Nicky Clarke Salon’s Hair Botox
Even as someone with naturally straight hair, it felt revolutionary: a two-hour treatment promising the smoothing permanence of Botox, but for your hair. So for wavy-haired frizz-fighters, Nicky Clarke’s Hair Botox must be truly game-changing. The service is simple but effective. A stylist begins by washing your hair then applying a mask made from natural ingredients, which are then activated when you wash the mask out and straighten your hair after. Just let your stylist know your hair type beforehand and they’ll adapt the length and type of process accordingly. Fortunately for me, I don’t suffer too much with frizz, but my hair immediately felt stronger and healthier, with fewer flyaways. I can now go three days between washes — a novelty for a conditioning addict like me. The only downside? The results last two to four months, depending on your hair type, so don’t expect the smoothness to stay for Christmas. Not that it matters. After a hot vax summer, we’ll probably be back in hibernation by then anyway.
From £350; nickyclarke.com
Acqua Di Parma Prestige Shave with Skin and Eyes Revitalisation and Eyebrow Scrub
Selfridges is full of surprises; you don’t necessarily expect to find a half-pipe in a department store. But neither had I thought that, tucked away on the first floor, I would find a man like Yumus Macit. Macit works in the fine-smelling Acqua Di Parma “barbiere” — you don’t need fluent Italian to work that one out — where he takes one look at me and asks how I’m feeling. As crumpled as my linen suit, I confirm the hangover. Macit is swiftly to work; after an extraordinarily attentive haircut with a gentle head massage given during the wash, he lays me back in the chair, wraps a hot towel about my face and works out my arms and neck. Then the towel is removed and he slowly rolls my sullen cheeks beneath his fingers, applying a gel that, he says, is full of a plant-extract that should freshen me in no time. “This is our revitalising eye treatment,” he says, and revitalising is the word. It leaves my skin tingling. I emerge with the black smudges under my eyes gone, feeling bright and reborn, looking fresher than I have in years. Macit is a master. I have discovered a hangover cure and time-machine rolled into one. One hell of a surprise.
From £35; acquadiparma.com
Dr Anita Sturnham Nuriss Radiance Reset Facial
Lockdown aged us all terribly — that old stress hormone cortisol does nothing for the complexion — but sadly re-opening hasn’t had the rejuvenating effect I hoped for either, involving as it has a fair bit of pub-based support for the economy. So it’s time to call in the big guns if I don’t want an entire 18 months of Covid worry to be etched on my face forever. Step in Dr Anita Sturnham at the Nuriss Clinic in Wimpole Street with the Radiance Reset Facial, specifically designed to add radiance, firmness and plumpness to lockdown-addled skin. The treatment layers a classic hydrafacial with infrared and LED therapy, all undertaken while lying in a lymph drainage suit which massages your entire body in what can only be described as a sequence of extremely relaxing squeezes. For such a comprehensive treatment, there’s no downtime, even for my sensitive skin, so I was able to take my de-stressed and glowing face out for dinner that evening.
Daxita Vaghela Wet Lashes
Few treatments are more transformative than eyelash extensions. It involves attaching up to five synthetic lashes to each of your natural ones, supercharging volume and definition, and sending your trusty mascara into temporary retirement. The reigning queen of lash extensions is Daxita Vaghela, who’s so good that she’s just won an award at The Attracta Beauty Awards 2021. Beauty editors have her on speed dial and she’s fluttered her fingers over everyone from Sandra Oh and Sharon Horgan to Michelle Pfeiffer. Her latest treatment is wet lashes, devised for mask-wearing clients who want a stronger look to counter obscuring half their face. Bold and glam, the “wet” comes from the shine off each lash — no spiky, caught-in-a-downpour vibes here. They last about six weeks with proper care (no water for 24 hours post-treatment and daily combing with a spoolie) and Vaghela offers infill sessions to keep them going for even longer. They’re pricey but for the time saved and impact delivered, the eyes have it.
Sarah Bradden Signature Facial and Body Balancing Treatment
Mention Sarah Bradden’s name and those in the know will tell you she’s a goddess. Part-healer, part facialist, she has spent 18 years developing the Sarah Bradden Method. She begins with a tongue analysis and medical consultation. Nothing cursory about it, she really wants to know how you are. Then the good bit: facial acupuncture which is being hailed as the new Botox. It’s painless and can help with everything from acne to ageing by lifting, toning and improving blood flow. With the needles in, Bradden uses LED light therapy to speed up the skin’s healing process while she gets to work with reiki and reflexology. The 90-minute treatment is finished off with gua sha and facial massage. With your qi balanced and cheekbones located, you’ll be ready to face the winter months.
