Cutting-Edge Winter Skin Care
by rachel felder
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental offers ultrasound in facial treatments
|Treatment room at Guerlain Spa|
|Dr. Eric Schweiger, an expert in light and-laser-based treatments|
|Rich creams rejuvenate dry winter skin|
“During winter, when your skin gets dry and cracked, you actually get a breakdown of your skin barrier,” explains Dr. Eric Schweiger (nyccosmeticdermatology.com), an East Side dermatologist who specializes in laser- and light-based treatments. But with spring on the horizon, building that layer back up and restoring moisture is easier than ever, thanks to a variety of new products and in-spa facial treatments.
Even for intensely dry skin, it doesn’t take highly invasive treatments to treat winter’s damaging outdoor cold and indoor heating. “I love my lasers, but if you can use a cream instead, it’s actually healthier for the skin for combating problems like redness in the winter,” says Dr. Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas (nyderm.org), a “derm-scientist” and creator of 37 Extreme Actives cream. This product—for which an extra-rich version, ideal for winter-parched skin, was recently introduced—uses natural ingredients such as extracts of bark, mushroom, and coffee seeds to reduce redness and irritation and deeply moisturize the skin.
Components along those lines represent one of the biggest trends in luxury skincare: using organic, traditional ingredients alongside more high-tech elements to create the most beneficial “cocktail” for the skin. The KeSARI line, for example, blends chamomile and saffron (a dry skin smoother and nourisher used for centuries) with retinol in a patented formulation that delivers the mixture gradually to the skin instead of in one extra-strong dose. The line is available commercially, and is also used in a (celebrity-loved) facial at Mzia Shiman’s discreet Midtown spa.
Many new products incorporate nutrients often recommended as dietary supplements in winter, like vitamins C, A, and D. “It’s part of people looking at their lives much more holistically than before and being aware that what you do on the outside as well as the inside makes a difference,” says Nicky Kinnaird, founder of Space NK, a collection of high-end skincare boutiques that carries moisturizer-driven lines like Natura Bisse and Zelens. Standouts in this arena include Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare’s new Vitamin D serum, which delivers that much-hyped element from the sun, even when it’s freezing and cloudy out; IOMA’s moisture and antidryness masks, which use red algae, known to help the skin retain water; and the rejuvenating Orchidée Impérial Prestige treatment at the new Guerlain Spa at the Waldorf-Asotria.
Another extremely effective ingredient that combats dryness is glycerin. “It’s a humectant,” says Dr. Schweiger, “so it attracts moisture, and is used in many moisturizers.” Glycerin is also one of the main components in Bioeffect EGF Serum (thebioeffect.com), a product from Iceland that stimulates the renewal of skin cells as it replenishes moisture. Miracle Skin Transformer, the popular tinted moisturizer that includes SPF, uses ecophysalis, a natural form of glycerin that’s sourced in the Brazilian rainforest, for skin protection.
If your skin this time of year is particularly flaky, it might seem logical to use a treatment like microdermabrasion to slough off the dead cells, but doctors advise against that approach. “A common mistake is thinking the flakiness needs to be peeled off,” explains Dr. Alexiades- Armenakas. “The opposite is true: The most important thing is to build the skin barrier rather than break it down.” A microcurrent facial, which stimulates collagen growth with a special roller with hundreds of extra-tiny needles that reach only the skin’s upper layer, is an ideal alternative; The Ildi Pekar Salon, a hidden Midtown penthouse helmed by a former Tracie Martyn esthetician, offers the service.
Other cutting-edge facial treatments incorporate ultrasound waves. “They deliver heat to help build collagen,” explains dermatologist Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. “You can boost collagen without stripping the top layers like microdermabrasion would.” Spas offering ultrasound within facial protocols include the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and Exhale.
Whether you opt for at-home creams or an appointment with a facialist, timing is everything. “During winter we lose most of the moisture that evaporates from the skin at night,” says Dr. Frank. “The best time to put on a thick cream is late at night.” Bliss recently introduced a Youth Night facial, only offered after 5 pm with the intention of setting you up for a moisturerich sleep. And this treatment includes a plate of brownies as you leave.
photography by creates images/getty images (bottom right)