by Kelly Wetherille
The concept of organic beauty and spa treatments has been gaining steam in the US and Europe for some time now, but it is still a very new idea in Japan. Japanese women (and even men) are notorious for the number of products they use on their skin each day, but it is safe to say that most of them do not even consider the number of harmful chemicals these products contain. Enter Elana Schmid, a Tokyo-based Australian personal trainer, esthetician, massage therapist and nutritionist. After receiving feedback from her fitness clients that they were interested in organic skin care but had no idea where to find it, Schmid recognized the demand, and in March opened Tokyo’s first fully organic spa and beauty salon, Elana Jade.
I visited Elana Jade on a recent evening to see what all the hype was about. Schmid greeted me at the door, and my first thought was that she was exactly the kind of person one would want to administer a beauty treatment: warm and inviting, with a friendly smile and perfectly clear, even skin herself. She took me into one of the salon’s three treatment rooms, where she washed my face with soy oil before taking a photo of my skin with a high-powered cosmetic camera. The results were eye opening, and just a little bit disturbing. Up on a computer screen next to the camera popped my face, every tiny detail and flaw magnified and highlighted. There were different maps showing where I had blemishes, redness, wrinkles and enlarged pores. Schmid went through the data with me in detail, explaining each chart and making product and treatment recommendations that would address my particular issues and concerns. All the while she was sensitive and knowledgeable, and never judgmental.
Next Schmid took me down the hall to another treatment room, where she would be administering her signature anti-aging facial. Elana Jade is the first place in Japan to carry the famed Brazilian açai berry in a liquid form that can be applied directly to the skin. Not only is this antioxidant-rich serum used in the anti-aging facial, but it is also available for sale at the salon, so that customers can continue to reap the benefits from home.
My facial started with another cleansing with soy oil (plus added essential oils of chamomile and cyprus), followed by exfoliation with a clay and oatmeal scrub, to which Schmid added herbs specifically suited to my skin type. Everything at Elana Jade is 100 percent organic and 100 percent customized—even for repeat customers, the therapists don’t mix the ingredients of the products until after examining the skin, as any number of changes could have happened since their last visit. As Schmid worked her magic on my face, the soothing classical music and relaxing atmosphere nearly put me to sleep.
Next came a deep cleansing face mask, mixed on the spot from ingredients like egg whites, raw sugar, lemon juice and herbs. It felt cool against by skin, and as it penetrated my pores I felt a slight tingling sensation, which Schmid informed me later was from the cyprus oil she added to the concoction.
But the crowing glory of the anti-aging facial is the massage with the açai berry serum. Schmid smoothed an ample amount of the substance on my skin, before proceeding to rub, flick, pat and gently pull my face with her fingers, using quick, short motions. “It’s like shocking your skin’s system,” she said. And a shock it was. I left feeling both relaxed and refreshed, with my skin smooth and glowing. I never thought organic beauty could feel so good.
3F, 1-5-19 Azabu Juban,