Face time: Virtual facials are the latest beauty innovation in a time of Covid

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Illustration (Getty Images)
Illustration (Getty Images)
  • Optiphi Professional Treatment Kits have been made available online, and on request, to assist clients in maintaining a rejuvenated complexion while still supporting their skin centre of choice, until business returns to normal. 
  • It is compulsory for these kits to accompany a virtual consultation with your skin therapist, and may only be purchased online.
  • Afika Jadezweni had her first virtual treatment with an Optiphi skin therapist and, after months of going without facials, reveals that her skin was visibly brighter. 

The year is 2020. Cars still don't fly. We don't wear metallics head-to-toe, although hazmat suits and masks are close contenders. And everything is virtual. Even your skincare consultations. 

If someone told me a year ago that I could get a facial without leaving the comfort of my home, I might have thought, "oh okay, skin therapists will be doing house calls". I would have thought wrong.

A facial in 2020 is more like just another Zoom meeting, but in your bath towel and a headband. 

With every meeting passed, it feels more and more like your colleagues are in your house - now imagine how much more intimate it feels when your entire decollete is exposed? Luckily, my virtual skincare consultation was with an Optiphi skin professional and not someone I'd still have to drop a Slack message to at COB. 

READ MORE: As an industry dependent on human touch, how has beauty adapted to changes forced by Covid-19?  

So why the virtual facial?  

Well, as we know the beauty industry has had to either adapt or halt their modus operandi in terms of treatment approaches due to the novel coronavirus. Hairdressers and nail technicians had to wait for lockdown regulations to be eased before they could resume business again. During this time, we learnt how to soak off March's manicures at home, bought depilatory creams and wax strips for hairlessness to be achieved in our bathrooms, and built upper arm strength from doing our own hair. 

READ MORE: The extraordinary lengths these hairstylists go to keep businesses open amid coronavirus

It was also in this period of cosmetic stagnancy that some skincare brands innovated aspects of their business models and manoeuvred through new digital strategies. Optiphi not only increased their social media presence, but also launched an online store, as well as a professional treatment kit that consumers can use to do their own professional facials at home. The uniqueness of this is that an appointment with the Optiphi salon or therapist is still booked, where qualified therapists virtually assist each consumer through the at-home professional treatment procedure. 

This is the treatment I sat down in front of my computer for last week, where it only dawned on me at the end of the facial that I had neglected the deeper rituals of my skincare regimen. Throughout the lockdown, I remained disciplined with my morning and night routines, but facials, peels and the like were tossed to the back of my mind, along with the thought of doing my nails as soon as human touch was rendered a pipe dream. 

So when I received the Optiphi introductory treatment kit a few days prior to my treatment, I had not even realised that I would be doing my own facial as though I were cooking along with Nigella Lawson on YouTube. 

What the kit entails 

my virtual home facial

Introductory Kit: Hydrate, Repair, Balance and all skin types.

1. Active Facial Cleanser

Key Function: Complete cleanser, mild exfoliator and toner.

Removes impurities without disturbing barrier integrity of the skin. Soap-free formulation. pH 5.5 maintains barrier function. Can be used over the eye area to remove make-up

Actives: Salicylic acid.

2. Brilliant & Bright Polish

Benefits: Replenishing and balancing lipids, while removing excess dead skin cells.

Ingredients: Rice, oat and linseed flours. Essential omega-3 fatty acids, calm and soothe the skin. The alpha lipoic acid acts as an exfoliant. With anti-inflammatory anti-oxidants, malic acid - a humectant - and exfoliants, this step has anti-aging effects, and accelerates healing. 

my home facial

3. Hydrate and Repair Serum

Benefits: Building of the barrier health of the skin to assist with hydration levels, healing and balancing of oil levels and breakouts.

Ingredients: Alpha lipoic acid acts as an exfoliant - it's anti-inflammatory and it regenerates the body’s own anti-oxidants. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) inhibits tyrosinase activity, which helps with brightening the skin. Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) targets acne-causing bacteria and promotes collagen synthesis. Ceramide improves epidermal barrier function, strengthens and repairs skin. The honey extract is a natural humectant, and therefore promotes wound healing. Hemp seed oil restores essential fatty acid levels in the skin.

4. Dermal Reconstitution Mask

Key Functions: Reconstitution of the dermal matrix, while calming and soothing your face post-treatment.

Active ingredients: Ectoin, Prickly Pear Extract, Ceramides 

READ MORE: Don't let body acne stop you from showing a little more skin as it gets warmer outside

My user journey

Clarissa Laubscher is the skin therapist who talked me through my at-home facial, and this was my takeaway from the experience:

When lockdown regulations were still watertight, I ran out of my Dermalogica cleanser, but couldn't replenish because the country could only buy food at the time. But what about feeding my skin with the ingredients it needs? 

The ingredient my skin was in need of was salicylic acid because, for some obscure reason, my forehead was breaking out just a little - nothing dramatic. Because I had used another cleanser before that is readily available at your nearest DisChem, I managed to buy that as an interim solution... yet I'm still using it today. So the salicylic acid - and double cleansing with it - in this treatment kit was a welcome treat for my skin. 

The Brilliant & Bright polish with its rice, oat, and linseed flours is the step that I would like to attribute the success of this treatment to, as I suspect it really had the biggest impact on my skin. This was an exfoliating step with a duration of about 10 minutes, including kneading your face - baking your skin to (almost) perfection. 

I had noticed in one of my ask-a-stranger-while-I-buy-coffee pictures that my skin was actually looking dull, and I couldn't blame the lighting as much as I'd like to. I'm not one to exaggerate, but when I say there was a very visible difference in my face after Step 4 (dermal reconstitution mask), take my word for - it might just be the only certain thing in these "unprecedented times". 

Not only was my complexion brighter - note: not lighter - but the texture of my skin had improved too. I wanted to caress my face all day, but that would've been tomfoolery on my part. 

And all this, was achieved virtually with my own labour. Imagine how much more satisfying it would be in an actual skin clinic or spa. One day we'll go back... 

optiphi home treatment

Optiphi Professional Treatment Kits have been made available online and on request, to assist clients in maintaining a rejuvenated complexion while still supporting their skin centre of choice, until business returns to normal. They note that this innovation is a temporary plan of action to assist all stakeholders during the lockdown period. But given our changed behaviours and perceptions of public amenities, will we all be ready to trust prolonged close contact even at Level 1? Time will tell.

In the meantime, we can continue to enjoy invention's mother - necessity.

3 Professional Treatment Kits are available, varying from Introductory to Advanced treatments to focus on all levels of skincare support, from first time skincare users to the most experienced skins. It is compulsory for these kits to accompany a virtual consultation with your skin therapist and may only be purchased online with a product purchase code available from your skin therapist/centre. 

Images: Writer's own

Additional information provided by Optiphi

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