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Get Your 2009 Skincare On

The Best Facials

New Year’s resolutions are no longer a novelty, but for lots of indulgence-deprived folks, facials are. Certainly, juggling your beauty needs against a mile-long list of other priorities (beating the recession, for one) is going to take some practice, but as seasonal wear and tear takes its toll, you might find yourself using those Starbucks dollars for a loftier cause. Here are three aestheticians whose innovative approaches to skincare have many a guy and gal thanking the gods of glowing complexions.

Kimberly Skin Care
Kimberly Padgett’s cozy skincare studio lies smack in the middle of the Pacific Wellness Center, an alternative health and wellness clinic that caters to the needs of fatigued and flagging city residents in need of a boost. Kimberly -- who offers everything from chemicals peels to Reiki -- was drawn to her work “out of a desire to connect with people one on one using my hands.”

Whether you’re getting some energy work, reflexology, or one of Kimberly’s “essential facials” (a customized treatment that includes exfoliating with enzymes and an alpha or beta hydroxy acid peel, in addition to a bunch of other calming serums and masks), Kimberly’s practically painless approach to treating the skin is good for extraction-wary clients in search of a gentler touch. That doesn’t mean she isn’t rigorous about results, though.

Kimberly’s new “Luminous Skin” treatment is all about giving people the fantasy skin they desire. The service includes an AHA peel, a mega-dose of vitamin C and Retinol, and a super-hydrating Norwegian seaweed mask. Naturally, there’s also a foot massage with a little bit of Reiki, which adds an extra element of relaxation and grounding.

Clients who are impressed by Kimberly’s deft knowledge of skincare may want to consider incorporating products from her “Kimberly” brand home care line. The line is mostly plant- and mineral-derived, and blends botanicals and natural ingredients like licorice and algae amino acids with active ingredients like retinol and glucosamine HCL (the latter are both effective wrinkle reducers), “allowing you to get maximum results with no irritation.”

The products are in line with Kimberly’s philosophy about skincare, which is all about balance: “There’s no need to go to extremes to treat the occasional breakout or the skin that seems to have aged five years overnight!” she says. Naturally, Kimberly’s not all about pushing a bevy of products onto stressed-out skin. Rather, she recommends visiting an aesthetician and stocking up on helpful tips before breaking the bank on skincare products that may not be useful.

“Take some time out each week to give yourself a good exfoliation followed by a nourishing mask; it will perk up your complexion by brightening and hydrating your skin,” Kimberly advises. “As in life, the kinder, more compassionate you are with yourself, the easier it is for the real you to shine through.”

Melissa Cope Skincare
There’s a good reason Melissa Cope has been dubbed “part facialist, part therapist” by her devoted retinue of clients, who come from far and wide to relish the results she cooks up in her Laurel Heights atelier. Melissa’s reassuring tableside manner is enough to remove any reticence about baring one’s pores -- wrinkles, rosacea, and all -- beneath the bright white light of scrutiny. Her approach is equal parts technology (e.g., her innovative hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the hottest new technique in skincare) and intuition.

Melissa, who began her career in the culinary sector because it gave her an opportunity to experiment with colors, textures and tastes in a meaningful way, eventually opted out of the high-pressure world of top chefdom, finding her calling in skincare instead. These days, Melissa (whose gaggle of clients includes debutantes, celebrities and working moms) finds skincare the most gratifying way to tap into her creative self. All treatments are customized, so you can bet that not only will Melissa be getting up in your face to check out the damage -- she’ll also find out what makes your skin tick by picking your brain about your stress levels, lifestyle choices, and daily routine.

Melissa treats everyone from teenage clients with severe acne to older men and women in search of reliable aging maintenance. But her most popular treatment, by far, is her hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), which lets you be queen for a day. HBOT has been used for decades in medicine, as studies have revealed that it detoxifies, promotes an optimal immune system, regenerates cells, and combats against aging. Celebs like Madonna and Eva Longoria swear by the non-invasive, all-natural technique, which works well on all skin types.

Melissa’s treatment, which utilizes the Intraceuticals line, plumps the skin with oxygen infusions carrying vitamins, antioxidants, and hydrating agents. These are delivered via topical hyperbaric oxygen, which helps all that other good stuff penetrate deep into your skin. There are a variety of different infusions available, depending on your skincare need (e.g., rosacea, dehydration, or hyperpigmentation and dark spots). After one treatment, I definitely felt that my skin was tauter and softer, but in general, a six-treatment regimen (pricier than a peel but way less than Botox) is recommended.

If you can’t immediately spring for the oxygen treatment, consider a makeup application or brow shaping, services that have made Melissa so popular that she now does house calls. You might have to wait a while before you can actually book a treatment with the in-demand maven, but don’t be too intimidated -- her unpretentious yet exacting approach to your skin will make it worth the wait.

Total Skincare by Andrea

Andrea Sanchez’s skincare studio, tucked discreetly away into a residential corner of Dolores Street, is a place where magic happens. That’s not just because of Andrea’s passion for the science of skin, or her calming demeanor. It’s also because she offers results-based services that are neither invasive nor harsh. Take her innovative signature facial, which uses Dermasound, a machine that exfoliates with water and pushes antioxidants deep into the pores -- working to slough away dead cells and plump up tired skin in minutes. After getting this treatment, I was pleased as punch with my reflection, which was radiant and practically poreless rather than red and bumpy.

Andrea’s cosmetic chemistry expertise is always evident, whether you’re getting a European-style facial or a chemical peel that caters to sensitive skin. The gentleness and efficiency of her treatments start with the medical-grade product lines she uses, Cosmedix and GlyMed (in addition to a private label line), which Andrea chose because of their applicability to a wide range of skin types, not to mention the fact that they are free of the kinds of corrosive chemicals which are harmful to people and the environment.

While Andrea’s magic hands are particularly appreciated by clients with adult acne, her most common skincare tips are ones that everyone can take heed of. Making sure you wear sunscreen on a daily basis (“Sun damage is the number one cause of premature aging, and using a drop in your makeup is not enough”), adequately moisturizing (“If you don’t, your skin will produce more oil to compensate”) and exfoliating regularly (“No harsh scrubs with almonds or apricot seeds! Use a treatment product with lactic acid, glycolic, or retinol in the evening for cell turnover”) are all crucial to gorgeous skin. But don’t worry -- Andrea won’t overload you with more details than you can handle. “ not in the business to just sell you products like they do in the department stores,” Andrea says. “ here to educate you so you can feel empowered to make good decisions for yourself.”