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The Total You
Lorri's Magic Touch
by Nirmala Nataraj on Mar 24, 2006
When Lorri Levy-Comer decided over 20 years ago that she wanted to get into the business of helping people get radiant skin, her beauty philosophy was a mixture of common sense and lots of personalized attention. Lorri's unassuming haven of beauty, The Total You, still keeps in line with her no-nonsense holistic approach to paring years off tired, overprocessed skin, and the touch of this friendly neighborhood aesthetician is still as informed as ever.
If you walk past the quiet corner of 20th Street that Lorri currently inhabits, you're likely to walk right past the studio, which is only open for appointments. But enter the inner sanctum and you're met with a vision of cozy yet lavish touches with the intimate feel of a boudoir: marbled walls in muted earth tones, turmeric-hued divans, and shelves full of colorful potions which clue you into Lorri's commitment to using only the best products on her clients.
While she admits that the current location of The Total You (which used to operate out of Potrero Hill and now lies smack in the Mission) makes for a more exclusive operation, Lorri says that her clientele are fairly regular. "It's been 20 years, so a lot of my clients have been aging right along with me," she quips.
Getting a treatment from Lorri usually entails a couple hours of pampering, but with the intention of educating you rather than giving you a quick beauty fix. "I try to inject a dose of common sense into my treatments," she says. "There's so much information at people's fingertips -- with magazines and the Internet -- but for a lot of people, there's no place to go with all that knowledge. Also, now you have things like Restalin or Botox, extreme procedures for people who want a quick fix. It's very difficult for people out there to now get a professional to personalize a treatment for him or her."
Lorri's approach is not only customized, but also stresses the importance of maintaining a solid daily regimen. "Skincare is very much about trial and error -- not everything works the same way for each person." Additionally, she says, hormonal changes such as fluctuations in a woman's menstrual cycle, or the use of birth control, mean that the same product may have different effects at different times of the month.
According to Lorri, it takes at least 28 days to see results after changing the products you use, so it's important to be in it for the long haul. "It's a learning process and a patience process," she asserts. "I always tell my clients to be patient and ask a lot of questions. If you don't like the program you're on, you can always find another one that works for you."
Lorri uses a medley of different skin products -- as evidenced by her extensive collection -- but two in particular consistently find their way into the treatment room: G.M. Collin, a derma-corrective skincare line whose products contain substances like vitamin A and vitamin C to postpone visible signs of aging and fight free radical damage; and Glymed Plus, a physician-created line with ingredients like salicylic acid and lactic peels, which addresses active skin problems like acne.
"I also customize my treatments depending on what someone likes," Lorri says. For example, if someone wants a fruity treatment, she might use a raspberry enzyme and peach mask. "It's important for me to make a treatment both cleansing and aesthetically pleasing."
The menu is modest, but contains several distinctive treatments such as Botinol, a new signature treatment from G.M. Collin, which combines retinol with five peptides for an anti-aging effect, leading to the eradication of both superficial and deep wrinkles and the increased production of collagen.
Another perennial favorite is the Chocolate Enzyme Facial, an anti-acne treatment from Dr. Pugliese that's both delicious and calming. I myself get the Raspberry Enzyme Facial from the Circadia line -- an exfoliating treatment with anti-inflammatory properties. Lorri's administration is thorough, and her touch predictably therapeutic. Her meticulous extractions and gentle application of creams and masks are accompanied by a vigorous facial massage, which makes my skin positively luminous at the end of the hour.
Relaxing as the treatment is, Lorri's encouragement of questions and her interest in helping her clientele fashion a doable skincare regimen means that the time we spend together is chockfull of helpful skin tips.
A recurring problem Lorri sees in her clients is adult acne, which she largely attributes to environmental damage. "A lot of people may think they're doing things that are good for them, like drinking lots of water and eating the right food…but water might contain toxic substances like chloramine, and so much of our food is genetically enhanced. All of these things affect your skin," explains Lorri.
Aside from the basic tips, like drinking lots of water ("If you don't, your organs will take it from your skin, because your skin holds most of your body's water," says Lorri) and wearing sunscreen every day, Lorri also has information that's not as straightforward, such as the fact that dry skin is just as susceptible to acne as those with oily skin. "If your pores don't have some lubrication, they can get clogged," she says.
Waxing, paraffin dips, and ear piecing are some of the other offerings you can expect at The Total You. When you make an appointment, just be sure to block a few hours of your time -- the service and the information you'll glean will be worth it.
by Nirmala Nataraj on Mar 24, 2006
Images courtesy Lorri Levy-Comer