Fight the high altitude, equatorial sun and pollution with a facial — and put your best face forward at the same time

Feb 17, 2016 | 6 comments

By Susan Burke March

Ahhhhh, a facial. Finally!

I’d been putting off my quarterly facial because my favorite “facialista” had to return to the States, leaving many of her regular clients feeling … well, at loose ends. However, before she left she recommended Bienestar Integral, and reminded me not to wait because Cuenca’s bus pollution and sun required me to be especially careful and vigilant.limpieza-facial

She was right. I had waited too long. My pores were clogged, and no amount of home-remedies or over-the-counter exfoliation was helping.

Living in Cuenca is not easy on the skin. Not only are we living too close to the sun, with its damaging UV rays, but we’re living too close to the buses! Cuenca has yet to adopt clean buses, and their diesel exhaust plus other engine emissions are notoriously noxious, gunking up pores and damaging the derma. As reported by, air pollution ages the skin prematurely, and can contribute to skin rashes, eczema and acne. Pollution robs the skin of oxygen, making it look dull and sagging.

Like any historic city, Cuenca is dusty, with ancient sites and buildings that are by their very nature, crumbling. At the same time, there’s a lot of new construction. Lots and lots of dust!

The combination of the sun’s UV radiation plus air pollution decreases the skin’s production of collagen, making the skin less elastic. Loss of elastin gives the skin a rougher texture, and contributes to fine lines, and then those dread wrinkles.

And the third strike against healthy skin is the dry and cool climate. The climate is one of the reasons we love Cuenca so much, but dry environments age skin as well, and so getting regular facials can be rejuvenating, as well as relaxing.

Bienestar Integral Estética Clinica: Aesthetic and Anti-Aging Clinic: Tratamientos Faciales

At Bienestar Integral, professional facials are provided by a credentialed aesthetician with a diploma in Aesthetic Medicine. Prior to treatment, she consults with you and recommends the best treatment for your skin.

For men and women both, a facial cleans, exfoliates, and enriches the skin, and can help skin look more youthfulfacial mask. Some clients seek treatment for specific problems: acne and eczema are just two chronic skin problems that may be helped by regular facials and treatments.

The treatment you choose will depend on your skin and its current condition. You may opt in for a single session, or book a cycle to sustain a healthy complexion. Skin care specialists recommend that a quarterly facial is sufficient for many people, but others who may need more treatment might consider having one monthly, because that’s how long it takes the skin to move through the full cycle of growth and natural exfoliation. If your treatment is for acne (isotretinoin), you may even want to come more frequently, especially in the beginning.

Facials: My Step-by-step.

A typical facial includes a variety of skin treatments including: steam, exfoliation, extraction, facial masks, peels, and massage. These treatments are designed to clean, treat, and tone. Bienestar offers a range of facial services, as well as different levels of products from France, Argentina, and Spain. I opted for the anti-aging facial, including Bioderma and Especificos products — at a future date I think I’ll try the more expensive Bruno Vassari products.depil

Treatment Room: The treatment room is spotlessly clean and peaceful. I lay down on the treatment bed, and was prepared to be pampered. I was not disappointed!

Cleansing. After wrapping my hair with a snug headband, my face was thoroughly cleaned with a fresh smelling cleanser and cotton pads. The aesthetician examined my face under a bright light and magnifying mirror and determined her course of action.

Steaming followed, to soften up any blackheads and whiteheads, in preparation for extraction. She used an exfoliant with enzymes and acids to loosen the bonds between skin cells, and also used a special enzyme treatment, that rested on my face during the steam.

Extraction followed. From experience I know that this can be quite unpleasant, but she was very careful and quick. Using a sterile tool, she went to work removing blackheads, starting on mMicrodermabrasion-Benefitsy forehead and around and on top of my nose. Some areas around my nose and mouth were uncomfortable, but she worked rapidly but efficiently. I know the price of beauty — and I expected no less.

Microdermabrasion followed. This treatment exfoliates and removes the superficial layer of dry, dead skin cells, and simultaneously vacuums the lose skin cells from the face. In my research, I’ve found that those with fine lines, uneven pigmentation, or clogged pores may benefit most from a series of microdermabrasion. The microdermabrasion tingled but did not hurt. She followed this procedure with a light cleansing.

Radiofrecuencia bipolar: Sveltia Traner: She then used this device to promote collagen repair. The machine looks sort of like an ultrasound, and she used a cool conducting gel, and massaged my skin with the two wands. Very relaxing. Another light cleaning followed.

Mask: She then applied a freshly mixed, deliciously scented natural vegetable mask over my entire face. After 15 minutes it peeled off in one piece — it had transformed into soft latex-like material. She placed the mask into a sterile plastic bag, and instructed me to refrigerate it when I got home, and to wear that evening. My aesthetician said this was an essential part of this process.beinestar

Final: After cleaning, toning, and an additional massage of my skin, she applied a moisturizer and sunscreen and encouraged me to drink a lot of water, and to keep my face protected by sunscreen daily.

That evening, unprovoked, my husband said my skin looked great! And this from a man whose idea of a compliment is, “you look nice, dear”.

Of course, beauty is only skin deep, and what we eat and drink is reflected in our skin. The nutritionist in me will attest to this as well, and there’s good research to back it up.

As recommended by the ace nutritionists from WebMD:

More-Than-Skin-Deep Guidelines

The dietary guidelines for healthy, youthful skin are simple. Consume minimally processed foods daily — including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, and cooked dried beans and peas, with two to three servings of nonfat milk and a small amount of extra-lean meat or fish. If you prefer to avoid dairy, almond or soymilk, unsweetened and fortified with calcium are two options.

Include several servings daily of antioxidant-rich foods, such as oranges for vitamin C, dark green leafy vegetables and apricots for beta-carotene, and wheat germ for vitamin E. Include one linoleic acid-rich food in your daily diet, such as safflower oil, nuts, avocado, or seeds.

Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Avoid repeated bouts of weight loss and regain, since weight cycling can result in premature sagging, stretch marks, and wrinkling.

When outdoors, wear a hat, use sunscreen, and apply one of the new antioxidant-rich creams that contain vitamin E and C. Avoid tanning beds like the plague!

Bienestar Integral also offers a number of additional anti-aging treatments, including Botox and dermal fillers, to erase fine lines and to smooth out the signs of aging, and which may be administered in conjunction with the facial, or by appointment.

1-hour treatment: Bioderma & Especificos products:
Facial: $45         Face & Neck: $60

1-hour treatment with Bruno Vassari products:
Facial: $60         Face & Neck: $80

Contact Bienestar Integral:

Location: RemigioTamariz 3-24 y Agustín Cueva, Edificio Santa María
Telephone: Local: 2810-854
Cell: 099-230-4454 / 099-935-8476
Website: (currently in development)

More Information:

Add Antioxidants to Your Diet.

Basics of radiofrequency: What is Skin Tightening?

What Is Microdermabrasion, And Will It Improve Your Skin? Huffpost Style.

Susan Burke March

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