Absolving the “Sins of Summer”

The days of sunshine pulsating out of a clear sky while we lazily lay by the pool are slowly winding down– the sunset of our summer days right in front of us.  Kids have chosen their super stylized backpacks and entered into their school day routines.

And all of a sudden– you’re about to have a little more time to take care of yourself!

If you look into the mirror after a summer by the pool or going on a couple of vacations, you might see a fading bronze glow.  But behind it, there could be some skin damage that will last long after we move into September.  I personally committed some SPF sacrilege on our recent trip to Norris Lake in Tennessee.

Needed: A Skin Check-Up

I went to The Spa at River Ridge in Dublin for their take on my post-summer skin. When you walk inside you’re surrounded by a little bit of sparkle….


And more than a skin-deep sense of light and peace.


Melanie Lloyd, the spa’s master aesthetician, walked into the waiting area to meet me.  On the agenda: a skin check-up and a highly specialized facial that you can only find locally at this spa– which can take away almost all of those summer sins.

As a bonus, I was going to get educated on some great home-remedy options for sun-damaged skin and share them with you.  We’ll talk about those toward the bottom of this post!

“Once you’re done you’ll feel like a million bucks,”  Melanie tells me.

We walk into the treatment room, gentle music playing… and I get prepped for the facial.

Facial Room
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Melanie tells me that some of the places that see the most trouble from the sun on our face include our forehead, cheeks, and the bridge of our nose.  The back of our ears and our lips also tend to get a raw deal during the summer, too.

As she gives my face a once over, she notices I also have some slight damage above my lips.


And funny she should mention it– even though I have a lotion that I use everyday that has an SPF of 30… I really don’t concentrate much of that lotion above my upper lip line.  Do you?

The Hydrafacial– Step by Step

The spa started doing the Hydrafacial nearly two and a half years ago.  I mentioned this is perfect for those of you who’ve been poolside since June, but it’s also great for those of you who spent the summer traveling.  Dried out airplane air will do a number on your skin.  It’s also a great option for long distance runners who have been out in the sun and heat throughout the last few months.

This facial is serious.  Underlined and with an exclamation point on it!

There are eight stages in the Hydrafacial.  The first stage is a lymphatic massage, where Melanie literally moves some of the toxins below your skin down towards your underarms to get them out of your system, as you see in the picture below.  Did you know you have lymph nodes in your face?  I don’t think I remembered that fact from Biology class.  They’re along your sinuses, on your ear, your neck, chest, and forehead.  There’s a light vibration on the hand tool you see her using here and it’s incredibly relaxing.


Lymphatic Massage

This massage also helps with sinus drainage, if you’ve had problems with summer allergies.

After you’ve moved those toxins out of the area, you’ll go through a microexfoliation that sloughs off  dead skin. It addresses some of the pigmentation issues you might have developed from not putting on enough sun screen.  And the treatments she’ll put on my skin afterwards will now penetrate better.





Next up is the GlySal prep– and I know many of you ladies know where the root of this word comes from:  glycolic acid.  Being in the sun will bring pigmentation to the surface and draw more attention to fine lines Melanie explains, so this portion of the facial smoothes some of that out and also helps with cellular turnover.  It also will help you out at home later, according to Melanie– you’ll see your home products sink into your skin even better for one to two weeks after the facial.

“I’m all about results.  This machine achieves the best results I’ve seen professionally,” she tells me as she finishes up the prep work.

Once you get this facial though, you need to be ultra conservative about how much SPF you put on your face moving into the fall!  Put on no less than 30 SPF, she tells me.  If you don’t, you could reverse the effects of the Hydrafacial.

The craziest part of this facial might be the Vortex Extractions.  It doesn’t hurt, but the concept is wild.  The dead skin is literally sucked out of our cheeks, chin, and more.  Melanie uses a very light vacuum on my face (and the sound reminds me of the straw they use in the dentist’s office.)  The video below gives you an up close and personal look at this portion of the facial:

In this step, Melanie is also treating my face with Beta-HD.  It’s a solution that refines pores and pinpoints the increased oil we have on our faces during the summer months.  She explains we overproduce oil because of the humidity around us this time of year– water is literally sucked out of our skin.

She neutralizes some of the treatments we just did, and then moves on to the next step– which involves Britenol. Melanie uses it to lighten dark spots and other sun damage that has surfaced on the skin.  One of the elements used in this is called Alpha Arbutin.  It’s derived from bearberry extract and it’s a muscled ingredient that will help reduce the appearance of dark spots.

