Friday 27 January 2017

The Dr Russo Clinical Facial – and a Pep Talk on Sun Protection

Facials might be considered a luxury but there are times when a treat for self can be just the tonic. And by choosing your therapist wisely, you can also go home armed with a heap of knowledge that adds to the value of the whole experience.

Just before Christmas I was kindly invited to the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane, in London for a Clinical Facial with Dr Luca Russo, an internationally revered cosmetic and dermatologic surgeon and an expert on sun protection.

The Spa is luxurious, occupying the whole of the tenth floor of the hotel and offering panoramic views across London. As well as treatment rooms, it has a spa pool, sauna, steam room and lux changing facilities – all you need for a day there is yourself and your makeup bag. Dr Russo is resident once a week, offering his facial (his primary clinic is in Harley Street).

He kicked things off with a pep talk on sun protection, and it's made me rethink aspects of my own regime. According to Dr Russo we should be applying an SPF from the moment we step out of bed in the morning. This is because UVA rays, the ones mainly responsible for skin ageing, don't just hit us when we're outdoors; they also penetrate through glass.

It's not something that I had paid much attention to before. So all those days spent working from home, sitting at my desk by a big sunny window make-up and spf-free, thinking I'm giving my skin a rest, I've actually been putting it at risk!

Dr Russo has developed his own line of skincare to address what he sees as shortcomings in current spf ranges. The line-up includes products you might not expect to see with sun protection, including a cleanser, a bodywash and a handwash.

His thinking is that we tend to use more of these products than we do a day cream, so we get more protection on to our faces (it's widely agreed that we don't use anywhere near enough product - a whopping tablespoon measure is recommended for the face alone!). He says his 50spf day cream provides 30spf even after eight hours of wear.

The Facial 

Pep talk over, it's on to the facial, which incorporates many of his products. He started by applying the Dr Russo Night Repair Exfoliating Cleanser to prep my skin. We spent a long time on this stage – he says we don’t generally exfoliate enough!

Next he applied the Dr Russo Night Repair Face Serum Retinol Plus. He may also use a dermaroller beforehand to help skin better absorb the ingredients – he will assess and decide accordingly. Serum ingredients include various vitamins, hyaluronic acid and pigment-lightening agents, as well as the retinol.

Stage three involved a bit of technology: a combined LED/radio frequency device to stimulate collagen and drain fluids away from the skin. The probes travelled over my skin, steered by a very firm hand (I’m talking almost skin kneading).

Next exfoliating pads with glycolic and salicylic agents are swept across the face, before the 55 minute facial wraps up with more firm massage along lymphatic drainage points as Dr Russo applied his sun protection day cream.

Dr Russo’s technique really is quite a feature of the facial - he has one of the firmest pair of hands I’ve ever experienced! There is strong massage from start to finish, helping to stimulate blood flow (you can see that from the ruddy colour of your cheeks at the end). It felt wonderful and I know it’s a cliché but my skin really was warm and glowing when I emerged from that consultation room.

This is a truly invigorating facial and the icing on the cake was what came afterwards: free use of the hotel’s spa facilities for the rest of the day.

The Dr Russo Clinical Facial costs £295, including access to the spa facilities. More on Dr Russo here.

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