The Kit's Guide to the Best Facials Toronto Has to Offer – The Kit

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© 2018, The Kit, a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited, One Yonge Street, 4th floor, Toronto, ON, M5E 1E6, 416-945-8700
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© 2018, The Kit, a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited, One Yonge Street, 4th floor, Toronto, ON, M5E 1E6, 416-945-8700
Give us allll the extractions
It felt a little churlish to complain about a lack of access to the spa during lockdowns; during a public health emergency, facials just aren’t top of anyone’s mind (despite the fact that many businesses and livelihoods depend on them). But as spa doors remained closed and comfy towel-clad beds unoccupied, many a daydreaming session and WhatsApp group chat focused on the singular pleasure of a proper, professional cleanse, peel, extraction, mask and massage, administered with gentle, sure hands and a dose of skincare wisdom.
Now that spas are back up and running, it seemed like the perfect time to visit some of Toronto’s best and brightest facial purveyors and report back. Read on to find the one that’s right for you and your complexion.
The atmosphere
Tucked into the back of a Yorkville-adjacent townhouse, this is a completely private studio. With soaring ceilings, an exposed brick wall, cream furniture and nubbly throw blankets, the space feels cozy and it’s so quiet—no chatter from people in a waiting room or phones ringing. It’s just you and Vee Mistry, an aesthetician and entrepreneur who has perfected her craft at various spas over the past 30 years.
The treatment
Vee tailors treatments to exactly where your skin is at, so she asks about current skin concerns, what you put on your skin and when, and your lifestyle—everything from digestion to hormones. For The 360 Facial ($385, 120 minutes), she enlists products from British line Elemis and 111 Skin, and a parade of the most interesting tools and treatments out there. She believes in keeping the skin cool to minimize inflammation and redness, so she eschews steam in favour of a lightly buzzing ultrasonic wavelength tool that loosens sebum and dead skin cells for effortless extractions. She dermaplanes (where the very top layer of skin cells and vellum hair is scraped with a fine blade; it’s painless) to help everything else work more efficiently. Facial massage with a toning NuFace device leaves the face feeling firm and lifted. There’s LED light therapy via an innovative machine that Mistry sourced from celebrity facialist Jennifer Brodeur in Quebec, plus an icy-cold massage with cryo sticks. It’s a skincare nerd’s dream.
The results
Afterwards I was glowing to high heavens, with no signs of irritation. I also had that blissed-out high you get from a really good deep tissue massage. My skin did feel a little delicate for a few days from the dermaplaning, so I followed her advice and held off on using any exfoliants or very active ingredients for a few days.
The room for improvement
I went into the adjacent building at first, so clearer signage would be useful. And the bathroom is a little walk from the treatment area.
The details
16 Dupont St., skinbyvee.com
—Rani Sheen
 
