CAN A FA­CIAL CHANGE YOUR LIFE?

Amy Starr meets the woman qui­etly rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing skin­care for­ever

ELLE (Australia) - - Contents -

Meet Valli Shu­bere: skin­care guru ex­traor­di­naire.

“I’M OB­SESSED WITH SKINNY NECKS,” says Valli Shu­bere dur­ing my first ap­point­ment for her unique detox fa­cial. “Be­cause I don’t want the neck to have to take on all the stress in your life.” Me nei­ther. I thought my neck was just... fat, and I tell her as much. She laughs a con­spir­a­to­rial gig­gle while she gen­tly pats me on the shoul­der. Un­like a lot of the ex­perts I get to con­sult in this line of work, I came upon Shu­bere’s Mel­bourne clinic, Her­bario, in the most or­ganic of ways. Some­one told me about her – and not some­one whose job it is to tell peo­ple like me how great peo­ple like her are. It was a friend of a friend, who’d had a treat­ment with Shu­bere and found cheek­bones she didn’t know she was in pos­ses­sion of. In a world where so­cial me­dia is of­ten at the wheel, it’s be­com­ing less and less com­mon to get a re­fer­ral that I haven’t first screen-grabbed.

Shu­bere, who for the past 30 years has op­er­ated out of the same Chapel Street clinic with her part­ner, “fully fledged botan­i­cal medicine man” Vito Cozza, started her pro­fes­sional ca­reer in fash­ion de­sign in her na­tive Italy. When she be­came pregnant, she thought it made more sense to work as a team with Cozza, so be­gan study­ing nu­tri­tion. “I be­came spe­cialised in the field of di­etet­ics, which ob­vi­ates or pre­vents dis­eases through the means of keep­ing your sys­tem cleansed, detox­i­fy­ing your meta­bolic pro­cesses as much as one pos­si­bly can,” she ex­plains.

How then do I find myself de-robed and ly­ing on a ta­ble to re­ceive a skin treat­ment at the hands of this nu­tri­tion­ist? “One day I was hav­ing a fa­cial and the ther­a­pist was just putting creams on, one af­ter the other – and the penny dropped. A voice was scream­ing inside me say­ing, ‘What am I do­ing here?’” she re­calls. “I couldn’t take it any­more. I apol­o­gised pro­fusely, made up that I had an ap­point­ment and I just walked out.” Frus­trated with the lack of real ex­per­tise on offer in the aes­thetic skin space, Shu­bere crafted tech­niques of her own, start­ing to treat the skin holis­ti­cally decades be­fore it was a beauty buzz­word. “I just thought there had to be another way,” she says. “I started ap­ply­ing what I knew about detox­i­fy­ing the meta­bolic pro­cesses to the skin. The skin is the largest or­gan we have. It is so mis­un­der­stood and ne­glected.”

Shu­bere’s treat­ments cen­tre around the con­cept of detox­i­fi­ca­tion (“I treat the cause, not the symp­tom. If you don’t ad­dress the na­ture of the prob­lem, the symp­tom is for­ever,” she ex­plains), though she spends a gen­er­ous amount of time di­ag­nos­ing, too. Within sec­onds of meet­ing, she’s been able to tell me my chin is dou­ble the size it should be (yikes!), that I grind, favour­ing one side over the other (I do), that my blood pres­sure is prone to be­ing high (she’s right) and that I have a si­nus filled with fluid that is mak­ing one whole side of my face puffy (though I’ve never known ex­actly why, it’s the side of my face I never favour in pho­tos). “The si­nuses

“IF YOU DON’T AD­DRESS THE NA­TURE OF THE PROB­LEM, THE SYMP­TOM IS FOR­EVER”

take up about two-thirds of the face, so clear­ing them makes a big im­pact,” she says, point­ing at the il­lus­tra­tions of the hu­man body posted around her treat­ment room. She also re­veals I don't have sen­si­tive skin like I've al­ways thought. “It's chem­i­cal re­ac­tiv­ity,” she says with a wise smile that tells me she al­ready knows the vol­ume of prod­ucts, plus the stress, I put on my skin daily, without me hav­ing to tell her what I do for a liv­ing (test out in­nu­mer­able beauty prod­ucts: some good, others not so much). I have had quite lit­er­ally more fa­cials than most peo­ple have had hot din­ners, and no-one has ever pin­pointed this col­lec­tion of “is­sues” with as much speed and ac­cu­racy.

