Most facials start with whale music and candles, the Lady Sloane Facial at Cadogan Cosmetics in Chelsea starts with sticking your face into a terrifying-looking machine so it can 'read' your skin. It's not as bad as it looks, and after a few PhotoBooth-style camera flashes you take your face out of the VISIA Skin Scanner (above) and up pops your results on the screen. I was going to post mine here, but I don't want you to have nightmares forever; the one where you can see all the UV damage beneath my skin is particularly harrowing. The lovely aesthetic therapist, Sophie, tells me that my results are compared to a hundred other women the same age as me, and on the plus side I have less wrinkles than 80% of those random others, but I'm in the top percentile for sun damage and uneven texture.
Luckily Sophie knows just what I need - chemical exfoliation, and lots of it. She takes me through to a very clinical looking room (think more hospital than beauty spa), but still tucks me in with a cosy blanket. After a triple cleanse the extractions begin, and for once they don't make my eyes water one little bit. Sophie talks me through the chemical peel that's about to happen, reassuring me that it's just a light refresh peel and fruit-based, and if it stings too much she can take it off. I'm bracing myself for what I've built up in my mind to be searing pain, so I'm beyond relieved that it doesn't sting at all. It's worked into my skin for seven minutes and dissolved with solution before a cooling gel is gently applied. This has been the first mask, but there are still two more to come, including a clay mask to draw out any more impurities that may have escaped Sophie's eagle eye up until this point. What I love about this facial compared to a spa one is that Sophie doesn't leave the room to let me 'relax with a mask' (I hate that, I can shove a mask on myself at home and do nothing), she's constantly working on my skin. I also like it that the products are not flowery, superficial ones - Epionce and SkinCeuticals are formulated to deliver clinical results.
Right in the middle of the facial is the massage section. I didn't think it was ever going to end, and believe me, this is not a complaint. Endless and varying pressures were worked all over my face, getting rid of any tension and practically sending me to sleep. I cannot even begin to gauge how long this section lasted for, which says something for how amazing it was. After the final mask came off, the moisturiser, eye cream and sun block went on (after seeing that UV damage I'll never be without it!), and I sleepily glided out, feeling way more relaxed and refreshed than I ever thought I would at a clinical facial.
I'm thinking that these kind of facials are the way to go if you want strong results, and treatment that's properly tailored to the individual needs of your skin. I once spent six months on a waiting list for a so-called 'super-facialist' in the Marylebone area, and for around the same cost as the Lady Sloane facial, I had a really uninspired experience that included ten whole minutes of the woman in question laying her hands on my head to 'transfer positive energy'. My Lady Sloane facial gave me visible and impressive results straight away; my skin was clearer, my pores looked smaller as they were less congested, there were fewer blemishes, it was incredibly soft and absolutely glowing. The next day this was all even more evident, and my make-up went on like a dream. Take that uneven texture! As well as providing a brilliant facial, this is a really friendly clinic with not a Sloane-Ranger in sight, and the staff are all very helpful and down to earth. I'll definitely be back!
The Lady Sloane Facial costs £150 and lasts for 90 minutes, including the VISIA skin mapping. There's also a Lord Sloane Facial for men at the same price. Cadogan Cosmetics offered me a free facial in return for this review.