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Summer Skincare: Put Your Best Face Forward

Blue Turtle Spa and Le Sanctuaire

As you’ve likely experienced, summer in the city can be muy caliente, which also means that sunbathing in your bikini with a margarita in hand can lead to parched, dehydrated, and generally woebegone skin. Not to worry, though; the two skincare specialists below, who have dispensed their knowledge to cadres of satisfied clients over the years, are happy to help you maintain that dewy radiance and garner envious comments, to boot.

Blue Turtle Spa

Blue Turtle Spa’s mission is simple: to feed and nourish the skin, reduce bodily toxins, help you relax, and center your mind and spirit. If that sounds like a tall order, you haven’t met Andrew Scoular yet. Regarded as less of an aesthetician and more of a miracle worker by many of his clients, Andrew’s amalgamation of leisurely spa rituals and his staggering skincare know-how keep both his West Portal and Outer Richmond locations packed with customers in need of more than just a quick beauty fix.

While Andrew’s approach to skincare is more about educating his clients on why their current products might actually be doing more to damage or clog their pores than demanding any major lifestyle overhauls, his aesthetic métier is definitely one that asks visitors to get off their butts and do a little research if they want long-term results. Andrew, whose membership in the Society of Cosmetic Chemists and his knowledge of cosmetic ingredients give him a little more street cred than most aestheticians, maintains that “each skin is unique…all Italian skin is not the same, all male skin is not the same, all 40-year-old skin is not the same…don’t be fooled by marketing. Matching the right ingredients to the uniqueness of each skin takes a lot of learning and understanding.”

While a visit to Andrew is likely to burst the bubble around all the skincare hype that product lines love to dish out, his deeper understanding of the skin’s physiology is enough to make you certain your pores are in good hands. Andrew’s approach includes a thorough consultation with clients before they climb into the treatment bed. This means going over the ingredients in the products they currently use, educating them on which ingredients might be working for or against their skin conditions, and introducing them to products that could help them achieve their skincare goals.

If you want him to, Andrew will gladly suffuse your brain with lots of details and tips while you’re supine, but that doesn’t mean a Blue Turtle experience is purely clinical. The airy treatment rooms ooze with tranquility--not to mention, you get to pick your own spa soundtrack and have your senses seduced by calming aromatherapy botanicals. My treatment with Andrew was a customized Controlling Facial, which focuses on deep-pore cleansing and exfoliating with an enzyme peel and Beta Hydroxy peel to prevent acne blemishes. A purifying clay mask, antibacterial oregano oil to kill inflammatory bacteria, nearly painless extractions, and plenty of hydrating gels and antioxidant baths made the facial as close to perfect as one can get.
While 90 minutes with Andrew is enough to jostle your skincare misconceptions considerably, it would probably take a few years and countless cosmetic chemical seminars to figure out what to do and what not to do to your skin. Luckily, Andrew’s skincare philosophy is about simplicity. Rather than changing every aspect of your lifestyle, it can sometimes be merely about incorporating one great product into your three-minute routine. And of course, following a few of Andrew’s most valuable tips:

1) No strong detergent cleansers (i.e., sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium lareth sulfate, sarconates, etc.): According to Andrew, they’re way too harsh. Hydrophilic (water-loving), oil-based cleansers are the best ones.
2) Glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids in cleansers are just marketing gimmicks: “Water negates the effect of the acid in its job of exfoliating the skin, so all that a strong cleanser will do is cause the skin to operate outside its comfort zone,” says Andrew. He recommends using exfoliants as separate treatments post-cleansing.
3) A mineral (inorganic) sunscreen with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide is a must: Unlike non-mineral, “organic” sunscreens like avobenzone, these compounds don’t break down in the presence of UV rays from the sun. Andrew’s favorite sun protectant is TiZo3 Solar Protection (SPF40), which leaves a smooth and silky matte finish on the skin.

