I have difficult skin – it can go along for several months fairly clear, just a little dry around my t-zone and the sides of my nose, when KA-POW, all hell breaks loose and you’d think I was a hormonal fourteen-year old again. I deal with outbreaks harshly, and generally unwisely, ignoring the disapproving looks my husband gives me when I emerge from the bathroom red and blotchy from an intensive session with a magnifying mirror (dermatologists recommend you NEVER look in a magnifying mirror at your skin). My problem is that my skin manages to be that most awesome of combinations – spotty and dry, so most skin care lines tend to only address one problem at a time, often worsening the other issue. I’m always searching for the holy grail of skin care which can work on both issues, but in the meantime, it’s tons of Bobbi Brown concealer and an approach of waiting out the onslaught until I’m back in calmer waters again. Essentially nothing ever works while I’m in a break-out phase, so I usually retreat to E45 cream and cross my fingers.
The annual Asia Spa awards were held in November, and when we read through the list of winners, one product jumped out at us as a must-try: Aromatherapy Associates’ “Fine Line Face Oil”. You see, one thing I’ve learned with dry skin is that oils are better than creams when used sparingly, and they don’t clog your pores nearly as much as you’d imagine (though full disclosure time – be careful when applying them to blackhead-prone areas). The lovely folks at Aromatherapy Associates were kind enough to let me try the full Anti-Age Skincare collection out, and so for the last two weeks I’ve been engaging in a many-step regimen far beyond my usual cleanse, tone and moisturize. After cleansing and toning, one applies the Instant Skin Firming Serum, followed by the Fine Line Face Oil and Rich Repair Nourishing Cream in the morning, or the Intensive Skin Treatment Oil and Overnight Repair Mask at night once or twice a week. I’ve also been using the Rich Repair Eye Cream in the hope of smoothing away those crows-feet lines which I fear later in life will give me a lot of “character”.
I love the feel of using products with essential oils. There’s something about inhaling the scents of Rose, Lavender and Patchouli that makes you feel you are really giving yourself a treat, and the additional ingredients list including ingredients like Frankincense Essential Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil and Larch Extract sound deliciously natural – one imagines a white witch’s brew of youth-restoring elixir. It felt like I had transported a luxury spa to my dingey bathroom. Applying the products, the oils glide on silkily and the creams sink quickly into the skin with none of the sitting-on-the-surface greasiness that makes my skin freak out. I worried about whether applying so many different potions would inflame my already troubled t-zone, but instead it actually had the opposite effect, and (combined with exfoliation) solved the flakiness which in turn calmed down the spots.
Obviously two weeks is far too short a time to gauge any kind of anti-aging benefit – all I can really judge in terms of results is that in terms of hydration, the Anti-Aging range did an amazing job of tackling my Sahara desert of t-zones, and in turn cleared up my spottiness while smelling wonderful and feeling delightful. In terms of specific product recommendations from the range, I’d suggest that the real winners are of course the Fine Line Face Oil (15ml, HK$590) and the Rich Repair Nourishing Cream (50ml, $750). The prices are high, but the Face Oil in particular will last you months and months, as I’m not yet finished with my tiny sample size, and I’ve been using it every day. You can also buy the tester set I used for HK$475 to try it out first before you commit to investing in individual products.
Aromatherapy Associates products are available from The Mandarin Spa and Oriental Spa in the Mandarin Oriental and Landmark Mandarin and Sense of Touch, Repulse Bay.