New technology combined with natural products offers guests of Mandarin Oriental spas the most advanced youth-inducing treatments

Long gone are the days when our expectations of a facial ended at clearer skin and a temporary youthful glow. Thanks to a whole arsenal of high-tech wizardry (microcurrent machines, ultrasonic vibrations and LED lights), our wish list has gone stellar. From plumping out wrinkles to alleviating acne to lifting slack jaw lines, there’s no end to the number of concerns a skilled therapist can tackle.

A facial at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

A facial at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

According to industry analysts Mintel, demand for these specialist skincare gadgets is expected to grow some 38 per cent by 2018 in the US alone. ‘It’s definitely changing the spa landscape in an exciting way,’ says Heather Hannig, spa director at Mandarin Oriental, New York, who has overseen the integration of electrical facial technology in The Spa’s holistic menu. ‘It doesn’t have to be a case of doing one or the other, it’s about providing the best experience and end result.’

And there’s no doubt that when it comes to devoting an hour to a facial, we’ve become far more demanding. ‘In part, it’s because more people are dabbling in Botox, lasers and surgery,’ explains Hannig. ‘The knock-on effect is that we’ve become accustomed to instant, tangible results. Many guests are coming in for a lunchtime appointment with the express goal of looking younger by 4pm. And that’s something we really can provide now. It’s not just about feeling relaxed and pampered – although of course you’ll feel that, too.’

The treatment that best illustrates this new vision is The Spa’s Opulent Rejuvenescence facial. The backbone of the two-hour experience is the application of Caci microcurrent technology (originally developed to help those with facial palsy), which uses a current of less than one millionth of an amp to stimulate the facial muscles through the use of two metal wands, which are moved gently around the face. The tool is so effective in turning around ageing skin that it’s fast become known in beauty circles as the ‘non-surgical facelift’.

‘We call it Pilates for the face,’ says Hannig, adding that it has proved a hit among male guests – they book around 40 per cent of treatments. ‘It’s the closest you can get to sending your skin to a personal trainer.’

Even hard-nosed surgery experts have been won over. ‘I have clients who swear by it,’ says Shannon Leeman, who offers a consultation service to help her high-profile clients navigate the surgical scene. ‘Remember, it’s volume that’s the key to a youthful face and this technology works by stimulating the muscles, from the inside out. Think of it as the lazy girl’s alternative to facial exercise.’

At Mandarin Oriental spas, facials have been taken a step further, teaming the high-tech Caci Ultra machine (as used by Jennifer Lopez) with facial massage for lymphatic drainage, the application of a potent collagen mask and products from the Beauty by Clinica Ivo Pitanguy range. And the science has found its way into other treatments. The one-hour 20-minute Vitamin Infusion facial combines cold-stone massage and the Somme Institute’s polypeptide-rich formulas with the Caci machine to reduce the visible effects of sun damage.

A treatment room at Mandarin Oriental, Boston

A treatment room at Mandarin Oriental, Boston

‘We can tick every “concealable” box,’ says Hannig of the facials, in which the ultrasonic wand creates 27,000 vibrations per second on the skin’s surface for a deep cleanse of the epidermis. ‘It is proven that electrical stimulation amps up the skin’s ability to absorb skincare ingredients, so guests get a better impact from any products we use.’

For those who have bought into Botox, Caci makes a perfect sister treatment. ‘To achieve a truly youthful look, you need to build up the muscles in the face as well as freeze the muscles that cause wrinkles,’ warns Leeman. ‘I often recommend my clients use a combination of Botox and Caci.’

But don’t fear if you aren’t Manhattan-bound any time soon, these treatments are also available within the spas at the Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Barcelona, Prague, Washington, Miami and Vegas outposts of Mandarin Oriental.

Guests come in at lunch with the express goal of looking younger by 4pm

Over at Mandarin Oriental, Macau, a similar technology – one developed hand in hand with long-time collaborator Aromatherapy Associates – is transforming the skin of guests. ‘I have long been a fan of microcurrent treatments and was keen to create a facial that combined the benefits of the highest-quality natural ingredients with the great results currents can achieve,’ says the beauty brand’s co-founder, Geraldine Howard. Her Aroma Radiance machine uses three different currents (micro, galvanic and high frequency) to tone facial muscles and encourage deeper product penetration into the skin.

Products by Clinica Ivo Pitanguy

Products by Clinica Ivo Pitanguy

Howard sees it as meeting the demand for treatments that ‘deliver results akin to a more invasive treatment, but using natural products’, and she spent years researching natural ingredients that would work well with currents. The result is a range of three powerhouse facials, which, says Lillian Cheam, director of rooms and spa at Mandarin Oriental, Macau, have proved phenomenally popular since they were rolled out last summer. The same treatments are also available within Mandarin Oriental spas in Singapore, London, Prague, Boston, Vegas and San Francisco.

The first in the trio of facials is the Aroma Clear, which is perfect for those with problematic skin who need a ‘deep and effective cleanse,’ says Cheam. Its galvanic current works in tandem with a pineapple and papaya enzyme peel to penetrate deep into the pores and remove impurities that cause skin congestion. The second facial, the Aroma Lift, is for ‘those concerned about the first signs of ageing, like fine lines and lack of skin elasticity, and uses microcurrents to tone the skin’, while the third, the Ultimate Radiance, is a multitasking combination of the two, for ‘reviving dull, tired skin that lacks tone and elasticity’, ending with an Overnight Repair Mask – a hit of rose, frankincense and strawberry-seed extract.

Of course, the right meld of modern technology and natural ingredients is only half of the equation. Research has shown that stress can age the epidermis by 10 years. So factoring in time around your treatment to relax is key. ‘It’s about soothing the mind and the body as well,’ says Hannig.

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