£250 for 90 minutes; harveynichols.com
Margaret Dabbs Medical Pedicure
It’s fair to say that the Margaret Dabbs Medical Pedicure is an iconic treatment in the world of beauty. But it’s not like any pedi you’ve had before. For starters, it’s performed dry (to prevent the spread of infection), and it’s a trained podiatrist who carries it out. The 45-minute treatment involves a deep clean of the toenails, which are clipped, filed and buffed with precision. Think “hygienist for the feet,” or so the brand says. The cuticle is carefully trimmed down before it’s onto the dry skin underfoot with a burr — this is when the scalpel comes out to tackle calluses or corns, if need be. A slathering of the brand’s foot oil and your tootsies are left baby soft. This doesn’t so much feel like a pamper sesh, rather an MOT to keep the health of your feet in check — particularly if, like me, you’ve overdone it on the gel front. Talking of which, a polish can be booked afterwards if you’re not used (or keen) on seeing your trotters au natural.
Cowshed Bespoke Facial
I am a bit of a facial-phobic. I don’t want to mess around my skin too much and feel many of the options on offer are tailored to problems I had not considered before, zapping skin with lights and chemicals that sound like they belong in a science lab rather than on my face. So Cowshed’s tailor-made approach appealed. Subrina, my therapist, asked intelligent questions about my skin, inspected it under a magnifying glass and developed a facial to suit me. She began with relaxing jasmine inhalation, followed by a deep clean, using a mix of Cowshed and SkinCeuticals with a steamer, distracting me by discussing my skincare regime during the pore extraction so that I didn’t feel any pain. Then there was a hydrating mask and finally a cooling jade quartz roller treatment with a head massage. Subrina says her clients often relax so much that they fall asleep. I left with my skin feeling plumped up and glowing — all the pollution and stress of London life had melted away. Subrina gave me a detailed plan to keep up her good work and I can’t wait to go back.
Skinwork Back Facial & Peel
Skinwork Soho has developed a treatment specifically designed to target that hardest of places to reach: your back. The Back Facial & Peel is as popular with the guys as it is the gals and is designed to clear congestion and up your back-glow (I’m making it a thing). In essence, it’s their Signature Facial, just performed on your back. The therapist starts by using steam laced with an antibacterial solution to open the pores, then performs a pain-free but effective blackhead extraction over my back and shoulders. This is followed by a professional grade salicylic acid peel, which works deep into the skin to unclog pores and improve acne. The last step is an antioxidant serum applied using galvanic current, which calms and soothes the skin. I leave with a back so bump-free and glowy I’m tempted to enter rooms back-first.
£195 for 70 minutes; skinworkofficial.com
Spectra Hollywood carbon peel, Young LDN
Dull skin? Fine lines? Huge pores? For me, it’s a tick, tick, tick situation. The carbon peel at the fun and fabulous (you’ll be greeted with chilled wine and chocolates on arrival) Young LDN on Westbourne Grove is a quick-fix for this trio (and a myriad more, including acne scarring) of skin gripes. Not nearly as extreme as it sounds, this treatment is a painless three-step laser treatment designed to instantly brighten, tighten and pep up skin. First comes a cleanse, then a dark carbon peel is applied (obligatory to take a selfie at this point) before it’s extracted and lasered off taking with it dirt, blackheads and that tired look you’ve probably been sporting for the last 18 months (I know I have). Tip: make plans with someone you want to impress after you’ve had this… you’ll have some seriously glowing skin you’ll want to show off.
Deep tissue massage by Siva Rajah at Triyoga Ealing
I hesitate to say that my massage by Siva was the best massage I’ve ever had – but I’m going to say it anyway. Wow. She lay me down on a mattress strewn with pillows and quite honestly gave me the massage of a lifetime. She pressed and pummelled away, seeming to know instinctively which bit of me was out of sync and worked over each part of my body methodically correcting every part of my alignment. The treatment combines Thai and deep tissue massage and often you will be asked to stretch parts of your body as she combines these disciplines with stretch and yoga. Quite honestly the experience of a lifetime. Siva is also a fascinating woman who has been studying massage for many years. Book, book, book!
55 mins £95, 85 mins £140, 115 mins £180. triyoga.co.uk
Anna van Praagh