Archive for the ‘Spa’ Category
I had a week off recently (which now seems like a lifetime ago) and although I didn’t go on holiday, I hit the ‘pause’ button for some highly prescribed me-time. This called for a proper relaxation, completely switching off and forgetting about work so I booked myself in for a treatment at Clarins’ Skin Spa.
Clarins’ is recognised for its skincare and cosmetics range, but it also has a sterling reputation for face and body treatments in its amazing spa facilities. Previously I had tried a Rebalancing Massage with Relax Essential Oils, which you can read about here. This time I was looking for something just as effective but a totally different experience altogether.
Skimming through the treatments Clarins’ specialises in, my eyes fell on the Melting Honey Stones Massage*. It’s described as a deeply relaxing and uniquely personalised hot stone massage that gently releases tension, soothes aching muscles, eliminates toxins and calms the mind and body. Add to that the use of heat-releasing marble and slate stones, intensified by a melting honey massage gel that’s rich in relaxing aromatic essential oils and I was already floating on a cloud before I had walked into the spa.
Late one afternoon I met my therapist, the truly lovely Charlotte at Clarins’ Skin Spa in Brent Cross, north London. Charlotte is a delicate and beautiful flower. Blonde, petite and softly spoken, she has an aura about her that endears you towards her, yet she is quite the assassin in disguise. Apparently she can make big, burly blokes weep. Well, OK that is an exaggeration but she sure can pulverise the hell out of anyone regardless of shape and size and she’s bloody good at it.
Before Charlotte led me to the treatment room, she explained the course of the treatment I was having. I sort of stopped listening half way because I was too excited and wanted her to get on with it.
Then I was asked to disrobe (not in front of her of course), pop on a flattering pair of paper knickers (Kudos to Charlotte for ignoring the lumpy rump) and slip under some warm, fluffy towels on the heated treatment bed. This part always freaks me out because I feel like I’m against a clock before the therapist returns and I have this fear of being caught mid-way mounting the bed in the most undignified manner. Fortunately I managed to compose myself before Charlotte returned to a dimly lit room.
I was asked if I wanted to feel relaxed or energised after my massage. Since I had no plans but to go home and do as little as possible, I opted for the former.
Charlotte began by applying honey gel to my body in sections to help relax and release tension. My feet, legs, hands, arms, shoulders and décolleté were expertly and harmoniously swept along before Charlotte introduced the hot stones. The temperature was soothing and I could feel the tension slipping away and my body relax as she used her hands and the stones on the soles of my feet, my legs, my hips, the palms of my hands and my back. You forget how neglected your feet and hands are when they are abused the most.
I have no idea how Charlotte was weaving her magic, I only had my sense of touch to go by but it felt like she was conducting a symphony which built up to a mighty crescendo when she got to my hips and lower back. That’s when her assassin side came out. Charlotte pushed and prodded with force to undo the heavy knots. It was a pretty excruciatingly uncomfortable experience as I tried not to clench my fists and tense up (and howl!), but at the same time it was necessary and a clear indication of the tension I carry heavily on my shoulders which travels down and rests literally on my laurels till someone like Charlotte beats it out of me. I sit at my desk for long periods so sadly my posture suffers terribly and it was precisely this that I was being squeezed out of me agonisingly. *sobs*
The entire treatment lasted over an hour, and thankfully it didn’t whizz by and I felt like a huge weight had literally been lifted off me. I wanted this sensation to last for at least six weeks but I knew it would evaporate out of of me by the following Monday when I returned to work. *sobs again*
After, Charlotte gave me some helpful tips (popping a bean bag on each shoulder to keep my posture straight) and recommended some products to continue my treatment.
Their Relax Bath & Shower Concentrate with Essential Oils* (£19) can be poured in the bath or used in the shower to alleviate the aches and invigorate the body. I tend to use this just before I go to bed to help relax me.
The Energizing Emulsion* (£26) is a clever lotion that can be massaged into the feet, legs and thighs at any time of the day.
Finally the Relax Body Treatment Oil* (£39) is a divine cocktail of pure plant extracts including Geranium, Petit Grain, Camomile and Basil to help relieve stress and fatigue whilst soothing and relaxing aching areas like the neck, back and abdomen, which is all three in my case. I keep a bottle on my desk for easy reach when I start to feel the tension creeping up on my shoulders and within seconds I feel the herbal concoction wind me down.
I’m quite the spa queen, having tried a number of treatments and spent time in beautiful spas but not every place achieves the high level of consistency and professionalism as Clarins does. The service is flawless, their treatments are exceptional and you will always leave more than satisfied and wanting to come back again.
The Melting Honey Stone Massage is certainly one treatment I would like to revisit. Then again all the treatments I’ve tried at the hands of Clarins are worth another try. This massage costs £62 for 65 minutes plus a consultation, which equates to less than £1 a minute. I’m definitely going to book myself in for my birthday in December.
