Saving Face

Conquer winter’s three biggest skin-care concerns — so you’ll be equipped when you enter into battle.
The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman

The Crisis: Dry, Flaky Skin
The Cure: Luxurious Caviar Hydration

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

It may seem obvious that we need more hydration in winter — the slightest drop in temperature and humidity can make skin parched. But using caviar to combat this seasonal skin-care concern may seem like a less-apparent solution. Although they’ve been on beauty counters for more than 20 years, caviar-based skin-care treatments still command a (skeptically) raised eyebrow. And yet that’s exactly what fish roe can do for skin: lift and firm facial features that are depleted of moisture.

That’s because caviar is nutrient-rich, containing loads of calcium (twice as much as milk) and omega-3, an essential fatty acid, which the body can’t make. Omega-3 is as good for the skin as it is for your diet. It protects collagen proteins, the skin’s mattress-like coils that provide firmness and become more brittle with sun exposure and age.

“The deeply hydrating properties of caviar cause a plumping effect that firms and lifts the skin,” explains Shawn Suzann Lopez, spa director of Silver Rain, a La Prairie Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, which offers a 90-minute Caviar Facial. Caviar’s status as a sumptuous delicacy is just a bonus.

During the service at this Swiss Alps–inspired spa — the entrance is a dramatic illuminated quartzite glacier — the skin absorbs more caviar than a diner in New York’s Russian Tea Room. After cleansing, steaming and exfoliating, an elaborate eye massage is performed with the Caviar Luxe Eye Lift Cream: Your facialist swirls small chilled globes around your eye area, brows and temples, which helps to de-puff and drain away dark under-eye circles. Next, product-dispensing eye patches laced with caviar extracts are applied to lines and wrinkles. While the rest of the face is thoroughly moisturized with a Skin Caviar Crystalline Concentre, hands and feet are slathered with the Skin Caviar Luxe Body Cream and placed in warmed mitts and booties for the duration of the facial. The result is dewy, moisturized skin. All the benefits of caviar, sans silver spoon.

The Spa at The RItz-Carlton, Denver

The Crisis: Seasonal-Induced Breakouts
The Cure: Smoothing And Balancing Peel

Denver, CO

While everyone tends to think of acne as a problem of too much oil, it’s really dryness that works against skin, particularly in adults. So if you have acne-prone skin, then winter’s seasonal aridity can exacerbate the issue, causing redness and spurring on breakouts, says Dennis Gross, M.D., a New York City dermatologist and founder of DG Skincare. “When skin is dry, the dead skin cells can block pores, impeding a normal healthy flow of oil and incubating the acne-causing bacteria in the skin, leading to acne,” he says. Using astringent acne products meant for teenagers or, conversely, anti-aging creams that are too rich, can also interfere with finding a balance for clear, well-hydrated skin. A popular course of action, then, is a facial treatment that can prevent the blocked oil gland from forming in the first place. That’s the tack taken by The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Denver, “where the dry climate is one of the biggest challenges for winter,” says lead aesthetician Kristy Roberts.

The 50-minute Alpha Beta Peel is designed to be a skin clearing, balancing and hydrating attack against breakouts. These steps all support the main event — the Alpha Beta Peel, a cocktail of calibrated alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids (including malic, lactic, glycolic and salicylic), which your facialist sweeps over your face and then neutralizes a few moments later. (There’s no downtime required.) Together, these acids exfoliate dead skin cells, boost collagen production and help clear pores. In fact, salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid, is one of the few acne drugs that’s been proved to penetrate the pore and clear blockages. (It also shares a common chemical ancestor with aspirin, which results in a calming effect on the skin.) Good news for those with mature skin that still breaks out: the peel has an anti-aging effect, as well. Gross, who makes the peel, recommends the treatment every 30 days, about in synch with the natural process of skin cell turnover. A milder version of this two-step peel meant for daily use at home can help maintain clear skin and open pores — as can the right light moisturizer, and the return of summer’s restorative humidity.

The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles

The Crisis: Dull, Lifeless Skin Tone
The Cure: Fruit-Enzyme Revitalization Treatment

Los Angeles, CA

A radiant complexion is hard-won, particularly in winter, when the elements conspire to deaden our natural vibrancy. And that’s not counting lack of sleep, water and downtime. “In L.A. we see a lot of travel-weary skin. People are rushing around during the holidays. They’re tired, their skin’s thirsty, and their wellness is not in a nice place,” says Kate Morrison, spa director at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles. In theory, switching off your laptop and cell phone for an 80-minute spa treatment should go a long way toward helping restore what a few too many flights have taken from your face. But exfoliating helps tremendously, too. That’s the philosophy behind the Eminence Organics Facial.

Fittingly for citrus country, this revitalizing treatment — a “stimulating exfoliation” flanked by a deep-pore cleanse and hydrating mask — relies on fruit. When you exfoliate skin you’re shaking loose the lackluster cells on top to reveal the plumper ones beneath, a process that happens naturally but becomes much more sluggish as we age. The enzymes in the Eminence Organics Yam and Pumpkin Peel — from pumpkin, papaya and pineapple — literally digest the protein bonds that hold dead skin cells together. The fresh, new layer, which is already hydrated and therefore reflects light better, appears luminous and even in tone.

The finishing flourish is a brightening and hydrating Stone Crop Masque, named for the skin-calming botanical it contains. Lemon extract and honey continue the course of naturally boosting brightness, while a blend of vitamins A, E, Ester C, coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid acts like an antioxidant chaser, giving back nutrients to your just-exfoliated skin. Afterward you glow as if lit from within.