Published in The Myanmar Times on 27 May 2013

Dermalogica's team

Dermalogica’s team

“Up until five years ago, the vast majority of women in Myanmar weren’t interested in anything more than basic colour cosmetics and thanaka,” said Daw Khine Cindy Soe, who has 12 years of experience in the beauty industry.

She now heads the California Skin Spa in Golden Valley, which launched its range of high-end skin treatments by the US company Dermalogica on May 1 – the likes of which are used by A-listers Sarah Jessica Parker, Victoria Beckham and Georgia May Jagger.

Needless to say, treatments don’t come cheap – expect to pay about 70,000 kyat for an hour’s massage or facial (which is in line with Dermalogica’s prices around the world). To relieve the sting, the clinic is offering a 15 percent discount on any treatment during May.

Cindy said she feels confident that Myanmar has the clientele for a luxury skincare service: over the next few months, Dermalogica will open clinics in other parts of Yangon, as well as Nay Pyi Taw and Mandalay. As well as the influx of expats in Yangon, Cindy said that a noticeable number of Myanmar women are now concerned about the effects of ageing, pigmentation caused by overexposure to the sun, and increased oiliness and acne from the country’s humid climate. In fact, many women appear willing to take it a step or two further: during the launch of a Thai cosmetic surgery clinic called Nitipon last Saturday, I saw women signing up for a consultation in droves.

At any rate, the service California Skin Spa provides is excellent, which is in no small part due to its staff being trained by beauty therapists flown in from Dermalogica’s head office in Los Angeles, as well as Australia. Its staff are friendly, pleasant and composed.

Khine Cindy Soe

Khine Cindy Soe

A Dermalogica facial deploys an impressive variety of pleasantly scented products and – to me at least – mysterious implements (including a sort of Egyptian mummy-styled damp plaster cloth and an electronic exfoliating brush). With background music fusing birdsong and classical sounds, it started to feel as though a symphony was playing on my face. My skin was undoubtedly brighter as a result, however I baulked at purchasing a moisturiser which cost more than US$150 and instead opted for one a third of the price, though without the former’s ability to even out sun spots or provide SPF protection. The clinic’s “skin bar” sells Dermologica’s full range of products – 150 in total. Expect to be taken there after a treatment.

The foot reflexology treatment is promoted as a form of detox, or to ease stress, prevent migraines and improve blood circulation. Whilst it’s impossible to know how effective this is, there’s no denying that it felt really, really good. And that should count for something.

California Skin Spa is located at 32B Inya Myaing Road, Bahan Township, Yangon.