Most women are well versed when it comes to facials – you lie back on a treatment table while lotions, creams, astringents and masks are soothingly applied to your skin. But what if you suddenly caught a whiff of something strange, were probed about your emotional state, or you caught something being applied to your face that you’ve only ever had before on toast? Facials are becoming more offbeat. Here, TNT reviews some of London’s strangest facials.
Bee venom facial, The Hale Clinic
WHAT IS IT? A facial that teams vigorous lymph drainage massage with products containing (ethically sourced) bee venom – dubbed as a natural botox alternative. At the same time, reiki-like techniques are said to bestow spiritual enlightenment.
BENEFITS The massage drains liquid causing puffiness and sagginess from your face and your skin reacts to the bee venom by increasing collagen, which plumps it out.
VERDICT Despite the images I had of bee- baiting followed by a good pummeling to the face, it felt so good I nearly fell asleep. The massage was firm (a good thing) and not at all uncomfortable. As the venom only makes up one per cent of the cream, I didn’t walk out red-faced and oozing, just plumped and baby-faced. Who said beauty had to hurt? Even when there are bees involved.
WEIRD FACTOR 4/5
7 Park Crescent, W1B 1PF
Tube: Great Portland Street
Oxygen facial, Ajala Spa
WHAT IS IT? Karin Herzog’s oxygen facials have racked up a major celebrity following. During a deep cleanse, a series of essential-oil laden masks and creams are applied to the face and “extractions” (hardcore blackhead removals) are made. The gimmick here is that the products are said to deliver pure oxygen straight to the skin.
BENEFITS Oxygen is mildly antiseptic, allowing it to battle spot-causing bacteria. Creams sterilise both your face and the therapist’s hands, meaning that extractions can be made hygienically. It aims to leave your skin balanced and congestion-free.
VERDICT Wrapped in a thick white gown with soothing music playing, this is clearly going to be an enjoyable experience. Even during the gory blemish-removal, when my therapist apologises in case she’s hurting me, I’m relaxed. The jury’s still out on whether oxygen really can be delivered to the skin in this manner, but my complexion does look better and I enjoy imagining it has just taken a deep breath.
COST £95 for 1hr 20mins.
WEIRD FACTOR 3/5
Ajala Spa, Grange Hotel, EC4V 5AJ
Tube: St Paul’s
Validation facial, Lush Spa
WHAT IS IT? Most facials work on improving your skin but this promises to make you feel beautiful from the inside using a soundtrack of affirmations and carefully chosen music to accompany the treatment. Therapists make an assessment of your skin, but also want to know your current, and desired emotional wellbeing.
BENEFITS I am supposed to emerge brighter and more confident. As my face is cleansed with deft, expert strokes from the therapist, I am enveloped by gentle music intermingled with the sounds of waves and a row boat, plus voices speaking soothingly about “self confidence” and “feeling grounded”. Within minutes I’ve floated off into a deep meditative state, dimly aware of the hot cloths and luxurious unguents being applied to my face.
VERDICT My face looks fresh, taut and buffed, and even though I was initially sceptical about the “validation” part, I feel revitalised and ready to take on the world.
COST £75 for 1 hour.
WEIRD FACTOR 3/5
Lush Spa, 123 King’s Road, SW3 4PL
Tube: Sloane Square
WHAT IS IT? Scientists have already expounded the antioxidant value of dark chocolate, but it’s a little-known fact it also contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals. All this goodness, in a chocolate mousse form, is applied to the face and said to reduce the signs of ageing.
COST £85 for 55 minutes
WEIRD FACTOR 4/5
Savana Urban Spa, 45 Hereford Road, Notting Hill, W2 5AH
Tube: Notting Hill Gate
WHAT IS IT? Anything as rare and as expensive as gold has to be good for you, right? This facial entails the lathering of a gel made of 24-carat gold – one of the softest metals, so it’s easily absorbed by the skin. It’s touted to remove toxins and aid lymphatic drainage, plus cell renewal.
COST £55 for 90 minutes
WEIRD FACTOR 5/5
Beauty by Honey, 150 King Street, W6 0QU