25 September, 2012

CACI treatments at The Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong – we test the ‘non-surgical facelift’

25 September, 2012

I thought I had seen it all when it came to facials (the snail extract mask was a new high point) but the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong’s latest offerings are quite something. Available at The Mandarin Salon, their new CACI treatments use a super high-tech machine to deliver cutting edge, non-invasive facials that boast supposedly amazing immediate and effective results – ‘a non-surgical face lift’ that counts the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Linda Evangelista and errr… Piers Morgan amongst its devotees. Not much to live up to, huh?!

Hoping the results would be more Linda than Piers, I offered myself as guinea pig for the 90-minute CACI Intensive Lift treatment. Upon entering my private treatment room at The Mandarin Salon (more spartan than your average spa ones), the all-knowing CACI machine was already quietly buzzing away in the corner. The treatment is customised to your skin type and needs, so after a brief consultation, my therapist decided my skin was more on the sensitive side and we’d be focusing on reducing blemishes, brightening and toning.

The first step was microdermabrasion – basically, a high tech exfoliation using a vibrating tool with a whirring scrubbing tip at the end (mine was the finest version for sensitive skins, with more intense options available for different complexions). It also features blue and red blinking LED lights, the former to reduce the appearance of blemishes and the latter to stimulate cell repair (who knew?!). This felt much lighter and more stimulating than your average exfoliating scrub, almost like a gentle massage. Afterwards, my therapist showed me the formerly black scrubbing tip, now covered with a dusting of dull-looking dead skin particles – lovely!

Next, what looked like a tuning fork with serum-soaked cotton wool tips was dragged over my skin, in a strong massaging motion all over my face. This delivers electro-magnetic frequencies into your skin to help restore muscle tone and elasticity; it felt like receiving dozens of mini electric shocks, more noticeable in the more sensitive areas around my nose and mouth but really not in the least bit painful (more like a tingly buzz – honestly, my Natura Bisse facial was more uncomfortable!).

Halfway through, my therapist stopped to show me the results in a mirror. Oh my. It was amazing, borderline horrifying. Did the other side of my face really look that droopy/puffy/saggy/dull normally?! Meanwhile, the ‘zapped’ half was visibly lifted – hello cheekbone, that’s where you’ve been hiding! – and my whole complexion looked much firmer, more toned, less puffy and noticeably brighter and glowing. I wasn’t sure whether to be overjoyed or to start sobbing into the CACI machine.

After completing the other half of my face, it was time for the most conventional part of the treatment – an ultra-moisturising Hydratone gel mask. Filled with rose water, hylauronic acid and collagen, this felt like a thick and luxurious jelly – extremely cooling, soothing and refreshing, it’s derived from the same silicon-gel material used to appease burns so is ideal for lessening the appearance of sun damage. Two metal ball rollers were smoothed over the mask to help the moisture penetrate even further, with currents from the CACI machine running through them to continue massaging my face too. You’ll definitely manage a nap at this stage, trust me!

Finally, the mask was peeled off and there was a final zap with the magic tuning fork before I was levered up from my lounger. Suffice to say, I was really impressed with the results; whilst you can definitely get similar brightening effects with other facials around town, I’ve definitely never experienced that level of lifting and toning (my face looked thinner… I do have cheekbones!), and the results lasted a good couple of days too. Although The Mandarin Salon is somewhat less indulgent than going to a full-on spa (the room feels more like a posh dentist’s), I still found the treatment relaxing enough to qualify as a dose of pampering too.

Yes, it is expensive… but for results this immediate, I could definitely see the benefits of investing in a package and enjoying your new improved complexion on a more long-term basis, especially if you’re starting to worry about the effects of ageing – and they also have CACI treatments for the rest of the body too (including special cellulite, legs and bum targeted ones)! So yes, definitely more Linda than Piers… What a relief!

The CACI Intensive Lift treatment costs $1,600 for 90 minutes; a course of 6 treatments costs $9,210 or a course of 12 costs $16,900.

The Mandarin Salon, 5/F, Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, 5 Connaught Road, Central, Hong Kong, 2825 4800

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