For some reason, going to a high-end spa has always felt so intimidating to me — no matter how put together I looked, I felt like I couldn’t step foot into one because something like my clumsiness or blemished skin would sound alarms that I didn’t belong there. Even though my mom was an aesthetician in a luxury spa when I was growing up and I went there a hundred times just to hangout, going into one on my own, as an adult, for a legitimate treatment was an experience I couldn’t quite wrap my head around.
I was recently invited to check out The Clinica’s newest Toronto location (Yonge and Eglinton) and while I was weirdly nervous, their offerings looked too interesting to skip out on. I’m so glad I went. Their treatments are all results-based, so rather than only coming in for a cute, relaxing facial (which is also totally fine!), they want guests to leave seeing and feeling a difference, while still feeling relaxed.
Walking in, I was greeted by the friendliest staff and a stunning interior. The Clinica is considered a medical spa, but in my opinion, it had even more of a relaxing ambiance and open warmth than an average spa — nothing that screamed “medical” at all.
Related: Top Canadian spas for budget-friendly escapes.
Their entrance is full of shelves stocked with some of the best skincare brands like Skinceuticals — categorized by skin concern — which was a treat on its own for someone like me who loves trying new skincare. Skinceuticals also notably takes steps toward sustainability by minimalizing their carbon footprint and expanding their social impact.
As a first step, I was set up for a skin consultation to narrow down problem areas and see what type of treatment was ideal for me. I’m sure many spas offer this, but The Clinica’s live, in-depth analysis of my skin was incredible to see.
After using equipment to take precise photos of my skin, they went through a system on the computer that “graded” each aspect of my skin from scarring, hyper pigmentation, wrinkles, and more, ultimately determining how old the system thought my skin looked (lucky for me, it looks the exact age that I actually am!). We also talked through my options, and I got to see some before-and-after results to get a better idea of what I could expect with my treatment.
We decided on one of their most popular treatments, a HydraQuench facial AKA Pilates for your face. This hydrating treatment uses radio frequency to warm up the pores for better product absorption, while boosting circulation and relieving muscle tension. I was paired with Nurse Kay Abarra who started by cleansing my face and applying an exfoliating mask, before going in with the radio frequency technology. It sounds scary, but there’s no pain at all. It was actually pretty relaxing — the heat made me feel like I was finally experiencing real sunshine on my face, in the middle of a bitter cold winter day. After a few steady minutes of that, Nurse Kay let a cooling mask sit on my face for 10 minutes before finishing up my treatment with serum and moisturizer. This treatment is especially great for those with dry skin, but works on all skin types and concerns, which is why I saw great results even with my oilier skin type. The best part was that there was no downtime after for this treatment, so I was able to walk out of there with plump, refreshed, and snatched skin.
Related: I tried a Korean Kyung-rak facial and this is how it went.
Before leaving, I got the chance to chat with Heather Gillis, The Clinica’s Marketing Director. From anti-aging to Botox, she helped shed some light on a few skincare-related questions that’d been bouncing around my head for some time now:
How can I protect my skin now, to avoid anti-aging treatments in the future?
Gillis: “Establishing a good skincare routine and everyday sun protection will set you up for the future (remember to always apply your products from thinnest to thickest). I love Vitamin C, too — it protects your skin from environmental factors such as UV rays.”
See also: I tried sea moss gel for two weeks – here’s how it went.
What’s one thing everyone should be incorporating into their skincare routines?
Gillis: “Retinol. It’s friendly for all ages as long as [you’re] finding what works for you. Ideally, start at a lower percentage once a week so that your skin gets used to it, then build up to using it every other day. It’s also great for those who are acne-prone because of the skin turnover abilities.”
What makes someone an ideal candidate for Botox?
Gillis: “People who are very expressive [with their facial movements] and prone to lines. The needle pricks are surface level, so it just feels like tiny pinches. There’s no certain age — someone who’s younger might want it as a preventative measure, and someone who’s older might want it when they start seeing static lines.”
Related: I tried it: I got lip fillers – and it didn’t really hurt.
What’s a skincare trend that you think will take off this year?
Gillis: “Ultherapy. It’s an ultrasound-based machine that treats skin both deep and surface-level, while collagen is formed. It’s a one-go treatment so you start seeing the results after just three months, with everything in your face starting to lift. People are usually scared to go under the knife, so here’s a non-invasive face-lift that requires no surgery or downtime and is much more affordable.”
Overall, I had a fun day of pampering and skincare education, and days later, my skin still feels hydrated as ever. I might just have to pop in for a SkinRevive treatment soon, now that I know there’s a space I can go to without feeling like I’m experiencing Imposter Syndrome specific to spas (officially making that a thing).
You may also like: What is ‘skin flooding?’ Everything to know about the new viral TikTok trend.