I’ve spent 33 years paying very little attention to my skin, with a beauty regime as simple as I can get away with – cleansing sometimes, using SPF more and more, but always a good moisturiser (thanks to advice taken young from my mum). But with a recent change in how my skin looks and feels, it’s time to change. Where my fair skin has spent too long in the sun in saltwater on a board, I now see the damaging effects. After winters fronting harsh conditions in the mountains, my face feels like it’s taken the brunt of the freezing, windy weather, needing months to recover (if it can…). I spent the first half of last year camping on an island in south Japan – idyllic and incredibly lucky, but tough on my skin with strong sun and intermittent access to fresh water (always cold) and clean towels for cleansing and washing. Not ideal for basic skincare. I came back to London after months with a chain of angry spots along my jaw clogged with zinc, suncream and dirt that seemed to have become semi-permanent.
I called up my number one skin advisor, Lady Charlotte – the editor here at The Bespoke Black Book – who without missing a beat advised a HydraFacial and suggested contacting Kensington MediSpa. The HydraFacial is a six-step treatment that works to deep-clean, exfoliate and hydrate. It sounded perfect. Now I’m not really a facial person. At least not a regular one. I’ve had a handful before, but usually the commitment – how often I’m told I need to have them – and the cost make me step away, intimidated and slightly sceptical of the process. But I had a check-in telephone call with Natasha, the manager at Kensington MediSpa, which is located on the southwest corner of Hyde Park at the Royal Garden Hotel, to discuss the issues I needed professional help with. Not only did the HydraFacial seem to be exactly what was called for – a hydradermabrasion for a deep clean – but the advice was understanding of what I said I would realistically do when it comes to my skin care.
The first thing to mention is that a HydraFacial is one for all ages, complexions and concerns. While I went for acne and scarring, it’s also really popular for targeting fine lines and wrinkles, to promote elasticity and firmness, for vibrancy and evening skin tone, for brown spots, for enlarged pores. All through a novel, scientific hydradermabrasion. Rather than attacking the skin with a physical exfoliant, the method is to gently remove dead skin cells. Jump forward an hour to the end of the session and I leave with skin clean, smooth, clear and soft, rather than red, sensitive and ready to breakout, as one or two have left me before. It’s a comfortable experience, despite my initial recoil on hearing the term ‘microdermabrasion’. It was relaxing, in fact.
The HydraFacial has six steps: Detox, Cleanse and Exfoliation, Brightening, Extraction, Hydration, Rejuvenation. Detox starts with lymphatic drainage that improves circulation to the lymph system, helping to eliminate toxins and pump in hydration. This is essentially a beautifully soothing massage, but with more purpose than purely to relax. Our skin is constantly affected by external factors, such as pollution and UV rays that can affect the lymphatic system in removing toxins. Next a gentle exfoliation uncovers a new layer of skin – no abrasive, sand-like exfoliators used here – removing dead skin cells at the same time as adding botanical cleansers and glucosamine to soften pore blockages, such as blackheads and sebum deposits, and clean out impurities. This gentle approach suctions out the ‘debris’ from pores with a mini vacuum-like machine equipped with ‘vortex technology’, whilst simultaneously pushing in intensive and potent active agents to moisturize, brighten, plump and protect. The bad stuff is sucked out and replaced with the good. Skin is hydrated with vitamins, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and peptides, which help to protect AND plump wrinkles. Kwoar, need anything else tackling here?
The sixth and last step is for rejuvenation: red and infrared LED light is applied to the skin to bring down any redness and stimulate collagen, supporting the natural production of vitamin D. The overall effect is simply clean, smooth, clear and soft. This is how I left the spa with my skin feeling. Just before I went I was shown my vial of… guck. The stuff pulled from my skin and pores (both satisfying and mortifying at the same time). ‘Don’t worry, it can fill up a whole lot more than this’, my beautician said. And I guess the more the better.
The thing I appreciate most about this treatment is that the chain of spots that I thought I had made scars by messing with have been minimised, nearly completely cleansed of the stuck cells and whatever-else that caused them to linger for so long. And all without squeezing, irritating the delicate skin further. It has made a huge, huge difference to the way I feel about my skin and face, free from obvious blots and marks. The rest of my skin looked flawless, and I felt in general a whole lot healthier.
A few months on, I can really see how it has helped clear the acne spots – one more go and I can see these disappearing completely. With London as my home, but being away most of the year for work, I spoke to Natasha about how I could continue to keep up a good routine (that is, principally, realistic for me) to protect my skin that puts up with so much. We compromised on a bi-annual Hydrafacial, with which I am totally on board and happy. Both in terms of what I can commit to and afford, as well as based on the results I could see, even instantly.
This is no hard sell. The results are there in a container to see for yourself at the end of the process. It’s a results-driven scientific treatment and one to which I am a complete convert, following my experience at Kensington MediSpa. I’m ready for round two…
The Hydrafacial takes 1 hour and is bookable online.