To find your nearest Clarins Skin Spa and to book this treatment, or to see what else they offer, visit http://www.clarins.co.uk/spa/spa/.
If there’s an ideal day to indulge in a spa treatment, then I vote for Sunday. It is when most of us unwind before gearing up for the dreaded working week and after the hectic Saturday I had had cleaning and prepping for a dinner party, I had definitely played my cards right with booking a facial with Re:SPA at London’s Canary Wharf.
During the week Canary Wharf is a busy business district, home to some of the biggest financial corporations and frantically crawling with the suited and booted but away from the frenzy, a sanctuary of peace and relaxation exists. This is Re:SPA, located within the Reebok Sports Club inside One Canada Square, the second tallest skyscraper in the country.
It’s late morning when I squeeze into a lift (and suck my stomach in) with a bunch of gym bunnies ready to hit the treadmill. While they sprinted off to the high-tech machinery of Reebok’s epic gym, I trotted up to reception looking like a pretentious z-list celebrity wearing my sunglasses. The truth is, I had such terrible dark circles under my eyes from three hours sleep from the night before (a case of some guests overstaying their welcome past 1am combined with heart burn – waaaaa!).
Re:SPA has a tempting range of beauty treatments, complementary therapies, sports rehabilitation and massages on offer. There are eight treatment rooms, an express treatment bar, as well as a relaxation area, which apart from the occasional rumble from the Jubilee line, is a blissful corner to hide away in. Nothing but the finest products are used in their treatments which include Guinot, Aromatherapy Associates and Murad.
I had chosen Guinot’s exclusive Hydradermie 2 Facial, which I knew nothing about. The word ‘hydra’ leapt out and I figured this would be perfect for my dehydrated skin. It’s only when my therapist Ellie explained in detail that she would be using roller electrodes on my face that I shifted a little uneasily in my seat.
We then had a brief chat about my skin concerns, my daily routine and what products I use before I was left alone to disrobe and pop myself under the soft, luxurious towels. Ellie returned shortly after but before she could begin the treatment, scrutinised my skin closely. She confirmed my skin was dehydrated in places, mostly the forehead and at the sides. The forehead may have something to do with the fact my fringe covers it thus me missing that area in my skincare routine.
The Hydradermie 2 Facial goes beyond where most facials stop. Its purpose is to make skin youthful and radiant, from the very first treatment. The fun starts with the skin being cleansed to remove any make-up and creams. I turned up slap-free, which made Ellie’s job quick and easy.
A second cleanse follows before the skin is exfoliated. So far, it’s like a typical facial. Then the Guinot machine is switched on and I’m told I may hear a faint buzzing sound as Ellie performs a ‘double ionisation’ whereby negative and positive charges from the rollers rapidly penetrate the epidermis with ionised treatment ingredients to remove impurities and toxins. Actually I don’t feel a thing yet the rollers gently kneading my skin is very relaxing and therapeutic.
The next part of the treatment is a familiar one: the extraction. It’s the least comfortable part yet immensely satisfying (particularly for the therapist) as blackheads are removed. Fortunately this part didn’t hurt a great deal.
Once the impurities had been expelled, Ellie took the massaging rollers up a few notches and swept them across the face to oxygenate and boost cells. This brightens the complexion by stimulating skin cell oxygenation and microcirculation. The sound of the current is like a mosquito buzzing around and even though it’s a high frequency, it doesn’t hurt at all.
Finally a massage follows, with a mask to cool things down. I’m left feeling utterly in awe of how relaxing the Hydradermie 2 Facial is and crucially, the end result. My face instantly looked brighter and more radiant, and I was proud to spend the rest of the day out and about without a splodge of make-up on. Two weeks on and my skin has never looked so good.
It’s a deep-cleansing treatment suitable for all skin types and is customised accordingly whether you’re dehydrated, mature, oily, sensitive or pigmented. If you’re nervous about having a reaction to facials from past bad experiences or getting married and want to look your absolute best, you needn’t have any fears with the Hydradermie.
Unlike other facials which use products, Guinot’s Hydradermie 2 Faicla largely depends on the effective and penetrating rollers and only those experienced beauty therapists who have been rigorously trained are qualified to carry out these facials. Make-up artist Daniel Sandler is a fan and I think I am one too. I wouldn’t think twice about booking this treatment again especially ahead of a special occasion.
Guinot’s Hydradermie 2 Facial costs £84 for non-members and £80 for members, and lasts one hour and 10 minutes. For more information on this and other treatments at Re:SPA or to make a booking, visit www.respalondon.co.uk.
*I was a guest at Re:SPA and received the treatment as complimentary.