Being a fan of all things skincare and beauty, I was stoked to get an invite to Askinsology, the UK's first facial bar, but also a tad apprehensive about how relaxing a facial could be when it's in a salon environment rather than in the cosy confines of a typical spa room. At Askinology you have a thirty minute slot and sit down in a chair, pretty much like a hair salon, have your treatment, and go – the principle being that a busy working woman (or man) can fit this in to their lunch hour, or before or after work, and the focus is on regular, affordable skin maintenance and not sporadic pampering. Askinology is based in the heart of the city, in the picturesque Leadenhall Market – a place that's been used for many a film-set, including in Harry Potter, and where I'd previously visited on this blogger day-trip.
I was thinking it would be weird if people can watch you having a facial, you're pretty vulnerable when you're leaning back with your eyes shut. I could never be one of those people on Selfridges' shop floor who are brazenly having their moustache threaded or their skin comically slapped at the Face Gym. Turns out the facial bar is upstairs, so no one at street level can see you, and the only other people in this area will either be staff or others having facials. The chairs are cosy reclining ones, and although it's not totally quiet like it would be in a spa (you can hear the shop floor downstairs over the balcony, and dance music is playing) it's still utterly relaxing. Melodie, my facialist, goes through the Askinology menu with me (below) and we discuss my skin needs. On careful inspection she thinks I should have the Plump Up The Volume as my skin is looking dehydrated. I'm not surprised seeing as the night before I had a dinner of prosecco and not much else at this blogger party. Melodie also offers me a ten-minute facial add-on to give my neck some much needed attention.
For the next forty minutes I drift off and Melodie triple cleanses my skin, applies a hyaluronic acid mask, massages my face, and adds serum and moisturiser. Huge bonus points are given for the arm and hand massage whilst my mask is on. I will never understand why in some salons the facialist leaves the room during mask time – the worst experience I had of this was at a salon in Highgate Village where the beauty therapist said "I'll be back in twenty minutes" – twenty minutes of an hour-long facial with me just lying there; even when I wear a face mask at home I'm more productive. My face was quite red afterwards (thanks to some outstanding lymphatic draining massage) so Melodie offers to do my makeup at the cosmetics bar. I decline as I was only heading back home to work (freelancer life…) and I like to do as little with my skin as possible after a facial so that the products can just do their thing. But I think this is a brilliant service for women who are heading back to work after a facial, or off on a night out.
Melodie had used SkinCeuticals products on me, these are absolutely amazing high-performance serums, and gave me a much needed dose of vitamin B and hyaluronic acid. She kindly gave me some samples of the same products to use at home, and they also have a shop with all their products for sale, so it's like a beauty counter and salon in one. Oh, and a skin clinic. Dr Askari Townshend practices there several days a week, offering botox, laser work, Dermarollers, and more.
The icing on the cake of this experience was the collagen cocktail Melodie brought me at the end (below). I chose the Collagen Iced Tea from the menu, which is an unusual mix of Diet Coke, lime, and a vanilla collagen powder that gave the drink the flavour and texture of a coke float. I hadn't had one of those in years, so it was a fun drink, and knowing it was giving my skin a huge anti-ageing boost at the same time was a definite bonus.
I'll be honest, I've been reviewing some pretty intense clinical skin procedures this year (like this facial at a cosmetic surgery clinic, and a chemical peel, microdermabrasion, and Dermarollers here) so I had convinced myself that for around the same price as a London facial it's better value for money to go to a skin clinic rather than a salon now. I didn't expect the facial at Askinology to be so good, it was a genuine surprise. When the initial redness calmed down my skin was glowing. When I got home and looked in the mirror I had the kind of dewy sheen with pale pink cheeks that I usually slather on blusher and highlighter to get. This lasted all day, and before bed I just put on some Obagi vitamin-C serum, and woke up with the glow still going. Definitely the sign of a good facial when the results are clearly visible and last well into the next day. Askinology's facial bar is a great place for having short treatments in-between more intense ones, and for fitting in skincare and upkeep into your working week to reap the longterm benefits of clearer, younger looking skin. It's a friendly salon with lovely staff, and the perfect place to come to regularly and be well looked after. I absolutely love the idea of a facial bar now, I hope they open more all over London – it it something you could see yourself trying?