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TESTED The facial celebs like Sadie Frost love (BUT you have to get snapped in a wrinkle camera first!)

Sadie Frost and Hilary Swank are fans of the Environ Vitamin Facial that fuses the latest in medical grade beauty treatments with high-performance ingredients. Trouble is, you have to go under a wrinkle-revealing camera beforehand. Anna Magee braved it

When you hear the words vitamin facial, you probably think of some natural vitamin C sources such as orange or spinach being sloughed onto your face. That’s about as far from the Environ Vitamin Facial it’s possible to get.

It comes from the International Institute for Anti-Ageing (IIAA) whose skincare line, Environ, together with their Advanced Nutrition Programme skin supplements line, fuses beauty therapy, nutrition and medical grade ingredients. The result is a three-pronged attack on wrinkles and ageing that takes into account scientifically proven ingredients and skin delivery methods to make changes to whatever signs of ageing your face is showing.

Environ is formulated by Dr Des Fernandes, a plastic surgeon and created with a basis of Vitamin A, probably the most highly researched skincare ingredient on the planet.  Although dermatologists prescribe it at high percentages in products such as retinol for wrinkles and skin pigmentation or Roaccutane, a powerful anti-acne drug, it’s also available in lower concentrations without prescriptions.

According to research, Vitamin A one of the only ingredients that penetrate the top layer of the skin to produce smoother skin and heal problems such as pigmentation. The Environ line is designed so the user can progress from a low dose in vitamin A to the highest acceptable for a non-prescription treatment. The Environ facial has a big celebrity following too with clear-skinned devotees including Sadie Frost, Hilary Swank and Ellen Pompeo.

Environ facial devotee Sadie Frost
Environ facial devotee Sadie Frost
Hilary Swank is also a fan - will it make me look like that?
Hilary Swank is also a fan – will it make me look like that?

I had my facial at Skin 3 salon in Swiss Cottage, North London which is more like a serious skin clinic than a beauty therapist’s. The waiting room was peopled by young women with obvious skin problems like acne and pigmentation which I couldn’t help noticing. My consult with senior therapist Anisa Brown began with the over-35 woman’s worst nightmare: the VISIA camera.

Looks harmless but the damage it does to self-esteem is immeasurable
Looks harmless but the damage it does to self-esteem is immeasurable
Why, oh why do I put myself through it
Why, oh why do I put myself through this?

If you haven’t yet had one of these and want a skin wake up call to get you out of the sun or to stop smoking or doing anything else to damage your skin this is it. It shows every little wrinkle, pore and sunspot in stark and ugly detail. Here are my results. Warning: if you’re squeamish look away now.

VISIA 1 WRINKLES EYEIn this picture, the green line are my wrinkles. The light green ones are bad. The dark green ones are really bad. They are ALL around my eyes and while poor Anisa tried to comfort me with the idea that there were no other wrinkles on my face, the sheer volume of these made me sad.


This is the oil in my face, apparently a good thing.


Here we have – indicated by the purple dots – a lovely illustration of enlarged pores. Anisa again said this isn’t the worst thing in the world because it helps products penetrate. Try telling that to the hefty sum of money I spend on primer.


Eeek! What a fright. This, my friends is the sun damage on my face. Hopefully not as recognisable to the naked eye as it is here but nonetheless here. I have freckly skin which Anisa says is kind of natural and okay, but I also have big swathes of darker pigment along my jaw, forehead and the sides of my eyes.

Pigmentation like this is caused by sun exposure and it  takes 10-40 years after the exposure has occurred for it to show up. Having grown up in Australia, covering myself (face included) in baby oil and burning, this damage is coming back to haunt me now. Apparently, the SPF 30 I started using religiously when I was 28 and learned about the dangers of the sun to the skin hasn’t helped that much. According to Anisa, most of this damage was done before I was 18. This makes me depressed.

But alas, there’s hope. Regular use of vitamin A on the skin can help fade the pigmentation and stop if from getting worse, she says. The snazzy machine (and really not sure if I believe this) also shows you what your skin will look like after five years’ use of the Environ products – does it show the overdraft you might accumulate too?


See, brighter and lighter skin.

However, the same machine also shows you what your skin will look like if you continue to age at the old crone rate on which I am currently doing.


Armed with this knowledge and in dire need of comfort it was time for me to get some pampering. In the facial room, there was no whale music or candles only a bed with towels and a comforting warm pillow on which to lay my head.

The hour-long facial began with various stages of cleansing and exfoliation to dissolve pore congestion and prepare my face to receive the vitamin treatments. This felt gorgeous as there is nothing I like more in the world than having my face rubbed (well one thing, but let’s not go there).

The therapist then applied a series of vitamin treatment gels containing antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin A along with hyaluronic acid (an intensive water-based hydrator) to the skin.  While that was on, she activated it with a probe that emitted a combination of sound waves and electrical pulses to my skin. Some I could hear like white noise, others I could see flashing, even through closed eyes. This part of the treatment addressed specific areas of concern like wrinkles and pigmentation – oh yeh baby. Can I move in?

Thirdly, the mask. An experience. A thick, juicy ‘Alginate’ mask was applied with a brush all over my face, literally – including my mouth and eyes, – leaving only my nostrils to breathe from. It’s cooling with peppermint and over it is applied another pulsed electrical current, this time that I could feel in a tingling sensation for 20 minutes while Anisa gave me a hand massage.

Once the mask was peeled off, an Environ moisturiser containing vitamin A – like all in the range – was applied to my face.

Designed as more than a pampering experience, the vitamin facial is supposed to work to benefit sun-damage, lined, unevenly pigmented or scarred skin. According to the therapists, you start seeing it working a couple of days after the treatment, even after just one or two sessions – though obviously, a course of 12 is recommended.

I was prescribed a line of skin care, the first stage in the Environ C-quence range and containing the right level of vitamin A for my skin along with other antioxidants such as vitamin C and hyaluronic acid.

The vitamin-A based Environ C-quence range that I have been prescribed and told to use religiously for three months to stop my growing sun damage.

Apparently, skincare can only penetrate two layers of skin and we have three, so the IIAA’s Advanced Nutrition Programme encourages people like me to also take a line skin supplements including omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin A. I was told to take omegas as my skin is awfully dehydrated – not helped by the seven cups of builder’s tea I drink a day or the sauna like levels at which we keep the office thermostat at – along with vitamin A supplements.

Skin Omegas


Watch this space and I will update results every month for three months.

Anna had her facial at Skin3 Salon, Swiss Cottage, London call, 020 728 1291 costing £79 including the Visia Skin Analysis.  A one hour Environ Vitamin Facial costs from £75 for the 1.5 hours Advanced Active Vitamin Treatment. For your nearest Environ Salon call 0208 450 2020. Find out more about Environ





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