I must admit to having a soft spot for Clarins, as it was the first serious, as in “grown-up,” skincare line I purchased as a young editorial assistant. That was more than 25 years ago, not long after Clarins had debuted in the States. They’ve come a long way since then, partnering with Miraval, the renowned resort spa, to create a slew of new treatments (around 40, to be exact), and launching 14 Skin Spas that have popped up in select Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s across the country.
Last autumn, while visiting my sister in Massachusetts, I had the chance to stop in at the new Clarins Skin Spa that’s tucked away inside Bloomingdale’s Chestnut Hill Mall. Opened last year, it’s a cozy little jewel box of a space — a welcome respite from the department store’s floor. I loved the accessibility of the space, as well as the clean modern décor, a heavenly white that made me feel as though I was aboard a very nice ship of sorts.
You enter by opening a glass door off of the department store’s floor and step into a reception space, and then into the one perfectly good-sized treatment room that’s overseen by a seasoned and well-trained esthetician. You can choose from a number of topnotch facials, including the popular Youth Activator, an anti-aging treatment that gives your skin a natural “lift.” All facials now include an application of Double Serum, a new product that combines hydric and lipidic properties. (It’s adored by beauty editors; Elle editors actually gave it a “Genius Award” for its formulation.)
There is a distinct absence of machines at Clarins Skin Spas, and a special attention paid and importance given to manual, i.e., hand-based techniques that, when performed correctly, do wonders for your skin by boosting circulation and de-puffing through manual lymphatic drainage techniques. These are good, old-fashioned facials at their finest.
The company originated in Paris in 1954, started by a masseur, Jacques Courtin, who liked playing around with plants and who developed a unique massage method to boost circulation and firm the skin. (He worked with the wounded in hospitals during World War II, then trained in massage.) Back in the day, he developed his first products — body oils that were plant-based and preservative-free. The Tonic Oil, developed over 60 years ago, is still one of the brand’s top-sellers.
Today, his son Christian oversees the family biz. Plants still play a big role in the ingredients. “We believe in the power of plants,” shares Milana Knowles, director of spa development. “We understand consumers’ paraben concerns, and we’ve worked diligently to remove parabens from all of our products. Our vision is based in this statement: ‘The best product associated with the best methods, as often as possible.’”
I wish every department store had a little spa tucked away, it makes the whole experience that much nicer.
Mary Bemis is Founder & Editorial Director of InsidersGuidetoSpas.com. She is a pioneering spa journalist, most recently honored as one of the "Top 30 Influential Voices Transforming Wellness." She is an inaugural recipient of Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and was honored by ISPA with its distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She is a Global Wellness Day Advisor, and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.
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