Buff up that body: Bikini preparation
Summer is here and that means bikinis. But before you strut your stuff, here's how to look your best on the beach
If you've heard stories of painful defuzzing experiences, you'll be glad to know IPL (intense pulsed light) hair removal at Strip is stress-free. The treatment room is clean and inviting, and my beautician is friendly and efficient. After making sure the underarm hair is completely shaved and I've put my protective goggles on, she applies a layer of cooling gel onto my skin before moving the device around the area in circular motions. The gel is reapplied several times to ensure protection from the heat produced as pulses of intense light reach the follicles to disable cells responsible for hair growth, but it is normal to feel a warm and mild tingling sensation. The session ends with a slathering of the salon's Ice Cream, to calm and hydrate, though my skin doesn't feel any discomfort. The treatment can permanently remove hair (or reduce it for up to two years) depending on skin type. The hair will fall out in four weeks time and a total of six sessions is recommended for best results.
IPL underarm hair removal, HK$1,680, Strip (7/F & 9/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central; tel: 2845 0822)
Sense of Touch's new Summer Exotic Glow treatment is not for the body shy — you need to be very comfortable with your therapist — but on the other hand, after this treatment there isn't much reason why you wouldn't flaunt your bikini lines. It starts with a Brazilian, using a hard, dark blue wax. They use the correct technique and the pain is minimal. Then I move upstairs for dry brushing. The therapist uses quick strokes then runs her hand over the same area in a nice contrasting sensation. She then applies an Elemis lime and ginger salt scrub. It's a bit rough, with the consistency of coarse sand. I'm not really convinced about the scrub until I return to the massage table and she rubs in a flowery, tropical-scented balm. I feel like I've shed all my old skin. A pedicure with a choice of OPI nail colours and I'm basically skipping out the door.
Summer exotic glow treatment, HK$1,680, Sense of Touch (multiple locations)
LET US SPRAY
Unlike lounging under real ultraviolet rays or tanning beds, spray tanning is a safe option. The key to a getting a natural-looking, even glow is to scrub off moisturiser and skin care products first. The Beauty Place provides showers to get rid off any traces of deodorant or lotion. As a spray-tan virgin, I'm a bit timid so I go for a light level 2. Cream is applied to protect my nails, cuticles and other bits that don't naturally tan. For the next 10 minutes, the therapist expertly airbrushes my body. I cheekily ask her to sculpt lines on my stomach to create the look of more toned abs. I'm told to wait two hours before showering and they inform me that the colour can come off on things I touch, including my white skirt, which I made the rookie mistake of wearing. The next day, I'm a little concerned as the tan is a slightly more golden tone than I like, but the orange hint must not be too obvious as I get two unsolicited compliments from coworkers.
Spray tan session, HK$458, The Beauty Place, 3F Jade Centre, 98 Wellington Street, Central, inquiries: 2117 0003
HEAD TO TOE TREATS
For extra-effective pampering, The Oriental Spa has rolled two of its treatments into one: the chemical-free Sodashi facial, and Bastien Gonzalez's signature French pedicure. The moment I settle in, therapist Nicola Tam and studio manager Albin Brion get to work on my face and feet in perfect synergy. She uses hot towels to steam and slowly massage my face, while he works on dry feet, briskly and efficiently clipping and trimming, sanding and buffing. My face is cleansed, then a mud musk is applied. Brion uses a chamois buffer to give a healthy sheen to my nails. The treatment culminates in a simultaneous face and foot massage, which leaves me floating. Afterwards my face feels nourished but not greasy, and I barely recognise my feet. Instead of covering up my nails with a dollop of polish, Brion has massaged in a diamond dust paste, leaving them glossy and pink.
Bastien Gonzalez-Sodashi Pedi:Facial:Synergy, 75 minutes, HK$2,490 (weekdays)/HK$2,620 (weekends) plus 10 per cent service charge. The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road Central. Inquiries: 2132 0011
The Japanese Moisturise treatment at Sozo Hair Design in Central will give your hair a healthy-looking gloss. The three-step process doesn't use steam or heat. First, two products are applied to wet hair and left on for five minutes under cling wrap. After a rinse, the third is applied with a head massage. My hair, which is usually quite fine and frizzy, feels much smoother and tangles less easily afterwards. There seems to be a little more volume as well. Yoko, the stylist and salon owner, is very friendly and gives suggestions according to hair condition. For those with more unruly hair but who are too lazy to style daily, she recommends a hair straightening and repairing treatment by Lebel Plia Sweeque, a milder alternative to a Brazilian blowout or Japanese straightening.
Japanese Moisturise treatment, HK$700; Lebel Plia Sweeque treatment, HK$1,500 to HK$2,300, depending on hair length. Sozo Hair Design, 3/F Worldwide Commercial Building, 34 Wyndham Street, Central. Inquiries: 2353 5025, sozohairdesign.com
BACK ON TRACK
The last thing you want is back acne spoiling the look of your beautiful new bikini. Don't worry though, Iyara Day Spa (above) has launched a "back facial". After cleansing, the back is steamed — while you enjoy a head massage — and exfoliated with a corn cob meal-infused scrub. Clogged pores are then unblocked before a mask is applied. After it is removed my skin is brighter and smoother.The effect is immediately noticeable. For an optional extra, try the cooling body wrap with fresh aloe vera which feels soothing and refreshing on tired or sun-damaged skin.
Back facial HK$850/60min; aloe vera body wrap HK$500/45 min, Iyara Day Spa, multiple locations; iyaradayspa.com