condition and answer questions – and recommend how best to treat it post-facial, at home.
Of course, this facial isn't all talk. It's popular because it a top performer. You'll be treated to a fully customized, 75-minute session that includes a masque, deep cleansing, extractions, detoxifying and a head-to-toe massage in a heated bed. You'll be feeling so relaxed you'll be tempted to go straight home and into bed, but in case you still have a full day ahead of you, not to worry. This facial, while thorough, is extremely gentle and many clients have left without a trace of redness – and a few have even gone directly to big events.
Skoah also develops its own skincare line, all in Vancouver. Best sellers include the Glow Tonik ($35), with malic and glycolic acids to melt away dead skin cells and the Gold Serum ($105), a powerhouse for aging skin that's full of peptides.
CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La, Sea Therapy Facial, $195 (75 min)
This new seaweed-based facial was developed exclusively for Chi spa on the heels of the wildly successful Seaflora Wild Organic Seaweed Skincare. Seaweed is rich in protein, flush with essential amino acids and vitamins to help skin's texture, and packed with fatty acids and beta-carotene to restore vitality. This facial will have you soaking in no fewer than a dozen seaweed-based products (including whole strips of organic seaweed and even a little ocean mud), leaving your face and body re-energized and vibrant.
This treatment isn't just about the neck up though. While your face is being pampered, so is the rest of your body with hot and cool stone therapy. Together, the treatments work in harmony to release toxins and fight inflammation, while a deeply relaxing neck, hand and foot massage melts tension away.
La Prairie, Holt Renfrew, Free with purchase of two skincare products
Chances are if you're already using La Prairie products, your skin's in superb condition. But who couldn't benefit from a little expert examination from the likes of a La Prairie aesthetician like Kathleen Fung. She's been doing facials at Holt Renfrew exclusively for La Prairie for 10 years.
La Prairie is a luxury skincare line from Switzerland that began as a medical clinic in 1974. Their specialty lies in rare and potent ingredients that deliver remarkable results. These facials offer a lovely treat for loyal customers and are a great way to try out new products before committing to buying them.
Some of La Prairie's best selling items in Vancouver include their Skin Caviar Luxe Sleep Mask ($365) and their Cellular Cream Platinum Rare (starting at $837).
Touch of Joy, Venus Freeze Facial, $450 (2+ hours)
Joy Stewart of Touch of Joy might be one of Vancouver's best kept beauty secrets. She doesn't advertise, she flies under the radar of conventional marketing and when she moved earlier this summer, it was to zero fanfare. But for those in the know, she's considered Vancouver's skin savant. A facial with Joy is like spending a few hours with your best friend who just happens to have studied around the world, collecting techniques, equipment and products from the vanguards of exceptional skincare aesthetics.
The Venus Freeze Facial delivers results that are likened to those from Botox, but better. It uses magnetic pulse and radio frequency to stimulate fibroblast cells (responsible for collagen), which trigger a thermal reaction in the tissue, stimulating the body's natural healing response resulting in tighter, firmer skin. It's near-instantaneous, painless and has no downtime. Results last up to 28 days, and with consecutive treatments, you're good for several years. It's no wonder this is nicknamed the "Red Carpet" facial.
Vancouver's best facials to cleanse, detoxify, hydrate and nourish your face
Sometimes, only a professional facial will do. There are things – wonderfully hydrating and purifying things – that should be left to the hands of an expert aesthetician. Facials will deep clean, exfoliate, extract, hydrate, plump and get your skin looking as good as possible. And some facials can even address more serious issues such as hyper-pigmentation and fine lines. Nearly anything is possible if you know where to turn to.
Catherine is a lifestyle writer, specializing in travel, style, food and beauty. You can read more of her work in WestWorld, Real Weddings, AsiaSpa, Darpan, Wine Enthusiast and others. Follow her on social (Instagram, Snapchat & Twitter) @TSEwords.