I love Cowshed for their cruelty-free and chemical-free beauty products, a whole range of natural goodies with amusing names (Knackered Cow, Moody Cow, Horny Cow) to attend to whatever your needs may be. Seriously, if you're ever stuck for a gift idea for someone – a brightly coloured package of Gorgeous Cow is a lifesaver: luxurious, reasonably priced, makes you smile at the name, and does a brilliant job.
I knew I had to try one of their facials. The fact that all Cowshed salons are beautiful in design is just a bonus when you already love their products and ethos. Early one Saturday morning I ducked into the Selfridges branch and managed to get a walk-in appointment (it was early, it's probably best to book ahead). Just off the shop floor they have a row of chairs for manicures and pedicures where you can lounge back in comfort, watch a cute retro TV and drink a latte.
Out the back are two small rooms for more intimate treatments. They're cosy and dimly-lit, but it's hard to switch off from being in the middle of Selfridges because you can hear the department store music and the quiet hum of shoppers' voices. It didn't stop me fully relaxing though as my therapist explained the treatment to me and began the facial. You can choose to have a face mask and a scalp massage or no mask and an extended facial massage. As much as I love scalp kneading I didn't want to deal with an oily head the rest of the day, and I felt like my face muscles needed a workout. I deliberately chose not to have any extractions or steam, and so the whole facial felt like one blissful round of cleansing, moisturing and massaging after another.
I loved the focus on a holistic relaxing experience, and my skin was left glowing. The only downsides were the odd music, and the oil that did end up getting in my hair despite me having worn a kind of shower cap. But I like the fact that natural oils and creams were used, and lots of them, because my skin needed some major hydration and it even felt incredibly soft the next day. My therapist didn't hang around to talk me through any of the products afterwards (which I was grateful for, I hate it when a facial turns it into a hard sell and you get talked through each and every product during and after the session), but the receptionist saw me looking and came over to chat. She was so lovely and we ended up talking about our favourite treatments and which makeup brands we're into at the moment. As I left I caught sight of myself in one of the many mirrors in the Selfridges beauty department; my hair and face could only be described as an oil slick. It made me laugh that I'd just had a ten minute chat with someone looking like this, but she hadn't seemed to mind, and neither did any of the other staff nearby. Maybe they're used to Cowshed customers emerging all shiny, hydrated, happy and utterly relaxed. If you're looking for facial to relax you and take years off without any invasive procedures I'd recommend Cowshed. If you can't face a treatment within a department store, head to one of their other salons – all equally quirky and gorgeous.