I am a sucker for facials. My little addiction started when I was a student. On a quest to add a little more glow to my lacklustre complexion, I’d scrape together my money to see a beautician every six weeks or so. Even if that meant spaghetti with butter and salt for lunch during half of those weeks.
Since I moved to London, my skin has definitely taken a turn for the worse. Of course, age plays a role, but I am not only talking lines here. Pollution and stress speed up the ageing process like nothing else, hence living in a big city is not doing your skin any favours. During the past decade, I have been testing an array of beauty salons and facials. Yes, it’s a tough job. But someone’s gotta do it. And this is the verdict:
1. The Bentley of facials: Rani Mirza, Knightsbridge
Rani has magical hands – however dull, congested or tired my skin looks, after 90 minutes in Rani’s care, my complexion is radiant, revived and plumped up. No surprise then that supermodels, actresses and beauty editors frequent her salon and that appointments can be hard to come by. My favourite is the deep cleansing facial, a personalised 90-minute-long affair of successive cleansing, facial massage and masks that take the years in the Big Smoke off like nothing else. Price: £98 that are worth every penny.
Rani Mirza, 41 Beauchamp Place, London SW3 1NX, Tel.: 020 7589 9080
2. Holistic beauty with an Asian twist: ZEN, Notting Hill
I first went to ZEN a couple of years ago when my problems were more than skin deep: at the tender age of 30, I felt exhausted, drawn and I had developed a spot (or several, actually) of adult acne. It was clear that I needed more than a thorough facial to get me back on track, inside and out. A single consultation with a Chinese doctor and a handful of herbal medicine helped to recreate balance and significantly calmed down my skin. In addition, I started seeing Keiko, a Japanese beautician that works wonders on worn-out complexions. Keiko uses gentle massage technics to boost collagen production, leaving your skin squeaky clean and glowing. Prices: £45 for 30 minutes Traditional Chinese Medicine consultation; £75 for 60 minutes balancing facial
Zen Spa London, 32–34 Notting Hill Gate, London W11 3HX, Tel. 020 7229 8686
3. No frills deep cleansing: Dermacia Pharmacy, Islington
This one is a bit of a hidden gem. A total surprise find, as I was dashing into Dermacia Pharmacy randomly to pick up some baby stuff in my old neighbourhood, Islington. Spotting a sign that said ‘treatment rooms’, I inquired about what was going on behind those doors. More curious than convinced, I booked a facial, and OH MY WORD did I never even once regret going down those stairs into the basement under the pharmacy. Ask for Amy if your pores need a thorough cleanse – and say good bye to every single blackhead or little impurity you didn’t even know you possessed. Price: £48 for a 60 minute Dermalogica facial. Beauty on a budget!
Dermacia Beauty Salon & Pharmacy, 260 Upper Street, London N1 2UQ, Tel.: 020 7226 2780