As much as everyone might think that I spend my days in a beauty salon having my skin exfoliated or my nails Shellacked, I sadly don’t. I had a facial recently which was the first in about two years and I nearly always paint my nails at home. So when Harvey Nichols invited me to experience their recently lauched Beauty Lounge , I jumped at the chance (it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it).
Because it's open from 8am to 10pm Monday to Saturday and 11.30 am to 6pm on Sundays, you can nip into this luxury beauty area and spruce yourself up with all manner of treatments any time, including pre and post work. The idea is that it’s fast, contemporary and super efficient with a menu of express services that can make maximum impact in minimum time. It didn’t fail to disappoint - I was threaded, dyed, blowed, painted and infused with vitamins by a small army of beautifying experts and emerged three hours later feeling (and looking) like a new woman.
Here’s the lowdown on the treatments I loved:
Remodelage is no ordinary massage. Created by Martine De Richeville, a well known therapist in France, the aim of this treatment is to rid the system of toxic waste and therefore slim the body, improve the immune system and improve general wellbeing. It involves a very specific type of massage which has an amazing track record, my therapist Pauline explained, for getting rid of cellulite. The treatment has a cult following for its body smoothing abilities and many women apparently come back religiously every week for its magical effects. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the most relaxing treatment I ever had – Pauline rolled and pinched my flabby bits while I bit my lip trying not to yelp. No pain no gain right? Some bits, she explained, where more painful than others (such as the muffin top), which meant they were more toxic, but by releasing these toxins we could achieve greater wellbeing. I was rolled and pinched and stretched everywhere including my stomach, but when I left I did feel somehow lighter in my body and in myself.
Nails Inc Manicure
Next up was an appointment at the Nails Inc nail bar with a lady called Paola. Now, I am a bit of a fussy customer when it comes to manicures - I can paint my own with precision so can’t bear it if I could do better myself. I have to say though, that this was one of the most thorough manis I’ve ever had. Now that the darker days are setting in, I chose a beautiful navy blue shade, Richmond Park Gardens, and the manicurist filed and polished my digits thoroughly and with absolute precision, cutting back cuticles and applying a nourishing oil at the end. I’m not sure if it was the Nails Inc top coat or the manner in which she applied every precise layer but it stayed virtually chip-free for nearly seven days.
Products I loved.... NailsInc Nail Fuel Collection – this season's perfect nude, burgundy and navy shades, £29 and NailsInc 2 in 1 Base and Top Coat , £8 if you don’t want your mani to budge for a week.
Blink Brow Shape and Dye
I’m always a bit wary about getting my eyebrows done. "What if they pluck too much away? What if they ruin them forever?" are the thoughts running through my head. I often just end up plucking and dying them myself at home. However, I know from experience how well trained the ladies at the Blink Brow Bars are. “I want to make them look as thick as possible – if that’s possible,” I said to my therapist about my barely-there brows as I sat down. And blow me down, that’s exactly what she did. First, she dyed them a brown shade and then she threaded them above and below, but never took anything off their thickness. If anything, she managed to increase their volume by dying them wider than I normally would dare and the result was Cara-esque fabulousness. I will definitely return in future for more brow action.
Products I loved…. BBrowBar Mysore Sandalwood Eyebrow Pencil , £13 for better defined, super groomed arches all day long and the BBrowBar Indian Rose candle , £27 a beautiful spicy, warm rose scent.
Hershesons Blow Dry
I pity the poor hairdresser who is confronted with me in their chair and expected to blowdry my mane half an hour. My hair is wiry, frizzy and has a mind of its own and I’ve seen many a junior stylist come quite unstuck when faced with it. However, this wasn’t about to phase the brilliant stylist in the Hershesons salon that Wednesday afternoon. After looking through a booklet of super stylish potential hairstyles, I chose the ‘Wavy Gravy’ look which is basically a tousled wave (but I could have chosen a Super Straight kink-free look, a Sixties style B52 or a Bardot up-do among many others) and the stylist set to work, pulling my hair smooth section by section before using the hair tongs to add a natural looking wave. I was out in half and hour complete with awesome Sienna Miller type tousle – not too messy and definitely not too bouncy or neat. I will most definitely be booking back in here when I’m short on time and need a hair makeover super fast.
Products I loved…. Morroccanoil Fleur de Rose Shampoo , £23 for maximum hydration while you wash and GHD Curve Creative Wand , £120 for creating the perfect ‘I woke like this’ tousle.
Nosh Detox Fitamin Infusion
I’ve heard a lot about vitamin infusions but have never actually had one myself so I was really curious to see if they actually worked. Basically, it’s a way of getting vitamins and minerals directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive tract so that they have immediate effect. (The problem with orally taking vitamins is that they may not get absorbed properly, so this is a way of getting the highest level into your system possible.)
I was taken to a private room just off the Beauty Lounge where a qualified nurse was waiting with the pouches of the infusion. I had chosen the Fitamin infusion which was a cocktail of vitamins such as glutathione, vitamin C, B complex, B12, selenium, zinc and magnesium that’s meant to help boost my immune system and give me more energy. I do a lot of exercise and lead a very busy life so it seemed the right one to have. The infusion was administered like a drip, through a needle in my arm (I was asked first if I had a needle phobia, which I don’t) and it took about half an hour for all the liquid to go in, while I sat back and answered emails. The next day, no word of a lie, I had an unbelievably good workout in the gym where I felt like I could go on forever and generally felt really quite energetic for a week afterwards.
For full details and a list of treatments head to harveynichols.com . To book an appointment at the Beauty Lounge call: 0207 259 4410.