Facing It

6th August 2010

Jill Glenn experiences a facial treatment at Bliss Beauty + Perfumery, Hatch End.

Facials are a bit of a new thing for me. (I know; I need to get out more). Massage is one thing, a soothing experience for body and mind, rooted in holistic tradition. I can rationalise that. But facials… Aren’t they a bit indulgent? Even a bit vain?

Despite my reticence, though, I was still keen to try one of the offerings at new venue Bliss Beauty + Perfumery, in Hatch End. A colleague encouraged it; even picked out the treatment for me: Pro-Collagen Marine Quartz Lift Facial. It’s by Elemis, one of their Advanced Anti-Ageing Facials range, and it sounds extremely impressive, although I can’t help fixating on the words Anti-Ageing… Is she trying to tell me something?

I’m not sure, when I arrive, whether Bliss knows quite what it wants to be. Is it a shop? Is it a spa? Is it a salon? It’s quiet and discreet, but the front half is definitely retail-orientated, with no real reception area for treatment clients. There’s the inevitable form – age, lifestyle, serious health conditions – to complete, and it does feel incongruous to be sitting at the back of the shop doing this. Some of this info is quite private, quite sensitive; I’m not sure I want to be writing it down in what is, effectively, a public place.

The treatment room is pleasant though: simply decorated and suffused with a dim green light (probably doesn’t make my skin look any better, but it’s very soothing as an ambient effect). The atmosphere feels quite luxurious – hard to remember that the Uxbridge Road is only a few yards away – although I am startled that the hangers in the coat cupboard are random plastic, including one branded M&S: a definite lowering of the tone, and rather a shame when almost everything else has clearly been well thought through.

Sabrina tells me to remove not only my coat and shirt but also my shoes. My shoes? I’m particularly sensitive about my feet (decoded, that means ‘my feet are hateful’); I certainly hadn’t envisaged that a facial would involve me exposing them! Only professional dignity prevents me from running out of the salon at this point. If you share these sensitivities, be warned…

… but don’t be put off. The signature Elemis ‘Welcome Touch’ – the cleansing of the feet with warm lime mitts – is actually quite delightful, and, pressing on certain of the reflex points along the sole, ensures that the spine is properly relaxed. It feels almost ritualistic; suddenly I’m shedding the day, living in the moment. It’s a good start.

Sabrina is gentle, careful, thorough, and although I can sense that she’s following a predetermined procedure rather than responding to my body’s particular needs, as a massage might, the experience is pleasingly meditative. I drift in and out of awareness, chasing the bizarre thoughts that keep escaping from the periphery of my mind… Americans in Paris… orange frosting. Very weird.

The products feel very natural, and have lovely aromas – rose, lavender, camomile – and the sequence of cleansing, toning, detoxing, peeling, massaging and applying serum seems endless. Beautifully endless.

This treatment is, apparently, clinically proven to reduce the number of wrinkles by up to 94% and to improve skin firmness by up to 57% after just one session. It’s a big claim…

Has it worked? Hard to be certain, but I have had a compliment or two, and, more importantly, I feel great. For me, it isn’t all about the end result: the purpose is also the process. And the process is good.

Bliss Beauty + Perfumery, 415 Uxbridge Road, Hatch End
020 8428 8661

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