When I received an email from Shangpree Spa in Seoul saying they had read my articles in the Korean journal I write for, and wanted to invite me for a facial treatment at their renowned spa in Seoul, I jumped at the opportunity. Skincare in Seoul is among the best in the world, and with mentions in the likes of The New York Times, Vogue and Forbes, Shangpree Spa sounded like the best place to try my first (shocking I know?!) facial in Korea. I went there with an open mind, and ready to get my glow on.
(This experience was provided courtesy of Shangpree Spa. This does not affect my review- see disclaimer for policies)
The spa is in the beautiful Apujeong area. As soon as you walk in you can feel the luxury- lovely black lockers for your shoes; a gold couch area where you can take a seat with refreshments; a water feature in front of the desk; and a wooden sculpted back wall where the reception desk stands. The spa is incredibly chic, yet not decadent or tacky.
The two ladies who greeted me were very friendly and whisked me straight through to the changing area, where I was given a cotton wrap (100% naturally dyed, the little card told me) to cover myself, and a locker for my belongings (with a scented hanger). When I was changed I went through to another dimly lit room, with relaxing music playing, to lay down.
The estheticians at Shangpree are trained for three years before they are even allowed near a client’s face- this professionalism and skill was abundantly clear throughout my treatment. My esthetician also spoke English, which, whilst not an expectation, was helpful as she kindly explained each step.
The attention to detail throughout my experience really set the standard. First the esthetician rubbed an aromatherapy bar (think that’s the word I would use?!) across my chest and let the calming scent waft, to settle me into the treatment. It was a really peaceful way to begin and set my mood perfectly. Then she removed my makeup in THE MOST GENTLE WAY I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. I accidentally wore my Heroine super waterproof mascara but she removed it so delicately, and I thoroughly enjoyed the gel cleanse she followed with. During my makeup removal a different lady came in and cleansed my feet with a hot towel whilst loosening my ankles. Again, a very nice touch.
As the esthetician removed my makeup, she asked if it was okay to set up a leg massage. Of course I replied yes, but I
was taken by surprise- a different lady started feeding my legs into two different tubes of plastic type material. The only thing I can compare this machine to is that used to take your blood pressure at the doctors. The material around my legs filled with air right up to high pressure, then released before moving up my leg to the next section. At first, I’m gonna be honest, I really wasn’t sure about it. But once I relaxed, it was an enjoyable experience, and the esthetician left me with the leg massage and a (extremely!) soothing facial mask for about 10 minutes.
This whole makeup removal experience was already very enjoyable, and now was the time for my S Energy Treatment (she stopped the leg massage machine at this point, which I was pleased about so I could focus on the facial). The S Energy is the spa’s signature treatment, and is based on their ‘esthetician formula’. The treatment uses a formula of Baikal Skullcap Stem Cell Callus Culture, Oxygen, and Violet Herbal Complex, to improve “skin cell physiology to help facilitate regeneration and restore youth to aging skin”. Celia, the very nice assistant manager who talked me through everything, explained that this treatment is all about detoxification, boosting skin metabolism and making skin healthy. The products contain no alcohol, artificial fragrances or irritating ingredients, making the facial suitable for all skin types.
For the first part of this treatment, the esthetician used an ionic device to go over my face in short strokes, and she actually showed me (at my curious request) all the sebum she initially removed through this technique. The white bits were floating in the bowl of liquid product she was using (gross but extremely satisfying to see!). I wasn’t really sure exactly why an ionic device was used but I found this useful article explaining the science behind it: Cosmetics and Sking: Iontophoresis and Desincrustation . The colour image on that article of the device with two balls on, towards the bottom, looks very similar to that which they used at Shangpree. The short firm strokes of the device felt like they really improved circulation in my face and energized my skin. She used the same technique for the following product, massaging it into my face. She finished the treatment with facial massaging and lots of moisturising! Her massaging techniques and hands felt wonderful on my face- again the skill of the training was apparent.
She then left me relaxing while she went to mix the Gold Premium Modelling Mask. These are the best sellers from the Shangpree skincare line, and even though I was slightly cynical as to just how good they could be, the results, and feeling of my skin afterwards, spoke for themselves. The mask is produced by mixing a gel and active collagen powder together, which dries on your face to form a rubber texture. The key ingredients in this mask are gold, ginseng root powder, and caviar extract. As I mentioned before- no bad alcohol, artificial fragrances etc in this lovely thing. The mask claims to nourish and moisturise skin for 72 hours, as well as soothe and cool, and provide anti-aging and firming results.
The esthetician applied the mask expertly in smooth swipes across my face, and left me for a few minutes during the initial drying stage. Once it had turned to rubber, she then gave me a shoulder and chest massage, which whilst very firm, were wonderfully relaxing and worked out the tension in the upper part of my body.
Around 30 minutes after initial application (I think) she removed the mask easily, and that was my treatment finished! She briefly patted out my back when I sat up, which was a nice finishing touch after laying down for around an hour and a half.
After changing, I then went and had a chat with the lovely Celia, who spoke to me about the treatment I had received, my skin type, the types of aims I need to make for my skintype and general Seoul life! Whilst she was very informative, she was not pushy about their products in the slightest, which I really appreciated. By this point, the facial and the mask had done all the talking- my skin was literally glowing.
Results and after thoughts
In terms of results, I tried to mentally separate how my skin felt after the facial, and then after the mask.
My skin felt extremely rejuvenated by the facial, and incredibly soft and smooth. In fact, four days later, and my skin texture still feels much improved compared to before (and I’m someone who is using acids daily and has a strong skincare game- if you’re not quite so on it, I imagine the initial results could potentially be even more dramatic). The small blemish I had on my cheek that day, which was pretty angry at the time, immediately shrunk and disappeared within a day. Overall my skin appeared much more healthy and bouncy after the facial.
With the gold mask, I felt like it plumped my skin and left my face so moisturised. I loved how it really cooled my skin, and was very comfortable to wear. Removing it was also easy, and my skin felt so nourished afterwards.
The biggest result for me, after both treatments, was the freakin’ GLOW. I have never, ever, seen my skin glow like it was the evening I left Shangpree, and it is still glowing today (like I said, I’m writing this part of the post four days later). I was amazed, and it wasn’t something I expected. I feel like the glow may have been more to do with the facial, but I’m sure the mask helped it along. This really impressed me. The immediate results, along with the professionalism of the spa and attention to detail and client comfort, will be why I am sure I will return for another facial at Shangpree. In fact I’m actually already planning another visit for my mum, sister and I when they come to Korea in the fall!
The price of the S Energy Treatment facial is 130,000 Korean Won (around $115 or £85 with the tragically poor rate of the pound at the moment). This is not cheap. However, if it is possible within your budget, I would highly recommend it for skin rejuvenation and to help achieve that oh-so-Korean glow. I know, that although I did not pay for this treatment, I would not have been disappointed if I had, and I will be willing to pay that myself in the future when I want a treat, or before a major event. The professionalism at this spa was impeccable, and I think the price fairly reflects the training, high standards, products used, and techniques.
To buy the gold masks, they are around $20 a piece for one time use. Again, although this is more that I would usually pay for a mask, I think if you are looking for a little at home pampering before a big event, or just for the sake of luxurious pampering, that’s not a bad price. I am really looking forward to using the gold again, as well as the silver and charcoal I also now have in my stash of masks! For you Brits out there, these masks are going to be available in Harrods soon, which I think is pretty exciting stuff- K-Beauty products are getting their space in the British market!
Have you visited Shangpree or tried any of their products? I would love to hear your experiences!