Clarins BeautyBAR review: do express facials actually work?

Sophia E. Lipp
No time? No problem. A facial at Clarins BeautyBAR takes only 30 mins: Clarins BeautyBAR

Between work, going out with your mates and trying to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, keeping up with a healthy facial routine is the last thing on most of our minds.

My current schedule simply doesn’t allow time for anything other than a quick cleanse and makeup wipe before bed, and usually, I don’t need much more. But with the changing seasons and fluctuating levels of increased stress, my face had started breaking out terribly, and my normal products just weren't doing the trick anymore.

I knew that the only solution to my troubled skin was a facial and expert consultation, but was having difficulty finding time in my schedule for one (and I was reluctant to pay the heavy London beauty prices at most salons). Pretty much everyone in London, though, is pressed for time (and short on cash), so most salons and spas have begun offering express facials for us Londoners on-the-go.

Even so, I still had my reservations, wondering if express facials would actually accomplish anything for my skin rather than just some light pampering.

But with my frustration growing and skin worsening, I figured it was worth a go, and booked an appointment for Clarins BeautyBAR on the first floor of the John Lewis on Oxford Street.

The experience

Clarins offers five express facials at £25 for 30 minutes, ranging from a men’s energiser facial to a city skin rescue (the facial that I opted for). The Clarins BeautyBAR is located just behind its retail counters on the first floor of the Oxford Street John Lewis, and is surprisingly private.

I was greeted immediately upon arrival, and it only took a few minutes of consultation before my facialist, Samantha, lowered my chair and got to work. Despite the privacy of the beauty bar, the store was still exceptionally loud, so even as Samantha wrapped me in a blanket, put a cold compress on my eyes and began taking my makeup off, it was hard to truly let myself feel relaxed.

The facial uses exclusively Clarins products, obviously, but I was impressed by both the scope of products that Clarins has and how immediately I felt their effects. Despite my skin being extremely oily and acne-prone, it’s also surprisingly sensitive, so it’s difficult to find products that both combat the trouble spots without drying out my skin excessively. I was curious to see how Clarins products would fair against my combination skin.

Is 30 minutes enough?

In 30 minutes, Samantha managed to squeeze in a cleanse, exfoliator, toner, moisturiser, UV protectant, multi-active eye, lotus oil face treatment, serum and even some resting time. All the products not only smelt amazingly fresh, but felt strangely light on my skin, considering the thick consistency of the oils. Very quickly I found myself dozing off, which surprised me because of how loud it truthfully was outside.

Once my thirty minutes were (sadly) up, Samantha then offered me some skincare advice (more sleep, more water, less coffee... all the things that we all already know but refuse to listen to!) and loaded me up with samples to try at home - a refreshing change of pace from the spas that immediately try to sell you full-sized products following your service.

I was in and out in a refreshingly short 40 minutes, an impressive feat considering how tight and and glowy my skin looked.

Effectiveness and results

I asked Samantha if express facials deliver the same results as standard facials, she assured me that the only difference, really, is a private room and fluffy robe. “Obviously, it might be a bit calmer if you’re in a private room versus the BeautyBAR,” she said. “But as for your actual skin, the results will be the same. We maximise the short amount of time we have together by turbocharging our movements to help drain the face, get rid of puffiness and really work the products into your skin.”

The next morning, my face looked dewy instead of oily, considerably less red and much, much smoother. I also used the toner and lotion in the morning before applying my makeup, which stayed matte and in place all day, a rarity for the cheap drugstore foundation I use daily.

While the facial wasn’t exactly the calming spa facial that I was accustomed to (I can still hear the rings of the store’s security alarms going off), it did wonders for my face, especially considering the time and cost. Express facials are truly the perfect fix for anyone who is on the go and needing a quick boost, and trust me: your skin will thank you for it.

Facials start at £25 for 30 minutes, BeautyBAR by Clarins, 300 Oxford Street, Mayfair, W1C 1DX,