For anyone who’s had a Ste. Anne’s Spa facial, you know your skin ends up feeling like velvet for days.
Unfortunately, unless you live close enough to make driving or taking the train to Ste. Anne’s doable, chances are you may never get to experience a luxurious facial at the spa itself.
The good news is that even though you’d be hard-pressed to replicate the experience, you can replicate the results at home and keep that velvety feeling going for weeks and months, because Ste. Anne’s has developed a skin-care line — called Skin Nourishment. Lucky for me, during my last visit to Ste. Anne’s, the spa let me take some of its hero products home.
I used Ste. Anne’s Skin Nourishment for about five or six months before writing this review, because skin care can be tricky if you have sensitive skin. (And I do!) Sometimes, it’ll work really well for a couple of weeks and then lose its lustre, while other times it sends your skin into a tailspin (tailskin?) and you need some time to regulate everything again to get a good read on the products.
I’m going to start with my favourite part of all: the ingredients. The Skin Nourishment development began in 2009 when a team from Ste. Anne’s Spa began working with an acclaimed Canadian herbalist as well as a small manufacturer in Waterloo, Ont. Holistically-based, the line focuses on natural, native ingredients and botanicals instead of synthetics. I will always choose products with ingredients I can pronounce first! There are no overly processed ingredients at all in these products, nor are there petrochemicals, sulfates, PEGs or PPGs (polyethylene glycol and polypropylene glycol polymer — I had to look those up!), parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances or synthetic preservatives.
You can easily find and read all of the ingredients lists for every product on the Skin Nourishment website, and then refer back to the Skin Deep database if you’re not sure about any of them. You want as many “0” and “1” scores as possible for any given ingredient. In my spot check of several products in this line, there was only ONE ingredient that scored any higher than a 1. It’s potassium sorbate and scores a 3; still better than phenoxyethanol (found in sooooo many baby and skin-care products), which is a 4. Both are preservatives, and when you introduce water into any product, you have to have a preservative or you’ll get bacteria growth, mould… all kinds of nasties!
The products are made in small batches. On purpose. This ensures that there aren’t hundreds of products sitting on a shelf for months on end instead of on your shelf, as fresh as possible.
Skin Nourishment products are gentle. While I did have a couple of weeks’ worth of what I’ll call “transition skin,” as I changed my entire skin-care routine to accommodate this review, it normalized beautifully in the end, resulting in very clean, supple skin without any further reactions or sensitivities.
For dry and aging skin, these products are fantastically hydrating and you need only the smallest amount of each because they’re quite concentrated. In fact, I got just about six months out of the cleanser, toner and moisturizer (offered in discounted “spa bundles“) — which at around $85 for the set is excellent value. Keep in mind that while I’m a stickler about washing my face every night, mornings are a little more loosey-goosey for me. I only wear makeup about once a week so I tend not to overdo it, even if that’s not a great long-term strategy overall. The fact is that I’m busy and it’s usually a case of forgetfulness. All that to say: if you’re a morning and night skin-care kind of gal, you may not find that one bundle lasts six months. However, at this price, it’s still less expensive than, say, Arbonne (which is what I’d been using).
Ste. Anne’s Spa Skin Nourishment Cleansing Cream represented the first time in many, many years that I tried a cleansing milk. I’ve always favoured foaming cleansers because, psychologically, it feels like they work more effectively. Then I stumbled across this post when I was researching another skin care line that I wanted to try last year. Most notably:
“As a rule — stay clear of ‘foaming’ on the bottle (there is the odd exception, but they are few and far between) – to get foam you need to use a surfactant — and a surfactant turns your skin alkaline. Alkaline skin is like a petri dish for bacteria. The irony being that so many cleansers pushed on to acne/combination skins are foaming. Naughty, nasty companies should know better.”
— Attributed to Caroline Hirons
After reading this, I vowed to use only what was left of my foaming cleanser and switch forever to milks. I won’t tell you that it hasn’t been hard, and I find myself washing my face twice on makeup days just to be sure I’ve removed everything. I also found out during another facial that colder water is better to use to keep moisture locked in during the cleansing process, and — frankly — I hate it. I don’t find it soothing and I don’t look forward to it. But as I approach my 41st birthday, I’m determined to do everything to fight aging. And that begins with well-hydrated skin. But for the record, the Ste. Anne’s
angels aesthetitians use warm water during the facials. So do what you please. I will say this: using a cleansing milk results in a nicer post-wash feel on my skin. With foaming cleansers, my face always felt tight. And I always believed this was a good thing, but it’s simply very dry skin. So in turn, I’ve also been using much less moisturizer overall. All good things, even if it’s taken some getting used to.
I’m giving a big shout out to the Gommage (only $44), which is a more traditional exfoliating peel. Gommages have been around long before “peels” as we now know them (read: chemicals), and although it’s more labour-intensive, I love the result. Ste. Anne’s Gommage uses natural alpha hydroxy acids — such as sugarcane, sugar maple and lemon fruit acids — to create a gentle exfoliant for even the most sensitive skin types, like those with rosacea. I have tried chemical peels before (because vanity) and they leave my skin very red for days. I get a nice glow and super-smooth skin from Skin Nourishment’s Gommage, and nothing more.
The versatility of the Hydrating Mask should not be ignored here, either. It can be used on its own as an intensive hydrating face cream or used in combination with any of the mineral masks to create a non-drying face mask. But…
You need to use a very light touch with the Hydrating Mask if using it as a moisturizer. I learned quickly that using it during the day was too much for my skin and clogged my pores. It was better for me as an overnight cream, but only in the coldest and driest winter months. As a base with the Drench mineral powder, it creates a mask that’s just OK for me (perhaps because I might still be just a bit too young for products targeted at aging skin) but isn’t a WOW. I’m also not a huge fan of the mixing process; I’d personally rather just squeeze out a product that’s ready to apply. But those who like (or need) customization may in fact really appreciate the ability to choose how much base to use against each particular mineral mask.
As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I did need to tweak my Skin Nourishment product use here and there at the beginning to find the right balance for my skin. It’s likely that less sensitive skin-types would have no issues right out of the box, but if you do have some skin issues, know that there could be some initial trial and error. But stick with it!
The skin-care trio (cleanser, toner, moisturizer) are housed in glass bottles. I have a love/hate relationship with glass bottles at this time in my life. They are so, so much better for you because plastic containers usually use BPA or BPS (which quickly replaced BPAs when consumer warfare went rampant a few years ago, but is just as questionable) and for that reason, I’m not taking off any gears for their use. However, I still have to mention that it makes them trickier in a house with toddlers or children like Miss Q who need to PUT. THEIR. HANDS. ON. EVERYTHING. Crashing down onto a tile floor in the bathroom, I’d be worried about my Ste. Anne’s products surviving. I did not test this out. Sorry ’bout that.
Would you like to win $300 worth of Ste. Anne’s Skin Nourishment products? Up for grabs:
- Cleansing Cream
- Day Cream
- Hydrating Lotion
- Mineral Mask
- Hydrating Mask
Just enter here and be sure to follow all of the mandatory steps so you’re not disqualified. Entrants must be residents of Canada, 18 or older. Contest ends April 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Good luck!