You've just come home from the office, and your face is a sickening combination of grimy (from some unidentifiable sludge that's carried in the workplace air) and shiny (thanks to a siege of seasonally appropriate humidity). In just half an hour, you're going out to dinner. What's a shiny, grimy girl to do?
Get a grip, wash your face and put on a mask. Ten minutes later, you'll feel renewed, refreshed and ready for the evening. Mariana Chicet, a Los Angeles skin-care expert, has a tempting array of masks to meet the challenge of 6 p.m. skin. She is a Romanian immigrant in the tradition of the cosmetic industry's great divas, women such as Helena Rubenstein and Estee Lauder, who started their empires by stirring up batches of face cream on their kitchen stoves.
Although the beauty business is now dominated by giant companies and trendy boutique lines, small, local practitioners like Chicet, who can't afford to advertise or indulge in fancy packaging, still serve a loyal clientele.
In business here for 20 years, Chicet works out of a small, simple salon on an unfashionable stretch of West Hollywood's West 3rd Street, where her staff performs facials and other cleansing, soothing and exfoliating skin treatments. Her complete line, including six masks priced from $11 to $26, is sold there.
The Fresh Clay Mask is the antidote to summer's shininess, and, at least for a while, seems to shrink large pores. Fresh Sea Plant Mask is better for drier skin and manages to moisturize and freshen it to a healthy glow. The most luxurious mask is the Royal Jelly Activating Treatment, which is made from precious bee jelly.
In fact, Chicet prides herself on using ingredients so fresh the masks must be kept refrigerated.
"The Sea Plant Mask contains algae and chlorophyll, which is very nourishing for the skin, but if they're dried out and put in a cream, they lose their effectiveness," she says. "The Fresh Clay Mask is made with egg whites, which are very good for oily skin, but they must be kept fresh too."
Mariana Chicet's Skin Care Salon is at 8238 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles. Brochures and products can be ordered by calling (800) 995-4490.