I'm not much of a facial person. I mean, I'm facial in the sense that I have a face, but I'm not a 'go for a facial' kind of girl. My beauty regime has always been pretty minimal to be honest. I am grateful for being blessed with a pretty easy, cooperative complexion. My skin, although sensitive and dry at times, has never been especially oily, greasy, spotty or problematic.
I had my first facial when I was 21, and since then, I've had only 1 other. Between the two, there are very few similarities. I'm almost trying to forget the first one, to make more space in my mind to hold on to the memory of my second one, which took place at Content Beauty, London. Calling it a facial actually seems like an unjust way to describe it. It was so so so much more. So much more.
I enjoyed a casual stroll down Marylebone high street - a calm, very traditional street in London dotted with independent cafes, restaurants and shops - before ending up outside the shop. A small, characteristic store with a picturesque shopfront, Content Beauty is a real one off. A tiny shop with fully stocked shelves, it is more like an apothecary, or something out of a Harry Potter film - with interesting jars, products, ingredients and other contraptions on shelves and bookcases that reach the ceiling, grabbing and keeping hold of your attention. You could easily spend days in there, browsing the products, reading the labels of each one, or talking to the specialists who stand calmly on the shop floor to offer advice to anyone who needs it, but at the same time not imposing on your journey around the shop or following you around offering unwanted advice. It is like a library of beauty products, and everything in there is organic, natural and lovingly made. There is so much to discover.
"THE BRANDS WE STOCK, SHARE OUR PASSION FOR NATURAL SKINCARE AND ORGANIC INGREDIENTS. EACH HAS BEEN CHOSEN FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO QUALITY AND HOLISTIC SKIN HEALTH."
I was so mesmerised by the products that I almost forgot I was there for a facial. A beautiful specialist, with a really calming, gentle air about her, approached me by the Dr Alkaitis products, and guided me down a tight staircase to a treatment room under the shop. Beneath the shop was even more tranquil, with an impossibly chilled atmosphere and mesmerising aromas. I already felt better about life in general.
I removed my top and climbed onto a cloud-like bed, resting my head in the soft, trusty hands of this stranger who was about to change my life. I'd opted for the Dr Alkaitis Skin Food Facial Treatment - which combines organic, enzyme-rich, natural ingredients with gentle techniques, as well as a facial massage, to reduce inflammation, calm skin conditions, revitalise the complexion, remove impurities, enhance the skins natural state, and encourage the skins natural functions.
"WINNER OF THE WALLPAPER MAGAZINE DESIGN AWARD FOR BEST FACIAL IN 2010, THE DR ALKAITIS TREATMENT CONTAINS CERTIFIED ORGANIC, BIODYNAMIC AND ETHICALLY WILD-CRAFTER INGREDIENTS IN THEIR RAW STATE, FOR GREATEST EFFECTIVENESS. DUE TO THE 'LIVING' COMPLEXITY OF THE FORMULATIONS, DR ALKALIS PRODUCTS WORK WITH YOUR SKINS NATURAL FUNCTIONS - NOT AGAINST THEM".
The treatment deeply cleanses and clarifies congested skin, at the same time as nourishing and calming any sensitive, inflamed or irritated skin.
There are several phases to the treatment:
. Remove make up, using Dr Alkalis Make-Up remover.
. Cleanse skin with Purifying Cleanser / removed with organic muslin cloth.
. Exfoliate / with a natural, gentle peel (consisting of organic oat buds, blueberry, bilberry, strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, barley grass, turmeric, cats claw, and enzymes lipase, lactase, protease, amylase and bromelian), to encourage impurities and blemishes to become more visible.
. Pre-extraction prep / this includes a layer of active raw manuka honey applied to the skin before a suction technique is used to gently loosen dirt or open pores. Manuka honey has may benefits for the body both internally and externally. In this instance, it works as an antiseptic and anti-bacterial layer to ensure the skin is clean before the extraction phase.
. Gentle manual extractions - optional / basically a gentle yet accurate and determined process in which any blackheads are removed, eliminating toxins and rebalancing the skins natural processes.
. Soothing gell applied with organic cotton pads / to calm down any areas that were affected during the extraction phase.
. Facial massage / using organic treatment oil (containing turmeric to reduce inflammation as a result of the prior stages of the treatment). This also includes an impossibly relaxing upper body massage of the head, neck, arms and shoulders - which I never wanted to end.
. Finishing mask / using the Universal Mask by Dr Alkaitis. This is literally like putting food on your skin, and if you learn about how certain ingredients can compliment and care for your skin, you can pretty much make your own face masks and scrubs using the contents of your fridge, and a few superfood powders. This one includes oat buds, organic grass juice complex (incl. kamut, alfalfa and wheatgrass), sea vegetable complex (incl. chlorella, dulse, spirulina, ainu-wakame and sea palm), Goats milk protein, vegetable complex (incl. carrots, cabbage, kale, sweet potato, broccoli, cucumber, ginger and parsley - amongst others) and a seed complex (incl. amaranth, flax, soy, buckwheat and millet - amongst others).
. Final massage phase, followed by the application of a replenishing serum, eye cream and organic day cream
After the treatment, I stayed in the shop, learning a little more about the products, and about the dangers of many conventional beauty products. I learnt about how our skin is the largest organ, and is a reflection of what is going on internally. It also acts as the transport route for all kinds of material - both good and bad - to be absorbed into the body. One of the greatest (and easiest) things you can do for your skin is to use 'food-state' beauty products, or simply just food. You shouldn't really put anything on your skin that you can't eat, as harmful chemicals in cosmetic products will still end up inside your body, regardless of whether you eat them or absorb them. Think about it next time you're shopping for new moisturisers or make up, and treat the ingredients label just as you would your food items.
If you want to learn more about what not to feed your skin, what ingredients to avoid and what products to invest in for your own personal beauty goals, visit the shop or make an appointment for a treatment with one of the teams specialists. Things were fine before my facial. My skin wasn't especially difficult, my beauty regime was pretty basic, and I luckily had never been especially troubled by blemishes or acne. But things were definitely better afterwards (sometimes you are so comfortable with what you are used to that you don't even know there is room for improvement). I left with a glow, and I might have taken some exciting new products with me too, and with the introduction of just a few simple ingredients to my beauty routine, my skin is now not just healthy, but content.