#naturabisse #thecanaryislands #beautydiscovery
The Spa at the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real
On our last two days on Fuerteventura, The Canary Islands, we stayed at the Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real. The lux accommodation was a big contrast to our yoga retreat and when we found out there's a spa onsite, we rushed over to book our treatments.
The spa at the Bahia (as it is known to the locals) is laid-back, both in their decor and their staff. What we have become accustomed to being on the island is that many of the "locals" actually come from all over the globe. The Bahia spa staff is no exception. And they are not pretentious, but just very chilled kind of people who don't push hard for spa treatment or products.
Love At First Sight....with Natura Bissé
I only signed up for a pedicure at first, but when my friends came back from their oxygen facials with super glowing skin, I immediately booked one for myself. Idaira, our esthetician, revealed the secret sauce for such great results - The spa used products from the Barcelona-based brand, Natura Bissé, exclusively. For this particular facial, she used the brand's Oxygen line.
Natura Bissé came into the beauty scene in 1979, and, amazingly, it remains a family-run company. Since its founding days, Ricardo Fisas Mulleras (founder who has since passed) and his family have slowly introduced its products to beauty lovers around the world.
After seeing great results from our facials, I opted to try a few of their products. I found out later that the Bahia Spa's selling price was about 50% less than regular retail price in the U.S.. It was quite painful when I reordered on Neiman Marcus, knowing I could have saved 50%. Ouch.
The OXYGEN CREAM
What Does It Do? This is a moisturizing cream promising to hydrates, clarifies, purifies and illuminate your skin.
Texture Although it is in a thicker cream form, it's not heavy like some of the night creams out there. You can see in the swatch photo that it has a thinner, watery consistency.
Scent This cream has a very light scent. Not overwhelming.
Usage I use this as the very last step of my night routine and as part of my winter routine. I have combo skin, so this is too rich for the summer, but it's very beneficial during the dry winter months, especially when I'm on the East Coast where heat is always on. At the same time, because of my combo skin, I adjust the amount used on different parts of my face. I use a dime-sized amount in total (A dime has a 17.9mm diameter). It absorbs very well and does not cause my skin to grease up afterward or the next morning (thanks to the oil-controlling ingredient).
Results I have been using this for two months on a nightly basis. My skin feels soft and moist, but again, not greasy. I went through a phase where my skin has been very dull, and I am seeing a difference now where my skin is brighter (although I can't say for sure if it's this cream alone or if it's a combination with the Natura Bissé Oxygen Complex). I also have not had any negative reaction to this product.
Conclusion This is a good night cream for the drier winter months. It's suitable for dry skin and somewhat suitable for combo skin (vary the amount used in dry vs oily spots). I have not bad any negative reaction to this cream. I do want to highlight two of its ingredients - hydrogen peroxide and paraben. See end of this post for more details on ingredients.
The OXYGEN COMPLEX
What Does It Do? This is a concentrate promising to brighten, decongest, and hydrate your skin.
Texture It is between a gel and a cream. It's not thick like a cream, but not as transparent as a gel.
Scent This gel-cream has a light fruity scent. The brand claims that this fruity scent helps reduce stress, which is "essential to preventing loss of oxygen". I'm not sure if I buy into this "benefit", but I do like the scent.
Usage I treat this product like a serum, so I use this between the toner and moisturizer steps in my daily routine. Because of its light consistency, I use this day and night, summer and winter. It absorbs very quickly and leaves no traces of oiliness.
Results I have been using this for five months on a daily basis. I started using this before adding in the Oxygen Cream, so I know the result is mostly attributed to this product - I noticed a big difference in my skin luminosity. It looks brighter, smoother, and just more alive. I also have not had any negative reaction to this product.
Bonus I carry out a skin care routine while I travel on long-haul flights (10+hrs). I'veused this product during these flights in the past few months and it has helped keep my skin hydrated among the dry, circulated in-flight air. I look so refreshed upon landing. I would not go on any long plane ride without having this in my carry-on.
Conclusion I just reordered the Oxygen Complex - It shows how much I love this and how much I appreciate what it has done for my skin. Its lightweight consistency makes this a good skin brightening candidate for any weather and for most skin types. I say "most" because (1) one of its ingredients is known to act as an allergen and may cause skin reaction for some people and those with sensitive skin should not try this product, and (2) For those with dry skin, this may not be the best hydration option because of its lightweight consistency. Also, same as the Oxygen Cream, this also contains hydrogen peroxide and paraben.
The STIMUL-EYE ACTIVE GEL
What Does It Do? This is a eye gel promising to improve microcirculation, eliminate toxins, and reducing puffiness.
Texture It is a clear gel that blends/dissolves easily.
Scent This eye gel has a very strong chemical scent that I am having a hard time tolerating. My own fault as I did not test it before buying it at the Bahia Spa.
Usage I use this during my morning routine. Despite its strong scent, it has a very refreshing feel upon application. Consider putting it in the refrigerator - The intense coolness of the gel totally wakes up my tiring panda eyes. I also like how the gel form does not dilute the primer or concealer I put on.