 
best facials torontobest facials toronto
The atmosphere
I visited the Bayview Village location of Hammam Spa, which is much larger than the King Street one. The lounge area is cozy and dim with Turkish-inspired design elements like printed tiles and brightly coloured pillows and ottomans. Ribbed, wooden, cocoon-like chairs are laid out around a central fireplace and a selection of water bottles and packaged nuts and dried fruits. The change room is stocked with white, waffle robes and slippers, a Turkish towel for you to wear if you want to use the hammam steam room prior to your treatment (free with services over $100), plus hair and body products to use afterwards.
The treatment
My aesthetician, Anna, started the Signature Custom Facial ($170, 60 minutes) by observing my skin—since this was my first time with her, she mentioned that during this treatment she would get to know my skin and see what my skin likes (or doesn’t like), so if I ever come back, she’ll be able to do more targeted treatments. She used a customized series of products from the in-house brand Céla, Dermalogica and Skinceuticals, including the gentlest powder exfoliation for my sensitive skin, extractions and layering the soothing Skinceuticals Phyto Corrective Gel underneath a cooling, hydrating mask from Dermalogica to really help my skin drink in the hydration. While the mask was on, she massaged my shoulders, arms and feet with oil and then used heated towels to wipe it off before finishing off with Crème de la Crème moisturizer. I hadn’t had a facial since February 2020 and my skin was very congested, so it felt so nice to finally get all that gunk out (sorry, TMI!).
The results
Although my skin was a bit red from the extractions, my face looked brighter, and I woke up the next morning with smooth-looking skin. It felt so nice washing my face! I’ve already planned a trip for my mom and sister to come for a facial treatment or massage.
The room for improvement
I missed the delicious Turkish sweets like baklava that were available in pre-COVID times.
The details
Bayview Village, 2901 Bayview Ave #132, hammamspa.ca
Renee Tse
best facials torontobest facials toronto
The atmosphere
It’s a wee space and the waiting area is minimal in a calming, low-visual-stimulation kind of way. Its signature incense, which was burning on the coffee table while I waited, smelled divine.
The treatment
First, my aesthetician, Jeronnie, and I talked about my skin and concerns, which led to us focusing on hydration and brightness during the Custom Organic Return Facial ($120, 60 minutes). After cleansing, she dry-brushed my face—it felt like she was just flicking paper across my face, it was so gentle—before applying pure raw honey and massaging it in with a tapping motion. Next came a jade roller massage with the Dual Action Jade Facial Roller, lubricated by a custom facial oil that Jeronnie mixed for me on the spot (she did tell me what was in it but at this point I was in that “blissed out” place you go when a facial is really relaxing). While the Detoxifying and Clarifying clay mask sank in, my face was wrapped up in warm towels—it felt like I was in a beautifully scented steam cocoon in a darkened room. After this was removed, Jeronnie applied their Healing Eczema Balm to soothe any redness the mask left behind, and then their Nourishing + Revitalizing Moisturizer. I also had the *best* neck and shoulder massage. Every single product smelled amazing in that aromatherapy, organic-y kind of way, which tracks because their ethos is all about small-batch ingredients sourced in Canada.
The results
I had arrived red-faced and sweaty and I left with my skin feeling nourished but also “worked out,” like after a body massage. That feeling persisted for a few days, and I (thankfully) didn’t experience any post-facial breakouts. You leave your appointment with a bag of samples of the products used during your treatment, and they do a post-facial email follow up.
The room for improvement
A place to continue the relaxation afterwards with a cup of tea would be a bonus, since stumbling out into the world immediately after your lovely treatment feels a bit jarring.
The details
1554 Dundas St. W., provinceapothecary.com
—Sarah Laing
The atmosphere
The space is airy and open with neutral tones and textures, dried and fresh flowers in vases, and a velvet couch in a beautiful shade of blue. The black and white art on the walls made the atmosphere feel fun and totally Instagram-worthy. There was tea and coffee available and a comfy robe was provided. The treatment room felt very relaxing—Victoria Radford said that the room absorbs energy and so I could leave any negative energy I wanted to behind. Ideal!
The treatment
Victoria Radford herself gave me a Platinum Hydra Facial ($325, a little over 60 minutes)—each one of her facials is custom, so no two facials you receive from her will be the same. She told me about her experience working as a celebrity makeup artist (mostly for Fergie during the Black Eyed Peas era) and I probably asked her 100 questions about my skin. After cleansing thoroughly with a lymphatic drainage massage technique, she gave me a treatment using the hydrafacial machine. The wand pushes products deeper into the skin while gently removing dead skin cells, preparing the skin for extractions. (She believes this is where all of our skin ailments live. Stuck underneath dead skin cells that act as superglue and create a dull complexion with a textured surface). A glycolic peel was next, to activate cellular turnover, then a Radford hydrogel sheet mask and LED light treatment soothed and hydrated.
The results
My skin felt so hydrated and luminous afterwards and it lasted for days! I felt so confident with my skin that I didn’t even wear makeup to work the next day. I kept using Radford’s samples and products, which continued to make my skin feel fresh. I definitely noticed the difference from the way my own skincare sat and absorbed on my skin.
Room for improvement
It was hard to find a list of the spa services and prices on the website, which focuses solely on product.
The details
Yorkville Village, 55 Avenue Rd., Unit #210, victoriaradford.com
Laura Tabar
 
