When it comes to clean beauty, our friends down under have always been way ahead of the game, with a whole laundry list of brands that have been making the most of nature’s gifts for years. Billed as organic or pure, ‘clean’ ingredients aren’t anything new, but practically an expectation in this day and age. Yet, with the bounty of choice at our disposal, it requires some effort to discern each brand’s unique edge.
That’s why we’re intrigued by the Asia debut of Uspa — a Melbourne-based brand that’s 100 percent made in Australia. It’s free of synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, sulphates and parabens, synthetic colours, and is also vegan-friendly, promising never to test on animals. Its formulas are all based on active botanical ingredients and essential oils — commonly topping the list of ingredients to avoid if you have oversensitive skin — and yet, it’s just partnered up with Hong Kong’s Sense of Touch day spa to create a relaxing customisable facial to fight against skin problems caused by pollution, UV and poor lifestyle habits. In other words, it’s suited for those with sensitive skin or those who experience regular flare-ups.
With over 20 years of experience in the game (the brand launched in 1995), Uspa products are now available across the globe, but its spa treatments have, until now, only been available in Australia. Hong Kong’s Sense of Touch is the first Hong Kong outpost with a customised facial offering. We headed over to the Central spa location to try it out.
Sense of Touch’s Lan Kwai Fong branch holds fort at the top of the hill, an oasis amongst the cacophony, spread out across five floors. But operating close to a decade now, the spa feels like it’s in dire need of a makeover — I spotted dusty, roughed up surfaces, and splitting wood finishes along the long trudge upstairs to the top floor couple’s room for my trial. The His and Hers wooden soaking tubs on one side of the room were wet and musty, not from recent use, but from its dripping tap.
Touting a clean beauty approach to healing skin affected by urban environmental stressors, the Uspa Customised Lifestyle Facial is tailored to your needs — whether it’s defying signs of ageing, intense hydration or to detox and desensitise hyperactive skin using the brand’s hero products.
It starts with a Sensory Journey, where you get to inhale one of four different types of Uspa Elixir essential oils in a pre-spa breathing ritual. Then, depending on your skin’s condition, the therapist deep cleanses, exfoliates, and uses light massaging strokes to stimulate lymphatic drainage along the contours of the face. This is followed by Uspa’s signature clay mask before your skin is nourished with hydration.
After an informal introduction to the treatment by my therapist Nam, I was invited to smell each of the four Elixir oils to see which one appealed to my senses the most — I chose the Hydramax Elixir. My therapist cupped her hands in front of me and I deeply inhaled the soothing soothing floral scent of the blend of geranium, jasmine and rose oils. Geranium is notably good for female health, aiding with dehydration and hormonal imbalances.
Nam then double cleansed my skin with a gorgeous citrus-scented foaming gel cleanser, followed by a creamy almond oil-based cleanser that she pre-lathered until it was a whipped cream consistency. It smelled like a cloud of lemon meringue pie.
As she left the cleanser on for two minutes to really melt off all the dirt and dead skin cells from my pores, my cheeks began to slightly prickle — not to the extent of worry, but I hoped it would improve as she rinsed and applied the next products. I was treated to a blissful head massage before the cleanser was washed off with a warm cloth (it was good to see they use eco-friendly practices at Sense of Touch), and my skin was toned with a spritz of something rose-scented.
Next was the exfoliation step: Using a facial polish, Nam massaged the contours of my face and the crevices around my nose to induce lymphatic drainage as well as to slough off layers of uneven skin. It also began to prickle, and I was worried about whether this was too harsh for my freshly cleansed face. Featuring bamboo stem powder and anti-inflammatory ginkgo biloba leaf extract, I trusted the exfoliant to eventually reduce redness — and thankfully it did.
The following extraction step had Nam squeezing and needling the clogged and large pores around my nose and chin — this was actually painful, and can be omitted if you wish, but I was glad I persevered later on.
Finally, my skin was left to rest with a lengthy interlude thanks to the deep cleansing mud mask. Nam’s attention turned to my shoulders and arms for a deeply relieving massage, especially releasing the tension around my neck area. She eventually turned off the lights and left me to enjoy my few moments of microsleep.
I woke from my lunchtime spa nap with exceedingly glossy, bright and even skin, with the purplish and reddish areas with micro bumps under my eyes and nose (some skin experts have attributed to dry skin) drastically faded out. Around my nose and cheeks, my pores were a lot less noticeable, my jawline more pert, and finally, my décolleté more pronounced thanks to the shoulder and neck massage. The lightweight face oil felt like nothing on my skin, but it still left a palpable film on my face and I made sure to blot and touch up once I got back to the office.
This customised facial, lasting 60 minutes for just HK$780, is a great pick-me-up to zip in and out over a lunch hour — it’s cost-effective and gets the job done if you want a fresh-faced glow ahead of a big event or a date night. Sense of Touch’s Central branch itself is admittedly in a growing state of disarray, but the service is still commendable as ever. The exceptionally friendly reception staff and well trained therapists remain the charm of Sense of Touch, doing the job to efficiently heal your skin, instantly alleviating your body’s aches, pains and problem areas, and giving consistently reliable results for healthy, toned skin.
The Uspa Customised Lifestyle Facial is priced at HK$780/60 minutes.