Sea- based fa­cial treat­ments like a day at the beach

Sea­weed, ocean mud and salt­wa­ter gath­ered along B. C. coast form the ba­sis of SeaFlora Skin­care’s spa- based prod­ucts

Vancouver Sun - - Westcoast Life - JOANNE BLAIN

If your idea of bliss is ly­ing on the beach and breath­ing in the scents of the sea, you don’t have to wait un­til next sum­mer to ex­pe­ri­ence that sen­sa­tion again. Close your eyes and in­hale while hav­ing a SeaFlora fa­cial and you’ll imag­ine your­self by the ocean — mi­nus the feel­ing of sand be­tween your toes. And un­like a day in the hot sun, it’s ac­tu­ally good for your skin.

Six years ago, Diane Bernard founded SeaFlora Skin­care, a spa- based line of prod­ucts based on in­gre­di­ents gath­ered from B. C.’ s coastal wa­ters — sea­weed, ocean mud and sea­wa­ter.

If that sounds more pun­gent than pleas­ant to you, Bernard points out that the fishy- smelling sea­weed that washes up on the shore is ac­tu­ally “ the com­post pile of the ocean gar­den.”

“ We would never judge a veg­etable or flower gar­den by the look, smell or tex­ture of a com­post pile,” she says. “ But we do that with the ocean.”

A high- qual­ity sea­weed prod­uct shouldn’t smell fishy or off- putting, Bernard says. With SeaFlora prod­ucts, “ most peo­ple em­brace the smell — it’s part of the au­then­tic­ity of it,” she says. “ The smell evokes some won­der­ful mem­o­ries for peo­ple.”

In Europe, Bernard points out, tha­las­sother­apy — which uses sea­wa­ter, sea­weed and ocean mud ap­plied to the skin in var­i­ous ways — is con­sid­ered a le­git­i­mate form of treat­ment for ail­ments rang­ing from asthma to arthri­tis and high blood pres­sure.

Bernard knows her sea stuff — she is a third- gen­er­a­tion sea­weed har­vester, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of her eastcoast fish­ing fam­ily that used sea­weed for ev­ery­thing from keep­ing lob­sters cool while out at sea to in­su­lat­ing their homes.

Af­ter a ca­reer in crim­i­nal jus­tice and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, she de­cided she wanted to try her hand at a val­ueadded busi­ness based on nat­u­ral re­sources. “ I never re­ally thought of the com­mer­cial as­pects of sea­weed un­til then,” she says. “ It was a real big ‘ aha’ for me.”

From her home base near Sooke on Van­cou­ver Is­land, she started mar­ket­ing high- qual­ity sea­weeds to B. C. chefs, and now sells to top restau­rants like C, Tojo and Sooke Har­bour House.

That led Bernard to ex­plore the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­pand­ing her hori­zons to skin- care prod­ucts. Sea­weed ab­sorbs nu­tri­ents very ef­fi­ciently and is there­fore high in trace min­er­als and po­tent an­tiox­i­dants like vi­ta­mins A, E and C — all of which are ben­e­fi­cial to the skin.

The SeaFlora line started out with four prod­ucts in 2001 and will have grown to 24 by the end of this year, she says. They’re sold only through spas in the east­ern U. S. and across Canada, in­clud­ing Van­cou­ver’s Spruce Body Lab.

It was there I ex­pe­ri­enced the works — a SeaFlora fa­cial and Eye Sea Re­lief treat­ment.

Ni­cole started my fa­cial with a toner and cleanser that smelled like an in­vig­o­rat­ing splash of sea­wa­ter. That was fol­lowed by three dif­fer­ent masques: first, a tingly ex­fo­li­at­ing one made with ocean mud and kaolin clay, then a sec­ond pu­ri­fy­ing treat­ment of clay and mud, and fi­nally third con­tain­ing sea­weed gel.

A sea­weed serum and mois­tur­izer rounded out this part of the treat­ment. Trust me, if you’re not men­tally trans­ported to the seashore by this point, you’ve lived in­land your en­tire life.

The eye treat­ment was an even more pleas­ant sur­prise. Af­ter mas­sag­ing a sea­weed oil and mois­tur­izer around my eyes, Ni­cole gen­tly ap­plied a pair of Sig­na­ture Eye Chamois to the un­der- eye area.

Bernard later ex­plained that th­ese are dried pieces of a gi­ant kelp that, when re­con­sti­tuted with wa­ter, ex­ude a lux­u­ri­ous gel that re­duces puffi­ness and dark cir­cles. They were cer­tainly cool and re­fresh­ing, and when the treat­ment’s done, you can even take them home with you — let them dry out and then re­vive them with wa­ter when you want to ban­ish the ef­fects of a late night out.

I left the spa with skin that felt cool, toned and smooth, and vi­sions of drift­wood wash­ing up on a long ex­panse of white sand.

Do you re­mem­ber the Se­in­feld episode where Kramer tries to flog his idea of a fra­grance that smells like the beach? He just might have been on to some­thing, but Diane Bernard did him one bet­ter.

jblain@ png. canwest. com

Diane Bernard har­vests sea­weed for skin prod­ucts and lo­cal chefs.

With her skin­care line called SeaFlora, Diane Bernard is a third- gen­er­a­tion sea­weed har­vester.

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