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Sniff Test

I’m a sensitive girl. Allergies are my Achilles’ heel. While shopping at Anthropologie, I have to mouth-breathe (so sexy!) because the store’s signature candle gives me a sneezing fit. Your new puppy? Adorable. Until I pet him and swell up like a blowfish. Three sips of the wrong cocktail turns my face fire-engine red. And twice I used body lotion by a famous eco-friendly brand (you know the one) and ended up with a week’s worth of bumps and “itchies” that nearly drove me clinically insane.

After the Rosemary Mint Incident as my (somewhat judgmental) dermatologist calls it, she leveled with me: “Look, you need to give up the fancy products and go fragrance-free on everything, from face wash to fabric softener.” How very…blah.

So I went cold turkey for a year—using only Cetaphil products from face to feet—and it worked! My skin calmed down even in the moisture-sucking months of winter. But I have to admit, my complexion looked as dull as my beauty regimen. And I started freaking out: Without any high-octane TLC, wouldn’t my face end up aging faster than Benjamin Button’s?

So on New Year’s Eve, I took a chance—heading to The Still Point (410-715-3030, thestillpointspa.com) to test-drive a gentle facial peel that could supposedly deliver profound results without angering my dormant epidermis.

Located inside Haven on the Lake (the glorious new 27,000-square-foot wellness mecca in Columbia), Still Point’s third location specializes in massage therapy, integrative medicine and holistic spa services—many of which incorporate the TOMA Skin Therapies line developed by co-owners Tori (“TO”) Paide and Marla (“MA”) Peoples, who met in acupuncture school.

What’s so special? “Well, everything,” says esthetician Kathy Williams, who chooses from 18 different tonics made from wild-crafted essential oils to customize treatments and take-home products to address her clients’ skin care woes. (For me, she picks the Harmonizing Tonic with lavender, ylang-ylang and cape chamomile to reduce inflammation and soothe sensitivity.)

During my 60-minute Rejuvenating Facial ($195), Kathy uses an ultrasonic wand to remove dead skin cells and perform ultra-gentle pore extractions (I don’t squirm once). The Signature Peel—featuring just the right amount of glycolic acid—tingles a bit, but Kathy quickly calms my skin with aloe vera-infused Refining Mist, then applies a luxe mix of seed-oil serums, antioxidant creams, even botanical lip balm.

“I can’t believe I love how these products smell,” I say, explaining that most scents make me “snarfy” (stuffy nose, watery eyes). Kathy surmises that synthetic fragrances may be to blame—noting that TOMA partners with a certified aromatherapist. Bonus: these products contain none of the dirty rotten scoundrels of skin care, like parabens, petroleum, sulphates or GMOs. The only preservative? Honeysuckle extract. And did I mention they’re batch-tested for purity by independent labs? Consider me a convert.

FINAL VERDICT: Before I leave—with dewy, plumped-up skin ready for a night on the town—Kathy gives me a few final tips, like washing my face with cool water to reduce redness, and using my new fave Exfoliating Fruit Scrub #11 (it smells just like a lemon stick) as a purifying mask once a week. And I’m convinced TOMA’s neroli-infused Reverse Luxury Night Oil actually helps me sleep —tomaskintherapies.com

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