The French are coming, bearing gifts of spa secrets hitherto unknown to Indian men and women. For not many know that there's more to the French than just couture, cosmetics and fragrances. Ask any skin specialist and he will tell you that the French have also mastered the art of getting under your skin-quite literally. French skincare treatments, say the experts, are perfectly suited to Indian skin type- no matter how sensitive, dry, damaged or intolerant.
That's because these treatments are primarily based on hydrotherapy- one that uses thermal spring water, which is considered to have an astonishing curative impact on skin diseases and irregularities. Ailments like eczema, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis- which Indian skin is prone to-are best cured by this, says Mumbai-based dermatologist Dr Satish Bhatia. "After diagnosis by the dermatologist, an appropriate hydrotherapy treatment is chosen for patients and jet sprays are directed to the affected area to treat the condition," he explains.
Along with the key ingredient of thermal spring water, French products also have neutral ph and low sodium content, to stay Indian skin-friendly, says Dr Bhatia. That doesn't mean that treatments originating from other countries are no good. It's just that, as Dr Rohini Wadhwani of Skin Essentials, a skin clinic in Mumbai, explains, some German product lines include chamomile, which does not go down as well with Indian skin as thermal spring water-based products do.
Also, Hungarian and Thai therapies use herbs such as cinnamon, nutmeg and kaffir lime leaf that can cause Indian skin to react unfavourably. "It is the consistent and favourable results of French treatments like oxygenation or purification of the skin as well as their antiseptic and anti-bacterial actions that make practitioners and patients turn to them more," she adds.
Incidentally, French therapies have been used in India for over a decade now, but mainly for treating skin diseases and burns under supervision. It is only now that spas have discovered their benefits and the focus has shifted to skin care and grooming. With a vengeance. Now you have special facials that use seaweed, marine ingredients and caviar, as well as highly effective anti-cellulite massages.
Indian pharma company Piramal Healthcare has even tied up with France's largest pharma group, Pierre Fabre, to launch a skin care range called Avène. This derma-cosmetic range is aimed at consumers rather than clinics and doctors, and uses thermal spring water and offers remedies for ageing, acne and sun-sensitivity.
If you're not a DIY person, check out the Advanced Fresh Caviar Treatment at Iosis Medispa, Mumbai. This involves a fresh caviar scrub followed by a caviar face mask and costs Rs 3,000 per session. Or you could opt for a Caviar Facial at Skin Essentials for Rs 1,800 which is said to instantly perk up tired facial muscles. French spa and salon Jean Claude Biguine has introduced an anti-cellulite massage, which breaks down stubborn fat, resulting in inch loss and muscle toning.
The treatment is offered at all Biguine centres in Bangalore and Mumbai for Rs 3,800 per session. Hydrotherapy treatments are also available at the Aman Spa and Bliss Medi Spa in Delhi, Aura spa at The Park, Kolkata, Jiva Spa at Fisherman's Cove and The Courtyard by Marriott, in Chennai for Rs 1,200 a session. So, just sit back and let the French treat your skin the way it craves to be treated.
FOR THAT NOT-SO-CLOSE SHAVE
MACA ROOT SHAVE OIL, BODY SHOP
This easy-to-rinse oil softens the bristles for an easy razor glide and enables better visibility and total control. Maca root firms and soothes your skin while corn oil lubricates. Price: Rs 595
TEA TREE GEL, IRAYA
With extracts of tea tree, wild grass and aloe vera, this aftershave tea tree gel from Iraya soothes irritable skin and reduces inflammation. It softens and heals the skin naturally. Price: Rs 195
SHAVING FOAM, LANCOME
Lancome's rich, high-definition shaving foam softens and smoothens your stubble for an easy shave. Its mechanical action exfoliates dead skin cells. It softens and heals the skin naturally and is suited to all skin types. Price: Rs 1,500
AFTER SHAVE, ESSENZA DI WILLS
Suited for evening wear, Mikkel by Essenza Di Wills has top notes of lavender and bergamot, and neroli and orange blossom at the heart. Undertones of vanilla bring out the aroma of amber. Price: Rs 1,900
SHAVING SOAP, FRESH LINE
This prepares your skin for the perfect shave. The cade wood powder and olive oil exfoliate dead cells and impurities. The non-drying gel purifies the skin and helps prevent blemishes. Price: Rs 2,375
AFTER SHAVE LOTION, NIVEA
Formulated with Care Pro Tec, the technology developed for normal to dry skin, this after shave lotion from Nivea has vitamin C which prevents dryness and skin tightening. Your skin feels soft, supple and cared for. Price: Rs 249