Le Sanctuaire

Simply walking into aesthetician Rebecca Whitworth’s cozy bodega, tucked away in a nondescript alcove of Potrero Hill, is enough to calm the most harried senses and allow you to forget the big bad world of deadlines, sleep deprivation, and other deadly agents of aging. Whitworth’s diminutive yet opulent studio, stocked with floral bric-a-brac and other soothing accents, is the kind of place that emblematizes her tri-part skincare philosophy of purity, balance, and compassion.

Skincare services at this petite hideaway, which tend to attract visitors by word of mouth rather than voluble advertising, include the best of both worlds: results-oriented treatments for skin that needs serious reenergizing, and a hedonistic multi-sensory experience that stems directly from Rebecca’s background as a healer. Rebecca, who exudes a girlish warmth and administers her services based on intuition, describes her journey through skincare as one that began in an attempt to address her own challenged skin during adolescence.

“I learned that what I was doing internally was crucial,” she says. “The digestive system had so much to do with how my skin looked and felt.” This got Rebecca into teaching digestive therapy as it relates to aging, which eventually set her off in a multitude of directions, including aromatherapy and energetic/spiritual healing. Since 1994, Rebecca has been incorporating her knowledge of beauty and holistic wellness into her skincare practice.

Intimate touches like sage and lavender-soaked warm towels, healing river stones placed on chakra points, and gentle massage are incorporated into Rebecca’s facials, which clients aptly refer to as “journeys.” When I visited Rebecca, I was treated to a medley of yummy-smelling potions, soothing essential oils, and sleep-inducing facial massage—in addition to lots of impurity-zapping extractions to temper all the relaxation. “Since I work intuitively, what I do on one person I won’t necessarily do on someone else,” Rebecca explains. “The way I work, I do things on a client that I would want to be done on myself…but it’s also about engulfing myself in the customer’s experience, being thoughtful and caring about what it is they need.”

Of course, a Le Sanctuaire facial ain’t merely about getting the kind of deeply relaxing treatment that’ll have you stumbling into the sunlight all disoriented and nap-happy. Rebecca’s mixture of natural products, essential oils, customized peels, and results-based chemicals (what she refers to as “science and nature mixed together”) paired with her knowledge of how digestive enzymes affect the skin are major aspects of her work. “I love energy work but I also love cleaning up skin,” she says. “It’s a long-lasting relationship that I build with clients…especially when it comes to thinking about all the different aspects of skincare, like digestive enzymes, which you are not likely to come across unless you are talking to someone with a background in naturopathy.”

Over the years, Rebecca has hand-selected products from multiple lines, but the piece de resistance of Le Sanctuaire is L’Huile de Grace, an all-natural essential oil-based serum that she developed six years ago. The oil, which focuses on cellular regeneration and penetrates the skin with a cocktail of nutrients to promote a soft, youthful glow, hails from ingredients that haven’t been chemically altered in any way, including neroli, geranium, vetiver, cardamom, and “Sangre de Drago,” an exclusively bottled sap from the Amazonian rainforest that contains what scientists consider the most potent class of antioxidants in the world.

It would be fairly accurate to refer to the serum as something of a magic potion, because it works on all kinds of skin and acts as far more than your run-of-the-mill moisturizer. For instance, it prevents dehydration and loss of epidermal water—even in oily skin, which tends to get dehydrated despite overactive sebaceous glands. In fact, using my trial-sized sample of the oil garnered visible results in two weeks, zapping zits and reducing greasiness in one fell swoop.

“I tell my clients to use it because I know there’s nothing else like it,” Rebecca says. While keeping skin hydrated and balanced, L’Huile de Grace also gives you an extra lipid layer, which means that you get additional sun protection on top of your regular sunscreen. While you can order Rebecca’s L’Huile de Grace through her website, you just might want to pay her a visit—magic potion notwithstanding, the experience just isn’t complete without some requisite R&R and healing.