Winterize your skin

“Sacre” Rand at the Skin Sanctuary

How to keep your skin healthy and hydrated while enjoying the season

Now that winter approaches and with it all the end-of-the-year festivities, it’s the perfect time to beautify yourself. Taos offers a variety of places where you can be pampered, energized and rejuvenated… all that while enjoying a ski vacation or simply spending some free time browsing the tienditas in town.

An essential part of the beautification process includes the proper care and protection of the skin in the dry mountain climate of New Mexico.

At The Skin Sanctuary of Taos, conveniently located within walking distance to Taos Plaza, the friendly staff makes you feel welcome the moment you enter. As office manager Pat Brown put it, “It’s the people who make a place special. Danny Neifert (the owner) has also created a peaceful and nourishing atmosphere that enhances the spa experience for all our clients.”

Sarah “Sacre” Rand is the spa’s esthetician. A tall, youthful looking blonde with an ebullient personality, she shares some tips to keep the skin hydrated during the dry New Mexico winter.

Protect

“First, apply sunscreen,” she said. “It’s obvious, but sometimes people forget it. They think that sunscreen is not necessary because it is cold here, and end up badly burned. I have seen many unsuspecting tourists, particularly skiers, in that case. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. And the best kind? “The one you are willing to put on,” she said.

Hydrate

One should moisturize too, of course, but that is not enough. Simply applying a layer of a moisturizer, no matter how fancy, won’t cut the mustard. There is another very important, albeit less known product, that helps to keep the skin hydrated and supple. It is called hyluronic acid and its function is to stimulate the tissues’ water retention capabilities. It should be applied before any moisturizer in order to lock in the water molecules. “It acts as the best delivery system of water into the skin,” Rand said.

Pack away beauty

The Skin Sanctuary is also offering special winter packs and nutritive masks that reduce the stress caused by the wind and the sun. The packs can be combined with any of the other treatments that the spa offers.

The Signature Custom Facial is one of the most popular ones. After Rand finished it, I felt refreshed, renewed and totally revitalized. She truly took years off my skin! Rand is an expert in restoring vitality to the skin without stressing it. The mask she used, a Hungarian product called ILIKE, had all the fragrances of a spring garden… and it looked like one, too. “Here, after you have a facial, you become family,” she said.

Brush and flush

Essential Massage and Spa Therapies are located 824 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, just north of Guadalajara Grill. It just celebrated its tenth anniversary. Over a cup of soothing warm tea, the proprietress and licensed massage therapist, Kyoko Hummel, reminded me that the skin is our largest organ. “When it ‘breathes’ right, it eliminates a lot of metabolic waste,” she said. “That’s preferable to getting hives and rashes!”

“Vibrant skin comes from the inside out,” she said. “Healthy food and plenty of water keep it supple and radiant.”

Proper elimination is fundamental, too. One of the services offered by the spa is colon hydrotherapy. This popular procedure uses water to cleanse and tonify the colon and contributes to overall health and wellness.

Dry brushing is a good way to slough off dead skin cells and promote lymph circulation. “The skin feels softer and breathes better without the dry dermal layer,” said Kyoko. “Get a natural-bristle, long-handle brush. Before bathing, brush the skin using circular strokes. Start at the feet, use clock-wise strokes on the stomach and brush down the neck toward the heart. If you choose to brush the face, use a smaller, softer brush on your cheeks. Afterwards, take a warm bath or shower. End with a cool water rinse to invigorate the blood circulation and close the pores.  It’s a great way to keep skin supple and healthy during the winter.”

Ananda Kali, also a massage therapist and the spa’s the esthetician, chimes in. “Another wonderful treatment is moist exfoliation. You can do it in the shower.  Put a fair amount of an essential oil on your skin (the size of a quarter); then put sea salt in your hand too and rub them. Rinse everything off. This removes all the dead cells and gives you a healthy flow.”

“The products do not have to be very expensive,” she said. “The most important thing is that they are effective, not how much they cost.”

Rock it!

Nothing is more comforting than the feeling of warm, smooth rocks over your skin, particularly after spending a long day outside in the cold air. The Essential River Rocks Massage starts with a traditional massage, then uses heated basalt rocks to help tight muscles release.

I had come in with a sore back (too much time in front of the computer) and I literally felt the stress leaving my body as Ananda firmly, yet gently, rubbed my back with the rocks. I felt relaxed, soothed and definitely ultra pampered. I recommend this kind of massage anytime, summer or winter. It’s a year-around treat!

Ananda’s Winter Skin Care Tips

Wear sunscreen.
Wear sunglasses.
Watch intense temperature changes that can cause capillary damage (rosacea).
Wash your face in warm (not hot) water.
Use a mild cleanser instead of soap. Regular bath soap is irritating and can over dry the skin.
Avoid toners that contain alcohol (it’s drying, too).
Prefer hydrating masks over clay-based masks that dry out the skin.
Use moisturizer twice a day if you are outside.
Put oil inside the nose to avoid nose bleeding. There are herbal oils especially formulated for the nose at health stores, but you can use regular olive oil too.
To heal dry, chapped skin, use clear Aloe jell and high potency Vitamin E, available at drug stores.
Drink lots of water.
Avoid wet gloves and socks that can cause chapping.
Use a humidifier inside a heated home. Heated air dries the skin.

To reach The Skin Sanctuary of Taos call (575) 751-0037 or visit its website http://www.skinsanctuaryoftaos.com

To reach Essential Massage and Spa Therapies call (575) 751-4040 or visit its website http://www.taosessential.com

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