Shu­bere uses a com­bi­na­tion of mas­sage and botan­i­cals, carefully blended by Cozza (the for­mu­las for Her­bario's An­tiox­i­dant Cleans­ing Pow­der and An­tiox­i­dant Cleans­ing Oil have re­mained un­changed for three decades), which she tai­lors to the skin she's treat­ing through­out the ap­point­ment. Her goal is healthy skin func­tion while she also works to re­move con­ges­tion in the si­nuses, mus­cles, lym­phatic and cir­cu­la­tory sys­tems. “Pos­tural stress, the epi­demic we call skin sen­si­tiv­ity, the phys­i­cal and emo­tional stress im­pact­ing the fa­cial mus­cles and dis­tort­ing fa­cial con­tours – it's a cock­tail of com­mon things that cre­ate what I call der­mal fa­tigue syn­drome,” she ex­plains. She means the ef­fect your life is hav­ing on your face. And she fixes it in a way that can't be repli­cated by rub­bing on a cream.

“Valli's fa­cial mas­sage is world-class,” says Jo­ce­lyn Petroni, a woman who her­self is re­spon­si­ble for a world-class fa­cial mas­sage. “Her knowl­edge of the skin and the­ory be­hind her fa­cial move­ments changed the way I think about skin and the ben­e­fits of deep fa­cial mas­sage. When­ever I'm in Mel­bourne, I book a treat­ment with her and walk out with my skin feel­ing fresh and alive. The ex­pe­ri­ence is very firm – it digs deep into the con­tours of the face and re­laxes the ten­dons. It's an eye-open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that is not for the faint-hearted.”

When my treat­ment with Shu­bere is over, she hands me a mir­ror. “You might recog­nise this face from 10 years ago,” she laughs. While I don't think I would have be­lieved it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, she is right.

When I get back to the of­fice, I re­gale ELLE'S edi­tor-in-chief (a woman who, as a former beauty edi­tor, taught me most of what I know about this job and, well, life) with the story of my treat­ment. In a tes­ta­ment to the power of a per­sonal rec­om­men­da­tion in this day and age, she quickly books in to see for her­self. “Did you love it?” I text her af­ter­wards. “OB­SESSED. I look 10 years younger and she fixed all my prob­lems. I feel like I've had a spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence,” she replies.

Once you have had a fa­cial ca­pa­ble of chang­ing the struc­ture and shape of your face, the ob­vi­ous next ques­tion is: now what? Shu­bere says the key is main­tain­ing a reg­i­men of skin hy­giene at home. Now, ev­ery morn­ing, I spend three min­utes giv­ing my face a vig­or­ous mas­sage, us­ing cir­cu­lar mo­tions and work­ing from the cen­tre out­wards, to bet­ter fire up the skin's nat­u­ral cir­cu­la­tion and to aid func­tion of the lym­phatic sys­tem. I've also started ex­per­i­ment­ing with var­i­ous mas­sage tools. And when some­one asks who looks af­ter my skin, I get to an­swer, “Me.”

An­tiox­i­dant Cleans­ing Pow­der, $65, HER­BARIO, her­bario.com.au

An­tiox­i­dant Cleans­ing Oil, $46, HER­BARIO, her­bario.com.au

Jade Roller & Gua Sha Massager With Fa­cial Cleanser, Anti Ag­ing Serum And Mas­sage Cup, $140 for kit, WHITE LO­TUS, whitelo­tus.com.au

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