MEDICAL spas, or medi-spas, are becoming an increasingly popular purveyor of esthetic services, prompting one local entrepreneur to offer a gentler alternative.
Gislinde Bronson, co-owner of Refine Spa in Ambleside, focuses her beauty business on non-invasive treatments.
While medi-services such as Botox, laser skin care and microdermabrasion may offer quick results, Bronson says the procedures are costly and just one step away from surgery.
"There's a lot of women who, first of all, don't want to spend the money on it, and are just totally against all these invasive procedures, because they actually have to damage your skin to repair it. We don't damage the skin in any way here at all," she says.
One of the signature pieces of equipment at Refine Spa is the R-Lift, a $10,000 machine that uses red LED light and micro-currents to target aging skin cells. A pronged tool follows the contour of the face, contracting and relaxing the muscles.
"You actually put a gel on the face and that prevents you from getting shocked because it is a current and it's like an ultrasound," Bronson says.
The R-Lift is used alongside a facial treatment, which may incorporate the spa's recently launched Swiss Line paramedical skincare products.
Another one of Refine Spa's non-invasive resources is the Eurowave slimming machine, which promises to help people lose inches without going under the knife.
"You put it on any part of your body that you want to lose inches and it sends a faradic wave to contract or relax your muscles, so 18 minutes on that machine is like doing 200 perfect sit-ups, you get the same toning and strengthening," Bronson says.
Bronson opened her Marine Drive spa in November 2011 as Refine Express Spa, seeking to fill what she perceived as a gap between the quickie nail studios and high-end hotel spas.
Last year, she teamed up with co-owner Brian Hooshi and the pair are now undergoing a rebranding process, removing the word "express" from their business name and revamping their menu of products and services.
In addition to R-Lift and Eurowave treatments, Refine Spa also offers the usual assortment of day spa services, such as manicures, pedicures, massages, facials, waxing and eyelash extensions.
The spa interior has a distinct Westcoast flavour, featuring an earthy colour palette with stone and pinecone accents. Bronson says her goal is to create an unpretentious atmosphere of "simple luxury."
"Most women come in their Lululemons and they've just come from a dog walk or coffee with their friends or from the gym," she says. "They come in here feeling very relaxed."