L’Escape? If spring fever has yet to hit you even with the recent rays of warm sun, how about something to re-energize and beautify without a prescription, a visit to a spa? If you are not the spa type or have never been to one, like me, a bicycle commuter, Jennifer Pham’s L’Escape Spa is a serene little experience tucked in between the upscale boutiques and bistros of bucolic Burlingame Avenue in Burlingame.
Related: Get Healthy, Go Vegan by Dr. Barnard
I took BART to the end of the line in Millbrae. Once there I crossed the platform and took the breezy Cal Train with it’s bike car one stop for three dollars. I rode my bicycle the 2+ miles back from the spa, in the bike lane. It’s a picturesque ride to a picturesque destination, with a charming and immaculate Spanish style little train station. As the Southwest commercial goes, wanna get away? Look no further. There’s actually a lot you can do to feel your best from using new make-up tips to getting a prescription from a psychiatrist.
Make a day of it-shop, eat
I was in a better mood by the time I arrived for my first visit to see Jennifer Pham, whom one of my opera actor acquaintances Katie Heibein, a serious bicyclist, referred me to.
Related: SF Opera announces Summer 2013 with sexy, lyrical "Tales of Hoffman" starring Natalie Dessay
Heibein raves about what a sweetheart Jennifer is and how wonderful her products are. Indeed, Jennifer’s appearance instilled confidence in her health and beauty methods at her spa, as she appeared petite with beautiful soft skin and healthy, long dark hair. She’s been in the restaurant business as well as nursing and she’s experienced in hospitality, running her own business yet maintains a gentle, feminine manner that’s soothing.
She’s a certified nursing assistant and aesthetician, pretty enough to win beauty pageants while she’s actually a busy Mom. Pham celebrates her ten years as CEO and co-owner of L’Escape Spa, at the wine bar on toney Burlingame Avenue in May, 2013. She treated me to this experience and Jane Iredale cosmetics sent me wonderful samples.
The specialty at L’Escape Spa: the computerized facial
Jennifer’s specialty is her electrical or computerized facial, administered not in a clinical environment but a private little nook with relaxing simple music, dim lights and a soft and warm table with a blanket in which the subject remains wrapped and cozy for the hour. She sits on a chair at the head of the table and works on the skin of the face upside down, quietly repairing tissue, unseen but heard.
She and I chatted about the procedure as I am new to facials and the Electromyopulse. I do follow a similar philosophy to Pham, in that she practices holistic health and teaches beauty comes from taking care of yourself, it comes from the inside and with plenty of water, rest and the right foods.
She expressed concern about some other methods of tissue rejuvenation such as laser treatments. Lasers burn the skin which with a common sense point of view seems to be damage. Pham also mentioned that Botoxed skin has a different texture, it's tougher.
It’s in your head
The medical-grade version of electrical instruments used by doctors and physical therapists helps reduce pain and the need for narcotic analgesics. These are the Electro-acuscope and the Electro-myoscope while the home version is called more commercially the Renaissance. These home and spa versions rejuvenate the skin in a similar way by stimulating cells. Stimulated cells release toxins and take in oxygen, healing and beautifying. Facial skin, say spotted by sun or wrinkled, looks rejuvenated as the new, healthy cells surface over time.
Medically, cranial electrical stimulation or CES helps in a myriad of ways.
One cardiologist/internist noted in the "Los Angeles Times" in the late 80s after the machine had been out awhile, used it for diseases from shingles to herpes.
Plastic surgeons cannot replace their work with the myopulse but a cosmetologist will help heal the scars and skin after with the cosmetic versions.
Pham has a nursing background and explained how she uses the myopulse on acupressure points on the face. The points on the face correspond to specific organs or specific conditions such as allergies, mental conditions, headcolds. The myopulse probes release micro-currents to the cells, stimulating blood circulation and carrying oxygen to the cells, speeding elimination of toxins and healing.
Damaged cells have a different conductivity than healthy ones. The computerized machine reads these differences and compensates by sending stronger micropulses through the damaged skin, equalizing the stimulation. That electronically makes the damaged skin the same as the healthy skin.
