When it comes to skin care, the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have created a perfect storm. Masks and stress are causing skin irritation, and thanks to the deluge of video conferences involved in remote work, we’ve never spent more time looking at ourselves. Meanwhile, the past several months have seen estheticians unable to treat clients in person. Luckily for those whose skin is desperate for attention, some of the top facialists and skin care lines have developed high-end treatments and services that can be done remotely, allowing clients to get a professional treatment without leaving home. While some will guide you through a true facial, coaching you through mask application and massage techniques, others offer holistic consultations about existing habits in order to finesse your routine. And of course, the silver lining is that no matter where you are, you can now receive expert advice from a skin specialist in London, Paris, or New York. Below are nine of the best facial treatments available virtually.
FaceGym brands itself not as a facial, but rather, as a workout. Though the ‘trainers’ are estheticians, they are specifically skilled in whipping and pinching your face into its most lifted and illuminated version. The facial fitness spot has locations in London, Manchester, New York, and Los Angeles, and as of October, a permanent virtual site, too. For the most dramatic results, you’ll purchase a collection of tools to be delivered ahead of your appointment. The session will begin with a demonstration of how to roll a rubber ball across your face and decolletage (a surprisingly soothing activity), before applying a friction-activated serum. Further techniques involve swiping a gua sha stone beneath the chin to target mask-related acne, rolling a textured gold tool over your face and neck to address fine lines, and using an electrical stimulation device to tone muscles. While the massage offers relaxation benefits, the true payoff is a revived, flushed, and de-puffed visage.
iS Clinical Fire & Ice Professional Facial
Candace Marino, better known as The LA Facialist, calls this the “red carpet facial,” because it’s a favorite of her A-list clients before events. The “fire” is a resurfacing mask, but the “ice”—a cooling mask applied immediately after—eliminates peeling and redness. This kit, created when the pandemic forced estheticians to close their doors, is the same as Marino and others who work with the line would provide their clients in person, with the small caveat that the resurfacing mask is slightly less potent, and therefore, safer at home. Even so, the kit is only available with a professionally guided session, given its salon-strength results. Though each vial and jar is numbered for ease, an experienced facialist still guides you through the bespoke experience. Marino monitors your skin’s response to the masks, advises how much product to apply, and explains the purpose of the high-strength serums, with the goal of unveiling your exceptionally radiant complexion.
To buy: Price contingent on vendor, isclinical.com
Melanie Simon is known for using electricity to treat skin, leaving her clients’ faces glowing and lifted. She’s no longer accepting new clients, but fortunately, she’s made her treatments accessible to luxury skin care enthusiasts around the world. Alongside a former Silicon Valley engineer, Simon created the ZIIP. It’s a small, handheld device that uses nano and microcurrent technology to encourage circulation, healing, and collagen production, among other benefits. ZIIP syncs with the app when hovered over a phone, automatically opening a video of Simon teaching your chosen program (which range from acne clearing to pigmentation reduction to an “instant gratification” face sculpt). On contact with your skin, the device emits a tingling sensation, vibrating when it’s ready to move to the next spot on your face and beeping to mark the halfway point. Expect a surprisingly easy experience, and clear, tightened, and brightened skin.
To buy: From $480, ziipbeauty.com
French model Caroline de Maigret co-authored the book “How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are”—and part of the secret, as it turns out, is her Paris-based facialist. Sophie Carbonari studied in the south of France, before training in Japanese face-lifting massage techniques in London. In the treatment room, she’ll create a bespoke experience using a combination of movements and homemade products. While she can’t replicate that magic virtually, she does offer consultations, digging into her clients’ lifestyle to develop customized routines based on their needs. She’ll then link to video tutorials, so her clients can attempt those inspired movements from home.
To book: From €200 (approximately $236), sophiecarbonari.com
About 10 years ago, Athena Hewett opened a small studio in a cottage, treating clients with her own oil-based skin care, and mixing enzymes on the spot. Finally, she started selling a handful of her products, and then began packaging them for a larger market. The result is a super-chic line of natural, organic oils designed to transform the skin. Immediately before COVID-19 hit, Hewett took her business a step further, opening a three-room spot in San Francisco. Though they are now offering in-person services, she has also created an at-home kit including a cleansing oil, a face oil, and a glycolic gel, as well as a handful of masks from the “back bench”—products normally available only in the treatment rooms. Clients can purchase a kit and leave a seven-day window to book with an esthetician who will then guide them through the process, creating a luxe treatment for a next-level pampering experience.
To book: Intense Brightening Set, $245, monasterymade.com; Treatments from $125, monasterymade.com
Aside from her work with celebrity clients, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bündchen, London-based Nichola Joss is best known for her “inner facial,” a technique in which she massages the inside of the mouth to encourage lymphatic drainage, resulting in refreshed, glowing skin. Her virtual massage tutorials are customized to her clients’ needs and goals. She also offers consultations, discussing nutrition and current products, and shaping clients’ home routines into sharper, more appropriate regimens. (Joss explains that people have been “candy shopping” for skin care during lockdown, often over purchasing and using the wrong products.) She works with a vast number of skin care lines as opposed to just a handful of products, meaning she’ll recommend what she truly sees as best for the client, and then ship the product. She also provides a few short, complimentary follow ups to make sure her clients are achieving their skin care goals.
To book: From £200 (approximately $236), nicholajoss.com
Handbag designer-turned-esthetician Sofie Pavitt was originally drawn to skin care during her frequent visits to South Korea, a country known for advancements in the skin and beauty space. She’s developed a cult following for her incredible results on acne-prone clients (she previously worked alongside a dermatologist to truly understand the condition). Clients are required to send photos, and the consultation is what Pavitt calls “detective work”—she inquires about routines, diet, and lifestyle in an effort to figure out the acne culprit before designing and shipping a routine, or, for clients overseas, helping to find appropriate products locally. She is not new to working online, having begun seeing clients virtually while on maternity leave last year. She now does three or four virtual appointments each day, and dedicates her entire Friday to virtual clients.
To book: Acne consultation from $100, sofiepavitt.com
Inspired by her grandfather, a pharmacist in Macau who merged western and Chinese medicines, facialist and acupuncturist Ada Ooi has long been focused on the idea that healthy skin reveals internal wellness. Her skill has earned her celebrity clientele in London, where she is based, but those stateside are now able to receive her wisdom, too. In a 30-minute appointment, she’ll discuss your lifestyle and examine your tongue for insight into your overall health. Ooi will then focus on product choices, teach massage and application techniques, and offer recommendations based on traditional Chinese medicine.
To book: From £150 (approximately $195), adaooi.com
Tata Harper Concierge
For those looking for all-natural skin care, Tata Harper’s line is a perfect choice. The elegant frosted green glass bottles are accented with gold lids and yellow labeling, and filled with herbaceous and floral-scented creams and oils originating from Harper’s garden. To begin, schedule a consultation with the line’s concierge service: after discussing your skin type, concerns, and your current routine, they will recommend a morning and evening routine to get your skin in top shape. Although the consultation is aimed at a full routine, the finishing touches—a plush towel embroidered with the Tata Harper logo, Finnish Hukka stones for calming tired eyes, and a cupping set for lifting and sculpting—make for a luxurious spa experience. Harper also teaches Instagram lives for those who want a bit more guidance on technique.
To book: Concierge service included in cost of products, tataharperskincare.com