Results I must admit that, because of its scent, I don't use this consistently. When I do use it - the combination of its gel form and the coolness from being stored in the fridge - my undereye area looks more refreshed. At the same time, whenever you apply cold eye products to the undereye area, it helps reduce swelling because coldness restricts blood vessels.
Conclusion While the cooling sensation and swelling-reduction are two pluses, I don't think I can say this eye gel is highly-recommended. The scent is just a big turn-off. Also, the cooling effect is mainly due to placing this gel in the refrigerator. In other words, this technique can enhance any eye cream or eye gel that you already have in your beauty cabinet. No need to splurge on this expensive eye product.
The STABILIZING CLEANSING MASK
What Does It Do? This is a dual-usage cleanser/mask that promises to clear clogged pores, gently polish skin, and control excess oil, without drying up skin.
Texture It comes in a white lightweight liquid-y creamy form. Be careful when squeezing product out - Because it's not heavy, too much pressure would end up squeezing out too much product.
Scent There is very minimal scent when product is in my hand. Once applied on face, I can't smell anything.
Usage I use this as a mask 1 - 2 times a month. The reason for low frequency is because this cleanser/mask contains 2% salicylic acid, which is a typical ingredient in acne-control products, so it tends to dry up skin. For me, I use it only over my T-zone to deep-clean pores and keep it on for shorter duration (5 minutes). The good thing is that it also contains aloe vera to help offset the drying tendency of salicylic acid.
Results Once the mask is washed off, skin feels pretty tight, but overall, my skin feels very smooth. Most of the congestion occurs in the pores on my nose, and after using this mask, I see a noticeable difference. It's not 100% clear as it would be after a manual extraction, but I prefer pore-clearing this way since it's less invasive and don't cause any scaring. Also, if I maintain pore-clearing like this regularly, then I won't have to endure too much extraction work when I do get a facial.
Conclusion While I like this cleanser/mask for what it does for my skin, I can't say this is a must-have. One big reason is the price. At USD $51.00 per tube, this is an expensive mask. I bought it at half that price at the Bahia Spa, so no compliant here for me.
Some Alternative Products Here are some cheaper alternatives that do similar job. Note that these products contain pretty powerful active ingredients, so if you haven't used them before, please spot-test first.
$7.99 Benzoyl Peroxide option - Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser Mask
$7.99 0.5% Salicylic Acid option - Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Cleanser Mask
The Beauty of Traveling
I don't think I would have known about Natura Bissé if it wasn't for this trip to the Canary Islands and the stay at the Bahia. That's what I really love about traveling, in addition to meeting new people and tasting new kind of food. I get to experience, even if it's in a small way, how women in other parts of the globe take care of their skin. What are some of the unique beauty brands you have experienced on your travel? Would love to hear about them!
A note on ingredients
I read as much as I can to get a better understanding on what some ingredients are and what level is considered safe. I know that some may not be keen on hydrogen peroxide and paraben. That's why I want to call out these two ingredients rather than just saying how great the above products are! Now you are armed with insights to make an informed personal choice in your skin care journey. For those who are still curious, here's some additional info for you to think about.
Paraben There have been lots of discussions on paraben over the years. Paraben is a preservative used in skin care to prevent bacteria that could be harmful to your skin from growing in your products . If you think about how we use our products - the occasional contact between your fingers and the pump of your favorite serum or every time you open and close that jar of night cream. These are all potential opportunities for bad things to transfer to your products. Having preservatives may not be so bad after all. The first study came out in 2004 about the potential risk of paraben. This has since been studied further by different authorities on cosmetics/skin care products, and the original risk finding has since been refuted (even by the researcher on the original study).
If you're using products without preservatives, please try your best in keeping your fingers clean and apply them to clean face only. Also, follow the expiration date. If there isn't specific expiration dates, look for the "shelf-life label" on the back of the product - It's a picture of an open jar with notation such as "12M" or "24M" where the number represents the number of months the product can be used after opening.
Hydrogen Peroxide Diluted version with 6% or less concentration is available over-the-counter. Most people use it as an age-spot removal treatment recommended by dermatologists, but only when used with caution and at low dosage. If you are interested in using this method, please consult with your dermatologist first on proper application as hydrogen peroxide is very potent and should be used carefully. As for hydrogen peroxide being included as one of the ingredients in a skin care product, it offers brightening effect and that's why product reviews often include "brighter", "glowing" skin. There have been discussions on both sides of the aisle on safety of this ingredient in skin care products. My take is that, as with any ingredient, using a safe dosage is the key to a positive experience.
Here are a few things I've learned about hydrogen peroxide: 1) Many of the "oxygen" products out there do not contain actual oxygen as it is a gas and cannot be a standalone ingredient. Instead, these products contain hydrogen peroxide which can generate oxygen as it is applied to the skin. 2) Safety concerns becomes an important issue when the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is 40%+. For comparison, in skin care products, the typical concentration is about 0.5 - 1.0%. 3) There is such thing as too much oxygen for our skin - Overuse of oxygen facial treatments can have negative effect of causing wrinkles and premature aging.
Let me know your thoughts!
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