The hair masques at Salon Vanity are customized for each client.
It’s often hard to tell what your skin needs when winter takes its inevitable toll. Can a little extra moisturizer really cure common ailments like redness and dry patches? Not for everyone, says aesthetician Kin Sy. “What your skin needs during the winter versus the summer is completely different. During the hot weather, you sweat and there’s more moisture in the air so your skin stays hydrated. When it’s cold, it’s not only dry outside, but you’re taking hot showers and dealing with heat from your home.”
As I lay stretched out on a plush massage table at Adolf Biecker Salon and Spa’s new Center City location (1605 Sansom St., 215-735-6404), Sy examined my face under an illuminated magnifying lens before my 60-minute facial. Since Adolf Biecker customizes these treatments, each facial begins with an analysis to determine the client’s primary needs. “It’s an essential part of the experience here,” she says. “Your skin changes day to day. The body tells what kind of skin type you are.” Like many of her clients this time of year, I was battling dryness. Sy began with a cleansing treatment—“to remove makeup and dead skin cells”—followed by extractions, to alleviate any clogged pores, and a moisturizing mask, all using Aveda products. While the mask worked its magic, she massaged my hands and feet and gave me a paraffin hand treatment. Once done, I stepped outside into the chilly air with what felt like a fresh-faced summertime glow.
Poor circulation is the reason that complexions turn dull and flakes form during the winter. “When it becomes cold outside, the blood vessels constrict,” says Sy. “This reduces blood flow to the skin and oil-producing glands in the body, which can cause dryness, itchiness, redness, and irritation.” And although it sounds counterintuitive, exfoliating your skin is key. “A granular scrub every other day or once a week removes dead skin so that moisturizer can penetrate below the surface,” she explains.
“All you need is a dime-size amount of product and then lightly massage the face in a circular motion.” Marianne Parras, administrator of Calista Grand Salon and Spa (1211 Wilmington Pike, West Chester, 610-399-6677), says her clients come in regularly for exfoliation treatments. “Our Sea Salt Glow, infused with algae oil, plays a key role in maintaining the health and glow of your skin: The salt sloughs away dry patches, while the algae hydrates and feeds the skin with precious marine minerals to enable it to hold moisture.”
“Freezing temperatures can cause hair to break off like a dead twig,” says Liz Stelmach, owner of Salon ZIZA (6 Greenville Ave., Ardmore, 610-642-5200). “I always tell clients to maintain a steady routine of conditioning.” Philadelphia stylists’ secret weapon is a hair masque. With a richer formula than regular conditioner, it requires more time to penetrate the strands, says stylist Missy Ambrosini of Giovanni & Pileggi (258 S. 11th St., 215-568-3040). Adds EdmondoBlando, owner of Salon Vanity (1701 Walnut St., 215-925-2211), “Think of conditioner as sitting on the top layer of the follicle. A masque penetrates the second and third layers to heal and rejuvenate hair.”
Although deep-conditioning treatments are available at each of these salons, the stylists encourage clients to use a masque regularly at home. Salon Vanity goes one step further by offering a custom formula based on each client’s needs, which they should use every 10 washes. Blando suggests applying the masque while in the shower so the “heat intensifies how much product absorbs into the follicle.” Regular use of masques results in not only more-hydrated hair but added volume and shine, he explains. Says Stelmach, “Keep a steady routine and your hair will make it to spring just fine.”
Your hands and feet have fewer oil glands, which means they get drier faster than the rest of your body. So it’s important to moisturize them often—your cuticles in particular—during the winter months, says Marie Brown, a nail technician at Calista Grand. “Regular use of a cuticle oil is great, especially in the winter. When your skin dries up, cuticles can crack open and become infected; it’s very painful.” To give cuticles a much-needed dose of moisture and protection, Brown recommends products with a combination of natural, nutrient-rich oils like jojoba, vitamin E, and sweet almond.
Tabitha Heit, owner of Salon Norman-Dee (2550 Grant Ave., Ste. 100, 215-676-0554), is also an advocate of oil-based solutions for cracked, damaged cuticles, which she says are made worse by winter’s low temperatures, dry indoor heat, and not drinking enough water. “Oils help repair the condition of your nails and stimulate nail growth,” says Heit, who suggests exfoliation with a salt scrub and paraffin treatments as additional ways to maintain healthy nails throughout the winter.