Of all the good news – a Royal baby, a pay rise, a parking spot – perhaps none is greeted so joyfully as the name of a new facialist, handed like a secret present from one person to another. It starts with a whisper; a rapidly forwarded WhatsApp message; or a query about the glowing radiance of a friend’s skin, until it gains traction, and suddenly it’s slightly harder than it was before to get an appointment.
What is it about finding a facialist that is tantamount to the holy grail? “Most brands today are very formulaic, and give a one-size-fits-all treatment,” says the skincare therapist Amanda Lacey. “You’re looking for something that feels exclusive, that gives great results, and at the end of the day that comes down to the craft."
How do you know when you’ve found ‘the one’? By weeding out the therapists who work perfectly for others, but not so much for you – the pressure of their hands massaging your jawline was too light, the memory of lying there thinking “how much longer?”, because you’re too polite to point it out, too vivid.
And what to avoid? “Be careful of anything too cheap, or someone who lacks experience and training,” says Lacey. “I was recently called to repair the damage another facialist had done – she’d tipped salicylic acid over her client’s face to try and treat their acne. They should be referring you to a dermatologist or a gynaecologist if there’s anything seriously wrong.”
In an ideal world, find ‘the one’, and you’ll see this as a long-term relationship, which, just like your skin, needs to be nurtured. In other words, resist the hype, ignore the gimmicks, and go with whoever works well for you. But most of all, enjoy it. The best facial is the one where you can’t remember what they did as you fell asleep in the first few minutes – but your skin looks amazing.
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article
The Best facialists
No wonder Nichola Joss was the Duchess of Sussex’s facialist of choice for the Royal wedding: her massage-based facials leave your complexion looking glowing and lifted in a matter of minutes. What sets Joss apart the most, though, is her unique inner-mouth massage technique, which removes tension you didn’t even know you had.
Nichola Joss Bespoke Inner Sculpting Facial, £250 for 60 minutes, www.nicholajoss.com.
Chelsea Rand, Lanserhof at The Arts Club
Find charming beauty therapist Chelsea in the chic and soothing surrounds of Lanserhof at The Arts Club, London’s next level health emporium, complete with a cryotherapy chamber and a movement lab. Staying true to the ‘Open – Care – Close’ ethos of the MBR skincare brand, the dermal-epidermal treatment starts with fruit acids and enzymes to prime the skin, before a facial massage so deeply relaxing that you’ll find yourself nodding off… Emerge glowing and zen, and wake up the next day with baby-soft skin.
MBR 70-minute dermal-epidermal treatment; non-members £210, members £185. www.theartsclub.co.uk/lanserhof
We would move mountains if Anastasia Achilleos were ever to get a free slot in her busy schedule, such is the wonder of her magic hands and infinite knowledge about which products to use to transform your skin from shabby to chic.
Anastasia Achilleos The Method Facial Treatment, from £225, www.lanesboroughclubandspa.com.
Unlike the average facial, where the treatment given is formulaic and decided in advance, Beata Aleksandrowicz looks at your skin and chooses what you need after that. That means every time you visit offers a different experience and every concern can be addressed.
Beata Aleksandrowicz Face Therapy, £185 for 60 minutes, www.beata.website.
Found in Shropshire, as well as London and Dubai, Mitchell is known for her famous ‘bee sting’ facial, which uses the anaphylactic effects of the bee toxin to improve circulation temporarily (it sounds dramatic, but feels like any other slightly tingling cream, we promise). You’ll emerge with skin that’s more luminous and contoured, with your fine lines diminished.
Deborah Mitchell Bee Sting Facial, from £67 at Heaven Skincare, www.heavenskincare.com.
With a sumptuously expansive clinic just off Sloane Square in London, Chapman offers facials that are both relaxing (lots of massage) and effective (fillers, Botox, laser and mesotherapy), all of which use her own superb skincare line.
Sarah Chapman Skinesis Bespoke Facial, from £150, www.sarahchapman.com.
Perhaps London’s best-kept secret, Lacey has a jewel of a treatment-room tucked away in Chelsea, and international Royalty and top executives beat a path to her door. There’s no standard menu – it’s entirely bespoke – and an old-fashioned high-frequency machine is about as hi-tech as it gets, as she delivers glowing, radiant skin using only her skilled hands and highly effective products.
Amanda Lacey Signature Facial from £350, www.amandalacey.com.
Katharine Mackenzie Paterson
Sometimes you just want to hand your face over to someone else to sort out. Enter Katharine Mackenzie Paterson, whose treatment-rooms, situated at the top of a narrow staircase a stone’s throw from bustling Oxford Circus, are a haven for stressed-out skin, rejuvenating it via all manner of gadgets and a broad selection of skincare brands.
Katharine Mackenzie Pateron KMP Skin Facials from £120, www.kmpskin.com.
A facial with Joanne Evans in her new Portland Road clinic in Notting Hill, is restorative – but not necessarily relaxing. It can feel a bit scratchy at the beginning, and you’ll be desperate for the relaxing massage at the end, but your skin will really appreciate it. Expect a complexion that looks shiny and new, thanks to a proper cleanse, steam, peel and extraction session, including milia removal.
Joanne Evans Skin Matters Facial, from £160, www.skin-matters.co.uk.
Recently returned from a stint at Austria’s renowned Vivamayr, Tarryn Warren now gives her bespoke facials at Notting Hill’s Bodyism. There, she combines Eastern techniques such as acupuncture and Gua Sha with lymphatic draining and micro-needling to boost the skin’s collagen and overall health, working with brands including Wildsmith, Niod and Omorovicza, as well as using professional peels.
Tarryn Warren Signature Bespoke Facial, from £145 at Bodyism, www.tarrynbespokeskincare,
Recommended by an international billion-dollar beauty-brand founder, Holmes sends a car to bring you to her clinic in Milton Keynes, and is opening a second shortly in Chelsea, London. Favourite treatments revolve around different machines and types of energies, from collagen-boosting radio-frequency energy to ultrasound. “It’s less of a pamper, more of a results-driven facial,” she says. For red-carpet appearances, she recommends a hydrofacial and micro-needling, and refuses to be rushed, so allow a good three hours and don’t forget to ask if you’ll need downtime afterwards.
Nilam Holmes Signature Facial from £120 at Dermaspa, www.dermaspa.co.uk
A version of this story originally appeared in the Autumn issue of Town & Country UK