Skin Care

By Andrea Toochin

Rent, martinis, dinner, stilettos, jewelry, and the perfect carryall – are these all items on your wishlist above grooming services? They were for me before I tried the latest facial on the menu at the Park Avenue Spa & Fitness center.

The Caviar & Pearl Anti-Aging Facial was a spa menu item long before the new Pevonia Myoxy Caviar skin care line launched, a luxe collection of four face products made from Beluga caviar, one of the most expensive types in the world. Geared towards middle-aged women, the treatment promises to improve skin elasticity and soften lines and wrinkles. In short, this is a line better suited for my mother than my friends. However, the allure of a concentrated professional-use-only caviar formula was too tempting to pass up.

In NYC, the facial is offered at only two locations, both of which are Midtown hotels. This may seem like a relaxing environment, with the illusion of a vacation seeping in once ensconced in the shining lobby, but once you reach the spa you are transported back to the close quarters NYC epitomizes. The reception is flanked by treadmills on one side, and carpenters on the other as workmen construct another treatment room. However, all the bustle only makes the experience more relaxing.

A small but well stocked locker room features wooden lockers, a sauna, a steam room, showers, and various products. Inside, the treatment room, the aesthetician, Lilia Sherel, ushers me under the covers of the bed and begins silently with the Timeless Balm Cleanser and the Repair Lotion, a liquid a bit thicker than toner. Sherel, who has been in the industry for 20 years, uses a microscope to analyze my skin, to ensure she’s giving me the right treatment.

With the humidifier running, she coats my skin with the enzyme powder, an exfoliating treatment that prepares the skin for the extractions – the love-hate step present during every facial. After she gently squeezes the skin and extracts the impurities, she cleanses once more with the lotion. Then, to my delight, she removes a pen-like instrument and begins zapping my face, explaining that the technique tightens pores, brings the skin to pH balance, and reduces inflammation and pigmentation.

Now, embarrassing as this may sound, I have never had any serious injections or treatments performed. You might say I’m old-fashioned, but I decided to reserve those for later years. The good news is, I’m not alone in my belief that non-invasive anti-aging treatments work well.

“I have one client who is over 90,” says Sherel. “She comes here once a month to visit her kids and she always comes to me to get her facials done. She’s been doing her facials since she was 17 and her skin looks amazing. It’s the same thing as exercising, people that exercise, they have great bodies. Nothing in this life comes naturally. Some people are very fortunate and lucky but it’s genes, but still you have to work at it. It’s the same thing with facials.” This statement is in accordance with her prior recommendation that clients come for the treatment once a month.

As I calculate how much money the elderly woman spent on facials over the last 73 years, Sherel applies the actual caviar, a concentrated solution, then the caviar mask and the hard lift off mask. Before leaving the room, she massages cream on my hands, places plastic bags over them, and puts them in heated mitts. Twenty minutes later she enters and peels the mask off and massages the face while applying the serum, and finally the repair cream.

Once I muster the strength to get up and face the light, I sneak a peak inside the box of individually wrapped, factory-sealed masks and try to make sense of the slew of products she just applied. I recall her speaking of the simplicity of the product line but it seems complicated to me. She also mentions its versatility because the absence of fragrance accommodates people with sensitive skin.

Well, one peek in the mirror is all it takes and I understand why her client spends about $2000 a year on facials. It’s the first time I’ve had a facial where extraction didn’t result in excessive redness, and I caught a glimpse of the skin clarity only Asian film stars seem to possess. Most important, it’s the first time I’d actually advise my mother to spend more on her skin care regimen, an addiction that explains my calling, and the lack of space in her boudoir.

But the most exciting thing about this facial is that it works best on mature skin. I’d embrace any skin care expert telling me I’m too young for a treatment, but as a product junkie I’m never one to refuse new collections.

Comprised of the Timeless Balm Cleanser, Balm Lotion, Repair Serum, and Repair Cream, all products are meant for use together twice a day. In addition to caviar extract, products also contain Pevonia’s trademarked Escutox, a complex of vitamins A, C, and E. The repair cream also contains pearl, which has been used in Eastern regimens for its lightening and brightening properties for decades.

Whatever your choice, in-home or spa, this caviar line is a luxurious, effective route to choose. Maybe, with a modest commitment and a healthy lifestyle, we can aspire to the radiance of Gong Li, the Nicole Kidman of the China.

Caviar & Pearl Anti-Aging Facial
55 minutes – $165
Park Avenue Spa & Fitness
440 Park Avenue at 56th Street
212.756.3968
Open Monday – Friday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Originally published November 2005
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