Spafinder 25th Anniversary

Spafinder: Through the Years

Spa Nostalgia Slideshows

Beauty, In Its Own Time

We"ve come quite a long way when it comes to beauty lotions and potions and the infinite approaches we take to achieve that healthy glow. From basic facials and suntanning with mirrors (without SPF!) to the use of retinoids and spray tans, we show you how our quest for beauty has evolved.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Arden Global Retail Boutique and Red Door Spa

The Start of it All:
Elizabeth Arden

In 1910, when women were getting the right to vote, beauty visionary Elizabeth Arden introduced the first day spa on Manhattan"s glamorous Fifth Avenue, the Red Door Salon. The revolutionary business offered manicures, facials and the signature "Arden Wax" (in addition to serving as a finishing school) and grew to be a global empire.

As the first to introduce eye makeup, travel-sized beauty products, and the concept of a makeover, Ms. Arden believed that "to be beautiful and natural is the birthright of every woman," and was the first person to create a product named after its founder. Today, Elizabeth Arden is a renowned global beauty brand and the legendary Red Door Spas is a privately-held company which owns and operates full-service salons and day spas across the United States, including 31 Red Door day and resort spas.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Arden Global Retail Boutique and Red Door Spa

A Great Facial

The idea of a great facial is constantly evolving. While basic facials of the past are still popular, technology and new developments in skincare have opened up a new world of possibilities. For example, collagen and oxygen are now being integrated into many signature facials now offered at spas.

Not only has technology contributed to the growing options for facials, but people"s skincare needs have also changed. For some individuals, quickie spa facials are a form of maintenance, giving them the opportunity for extractions and a chance to feed skin with spa-grade products. For others, facials can be a bit more luxurious, with gold facials rising again from the tombs of the Mayans and the days of Cleopatra, and vinotherapy facials from Caudelie giving grapes and wine a whole new purpose.

Photo credit: Umo Gold Facial

Spa Products:
Genie in a Bottle

We all think our estheticians work magic, whether it"s through a great body treatment or a refreshing facial. While Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spas was among the first to create spa products for the masses to continue their spa-level beauty regimen at home, other big-name spas and brands also jumped on the brandwagon, creating high-end luxury, engineered products for retail.

Aveda started out as a manufacturer of flower- and plant-based beauty products in 1978 and then opened its first Aveda Spa Retreat in 1990 in Osceola, Wisconsin, offering treatments based on Ayurvedic Medicine. Then there was Bliss, which was founded in 1996 and went into the spa industry as both a retailer and a spa.

Photo credit: Bliss

That "Back from St. Tropez" Tan

Tanning was a beauty trend started in the 1920s by legendary designer and fashion icon Coco Chanel. In the 1960s "suntanning was emulated with iodine, baby oil and mirrors," says Annette Hanson, owner of New York City skincare training facility City Atelier Esthetique Institute. Being bronzed was a sign that you had money (i.e. leisure time).

By the 1970s, suntan lotion became a popular way to get the desired healthy hues. But these days, people are thankfully getting their colour fix without exposing themselves to harmful UV rays. Plenty of spray-tanning options at spas and a plethora of sunless tanning products are now available, like Kate Somerville"s 360 Tanning Towelettes and dermatologist-developed Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads.

Photo credit: Kate Somerville

SPF Awareness

Until fairly recently, perhaps due to growing awareness of ozone depletion, not many people regularly used a moisturiser with sunscreen. "[It"s] the best anti-aging skincare cream ever to be discovered," says Hanson, since it wards off the harmful rays of the sun that cause premature aging of the skin.

These days, estheticians and dermatologists advise that no matter the season, everyone should wear SPF. Spafinder also stands behind this advice with its Melanoma Awareness Initiative.

Anti-Aging & Medical Spas

By 1997, innovative U.S. doctors began to introduce "medical spas," which combine Western and holistic medicine within a luxurious, spa environment. Here, new and old services, ranging from wellness coaching and acupuncture to Botox and plastic surgery, serve a growing group of people searching for ageless beauty. Medical-grade facials, laser treatments, and cellulite reduction have become standard treatments at medical spas as well.

While medical spas emerged in the States in the late "90s, Clinique La Prairie, in Montreaux, Switzerland, was the pioneer. They"ve welcomed visitors to their luxury clinic for their cellular therapies since 1931.

Photo credit: Clinique La Prairie

Scientific Skincare

"In the "40s and "50s, skincare was super basic," board-certified dermatologist Tanya Kormeili points out. "Today, technologies have evolved to create the latest and greatest in skin products." Now there are products with retinoids, retinols, plant hormones, even coffeeberry extracts.

More and more dermatologists are also getting involved in creating skincare lines to address a variety of skin conditions. It"s skin science at its finest!

Photo credit: Dr. Murad Inc.

Green Beauty

From body scrubs and facial masks to makeup and cleansers, the rise of natural and organic beauty products, once kept to the shelves of health-food stores, has steadily grown to become a mainstream expectation.

In makeup, licensed esthetician and film/TV makeup artist Patty Bell says she thinks the biggest change has been in foundations: "Gone are the golden days of Max Factor"s pancake makeup, which served its purpose back then. Today"s foundations are lighter, much more natural and actually good for the skin, and a lot of times, undetectable in this age of high definition."

From paraben-free and natural powders like Priori"s to New York City"s Caudalie, integrating organically grown ingredients into its innovative vinotherapy products, manufacturers have clearly caught on to natural, skin-nurturing products.

Photo credit: Caudalie

Beauty for Him

While spas have always been for both men and women, in recent years, we"ve seen more spa product lines developed exclusively for the skincare needs of men. Not only are more luxury products for men becoming available, like the VitaMan and Om4Men lines, but spas exclusively for men are also becoming common, with Nickel spas launching in 1996, Truman"s in 2006 and most recently the HOMMAGE Atelier, which opened in April of 2011 in New York City.

Photo credit: Tina Sbrigato

Hyper Beauty

The extreme becomes less extreme. Originating from Korea, eyelash extensions took the U.S. by storm in the late 1990s and are now a very popular beauty enhancement. Adding length and volume to natural lashes, extensions also make it easy to get up and go in the morning without applying mascara. "Women also love to get extensions before beach vacations since runny mascara is never flattering," says Lora Condon, a licensed esthetician dubbed the "Lash Doctor" and author of Spa Wars.

And then there are the eyebrows. Browhaus, the first brow salon of its kind in the U.S., specialises in a "Brow Resurrection" treatment, where thick, luscious brows are semi-permanently etched into existing eyebrows.

While ladies are opting for more hair around their eyes, they"re taking it off elsewhere (and men too!). Since the late "90s, Brazilian waxes and laser hair removal have become more popular.

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