Until some bright spark invents a wonder pill to keep the bloom of youth permanently in our cheeks, we will have to make do with regular facials to give our skin the boost it often needs. Which is hardly a chore when spas and salons around town are constantly coming up with treatments designed to make us feel as good as we hope we'll look. The latest offering from Frederique is the Soothing Stone Facial. Other spas introduced hot-stone massage treatments for the body earlier this year, but this is the first facial to incorporate pre-heated volcanic pebbles. Believed to have healing properties, the stones release their warmth on contact with the skin, supposedly detoxifying it and balancing inner-energy levels. To get me in a suitably relaxed mood for my facial, my therapist, Lucy, asked me to inhale de-stressing lavender essential oil that she had rubbed on to her hands. She ran her fingers lightly across my scalp and through my hair to release any remaining tension. She then placed cooling pads soaked in rose water over my eyes to relax them further while she cleansed and toned my skin using marine-based Phytomer products, said to purify and replenish the skin cells. Lucy then slipped two lines of warm stones under the towel I was lying on and their heat gradually seeped through to each side of my spine. Before I could drift off, it was time for the moment of truth. Lucy shone a magnifying lamp on to my face to assess my skin's condition and got the low-down on my daily skincare routine. According to what she saw and what I told her, she selected products that were specifically geared to my skin type. A layer of Vegetal Peel containing papaya enzymes was smeared on to my face to dissolve dead cells, cleanse the epidermis, and ultimately give my skin renewed softness. This mask was left on for 10 minutes during which time Lucy gave me a scalp massage. She then removed the peel with a warm towel and, while a steamer above my face opened my pores, she gave me a shoulder massage. The extraction of blackheads and other facial demons - apparently the most satisfying part of the treatment for a beautician, but the least comfortable for the client - came next. From then on it was relaxation all the way. Lucy toned my skin again and applied a layer of Oligo Force Serum (also known as Soothing Skin) - chosen because it best suited my skin's needs. She performed an acupressure point technique for about 10 minutes on all areas of my face and ears, then took two warm volcanic stones and massaged my face with them for another 10 minutes. The heat from the stones was very pleasant and the action of the pebbles gliding over my face highly soporific. A product called Gentle Mask was applied over my face and a strip of collagen placed under my eyes for extra hydration and to help reduce fine lines. I was given a foot massage while the mask was working and then left alone to doze. After the mask was removed with a hot towel, eye cream and moisturiser were applied (again, according to skin type). The facial ended with a final inhalation of essential oil: bergamot this time, to wake me up and give me an energy boost. The bergamot didn't really work - I drifted along in an agreeable daze for the rest of the afternoon - but the rest of the facial did. Although I had been slightly concerned during extraction time that people would take one look at me and assume I'd never grown out of spot-squeezing teenage habits, there wasn't a telltale red mark in sight. Rather, my skin was smooth and blemish-free and had acquired a radiance that hadn't been there when I walked into the spa. Tip: If the stones under your back start to dig into you, don't be shy to tell the therapist, who will move them around or take them out to make you comfortable. So what's the score?: 9/10. Whether the stones had much to do with my skin's transformation I can't say, but the whole experience and the end result were positive so I'm not going to argue. Value for money: At $750 for 90 minutes it might seem expensive for a facial but work it out on a pro-rata basis (Frederique's facials start from about $500 an hour) and it's not so bad. And there are so many added bonuses to it - head, foot and shoulder massage - it is worth every cent. Reservations: Frederique Holistic Health and Beauty Spa, 4/F, Wilson House, 19-27 Wyndham Street, Central (tel: 2522 3053; or check out its Web site www.frederique.com.hk ).