3rd February 2012

An afternoon of pampering – including a facial and two massages – beats an afternoon at the desk, any day. Jill Glenn left the office behind to relax at ibar beauty salon and nail bar in Harrow…

Located in a small parade of shops on College Hill Road, Harrow, ibar has an imposing position, and the advantage of plenty of free roadside parking.

Its large plate glass windows give it a slightly bare look, although the strong candy pink back wall certainly catches the eye. Don’t be daunted by this austere exterior impression, though, because what counts is what happens inside, where baby pink paintwork softens the impact and creates a welcoming and soothing atmosphere. There’s no trace (fortunately) of the building’s previous incarnation as a spare parts stockist.

It’s quite quiet, when I step inside (I feel a bit like Exhibit A) but the staff are friendly and hospitable, and after a quick cup of tea, which provides a break in which to shed the stresses of the day and slow the breathing down, I’m ushered straight through to the treatment room.

We begin with the facial, which lasts a full 70 minutes and leaves me feeling beautifully relaxed. Therapist Victoria, at my request, enumerates the various stages and the Dermalogica products that she’s using. This proves a pointless exercise, inasmuch as I can’t remember any of it afterwards (possibly because I drift off to sleep half way through…), and have to ask her to go through it with me again so that I can make notes – but the confidence with which she recounts the process gives me great trust in her.

From the soothing make-up remover and the apricot and kukui pre-cleanser, via the ultra-calming cleanser, the toner, the microfoliant and the various masks and serums through to the creams and moisturisers, Victoria is efficient and calm. I feel very safe under the pressure she’s applying, and it strikes me that this is a great gift. Lying semi-clothed while someone probes the contours of your face with their fingers could leave you feeling vulnerable, so if you experience a sensation of tenderness you know that you are, literally, in good hands.

I’m conscious of the same tangible comfort factor when Victoria is replaced by her colleague Benita who performs an aromatherapy neck, shoulder and back massage, followed by an Indian head massage. The aromatherapy, delicately scented with essential oil of rosemary, adds an further layer of relaxation to my already blissed-out frame. The careful manipulation of my neck and shoulders uncovers some knots, whose presence I’d suspected but been ignoring for at least a couple of weeks. It’s surprising how much better I feel when Benita has worked her magic…

By the time she moves on to the Indian head massage, I’m lost. In a good way. I can only apologise that I can’t tell you all that much about it, except that there’s a choice of having it done dry or with oil; I opt for the latter, which from previous experiences I feel is more enjoyable (even if my hair does look rather wild by the time Benita has finished…).

As an added bonus, when the massage is finished, Benita also performs some threading on the edges of my eyebrows. She’s horrified that I’ve never tried it, and adamant that I will be thrilled with the results. She’s right. I do whimper a little as the hairs are plucked out, but the clean smooth line that greets me when I look in the mirror is worth the discomfort – which really is much less than I would have anticipated. If you’ve never tried this ancient Middle Eastern method of hair removal then I recommend it; if you have, then you’ll wonder why it’s taken me so long. I gather that threading is only as painless as this if you can find a really skilled practitioner. Good thing I’ve discovered Benita. Generous of me to tell the rest of you about her, isn’t it?…

6 College Hill Road, Harrow HA3 7HH
020 8385 8444

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