At last count, the total number of countries I have visited in my lifetime is holding steady at seventeen. I guess you could say that I'm a tripaholic. Of all the far-flung places I have been to, my absolute favorite country has been Italy. So I was excited to discover an exceptional Italian skincare line, Dermophisiologique, when at the end of last year when I was treated to its signature Iron Cream Mask facial. I was even more excited to get a chance to try Dermophisiologique's Thermofango Vascular Gymnastics treatment at Beaute Therapies in South Florida a few weeks ago.

Being a newbie to body treatments, I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this one. Knowing that "fango" translates to "mud" in Italian, I guessed that the ordeal would entail some sort of warm mud and that my circulatory system might get a jumpstart. Would I be wrapped up in cellophane and emerge a sweaty mess, like this brave soul? Or would the experience be more akin to a relaxing massage?


Neither of these scenarios comes close to describing the Thermofango treatment. For the majority of the procedure, I was rather uncomfortable (more on that later). Though it involved a plastic sheet, I didn't appear to shed a drop of sweat or centimeters. In fact, I felt cold to the point of shivering, despite being bundled in airtight plastic and wrapped in a heat blanket, all while lying under a heat lamp. Sound bizarre? It was. But the treatment was also invigorating, and the results were noticeable. I'd do it again in a love-struck Italian's heartbeat.


When the esthetician asked me to strip to my birthday suit and lie face up as she assessed my body's aesthetic requirements (err, imperfections), I realized I should have checked my modesty at the door. All of Dermophisiologique's treatments are personalized for each client's unique skin condition. It was determined that my body didn't really need a full slimming regime but that it could use a good dose of firming and toning. After my skin from the neck down was cleansed with a toning lotion, I was ready for my Thermofango vascular workout to begin. But first, I got so comfortable that I nearly fell asleep.


I felt my muscles loosen and mind unwind as the esthetician rubbed an essential oil mixture with strong notes of lavender into my relaxation points. She also massaged my lymphatic stations, which stimulates the removal of dead cells, toxins, chemicals, bacteria, and excess fluid from the body's tissues, thus relaxing the nervous system and supporting the immune system. At this point, the treatment took a different turn and things got rather interesting.


Vastly different from the essential oils, a new emollient was rubbed over my inner thighs, lower back, feet, and ankles. This "Negative Pole" lotion and oil produced a tingly sensation, much like what is prompted by the menthol in IcyHot topical analgesics. Then the "Positive Pole" counterpart was applied to my outer thighs, inner knee, stomach and upper back. A wave of chills enveloped my body in very concentrated areas from the waist down, while heat emanated from other parts. Each of these diametric "Pole" potions are personalized to target anti-aging, slimming, or (as in my case) toning.


Next, the creamy Thermofango mud masque was applied over the positively-charged areas. The physiological action of this treatment is meant to treat wrinkles, stretch marks, and cellulite, in addition to increasing circulation and cellular metabolism. After wrapping me up in a plastic sheet and supplying my lower body with ample heating equipment, the esthetician left me alone for around half an hour. I couldn't help shivering a few times as my skin succumbed to sporadic fluctuations of hot and cold. Luckily, I can cope with confined spaces fairly well, because being enclosed in a plastic cocoon would be enough to send a claustrophobic person over the edge.


Towards the end of my solo respite, the temperature fluctuations settled down, although my skin continued to radiate coldness around the "Negative Poles." In spite of my perfectly tranquil surroundings, I don't think my body ever fully relaxed under such erratic circumstances. However, the curious discomfort was worth it in the end. Once the esthetician had removed the Thermofango mask with a warm towel and concluded the treatment with a light vitamin-packed oil massage, I began to feel invigorated.


And extremely thirsty! My body had sweated out toxins and self-cleansed without ever feeling hot. The organic ingredients in Dermophisiologique's products re-mineralized, nourished, and soothed my skin, which emerged looking astonishingly healthy. The outer areas of my legs and rear held onto a noticeable ruddiness for about twelve hours following the treatment, and I don't know if it was the euphoric afterglow of Thermofango or rose-colored glasses, but I thought my tummy and thighs appeared extra firm for the next few days. Meanwhile, my body felt supercharged with energy. Dermophisiologique's distinctive exercise for the vascular system does not disappoint.


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