Finding a good facialist is like finding a good anything… pure trial and error. Finding a good doctor, finding a good hairdresser, finding a good pair of jeans, or finding a good sushi bar all require first-hand experience. Of course I can narrow down the field somewhat by reading reviews or going on personal recommendations, but ultimately, I have to test-drive everything myself to see if they meet my exacting standards. My first facial ever was given to me by Marcia Kilgore herself at the first Bliss Spa in NY. I’ve not lowered my standards since! No matter what city or country I’ve lived in, I’ve done extensive due diligence to find the best facialist for me.
Facials and massages are the two things I’m a real pain in the arse about. If they aren’t extremely effective, then they are a waste of my very rare free time. For instance, if I have booked a deep tissue sports massage and some novice masseuse is giving me a garden-variety gentle massage, I’ll say, “Sorry, this is definitely not a sports massage, which is what I booked. Let’s just stop now; I can’t afford to lie here and be irritated for the full 60 minutes.” Time is even more precious to me than money, and I don’t waste either. I’m the same about a facial. If I make child care arrangements, battle London traffic to get to an appointment, and spend 60 to 90 minutes with my face in someone else’s hands, it had BETTER be good. I want to see glowing skin for the next week, not just have a vaguely pleasant aromatherapy kind of experience. I need results.
I’ve had a birthday tradition with myself since I turned 30. Every year, I buy myself a course of facials (they’re cheaper if you buy a course of treatments rather than individual ones) to be used as and when my skin needs it over the course of the next year. If my skin looks good then I feel good, so it is a worthwhile investment for me (I had terrible breakouts when I was younger, so my skincare obsession stems from that). Last year for my birthday, I bought myself a series of micro-needling treatments, which I meant to blog about but somehow forgot! I found a superb Japanese facialist (Kiko) who did amazing work on my skin; she was well worth the cost of my treatment. Mind you, it wasn’t just the micro needling that was great, it was HER. It was her knowledge and understanding of what my skin could and couldn’t handle during different seasons of the year. It was which size needles she chose, and how she changed them over the course of the treatment. (Just in case you don’t know what micro needling is, it is a cylindrical roller with tiny needles on the surface which are rolled over your face to cause mild ‘trauma’ to the skin. Your body’s repair response then encourages collagen and elastin production to heal the area around the punctures and thus make you look fabulous. In fancy micro needling, the needles are hollow tubes where oxygen from a machine is forced into the surface of the skin as well. The size and depth of the needles increase with the length of the course of treatment). Kiko has since moved out of London so I’ve been looking for another facialist.
As luck would have it, a West London clinic called Bodyvie contacted me during my birthday month (August) to review one of their signature facials. Bodyvie’s signature facials were developed by Dr Andrew Weber, who oversees the clinic and performs the more intensive treatments like botox or mole removal. I made my appointment for an evening because I prefer not to put on any makeup afterwards so the facial goodness can continue working its magic overnight! Here is the four step treatment that I had: 1) Microdermabrasion 2) Skin Repair and Treatment Mask 3) Vitamin cocktail application and 4) Opera LED mask.
After a brief chat with my facialist (mine was Paula Bravo Laura, she was absolutely brilliant) about my skin’s issues, we decided to use some calming treatments for my eczema and some good radiance-boosting ones for my ageing skin. We agreed I needed some really intensive microdermabrasion in step 1 and the clay mask in step 2 to get the end-of-summer junk out of my pores. She rightly noted during my treatment that my chin and jawline were particularly congested (I get breakouts there from drinking too much coffee), so she spent a long time working on that part of my face. I think microdermabrasion is one of the best things you can possibly do for your skin; it is worth every penny. I can always see and feel the difference in my skin for over a week after the treatment. The treatment mask in step 2 was a cooling clay mask specifically formulated for older skin. Step 3 was the application of liquid vitamins on my skin. Microdermabrasion really primes the skin to absorb moisture and nutrients, so I was happy to have some goodness slathered on top. I had a very slight stinging sensation (as my skin is super sensitive) but it settled down after a minute. The piece de resistance was step 4, the Opera LED mask.
Now this is where I, a VERY seasoned and knowledgable facial person, FREAKED OUT. I know all about the benefits of the LED mask… the red and infrared lights are meant to stimulate collagen and penetrate into the skin to rejuvenate, repair, and increase circulation. I need all the rejuvenation! I need all the repair! I want this treatment desperately! To protect your eyes from the strong LED lights, they seal a patch over each eye before putting the mask over your face. The problem is, I’m seriously claustrophobic. On a scale of one to ten, sealing a patch over each eye freaked me out to about an eight. I know this might seem extreme if you’re not claustrophobic, but to me I felt like I was totally out of control and may be buried alive :-). I asked Paula how long this would last, expecting her to say 4 minutes or something, since I had already had quite a long luxurious facial treatment. I had decided 5 minutes was my absolute claustrophobia limit. She said half an hour. Despite needing all the rejuvenation and all the repair desperately, I said, “You know what? I can’t do this. I really can’t. I’m just too claustrophobic. Can you take these patches off?” To her credit, Paula was super understanding, took them off, and suggested something else over my eyes. To be honest, I don’t even remember what, but it was something easily removable (not sealed) and it didn’t freak me out because I felt like I could remove them quickly and run out of the room if necessary (can you imagine what I’m like on an airplane?). Once I had calmed down from my claustrophobic freakout, the Opera mask was lowered onto my face and neck. Paula stayed with me for a few minutes to make sure I was going to be able to deal with it. I focused on my breathing, reminded myself how safe I was, and eventually Paula left the room while my red Opera LED light treatment worked its magic. She came to check on me several times to make sure I was ok. Thirty minutes passed quickly and OMG did my skin look incredible afterwards. I did get all the rejuvenation and all the repair! My skin looked plump, fresh, dewy and healthy for days after my treatment. Despite my claustrophobia, I swear, I’d have this weekly if I could afford it! Now that I’ve seen the results, I’m going to do my usual birthday gift of booking a course of treatments for myself.
The Opera LED mask being lowered down to the face (gulp)
I can wholeheartedly recommend micro needling, micro dermabrasion, Opera LED mask treatment, oxygen facials and all sorts of facial things, but what I would recommend the most is just going to the hassle of trial and error, and finding yourself your very own Paula! I really believe that a good facial is less about the actual procedure and more about the person performing it. I have had very disappointing facials (and massages) at big, famous flagship spas and salons. The location is irrelevant, the person working on you is key. I imagine having a doctor in charge of this clinic, explains why the staff is so well trained. It isn’t just a spa, it is a medical clinic. I’d definitely like to go and try some other treatments at Bodyvie after such a good experience. I promise to report back!
A selfie a few days post treatment; focus on my skin rather than my expression (eye roll).
Thank you to Bodyvie for the excellent complimentary facial.
Linking to: notdressedaslamb