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"SkinCareLab was founded by Dr Katchen, a dermatologist whose practice attends to celebrities"

"It was Sarah Jessica Parker who persuaded me to have a $150 facial. She assured me that it was worth every cent. "The Epicuren is an incredibly unique experience. It's not just basic cleaning - your skin glows afterwards", she told me. Parker, who plays Carrie in Sex and the City, admits to being addicted to facials. "I go once a month. A lot of women don't need to go that often, but I do, because of all the make-up I have to wear for television." She, too, learnt of the treatment by word of mouth. "I found out about the Epicuren from Kistin Davis [her co-star in Sex And TheCIty] and then I introduced Brad to it."

Dr Brad Katchen, a dermatologist, has now opened SkinCareLab, a day spa in New York where the Epicuren has become the signature facial for celebrity clients. The spa's products range from Swiss glacial spring water-based treatments to French seaweed products.

As a first timer, a began with deep-pore cleansing and a scrub, but my facial didn't include extractions. "If you were to come again, I'd give you extractions" said Jacqueline, my therapist. "But not today. The skin needs to prepare". After cleansng, she applied an enzyme-based exfoliant, designed to improve circulation and dissolve dead skin cells. Also known as a "hot peel", it lasted for about 60 seconds and made me feel as if I'd been out in the sun and winfd all day. But a mask came as a welcome balm, stimulating my enzyme activity and capillary action, while tightening and firming my skin. "This draws out impurities and toxins so effectively that there's little need for extractions" said Jacqueline. "The second mask will pulsate and massage your facial muscles". Meanwhile, my neck, shoulders, arms and hands were massaged and then -bliss- my feet were wrapped in hot towels and massages too.

I wafted home after the treatment, feeling strangely lighter than before, to inspect my slightly flushed face. My skin was tighter and more evenly textured. The surface, especially around my nose, felt delicate. Although I am only 32 years old, my face looked and felt considerably younger and, consequently, so did I. Sarah Jesica was right. I glowed. But $150 a month?. "Well", said Jacqueline, "If you gave up smoking and drinking, you could easily afford it,and of course you'd look even better." Fanny Johnstone June 14th 2001