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Sarah Vine: My facial fears

October 1st 2012 / Sarah Vine Google+ Sarah Vine: My facial fears


A day in the life of GTG's founder and editor-in-chief. Today: why I'm fussy about who touches my face

Monday morning, and my inbox is full of offers to try new "miracle" facials - my heart sinks. Being a beauty writer who doesn’t much like facials is a bit like being a chef with a saucepan phobia: tricky, and at times quite awkward. But when I say I don’t like facials, what I really mean is that I don’t like BAD facials. And there are a lot of them about.

You know what I mean: the namby-pamby half-hearted cleanse, followed by a weedy massage and an interminable face mask, the principal purpose of which is to allow the therapist to have a nice cup of tea and a quick flick through Grazia.

A good facial, on the other hand, now that’s a whole different thing. It’s the difference between ordinary salt and the elegant Malvern flake, between boxed Bulgarian plonk and a good red wine, between cheap, clumpy mascara and Chanel’s exquisite creamy formula.

I can count on the fingers of one hand all the genuinely good facials I have experienced. All possess the same qualities: they are infused with the personality and experience of their creators, they make a noticeable difference that actually lasts, and they relax the mind as well as the face.

It’s also a question of compatibility, personality. You have to like the person doing it, and they have to be attuned to you. For example, I hate people who talk too much. I like a lot of vigorous massage and I absolutely loathed being lectured about how much green tea/water/red wine I do or don’t drink, about my diet, my late nights or my exercise regime. Look: if I lived a perfect life, I wouldn’t need a facial, would I? So shut up and get on with it.

Take all that into consideration, then, and one name stands out: Vaishaly Patel. There is no one quite like her.

Point one in her favour is that she never, ever lectures her clients. Example: one of her many talents is her brilliant threading technique. No one out there has such a sharp eye for the correct and most flattering shape for a person’s face. With her, threading doesn’t hurt either. Despite knowing this, I have on many occasions had someone else thread my brows, usually because I either can’t get an appointment with her, or am testing someone out. Sometimes the results are perfectly fine; other times it all goes horribly wrong, and I have to go to her for brow rehab. She has never once told me off, just quietly got on with fixing the mess.

Point two: she is constantly evolving her facials. When I first started going to her it was all about the microdermabrasion, about creating a radiant glow. She still does all that, but these days she also incorporates cranial massage and other deep relaxation techniques. It’s a truly holistic, almost full-body experience, as much about de-stressing as skin health.

Final and third point: she is a control freak. All her “girls” are drilled to within an inch of their lives, which means that her clinic offers a five-star experience no matter who is doing your treatment. Although, in the end, there is no one quite like her.

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