The 70-Year-Old Facial That Still Rocks

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Two days into my fabulous Parisian getaway, on the hunt for European beauty trends, I got appendicitis. Nothing teaches you more about French culture than a four-day stint at a hospital, but surgery and cute male nurses aside, there was one thing that really grabbed my attention: How flawless French women’s skin is.

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A healthy complexion, I’m told, is one of the most important parts of a Parisian woman’s beauty look. So even when they’re kissing cheeks to greet each other, exposing skin to the elements, or nursing people back to health, they always have beautiful skin. Needless to say, I had to find out the secret to this perfect complexion, and so after I’d recovered, I was directed toward the Guerlain Spa in Paris.

Guerlain Spa is the oldest beauty institute in the world, having opened their doors in 1939. While beauty treatments were obviously available centuries before, Guerlain was the first to create a Spa dedicated entirely to women and their beauty. “Women weren’t taking care of their skin then,” said Spa Manager Sandrine Andrieu. The idea was, “if we could help these women to feel beautiful again, they would look and feel healthier. We wanted them to experience a combination of beauty and well-being.” Thanks to the surgery, I had felt nothing but icky for days, and so I had to put this magic facial, which costs 145 € (roughly $183), to the test.

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The Radiance Facial, a shorter version of the Complete Facial, begins with a warm water foot massage. Clearly catching my confusion, my aesthetician said it helps women relax. She was right. After she gave me a gown and guided me down the halls of a beautifully restored spa (which used to be home to the Guerlain family), the facial began in a room where big, château-like windows open into a blooming garden. Each aesthetician comes to Guerlain already certified, but then undergoes a vigorous training to master the Guerlain “technique.”

“We’re very [meticulous] about our technique,” said Sandrine. It includes a massage that releases tension in your face by pressing major pressure points, followed by a mask, and if needed, some exercises to loosen the tense muscles in your face. “It’s a way of detoxing the face,” Sandrine added.

So, who should try this facial? Basically anyone. Each one is custom built around your skin’s needs, and you don’t really even need to discuss it with the facialist. My aesthetician was taking care of my face before I could even say “oily t-zone.”

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An hour later, I was a totally revamped person. With all the hospital dirt totally out of my system and a glowing complexion, I felt like the beauty blogger I was when I arrived in Paris. But it wasn’t just the facial that I loved, it was how the whole experience made me feel: more beautiful, more positive and ready to take on the rest of the day. No wonder they haven’t changed their methods in over 70 years.

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