Old man winter has a way of rendering skin chapped and reptilian. And given Prague´s dry indoor heat, skin can go from crocodile-like to positively crusty during the chilly months. Treatment options abound here in Prague, a city famed for its numerous high-end spas and salons. We´ve discovered some of the best they have to offer, from the healing hands of an actual monk to a decidedly decadent hot chocolate massage.
Since regular spa days aren´t within reach for the cash-challenged (and I place myself firmly in that camp!) we´ve got easy, do-it-yourself tips from the experts at Old Town salon Nam Jai for staying supple until spring. Also included: help for serious skin problems that are often worsened by the onset of winter.
If all else fails, I know a Czech guy who swears by pork fat for keeping his skin touchable and (with a sprinkling of cumin) quite tasty.
DIY tips for touchable skin
* Lube up. Folks with normal to dry skin should use a creamy moisturizer daily. One without perfume or lanolin is best for those with sensitive skin. We like Bliss´s Body Butter line available at Sephora stores throughout Prague. Choose from Lemon Sage, Vanilla Bergamot, or the fragrance-free, Naked. A matte moisturizer that doesn´t clog pores is best for oily skin. Try Tea Tree Oil Mattifying Moisturizer from The Body Shop, located at Palladium Prague and Chodov Centrum. Medicated lotions like the Eucerin line of products for eczema sufferers are also available at the lekárná and here on-line.
* Shower smart. Over-showering removes your skin´s natural moisturizers. Rinse, but don´t wash with soap, your trunk, arms, and legs daily. Take short, lukewarm showers or baths and cleanse with non-irritating cleansers (pro citlivou plet). Immediately apply a water-in-oil-type moisturizer after bathing and gently pat your skin dry, don´t rub! Order an ultra-absorbent and soft micro-fiber towel here.
TIP: Make your own body oil spray on the cheap: a 100 ml bottle of glycerin (glycerín) will set you back about 30 CZK at the lekárná. Mix with equal parts water and a few drops scented oil (optional) in a mister or glass atomizer, shake, and apply.
* Humidify your home. Household humidifiers (not to be confused with a “dehumidifier” which absorbs moisture from the atmosphere instead of putting it back in) can make a huge difference in the prevention of dry skin Find reasonably priced humidifiers (and elephant- shaped one for kiddies) here.
* Beware of wind. Cover your face against the wind and use a petroleum-based lip balm (petrolej). Droxy and other discount drugstore chains around Prague carry Garnier´s yummy new line of fruity lip balms as well as old favorites like Labello, Nivea, and Blistex brands.
Winter Spa Treatments
Hot Chocolate Massage
A cup of cocoa is soothing enough; we imagine a nice all-over slathering of the stuff takes the (chocolate) cake. This treatment begins with a chocolate peel followed by a full body massage with creamy, hot chocolate and a real chocolate wrap. Not only does the treatment leave skin expertly exfoliated and smooth; it´s surprisingly said to combat cellulite as well.
PRICE: 1290 CZK per 60 minutes. Longer massages available for 90 and 120 minutes.
Zen Asian Wellness
The Skin Wonder Coconut Paradise Massage harnesses the amazingly absorbent properties of extra virgin coconut oil and exotic nut extracts to hydrate and protect skin and hair from drying winter damage. According to the staff at Zen Asian Wellness, this unique mix comes close to approximating the natural oils produced by our own skin for a wonderful replenishing effect—minus any greasiness.
PRICE: 2290 CZK per 90 minutes.
Go here for an herbal facial with fresh milk to supply moisture and replenish the natural oils that are often stripped from skin during the winter months. Or choose an oil massage or herbal steam bath to help nourish and soften skin. Scaly skin will thank you when you indulge in a Tibetan Healing Massage conducted by an actual Tibetan monk, newly arrived to Prague.
PRICE: Prices range from 500 CZK to 2000 CZK with treatments lasting for the duration of your choosing, anywhere from 30 to 190 minutes.
Best Face Forward
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
The delicate skin of your face needs extra-special pampering during the winter chill. Hotel Mandarin Oriental´s Regenerate Facial delivers the works: a special rejuvenating massage with Rescue Intensive Skin Tissue Oil; Renew Rose Hydrating Mask application followed by Renew Nourishing Rose & Sandalwood Facial Oil application and massage. The grand finale focuses on the eye and lip area, with an application of firming eye serum, repair eye cream, and a moisture-drenched lip balm.
PRICE: At 3,700 CZK for 90 minutes this treatments puts the “L” in luxe.
Dry Skin S.O.S.
If you suffer from psoriasis, eczema, or any other kind of painful, itchy dermatological affliction (often particularly problematic come winter) a range of options exists with Pro Sanum´s “Tomesa” treatments. Treatments include both whole and localized therapy and include a combination of light therapy and saline bathing in a solution of Dead Sea Salts. These treatments are covered by VZP insurance and a few other small insurance providers—you´ll need to visit with an on-staff dermatologist to get approved for the treatments first. Walk-in consultations are 300 CZK. UVB/light “wands” can be rented by the week; you can also purchase specialty creams and lotions in the in-house pharmacy.