Can a skincare slattern change her ways? Lauren Bravo tries her first fancy facial
I have had only two facials in my life before, both of them as a teenager and both in the spa at Center Parcs.
For a beauty enthusiast this might be surprising (I once applied mascara during a 3am fire drill), but I just have a far stronger interest in putting stuff on my face than I do in scrubbing it off. Plus, white towelling dressing gowns make me queasy.
As a teen I had consistently spotty skin for years, and stoically worked my way through every lotion and potion on the market until eventually, savings account empty and epidermis resentful, I just gave up and started doing nothing instead. The spots went away*.
For seven merry years I continued with a regime that was erratic at best, lazy at worst, and have enjoyed pretty good skin all the while – but now at 25 (I know, I know, the decrepit horror) I’ve started feeling the urge to ‘do’ skincare again. There are fine lines under my eyes where make up often settles in goulish grey creases. Sometimes if I look at my pores really hard in the mirror, I think I see a tiny person who has fallen into one of them, waving at me. I have no intention of trying to fight time, but if I could make friends with time and persuade it not to turn me into a handbag, that would be nice.
So when Courthouse Clinics invited me for a Priori CoffeeBerry Enzyme Peel and Omnilux light treatment at their London Wimpole Street clinic, I leapt at the chance. Actually, first I asked “WILL MY FACE LOOK LIKE MEAT?”, remembering that Sex and the City episode where Samantha has a chemical peel, and then I leapt at it – duly reassured that my skin would be ravishing, not raw.
My lovely facialist Kelly starts by asking about my current skincare routine. Sheepishly I admit that my sole cleanser for the past five years has been those cucumber wipes that are always on a 3 for 2 in Boots. But, I hastily continue, turning 25 has opened my eyes to a whole world of skincare, and I would like her to guide me through it now please. She looks at me as though I am the prodigal daughter, returned.
I decide I love her when she validates one of my favourite pastimes, confirming that spot-squeezing is ok. It’s ok! “As long as you do it right,” she adds. “Most people don’t.” I’m pretty sure I do it right – candles, music, a glass of wine after.
Kelly then goes on to impart so much wisdom that I wish I had a notepad and pen by my treatment bed, and try to mentally inscribe it on the insides of my eyelids instead. I learn that genetics play as big a part in the ageing process as sitting in the sun drinking martinis; I learn that I should cleanse twice, once to wash away the dirt and grime of the day, and once to really get deep down into my skin; I learn that the teeny, colourless bumps I get on my jawline and forehead are most likely caused by product overload (which makes sense, as I treat moisturiser like a barbecue condiment – pile it on, three types at once).
Once I’m cleansed and absolved of my skincare sins, I sit in front of the clinic’s fancy new gadget, a ClearVision 3D scanner. Like that friend with a posh camera who specialises in taking the least flattering photos known to man, it snaps me with four different filters to show the extent of my wrinkles and UV damage. I look like a Doctor Who villain. I wait for Kelly to tell me it isn’t that bad. “You can see here, the deepest lines under your eyes,” she indicates my little wrinkles, which are now terrifying crevices “and there’s some redness here by your nose that looks like a spot forming.”
“But… it’s not that bad, right?” I plead. “No,’ she eventually concedes. “It’s about average for your age.”
The antioxidant-packed CoffeeBerry peel goes on like any face mask and smells delicious, like vanilla rather than a macchiato. It tingles just enough to convince me it’s really doing something. Then it all gets a bit Doctor Who again as the Omnilux light machine is placed over my face, under which there’s barely room to wiggle my nose. A light as bright as the sun is shone into my eyes, through my goggles and tightly-screwed-shut eyelids and, I am convinced, right into my brain. For a moment I panic. I can’t cope. I am Icarus. I am going to melt. I- oh wait, it’s quite nice actually.
Once my eyeballs have adjusted it really is pleasant – warm and peaceful, a bit like basking on a sunny beach. “It’s my clients’ favourite,” Kelly tells me. “They all tell me how calm and zen they feel afterwards.” I generally get my zen from Nutella and Seinfeld boxsets, but I can see the appeal in this too. After twenty minutes I emerge feeling like I’ve had a holiday, and my face is cushiony soft. I can’t stop poking it.
Kelly finishes by smoothing on a serum, then a facial SPF, and then lets me play around with Priori’s CoffeeBerry mineral makeup – much like my usual Bare Minerals, it gives great coverage and I look glowily golden. Nothing short of a lottery win or sudden promotion to Pope will mean I can afford the course of six peels and light treatments she recommends, but I leave with a bottle of Priori Advanced AHA Cleanser, vowing that I will use it loyally and not be a product slag.
At home my boyfriend greets me with, “Oh my god your skin looks amazing!” – which is the response we had pre-arranged by text, to be fair, but his delivery sounds heartfelt. A week on and my face looks smoother, brighter, more even and in need of much less make up than before – not the kind of difference anyone’s going to cross the street to comment on, but I can tell.
More importantly, it’s also heralded a new era for my face. Armed with all my knowledge, I’m doing proper cleansing every day and using eye cream and moisturiser in the way dermatologists intend, not slathering it on like butter on toast. If I keep it up, I’d say time and I are going to be jolly good pals.
The Priori CoffeeBerry Natureceutical Enzyme Peel and Omnilux Light Therapy are available at Courthouse Clinics, starting at £65 for the peel and £55 for the light therapy
*Not that I’m advocating sleeping in your make-up, kids. My skin is probably just of a contrary persuasion, like Superman in Bizarro World.