In our never-ending quest to give you the latest in skin care tips and treatments, LN recently caught up with Kathleen Fuller, spa director at the Four Seasons, St. Louis. Fuller took a circuitous route to her current profession, starting out as a store manager for Walmart before founding her own cosmetics studio, which she operated for 14 years. She then moved to the field of hotel spas, and joined the Four Seasons two years ago. Fuller says her highest goal is to provide a calm experience that promotes the wellness of their spa guests. It must be working: Four Seasons' spa was voted the Best Spa in this year’s LN Platinum List!

What do you like most about your job?

In our fast-paced society, nobody takes time just to be still. So when someone gives you their time, it’s precious; and we have this amazing team to cradle people, no matter whatever reason they’re here: be it a girls’ getaway or if they’re going through a grief process and need time to take care of themselves. It also has this creative side that I’m attracted to: We listen to our guests and what their needs are and create experiences for them.

What steps should a good daily skin care regimen consist of?

I’ve always been a big believer in using quality products, but you don’t have to use a lot of products. It’s about having good skin care and lifestyle habits. It starts with cleansing: A lot of people sleep with their makeup on, which is awful for the skin. It needs to breathe and rest and relax, so a good cleansing routine is crucial. On top of that, you want a good moisturizer for your skin type. People who have oily skin fear moisturizer, but it helps balance the skin and makes it less oily.

A line I recommend, which we carry, is Babor, and they are world-famous for their ampoules. The product comes in little glass ampoules that you apply to the skin daily. There are different ones for different needs; so if you’re out late one night and your skin needs more oxygen, there’s a formula for that and it has amazing impact. We hear more about those than any of the skin care products we carry, because people really notice the difference.

The other thing that everyone should be using for their skin is an SPF—the biggest damaging factor to skin is pollutants and other external factors. Many people think a ‘healthy glow’ looks beautiful, but it causes damage that you won’t see for five to 10 years—and it is not reversible.

Is there a difference between the protectants that are in regular sun block, versus what you’ll find in combination products like makeup with an SPF?

There are two types of sun blocks: either chemical or physical. Physical is like wearing a hat or long sleeves, and that is also what you’ll find in mineral makeup. Many women wear mineral makeup now, and it has ingredients reflect and bounce the light off of the skin so it doesn’t go through the physical barrier. Chemical sun blocks are what you find in creams, lotions and sprays. They will absorb into the skin and help protect the skin internally to keep the sun from doing the damage. A combination of physical and chemical sun blocks is best because it’s a full spectrum of protection.

A lot of people don’t realize hair can be affected by the sun as well: it causes color change and drying. Free radicals are constantly bombarding us and affecting all of our tissues, so a good protection for the hair is important.

How are facial treatments beneficial, and how often should you have them?

They’re fun and relaxing—I think they’re often more relaxing than a massage—but you also get the benefits of deep cleaning of the skin, and a professional guiding you to right products for your skin. An esthetician can look at your skin in different way and show you what products you do and do not need. The touch of a facial is a massage that’s good for the muscle under the face, to improve tone and elasticity.

What are the benefits of working with a trained esthetician?

They spend an enormous amount of schooling learning about products and how they work with skin. They can understand your lifestyle by just looking at your skin. When you find an esthetician that you’re comfortable with, she’ll guide you to the products that are right for you, because she will understand why your skin is dry, or that it might not be dry all over. They also are fully trained in makeup application, to guide you to create each type of look, from natural to evening, using minimal products to enhance who you are rather than masking the skin. The spa industry is more than relaxation; it’s really about taking care of the total package and overall wellness, and they love to do it.

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