“It’s a safe percentage of active ingredients that are going to work with the chemistry of your skin in a gentle and healthy way.”

One of the most fascinating parts of the facial for me was the Dermabuilder.  I liken it to a topical botox that lasts 5-7 days.  It fills in fine lines and wrinkles and has has a peptide solution in it– so it’s stimulating the good stuff:  collagen and elastin that are harder to generate as we grow older.

One of the last parts of the facial is called Antiox+.  There’s something callled hyaluronic acid in this and Melanie tells me it’s like a glass of water to your skin.  There’s a TON of peptides inside this treatment.  It gives back the glow that the sun and chlorine have taken away.  I needed a lot of moisture restored, apparently!  She continued to put on the Antiox+ until my skin had absorbed a couple of rounds of the product.

The last bit, the final step, involves an LED light– the picture you saw at the beginning of this post.  A red light helps with ciruclation and calms redness from all of the treatments, and it stimulates collagen and elastin.  Melanie says she chooses a blue LED for more congested skin, it kills the P. acne that live in the layers of the skin during the summer.


Once it’s over, I feel like my skin has been through a great workout.  You know when you look in the mirror at the end of a group class at the gym and you’re sweaty– but feel like you can do anything?  And viewer be warned:  there’s video evidence right here that this is one intense experience.

This is the end result of that Vortex Extraction we talked about earlier!

As odd as that is to see, my skin looks great.  It’s taut and there is no afterburn sensation.

You can see the glow in this picture I took with Melanie– sans any makeup.



And take a good look at this Before and After pic of my skin.

Especially the area between my eyes, where my “squinting wrinkles” have started to show up in the last year or so.







That’s the “topical botox” doing it’s job.

The facial costs $250 and it lasts for about an hour and a half.  The Spa at River Ridge suggests a series of four, booking them every two weeks, for the best results at the end of summer.   And keep in mind, you do get a complimentary LED light treatment on the off weeks if you choose to do the series.

Now… That may be a significant price tag to you, or it may not be.  But this is good information to have:  Melanie says the treatment is actually very similar to a silk peel you would get at a dermatologists’ office, with the added benefits of brighteners, fillers, and hydration that usually don’t come with that peel.  A silk peel will be around the same price point.

Home Care and Home Remedies

An important question I had:  What at-home treatments are best once the summer is over?

Lloyd says to invest in a good eye product or treatment serum, if you don’t have one of those already.  If you pick a day serum, go for one that has Vitamin C.  If you choose a night serum, make sure it has retinol.  Other suggestions include:

  • Cleanse twice a day and use a Clarisonic.  Use upward strokes and circular movements when you wash your face and when you’re applying serums and moistuizers.
  • Speaking of upward strokes– try facial massage on yourself.  Do it when you’re cleansing or moisturizing, because it will stimulate some collagen and elastin.  If you’re doing it lightly, you can even get some of the toxins out.  (Truth be told… I already do this with coconut oil at night on my face and it works WONDERS, so I second her suggestion!)
  •  During the day, continue to use your sunscreen.  Look for those products that have a high percentage of zinc.  I have Garnier’s BB cream and I made a mental note to check and see if it had enough zinc.  Your product needs to have 15% or higher, according to Melanie.
  • You need to get a full night’s rest!  On a more regular basis 😀 Melanie says it helps your skin recover from the summer months.

Now… for your Grocery List.

Part of this is for what you put in your body and part is for what you put ON your face.

  • You should be eating almonds, avocados, blueberries, salmon and spinach for great skin.
  • Buy turmeric, if you don’t already have it.  Then create a paste of the spice and water.  You’ll put it on your face to help lighten your skin at home.  It also helps minimize scars.
  • Lemon juice or a lemon itself is a great buy.  Melanie says it’s one of the best ingredients if you want clear skin.  It removes dead skin and helps reduce dark spots.  You can put the juice directly on your face and leave it there overnight to reduce those spots.  Or you can take your lemon, slice it into quarters and dip it in sugar.  Then rub the slices onto your skin to exfoliate the dead skin.  Rinse afterwards with water.
  • Sliced cucumbers are great for repairing damaged skin cells around your eyes.  Just put them over your lids and undereye and sit for ten minutes.

So there you have it– the steps you can take to absolve your skin of all the damage you’ve done over the summer.

Little did you know you’d be going to the grocery store, once we got to this point!

The Spa at River Ridge has a variety of facials if you’re looking for other kinds of treatment too.

You can check out their services on their website.



Full Disclosure:  This post contains sponsored links from The Spa at River Ridge.

All opinions are my own.