best facials torontobest facials toronto
The atmosphere
Elmwood opened in 1982 as Toronto’s first women’s day spa, in a historic building on a remarkably quiet street just steps from Yonge. This is a place you are meant to stay for more than a quick treatment; the vibe is private club with understated decor, not showy, with a plethora of lounges offering teas and infused spa waters, plus a restaurant to eat lunch very comfortably on your own, in a robe. Water therapies are complimentary with any service over $120, so I arrived a full hour ahead to do all the steaming and hot tubbing and swimming I could get in.
The treatment
I tried the NuFace Microcurrent Facial ($219, 80 minutes), which stars the buzzy facial toning device NuFace, with Fariba, clearly a favourite aesthetician at Elmwood. Using the in-house Emline products, she cleansed, toned and exfoliated my skin with an alpha-hydroxy-acid cream exfoliator, and performed extractions, which felt great as I had not had a facial for 18 months. Then she applied NuFace gold gel primer (the gold helps to transmit the device’s radio frequency) and gave me a thorough facial massage with the NuFace Mini device—using the attachment with two metal orbs to flank the jawline and cheekbones and a more delicate, targeted attachment for around the lips. While a mask was getting to work, she asked me to choose two of three massage areas—head, hand and foot—and she was not afraid to be firm, with encouragement.
The results
On the drive home, I was distracted by how sharp my jawline was. I literally walked in the house and looked up the details about the NuFace’s technology—it has been around for decades! The muscle-firming effects build over time (in fact, many of Fariba’s clients buy the device for at-home maintenance, and I am fully considering it at $236 for a mini version you use daily). I was glowing at dinner that night, and my face looked less puffy for about a week.
Room for improvement
It felt a little empty with how few people were there (because: COVID safety); this is a place that would feel better with buzz. Next time I’d bring girlfriends with me for a splurge day.
The details
18 Elmwood St., elmwoodspa.com
Leanne Delap
 
Atmosphere
My facial took place at the Dermalogica store within the Royal Bank Plaza (the HQ, which is more spa-like is still closed to guests due to COVID) and there are two chairs on either side of the store where the treatments take place. The space was very small; however the chairs were really comfy and relaxing—the aesthetician called them “space chairs” because as they recline, and you feel like you’re floating off into space. I can confirm this. The light fixtures were beautiful and the scents from a diffuser helped the ambiance.
The treatment
The Proskin 60 treatment ($90, 60 minutes) is tailored to each individual, so my aesthetician and I spoke in depth about my skin type, concerns and current skincare routine. I really felt like she listened to me and was there to provide a great facial experience but also to ensure my specific needs were met. She started the treatment with lovely scented essential oils to help me deeply relax, then some of the highlights included a peel, a neat device that zapped away at my blemishes with electric currents, and a wonderful cooling mask. She also took her time with the extractions, making sure my skin looked its absolute best. And she provided brilliant insight about what type of products would make great additions to my routine.
The results
I felt like a brand new person after the treatment! Straight away my skin looked different; it was bright and very clear. It kept looking better and better each day after the treatment—I received a lot of compliments on how glowy I looked.
The room for improvement
This space doesn’t offer a luxurious spa experience—given the location and the commercial look of the salon, it’s ideal for a mini facial on your lunch break or as an after-work treat.
The details
200 Bay St., dermalogica.ca
Poonam Chauhan
 

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© 2020, The Kit, a division of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited,One Yonge Street, 4th floor, Toronto, ON, M5E 1E6, 416-945-8700

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