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Repechage at Renaza Wellness and Lifestyle Lab
by Corinne Kerk

AMERICAN skincare brand Repechage is exactly 30 years old this year, but has only just been introduced locally at new spa, Renaza Wellness and Lifestyle Lab.

Founded by Lydia Sarfati, Repechage - which means 'to rescue' or 'second chance' in French - was the first company to use seaweed-based skincare treatments in the US, thus earning Ms Sarfati the moniker 'Queen of Seaweed'.

The humble seaweed, still harvested today from the coast of Brittany, France, is Repechage's key ingredient because of its vitamins, minerals and trace elements, which are essential to the growth of healthy skin cells. The marine algae is also said to help defend the skin against aging, and protects against UV radiation, moisturises, and treats acne.

'A special method is also used to process the seaweed for 12 hours, so they maintain their nutrients,' says Ang Kim Heong, general manager of Oblivious, Repechage's local distributor.

Repechage's arsenal for the face and body covers everything from the treatment of sensitive and acne-prone skin to anti-aging and anti-cellulite creams. Its star treatment, however, is its Four-Layer Facial, which was touted as the 'Best Facial of the Century' by Cosmopolitan UK in 1995.

At Renaza, you can try the 75-minute facial, which begins with cleansing and gentle exfoliation using a honey and almond scrub, while a (rather suffocating) steamer is directed at your face.

This is followed by the first of four layers, comprising a vitamin- and mineral-enriched seaweed serum to tone and balance the skin, and prepare it for the second layer - a moisturising hydrating cream with marine exfoliators. This layer feels very thick and heavy upon application, but after a gentle massage, is soon absorbed by the skin.

Next comes a cool seaweed mask, and then the final layer - a mineral-rich thermal mask that heats to 40 degrees Celsius once it's prepared and slathered onto your face. It sounds hot, but in reality, you only feel a gentle warmth, as the earlier layers of products are the first to absorb the heat, which in turn makes it easier for the skin to take in all their nutrients.

By the time the thermal mask sets - and it doesn't seem to take all that long - it hardens into something worthy of the Phantom of the Opera, and with a little prodding here and there, is easily lifted off the face.

The results are positive, with the skin looking brighter and smoother, and feeling softer too. The only drawback is the rather forbidding treatment cost, at $250 for dry skin and $280 for oily/combination skin.

Incidentally, the 960 sq ft Renaza - a sister outfit to Medical Aesthetics Spa (UK) at Palais Renaissance and Tras Street - is a more retail-oriented set-up, with four compact treatment rooms, a juice bar serving complimentary drinks and a small seating area.

Apart from Repechage, Renaza also carries two other skincare brands using natural ingredients. One is French brand Sampar, which combines shea butter, mint leaf and plant sugar and lactate extracts with essential oils and natural botanicals.

The other is Chilean brand Elicina, whose main product is 80 per cent made up of snail secretion. This all-natural snail cream contains healing ingredients like allantoin (a cellular regenerator), collagen and glycolic acid, and is marketed as being helpful for the treatment of wrinkles, scars, burns, acne and stretch marks. Despite its unusual ingredient, thankfully, it doesn't smell, look or feel weird at all.

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