Three luxury facials you have to try at least once

Three luxury facials you have to try at least once

Sweet surrender

Text: Angelyn Kwek Renée Batchelor

If you're feeling that urge to splurge, why not splash out on an indulgent facial for the same instantly gratifying effect as a pair of designer stilettos— at a relatively more modest cost. The Buro team tried three, luxury brand facials and here's our verdict

Sometimes a woman (or man) needs some pampering. After a long work week or hectic holiday, there's no better way to unwind and treat your skin than with a treatment or massage. And if you're idea of 90 minutes in heaven specifically involves having luxury skincare meticulously applied and massaged onto your face — and ends with you emerging like a butterfly from a cocoon with baby-soft skin, then you'll want to read on to find out what exactly goes into an exclusive facial and what makes this an experience worth paying for. From jade rings to exclusive ampoules to Eastern techniques, we love our face treats with a slice of the exotic thrown in for good measure.

1. La Mer Miracle Broth Facial ($480 for 90 minutes)
Level 1, The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, 6434-5203
As far as indulgent pampering goes, you can’t beat the exclusivity of the La Mer Miracle Broth Facial at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia. This treatment — one that has garnered a cult loyalty with clients flying in from all around the Asia Pacific region — is lauded as a must-try signature with no less than a whopping 13 La Mer products used. Naturally, they had me at the words ‘La Mer’.

My therapist started off with a generous spritz of the brand's skin-balancing mist. This was followed by a light massage from feet to torso tp rid me of any remaining tension. Ordinarily, the exfoliation step isn’t anything special, but here the process diverges by using a gauze cloth to remove impurities, allowing for a thorough cleanse without the scrape of harsh exfoliating beads. A few swipes of toner, a dose of serum concentrate and an eye cream later, my skin was ‘woken up’ with a bespoke uplifting face massage, to activate the different layers of the dermis so as to prep the skin to better absorb La Mer’s concentrates.

Of course, said concentrate is none other than the Miracle Broth, a highly potent vial of La Mer extract that empowers cell renewal; simultaneously plumping the complexion while soothing any irritations to rebalance and revitalise your skin. In fact, this ampoule is only distributed via the Ritz and is unavailable for retail, despite pleas from patrons who’ve tried to purchase it for at-home use. Yes, that’s how exclusive it is. With the essence generously patted into my skin, I was then further lulled into bliss with an audio-sensory element that involved striking a pair of tuning forks, with the resonance going from my toes up to my ears where my therapist held the instruments until the sound faded. Call it quirky, but the experience was akin to a sort of harmonisation, and it certainly added to the overall sensation of wellbeing. By this stage, I was all but dozing off from the sheer pampering when a cooling two-piece La Mer face mask was administered to seal in all the goodness of the previous 12 steps. Soaked in essence of Crème de La Mer, the mask required just eight minutes to fully infuse into the skin, leaving me with a radiance that was buoyed with a layer of moisturising Soft Cream as the last step. From there, I was inundated with remarks on my amazing glow from various persons on my way out, so take my word for it, you haven’t experience transformative relaxation without a La Mer Ritz spa facial. — Angelyn Kwek

The Ritz-Carlton Spa
2. Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Treatment ($260 for 80 minutes)
Sulwhasoo #B2-02 Ion Orchard, 6509-9979
You wouldn't expect many facials to start with a foot bath. But at Sulwhasoo's new spa, hidden cosily behind the luxurious storefront, this is an exclusive ritual that marks the start of the treatment. In fact this ginseng footbath is only available at the Ion spa, and is meant to reduce tension and fatigue in the feet. After this, the facial starts proper with the Sulwhajeong Facial Massage, to stimulate the skin and energise skin cells. I chose the plum blossom scent — each customer is invited to choose their favourite from four choices— and the scent is applied on a cloth and dry massaged onto the meridien points. After deep cleansing the facial starts proper.

Highlights include the application of not one, but two masks. The first is the when the Radiance Evergy Mask is applied over the First Care Activating Serum — both star products of the brand — while my therapist vigorously massaged the décoletté area to reduce tension at the shoulders. I loved the pressure applied and the holistic approach to the facial — working first on the feet then the shoulders, as this added to the whole pampering nature of the ritual. The second mask was a combination of a moisturising ampoule — exclusive to spa use — followed with a remodeling mask applied on top of it.

But Sulwhasoo wouldn't be the brand of whispered, traditional Korean beauty secrets without a slightly mystical element as well. That's where the jade rings come in, between the application of the two masks. The brand's unique combination of a jade ring coupled with applicator massage techniques is based on the age-old traditional belief that jade stabilises both the body and mind. Balancing your yin and yang, the intensive massage is lubricated with a very pricey massage cream – the Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream — to prevent skin ageing and to lift the facial muscles. The facial ends with a final massaging step, as the Capsulized Ginseng Fortifying Serum is applied using finger massage techniques that include 'twist pinching' motions to energise your skin and boost lymphatic drainage while giving skin that density and firmness. Talk about a 360° massage ritual. I emerged with skin that was taut and energised — a mini miracle considering how tired I was when I stepped in — and with dark eye circles that were less obvious, probably due to all that massaging. This is definitely a must-try if you love touch-based therapies although the rich, ginseng-enriched skincare is best suited to mature or dry complexions. — Renée Batchelor

Sulwhasoo Ion Spa

3. La Prairie Signature Caviar Lift Facial ($260 for 90 minutes)
La Prairie counter at Level 1, Robinsons Raffles City
You wouldn't normally associate Swiss luxury skincare brand La Prairie — known for its high-tech formulations and luxurious ingredients like platinum and gold — with Ayurvedic medicine, but interestingly, the two are combined in this invigoration and hydrating, anti-ageing facial carried out in its facial cabins. Unlike other department-store cabins I've tried, the one at Robinsons Raffles City was (thankfully) relatively soundproof and spacious, lending further to the luxurious air of the experience. After all, if you're using the Caviar range — one of the brand's most premium ranges after the Platinum range — you'll want the full works. 

Designed to lift and firm the skin, the highlight of the treatment was the new, 20-step massage technique that borrows from accupressure and Ayurvedic therapy. Using the power of her deft hand movements and the luxe, Caviar products, my experienced therapist employed different massages switching up the speed, flow, pressure, and concentration of movements according to the different parts of the face, neck, and décolleté. And it helps that this facial uses the La Prairie Skin Caviar Liquid Lift and La Prairie Extrait of Skin Caviar Firming Complex in its steps. Because the ingredients in the range support the face's natural contours, I saw an improvement in both elasticity and tone immediately after — my skin was bouncy and supple to the touch, and there was that radiance that can usually only be attained through lots of sleep or a long, lazy holiday. Most impressive to me was that despite the richness of the anti-ageing products used, my skin did not feel greasy after — such was the quality of each serum, cream and complex that it sunk into my skin effortlessly, leaving only a velvety-soft complexion in its wake. — Renée Batchelor
La Prairie Raffles City cabin