BY KRISTIN WALTERS
I’ve spent two winters in Tokyo, and my skin has really suffered from the driest air I have experienced outside the deserts of Arizona. Cracked fingers, a sullen-looking face, and chapped lips have been with me for months. However, juggling my life in Tokyo does not leave much room for bodily self-improvement, especially when I need to make an appointment to do so. When I had the opportunity to get a facial, my first thoughts were, “Wow, I could really use a touch-up on my face!” and “Wait, this is probably a bit too luxurious for me.” Then, when I had the opportunity to get an organic facial, I thought this was worth investigating. My facial analysis and treatment at Elana Jade Organic Salon in Azabu-Juban made me realise that facials are not just luxuries—they are necessary for the right upkeep of your skin.
When I first came to Elana Jade, I noticed that the salon was a very serene place. The staff member who greeted me gave me some paperwork and asked me what I preferred for a post-treatment drink. I then met with Elana Schmid, the owner of the salon, and she gave me a “customised experience,” which is guaranteed to all clients.
Elana really knows skin. She is a personal trainer and also has some nutrition training. After noticing that expatriate women in Tokyo often suffer from serious skin problems after arriving in Japan, she became certified in skin treatments. With her brother Nathan, she opened the Elana Jade Organic Salon in March 2010. Elana really makes the connections between eating, physical health, and skin. She emphasises the organic experience, using all organic products, because of her belief that skin needs to be nourished in the healthiest way possible. Skin recognises what organic products are (as opposed to PEG-6 methyl ether and pentasodium pentetate…) and will drink them and be nourished.
Elana brought me to an analysis room, where she did a simple cleansing of my face. Then, the big camera came out. Elana uses this analysis called BTBP (BrighTex Bio-Photonics) Skin Advisor System, which is a pretty scientific way of looking at your skin. Elana first asked me what my concerns were about my skin. I said, rather matter-of-factly, that my 38-year old skin has seen better days: I have wrinkles, some weird pigmentation, and dryness. She explained that skin is the largest organ in our body and has 22 functions. In comparison, the liver, which is the next busiest organ, only has five functions. Our body gives skin the least amount of attention. Water, oxygen, and energy, the necessities for our skin, are really only replenished at night, specifically from about 10pm through 2am. (Everyone needs to sleep more!)
This BTBP analysis provided some (scary) photos of myself: a redness map, a wrinkle map, a pigment map, enlarged pores, and a treated vs. untreated comparison. With these maps, I was able to see vascular damage in my skin, some emerging, fine, and deep wrinkles, and how many enlarged pores I have on my face. (for those who are counting, I have 1,172 enlarged pores, and that is normal!) Elana pointed out the areas of concern, but she was very quick to point out that my skin has many good qualities. Whew. I was beginning to think all was lost. One of the key things I learned was that there is a huge difference between dry (lack of oil) versus dehydrated (lack of water) skin. I had always thought my skin was dry, but it’s really just dehydrated (and therefore I was using some inappropriate products). We discussed some ideas for future treatments, and I felt really at ease.
After our discussion, my facial treatment was about to begin. Elana chose the signature “anti-age” facial for me. That nomenclature was a bit sobering for me, as I’m still in shock that I’m closer to 40 than 30. Elana’s treatment certainly did not make me feel like an old lady. It was 60 minutes of luxury.
Before she even started on my face, I knew this facial would be different than others I’ve had (or heard about). She placed hot stones in my hands and between my toes. This really made my limbs relax. Using products that were a good match for my skin (with a variety of essential oils), she did the following to my face: cleanse, exfoliate, peel, mask, tone, and moisturise. Here’s one of the neat things about this facial: while the peel and mask were doing their duties, Elana massaged my arms and feet. When she applied the toner to my face, it was like walking in a garden of roses. Most toners I’ve used in the past are stinky and sting my skin. Not this toner; it was incredibly gentle.
Let me fill you in on Elana’s secret during the facial. She uses a lifting technique while applying some of these steps. She literally lifts the skin toward the hairline. With gravity having taken its toll on my face, I feel like my skin got an amazing workout with Elana. In fact, once my facial was finished, I noticed that some color and radiance had returned to my face. Hello! I haven’t seen you in a while.
Once I was done with the treatment, Elana told me about some skin care regimes for both morning and evening. She recommended five steps in the morning and four in the evening. I first thought, “I don’t have time for this!” Elana has timed these steps: two and a half minutes in the morning and two minutes in the evening. So no one has an excuse! She recommended August Organics products for each step, yet there was no hard sale on any products or treatments at her salon. She works with clients on their current products of choice and tries to fill in the gaps.
Elana’s products are all organic, and she tailors them to each client’s need. I was actually quite shocked to see how affordable they were (ranging from about ¥3,000 to ¥6,000). Elana said that she keeps the prices low so as to make sure her clients are all able to afford these products and keep their skin healthy.
In addition to the facials (check out the “tough love” facial!) that Elana offers, there are waxing and massage treatments, all with organic products. The majority of her clientele are expatriate women, yet the number of Japanese women is increasing steadily. Men used to make up 11 percent of her customers, but in the last quarter, this rose to 30 percent. Their favourite treatment is the hot stone massage.
With Elana Jade’s location on the main Azabu-Juban shopping street and its convenient hours (open until 9 pm on weekdays), there is an easy way for Tokyo residents to add some life back to their faces (and the rest of their bodies). www.elanajade.com