I’m always sceptical of treatments that offer the world. However, the iS Clinical Fire & Ice facial comes with high-profile faces to back up its claims. It’s the secret weapon in the beauty arsenal of some of Hollywood’s top names, including Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow and Evangeline Lily. It’s known in LA as the “Red Carpet Treatment” for its instant brightening, tightening and smoothing effects. Not a ‘feelgood’ salon facial, this is an intensive clinical treatment designed to resurface the skin, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, smooth and soften, while encouraging cellular renewal.
Sounds like the cat’s whiskers, doesn’t it? But can it really be that good? Cathy Wallwork of the Medical Aesthetic Clinic in Winchester is a RGN and an erstwhile theatre nurse with a down-to-earth attitude. ‘We don’t create miracles,’ she says. ‘And things don’t happen overnight.’ She is, nonetheless, pretty excited about the treatment. ‘I’m really impressed with it. It’s very quick – a lunchtime procedure – and the results are excellent.’
Forget major pampering – this is a results-focused treatment with a reputation for being brisk, to the point and even slightly uncomfortable. ‘Put it this way,’ says Cathy. ‘I won’t be playing you whale music.’
I kick off my boots and lie back on the couch. My face is briskly cleansed and then the ‘fire’ part of the equation is applied. This is effectively a mild peel using 18% glycolic acid and retinol to remove the very top layer of the epidermis. ‘It loosens the cellular cement and creates superficial trauma to the skin to boost collagen production,’ explains Cathy, watching the clock closely. The masque can’t stay on longer than five minutes (and some people tolerate far less). She’s warned that it may tingle, itch or feel hot and it does all three, but very mildly. It also smells strongly of cinnamon.
Cathy whisks it off and neutralises my skin before the ‘Ice’ goes on. This is a rejuvenating masque with skin-plumping hyaluronic acid alongside herbal antioxidants and soothing aloe vera. This one smells of mint. ‘Time for your power nap,’ says Cathy, popping pads on my eyes. She turns out the lights and leaves me tingling with my thoughts for about ten minutes.
After the masque is removed, my face, neck and décolleté are dosed with a series of unguents: two serums and eye complex; then a moisturising complex and sunscreen. It’s taken just over half an hour and apparently I’m ‘very pink’.
So I am. In fact I look as though I’ve been rather foolish with a sunbed. Cathy explains that for most people the pinkness dies down after around an hour but it’s recommended that you have the treatment the day before any large event. I wasn’t so lucky and a full 48 hours later my neck (in particular) was glowing a rather alarming shade of nuclear scarlet. Apparently my reaction was ‘very unusual’ and if a therapist has any concerns, a skin patch test will be advised. However, I have to say that, once it finally settled, I did notice a definite difference: my skin felt and looked softer, firmer and brighter.
Would I undergo trial by Fire & Ice again? Perhaps surprisingly, yes I would. I’d just make darn sure I didn’t have it the day before my red carpet event.
Fire & Ice at Home
While the facial is not advised for anyone with active skin conditions, the iS Clinical home skincare range is much gentler. It’s had good results with:
- Skin compromised by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
I found it impressive with a marked refining and smoothing effect. The products are expensive (£33-£139) but a little goes a very long way. www.victoriahealth.com