It’s late afternoon and the sun is already starting to sag in the sky. Traffic is light as I make my way up the PCH towards Malibu. The road winds along the cliff. I can see surfers in black body suits sitting on their boards waiting for the perfect wave to my left, to my right the steep rocky cliffs reflect an amber glow from the sun. I pass Pepperdine University and before I know it Waze is instructing me to turn right into the Veronica Malibu Skin & Body Care Center.
The Malibu spa and health center, eponymous for it’s owner, Veronica Barton-Schwartz, was conceived in 1981 as a skin center and has grown to become a full service retreat. While the spa is known for specializing in acne prone skin (Veronica herself suffered from cystic acne as a young adult), the center offers facials for concerns ranging from wrinkles to hyper-pigmentation. Body treatments are offered including, massages, waxing, and an infrared sauna. A fitness studio onsite offers pilates and yoga with a group or private sessions, and a separate medical spa, if fillers, botox and lasers are your thing.
I haven’t booked a specific facial, but am hoping, Adela, my skin specialist today will know what to do with the sporadic red pimples, clogged pores, and dryness I’m dealing with. She brings me back to the treatment room and I change into a wrap around towel dress, similar to a long, loose tube top and settle under the blanket on the treatment table. Adela cleanses my face, looks at my skin under a huge lighted magnifying glass and gasps.
“Your skin is angry!” She exclaims. “Whatever you’ve been doing it doesn’t like it. I wanted to do the hydrafacial, but today I think we should put you under the blue LED light and do a mask. The light will kill all of the bacteria deep down in your skin and help collagen production.”
I nod my head. “You’re the professional. Whatever you say goes.”
After cleansing and exfoliating, with a microdermabrasion scrub, this is usually the time most spas will move on to steam and extractions, but at Veronica Malibu, they do extractions, but forgo the steam (gasp!) instead opting to massage the skin with a warming handheld device from French skincare brand, Guinot. The heat relaxes the skin loosening the pores, Adela explains. While the extractions weren’t pleasant, it was much less painful than other experiences I’ve had that included steam. Whether one way is better than the other, I didn’t notice enough marked difference to comment.
Adela applies a pore tightening and soothing mask and guides me into a second treatment room where I go under the blue LED light. The device has three panels that curve into a concave shape around the face. Goggles protect my eyes and I drift off to sleep for the next 15 minutes in the darkness.
The entire facial takes around 50 minutes and at the end my skin feels clean, smooth, and a little tight and irritated from the extractions. But when I go to look in the mirror as I redress, expecting to see a red angry face, the reflection presents a glowing, pale, even complexion. The redness that plagues the sides of my nostrils and chin is gone and the sun spots on my cheeks have lightened. What the… I’m shocked and bewildered that such an improvement could be made after just one session.
I walk to the front desk to check out where Adela has lined up products she wants me to use. Usually, I’m wary of spas pushing products, but Adela’s genuine concern for my skin lends my trust and I’m so happy with my treatment results I’m pretty sure I’d purchase a jar of dirt and put it on my face if she said it would help.
I purchase the Veronica Malibu Micro-Dermabrasion Treatment scrub and Vitamin B Blemish Cream, both of which I’m instructed to use morning and night, along with the Veronica Malibu Blemish Drying Lotion for spot treatment. Adela sends me off with a hug and tells me she’ll check in on me, which she does, two days later to see how my skin is doing.
Fabulous is all I can say.
Veronica Malibu Spa Skin & Body Center: 24955 Pacific Coast Hwy Ste B101, Malibu, CA 90265, (310) 456–8883
-by Amy Chang
Photographed by author