She likes the myopulse for clients who don’t need plastic surgery and want to still look just as they are. She notes that it’s used in Los Angeles.
Your body’s chemicals and a sense of balance, well-being
For the physiological benefits, the relaxation and stimulation, the procedure helps stimulate serotonin, a chemical that helps keep a person balanced mentally. In layman’s terms, serotonin regulation is what the widely prescribed psychiatric medication Zoloft is all about. It’s used to treat major depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress and even a severe form of premenstrual syndrome.
Pham has worked with cancer patients, a client who tore up her forearm with a fall at Yosemite, a terribly disfigured accident victim with traumatic facial injuries as well as clients with regular beauty appointments. The system helps prevent scarring and reduces swelling and inflammation. Medical and physiological benefits of CES include alleviation of symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia, headaches, pain from drug withdrawal or alchohol rehabilitation. In turn the subject feels a return of alertness, energy, focus and memory. It’s helpful with jet-lag.
Pham uses high-quality products for the facial that are available for purchase at her spa. She uses Yon Ka, made in France. Pham cleanses the face gently with a non-comedogenic wash cream for very sensitive skin, applies a gentle mask, applies the Yon Ka alcohol-free toner, then firming and instant-lift serums by Shira. Pham also carries high quality sunscreens including a multi-protection cream from Revision, SPF 50. It’s made in Texas. She finishes the facial with this protection.
The spa offers many different levels of skincare, massages, packages, some with wine or lunch. Her specialty myopulse session with a facial is 100 minutes and costs $245.
Gentle, healthy new cosmetics
Pham carries several cosmetic lines and I fell in love with an American made, non-irritating yet effective line by Jane Iredale. The Glow Time mineral BB Cream sells well especially to active women. It’s a full-coverage, tinted moisturizer that comes in many shades and just a few drops covers the face. The cream evens skin tone, covers redness and adds a hint of color yet it feels comfortable and natural. A mild grapefruit and apple scent makes the Glow Time pleasant to apply and then the scent disappears. You don’t even know you are wearing make-up by the natural feel and scent of it. SPF 25. $48.00 a tube.
The Longest Lash mascara from Jane Iredale comes in a matching gold squeeze tube with the fattest softest mascara brush I have ever encountered. The result, long and feathery lashes. The mascara works and does add fullness and length yet feels comfortable to wear even for we older ladies who have become sensitive. The colors come in an array, from blacks and browns to a navy and a slate gray. $33.00.
Jane Iredale sells at Jennifer Pham’s L’Escape Spa, at some local upscale pharmacies and on-line.
This is a line developed in 1994 after Jane Iredale saw models and those in the entertainment industry suffering career-threatening skin conditions and ill-effects of all the make-up.
Beauty at this spa comes from being healthy and Pham presented a new high-protein diet. The representative Jennivive tried it herself and just started working at L’Escape. She analyzed in a few seconds my body composition by testing my ratio of lean mass to fat mass, using a computer.
The diet actually does make sense and sounds sensible, jumpstarting the fat burning by reducing the diet to basically non-sweet or non starchy vegetables and lean meats. No pasta, no rice, no potatoes, legumes, breads or carbohydrates. No sweet vegies like carrots or beets, peas or corn. No fruit or fruit juice, no commercial vegetable juice, no cheese or dairy, no nuts. The usual bans on candy, soda and alcohol. You just do this until you burn the fat, it’s meant to be short term.
You get these items back in moderation when you hit maintenance weight.
The cost for consultations, supplements and supplies, protein meals and on-going support is $528. Monthly cost after that is $445/daily cost $15.00.
For more stories by this writer check out CBS San Francisco's website under arts & culture "Best Of"; and San Francisco Arts & Culture on Examiner.com. Subscribe by hitting the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
CBS SF: Best new restaurants in the East Bay that opened 2012
Dating via the internet and Christian Mingle
CBS SF: Best places for knitting on the Peninsula