[HOT SPOT]Spa treatment with an Eastern touchPast the mod-looking receptionists in black and white, the smooth ebony floor, the white bucket chairs, the intergalactic ceiling fixtures, the floating jellyfish and the New Age music drifting out of the speakers, a surprising touch of Asia awaits.
The Peter Thomas Roth Spa & Skin Solution Center in Cheongdam-dong opened earlier this month. It has a streamlined, modern appearance, echoing the company’s minimalist product packaging. And yet when customers walk in, receptionists offer fragrant Korean herbal tea. And thus begins a surprisingly peaceful and luxurious Asia-inspired experience in skin and body care.
Peter Thomas Roth, a clinically-derived line of body, facial, hair and scalp products, launched in New York 10 years ago. Now it has a following among celebrities like model Shalom Harlow and actress Sharon Stone. The oil-free products can be found in spas and high-end boutiques from Bliss in New York to Apothia at Fred Segal Melrose in Los Angeles. Products like Botanical Buffing Beads, the Oxygen Detoxifying Mask and Power K Eye Rescue are popular. According to one New York beauty consultant, Peter Thomas Roth is an emerging brand that could well make it big in Korea. Kang So-yeun opened Seoul’s first Peter Thomas Roth skin center in Myeong-dong earlier this year.
For the more holistic spa and skin center in Cheongdam-dong, the team in Korea researched spas and skin care to create a center unique to Korea. Here, treatments range from aging, wrinkle and acne treatments to body wraps, aromatherapy, spa bath in a Arcadia Planet bathtub, use of the Hypoxi Training machine and pre-pregnancy to post-pregnancy care.
But what makes Peter Thomas Roth in Korea special is that the program is the result of a collaboration with Rachel Lee, who specializes in Oriental beauty programs. Ms. Lee created a unique concept for a spa that uses the products of Peter Thomas Roth, but offers special Oriental treatment. She has added treatments incorporating hand-carved jade imported from China, green tea facials and Korean-style facial shiatsu, popularly known as gyeongrak in Korea. What’s more, Ms. Lee trains the therapists on breathing techniques. “The masseuse breathes together with the client to ensure that the clients are able to get full relaxation,” Ms. Lee says. “We do it very personally.”
The most pleasant treatment of all is a candlestick and jade therapy. Spas like Soho Central in New York and now the center in Korea are reviving the age-old candlestick therapy, which some say began in India, others with the North American Hopi tribe. At the center in Cheongdam-dong, ear candling begins most of the facial treatments.
The top end of the candle is lit. When the unlit end is properly sealed against the ear, the scents, the gentle burning noise and the vibration from the flames are said to draw wax and toxins from the ear canal, reducing stress, earaches and headaches, and helping fight colds and other ailments.
Ms. Lee is especially proud of her personally customized jade mats, jade balls and jade wrist rest. Jade is believed to be an ancient cure-all. Treatment takes place in one of three individual rooms, a couple room and/ or a room for spa therapy. East meets West ― sometimes in subtle hints, sometimes in the professional touch of facial shiatsu.
At the end of a session, customers can warm their hands on a cup of herbal tea and take in the aroma before returning once again to city life.
For information or appointments, call (02) 3446-2255.
Returning skin to its normal state
Kang So-yeun, executive director of Peter Thomas Roth in Korea, first came to appreciate the brand after seeing its effects on her sister. “When I got a sample of Aloe-cort cream, all I thought was, ‘Why is the package so large?’” she says. But within hours of applying the cream, her sister’s skin problems disappeared, and Ms. Kang, a skin specialist, was intrigued. Here she talks with the IHT-JoongAng Daily about the clinically-driven brand.
How did you begin working with Peter Thomas Roth?
About three years ago I started discussions with headquarters in New York to distribute in Korea. Last year, the product was officially introduced to Korea. Earlier this year, we opened skin centers in Busan and Myeong-dong in downtown Seoul. What we offer are clinical treatment programs.
What differentiates Peter Thomas Roth products from other skin care products?
Peter Thomas Roth is a corrective product that returns skin to its normal state. It’s particularly good for people with problematic skin. People ask me, ‘Why don’t you take pictures of before and after?’ I’ve seen all sorts of skin problems. With the right skin care products and techniques, I’ve been able to fix problems that skin doctors have not been able to fix.
The founder is not a dermatologist, but a New Yorker who decided to do something about his own problematic skin.
Now we have more than 130 products, and our lines keep expanding. We have 10 types of skin cleansing products and hair care products for people who are losing their hair.
Does one need professional help in choosing the items?
I recommend you read the label before you use them. We do use plant extracts, but even if you use natural herbs, you still have to chemically formulate it to last. The packaging lists key ingredients, from glycolic acid to titanium to beta hydroxi acid. While the ingredients are important, the technique that went into creating the solutions is equally as important.
What are people talking about in skin care these days?
Nanotechnology. The chemicals are split one millionth and then one millionth again so that they filter through the epidermis and right into the inner cells. The chemicals are so small that the skin misunderstands the information and thinks it can be absorbed.
Are there other Peter Thomas Roth spas in Asia?
We’re all over Asia, except Japan. It went into Japan and left when Sephora, an international cosmetics and skin care specialty store, did not succeed. In Taiwan, we have a spa that accepts people with platinum credit cards.
by Joe Yong-hee