Facialist Sarah Chapman’s Favourite Things

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 (Sarah Chapman)
(Sarah Chapman)

Beauty insiders have marvelled at Sarah Chapman’s skin-transforming capabilities for years but the facialist and skincare entrepreneur became a household name after being credited for Meghan Markle’s glowy complexion during her wedding to Prince Harry.

Markle was often spotted leaving Chapman’s Sloane Square flagship looking fresh faced and solidifying her eponymous clinic as one of the most sought-after in the world. It’s so desirable, the facialist herself struggles to get an appointment.

Chapman first launched her line Skinesis in 2008 after training as a makeup artist, in the world of aromatherapy, and even as a hairdresser. Over the years, her clinic has grown, and it now boasts nine treatment rooms, all using the latest and greatest technologies. There’s also a stellar crew of facialists including a dermatologist, all working their magic performing around 15,000 facials a year.

With a new pop-up at Bicester village until January and the launch of the Skinesis Platinum Pep8 Stem Cell Serum, we caught up with Chapman to find out more as well as the items she can’t live without.

What are you up to at the moment?

We just launched the Skinesis Platinum Pep8 Stem Cell Serum exclusively in Harrods, in our clinic and on our website.

It was inspired by the Meso-Melt clinical treatment - the microneedling with serum for real rejuvenation, smoothing, plumping, brightening, and hydrating. It’s a new serum that you use basically every day at home underneath moisturiser. It’s our first specific fragrance-free product, which means that you can use it right up around the eyes. You can use it with devices and tools at home too. Sometimes the ingredients don’t smell great so you have to add something but this had such a clean smell anyway

We are also working on Bicester Village and really just getting back into the normal life of things. The clinic was shut for 10 months, which was a long time. So it’s been really sort of bringing that all back into life again.

During lockdown, we pivoted like everybody did to focus on e-commerce. We launched Skin Concierge so you can book an online consultation and we’ve now taken that to another level by using a very interesting kind of software. You can have one-to-one consultations and it also helps you navigate products on the site at the same time.

What is the process of creating a new product?

We’re looking at skin all the time and every product that we create is from face to formula. What do we see on people’s skin? What’s affecting it most at the moment? What are the key issues that people have? That’s what drives a new idea for a product so that everything you have at home is super targeted and super clinical.

The products are a fusion of the best science, cosmeceuticals and performance driven, but you also get botanicals and essential oils for smell and the pleasure factor. Since Covid, people want to do something that makes them feel good. It will give you a sense of calm or peace or pleasure but also performance-driven formulas with peptides, stem cells, and intensive vitamin A.

Everything is about giving people results at home. Not everyone can come to the clinic for a facial if they’re not in London but we’ve seen a huge interest in our devices. We have some tools that mimic what we use in the treatment room. For example, we do a lot of steaming in facials, so we developed a home steamer. We’ve got a pore extractor called Pro-Pore Refiner, the facial massager, and then the Meso-Melt, which is microneedling with ampules that you can do at home.

What attracted you to Bicester for your latest pop up?

I think interestingly, many of our London clients have places out in the Cotswolds and in the country and are spending more time down there since lockdown. I hadn’t been to Bicester for such a long time and it’s a really luxury way of shopping. You’ve got the outlet part and you’ve got the deals, but it’s in a really smart way.

Our only clinic is Sloane Square and we have a team that go round into Space NK, John Lewis, Harrods and Harvey Nichols for a day here and there, so this gave us an opportunity really to have another space where people in this part of the country can kind of come and have their face-to-face contact and skin diagnostics. We’re here until the end of January.

Can you walk us through your beauty routine?

I have treatments, albeit not as often as I want to, because I can’t get an appointment half the time. Seriously. There was one time before the world shut down, where I really wanted a facial and they’re like, well, we can’t fit you in for six weeks.

I use Ultimate Cleanse, one of the first products I launched in 2008. It’s a balm cleanser with active ingredients as well as soothing oils and botanicals. It leaves skin looking fresh and amazing.

I use Stem Cell Collagen Activator as my serum. On top of that, I apply Age-Repair Concentrate - another serum. And then Dynamic Defence Concentrate is my finishing moisturiser. And finally, Skin Insurance SPF 50 and Eye Recovery. I’m a layerer. You don’t have to use as many layers, but I have the luxury of having all the products in my bathroom cabinet. At night, it’s simpler, but I’ll maybe put on the Stem Cell Collagen Activator and then Overnight Facial.

If my skin is really dehydrated, I’ll put extra serum on at night, like Hydrating Booster. For any events, filming, consultations or Instagram, I usually do a 3D Moisture Infusion Mask. I use the microneedling tool, the Meso-Melt now and again, when I just feel like I need to have a bit of a treatment I’ll dip in everything else as well, but those are kind of my core everyday.

The textures are so refined. With some things, if you layer it, you get balling but you don’t get any of that. They work really harmoniously together so it doesn’t make your routine longer. It may seem complicated because I use a lot of things, but it’s also very simple.

What are your beauty commandments?

There’s a couple. Cleansing! Cleanse your face properly is so key. We’ve had people that come in with skin issues and the first thing I’ll do is find out what they’re using to cleanse with and then change their cleansing routine. Within a couple of weeks, their skin looks so different. It’s quite often people will use the wrong cleanser. They’ll think I get a few spots, so I need to use a foam, but actually it’s then drying the skin and producing more oil. So cleansing for me is like a real educational piece. If you get the basis of cleansing right, skin is just healthier.

SPF, which is really boring to say, because it’s what every skincare person says, but it’s true and more so now because of blue light damage from devices.

The cheapest and best thing is massage. Get your knuckles in and really massage the product in.

What’s a beauty trend you hope would fade?

I don’t like ‘clean beauty’. I think it’s really misleading and makes the consumer so confused. I listen to clients and they don’t know what it means. It’s just woolly marketing.

Harsh scrubbing is awful for skin. Strong granular scrubs create micro tears on the skin which then upsets the acid mantle which is your natural protection. You then don’t hold the oil and moisture in the skin as well. It does give a nice glossy finish for a moment, but in the long term it’s not great.

I felt the same about microdermabrasion which was a massive trend for years but I never did it in the clinic because it doesn’t support the skin’s health and structure in the long term. It’s more about sloughing so much on the top that you get a sheen but it’s actually damaging at the same time. Chemical is controlled exfoliation as it can only digest the dead cells so is never going to damage.

What’s the secret to Meghan Markle’s glow? How did you prepare her skin before the wedding?

I was looking after her skin regularly ever since she came to the UK, even before they got married but she has a very natural approach to beauty. It’s not about a lot of technology, it’s about good facials.

We would do regular facials and I was really lucky to go to Cliveden and treat her with a facial the night before the wedding. Lots of hydration, serums and overnight facial and oils; getting all that into the skin with lots of massage.

You know there’s that old adage of beauty shines through and that’s what I see with her. She has this naturally lovely glow and restfulness to her face. I’m just adding lotions and potions to bring that out.

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