Beauticians are putting a new face on facials, so to speak.
While most practitioners continue to care for skin superficially--determining if the epidermis is dry or oily, and pampering accordingly--others maintain beauty is far more than skin deep.
To get under your skin, several beauticians with salons in Orange County--including Ching Shen at Ching's and Bonnie Holmes at Moongate, both in Newport Beach, and Dolores Caballero of Costa Mesa and Beverly Hills--are using techniques both ancient and high-tech, as diverse as acupressure, herbal steams and electrode machines.
All three feel that a good complexion depends on good health.
Shen, who opened her shop in Newport Center this month, believes one of the keys to putting one's best face forward is through the feet. The mainland China-born Shen believes in the ancient doctrines of "reflexology." By studying the feet, she claims that she can pinpoint internal problem areas and confirm visual diagnoses of skin problems.
"If I press a certain area on your foot and it is sensitive," Shen said, "it signals a weakness in a corresponding internal organ. But (that pressure) not only pinpoints the problem, it helps the problem area become stronger. As with any part of the body, the more you use it, the better and stronger it becomes."
Shen recommends pressing on your feet with the bottom of a ball point pen or walking on different size stones for 20 minutes a day.
Shen uses acupressure techniques on the face as well as the feet.
"When I press certain pressure points, you can feel a certain electricity go through your whole face," she said, demonstrating convincingly. "If you can do pressure points on your own face every day, you will see improvements very quickly." Shen charges $40 for a basic acupressure facial; she teaches her techniques by appointment.
Like many beauticians, Shen believes that elimination of toxins from the body is important in maintaining good skin; her approach is dietary.
At Moongate in Fashion Island, however, Holmes' approach to the body's toxic waste includes manual "sinus unblocking."
"When we retain toxic fluids, weakened facial muscles become ideal reservoirs, ultimately distorting the way you look, not to mention the way you feel," Holmes said. "Preventing the buildup of fluids prevents puffiness and dark circles and aids the restoration of proper facial contour."
Some clients say they can actually hear their sinus beginning to drain when Holmes massages certain regions of the face.
"Waste elimination in the skin and its tissues can be encouraged by a variety of massage techniques," she said, "some more delicate than others. A very simple touch can have very complex results."
Holmes, who has just completed taping her first season of "Beautiful Skin" for cable television, says she also includes vasodilating herb extracts in an aroma therapy to help unblock sinuses. She charges $50 for a facial.
Caballero has just produced a video, in seven languages, on how to massage the face "for women without too much money."
For those with money, mud from the Nile and an electric mask are among Caballero's answers to the waste problem. Both play an important part in "facial molding"--a program of diet, exercise and massage that she offers as an alternative to plastic surgery.
The electric mask is made up of wires, electrodes, sponges and ampules containing herbs and nutrients such as chamomile, pine and honey bee pollen; Caballero claims that electric charges help carry the nutrients through layers and layers of skin.
"The electrodes work like subcutaneous injections but without breaking the skin," Caballero said, adding that the electrodes also stimulate different "promontory points" that she maintains can lift the face and tighten muscles.