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Sulwhasoo Boutique, #B2-02, Ion Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn, T:6509 9979
Visitors to Sulwhasoo's brand new second boutique in ION Orchard don't have to stop at just buying their favourite serum. Within the store is a premium beauty lounge where you can sit back and enjoy a complete facial or spa experience using the Korean brand's signature products.
Here's where you get a first-hand experience of Sulwhasoo's philosophy of holistic care based on traditional Korean and Asian ingredients. But it's also about modern advancements as Singapore is the first in Southeast Asia to introduce the Sulwhasoo Spa 2.0 program - showcasing new applicators, products and massage techniques developed in Korea.
The must-do experience would be the top-of-the-line Timetreasure Renovating Treatment ($300 for 80 minutes), which kicks off with a relaxing foot bath of warm ginseng water and scrub that instantly relieves any fatigue from a long shopping stint.
The products used are from Sulwhasoo's Timetreasure range, which contains DAA (de-aging active), the anti-aging substance extracted from Red Pine, along with ginseng compounds. DAA is said to fortify the skin to fight the aging process. As part of the Spa 2.0 Program, expect a lot of work targeting specific areas such as the neck, chin, areas around the mouth and eyes.
To start, the therapist warms her hands with a hot stone before massaging the face with serums and cream. She also uses amber applicators (originated from pine resin) to further massage in a moisturising ampoule. A light "twist and pinch" technique to energise the skin and boost lymphatic drainage is used during the application of the Timetreasure Renovating Serum, before a second mask - a cold one - is applied.
The therapist finishes off with Sulwhasoo's eight-step skincare routine, leaving you with a well-nourished complexion, while your face feels like it's undergone a painless lift, with nagging lines massaged and soothed away. At least long enough to impress the relatives during the rounds of festive visiting.
Capella Singapore, 1 The Knolls Sentosa Island, T:6591 5023
For more of an out-of-town spa experience, Sentosa's Auriga Spa in the Capella Singapore specialises in four different treatments based on the different moons in the lunar cycle. Which makes it just right for the Chinese New Year season, if you need an excuse. Alternatively, just get back into a state of equilibrium with its Detox and De-stress treatment (S$325++ for 135 minutes).
Auriga aligns itself with The Organic Pharmacy, said to be the only pharmacy in the world that's dedicated to beauty and wellness. So as you submit to this oasis of calm, be heartened by the fact that the products used are all natural and organic.
Kick off the two-part treatment with a body scrub, where a mixture of sea salt infused with lemon and eucalyptus oils helps remove dead skin cells. After this, the focus of the 90-minute full body massage - using The Organic Pharmacy's Detox Body Oil - is the back, scalp and face. The therapist presses on meridian points on both sides of the spine, and uses mostly her forearms for slow, firm sweeps to "iron out" the big muscle groups.
A lot of attention is paid to the upper back and shoulders - key areas for most people. If you're tense, the massage won't exactly be relaxing but remedial. Take comfort in the feel of the jojoba oil infused with juniper essential oil and grapefruit extracts sinking into your skin instead.
Getting a facial as part of a de-stressing treatment is unusual but refreshing. It's just a simple cleanse with carrot butter, followed by a honey jasmine mask. Warm chamomile and cool cucumber compresses provide relief for tired eyes.
The only drawback is that you'll leave the spa with spa-tousled hair, as you're not supposed to take a shower after the massage, to let the essential oils do its work on your skin. But why rush. Round off the experience with a healthy meal at The Knolls restaurant - quinoa-based salad, a nourishing mushroom or tomato soup, and a glass of mixed fruit juice - before it's time to head back to town and the real life that awaits.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa, 7 Raffles Avenue, T:6434-5203
The story behind Estee Lauder's La Mer hardly needs a re-telling, given that the legendary face cream created by aerospace physicist Max Huber is on the vanity shelves of all who can afford to pay S$290 for a 30ml jar.
Now, the brand (whose unique ingredient is a seaweed extract) has partnered with the Ritz-Carlton Millenia in Singapore to provide a series of skincare and facial treatments, all within a brand new luxury spa located in the basement of the hotel.
The spa's décor is marine-inspired, with a blue oyster glass accent wall and the sound of gently trickling water greeting guests at the entrance. The hallway leads to 10 treatment suites and locker rooms which are equipped with hydro-jet jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas, shower facilities and relaxation lounges with Zero Gravity recliners.
Treatments begin with a foot ritual, followed by a personalised experience executed by experienced therapists. To add to the marine theme and as part of a breathing exercise, hand-picked conch shells are placed over guests' ears to drown out all external sounds.
The Miracle Broth Facial (S$480 for 90 minutes) incorporates some special tools of its own. A tuning fork is used to bring balance back to skin by the power of its vibrations, while a magnet ring is kneaded onto each hand to recharge the body's energy.
A host of creams are used, including a facial mist to hydrate skin, and two miracle broth lotions. Unlike most facials, no harsh techniques like extraction or steaming are used - the creams do all the work. The knowledgeable therapists use firm but soothing motions to massage the moisture into the face and neck. A bracing ice rub at the end helps to seal in the hydration.
You may not see any obvious visible difference immediately, but the change is instead from within - the skin feels plump and youthful from all the seaweed goodness it's been infused with.
L'Occitane en Provence
Four Seasons Spa & L'Occitane, Four Seasons
Hotel, Orchard Boulevard. T: 6734-1110
For the past year, non-hotel guests have been enjoying a little secret at the Four Seasons Singapore - where French beauty purveyor L'Occitane has operated its first and only spa and salon in Asia.
If you haven't heard of it yet, then it's a good time to check it out if you're looking for a more professional experience of the brand. For example, is it worth spending S$299 for a 30ml bottle of its top-of-the-line Divine Harmony serum? Try it out as part of its new 90-minute anti-aging facial at the spa, which also costs S$299 but you get the full pampering treatment at the same time.
The Divine Harmony range combines both the trademark Immortelle Millésimée essential oil (anti-bruising, anti-inflammatory and healing) and the algae Jania Rubens, with its ability to regenerate cells.
The Harmonie Divine facial uses both the Immortelle and the Divine Harmony range of products, and also focuses on the eyes. After the cleansing (extraction is optional), a new muscular face massage featuring Japanese Shiatsu techniques on over 20 pressure and trigger points on the face, are used to apply the cream. The massage helps to reduce tension and stimulate blood flow. After that, a cream mask is applied, which is enriched with organic Immortelle essential oil, Shea butter and Cistus extract known for its relaxing properties, to moisturise mature and dry skin.
The serum is applied towards the end and topped with gentle swipes of the cream before sunblock is added to finish off. L'Occitane maintains that with regular use, the range can maintain the skin's youthful potential and visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dehydration lines.
Incidentally, from Mar 13 to 19, L'Occitane's Michelin-starred chef, Jerome Roy, will be a guest chef at the hotel, creating a special menu that includes L'Occitane ingredients, at One Ninety Restaurant.