Where are we? House of Fraser, Oxford Street, London.
One of the busiest streets in England isn’t exactly the picture of relaxation. However, hidden amongst the chaos and crowds lies a little oasis of calm located on the bottom floor of House of Fraser - its in-store beauty spa where busy workers and commuters can book in for a whole host of Murad treatments to help combat the signs of city stress.
Murad is a favourite among the team due to its line-up of high performance products formulated with science-backed ingredients. Offerings such as its City Skin Age Defense SPF50 PA+++ , £55, and Rapid Relief Spot Treatment , £17, have become skincare staples in my artillery, (stocks I’ll be replenishing courtesy of the exclusive discount code below...) so the prospect of booking in for a facial with the brand therefore comes with high expectations.
What are we having? The Murad Method Facial System, from £75 for 60 minutes
Murad is all about results-driven skincare - and their facials follow suit. Personalisation is a key part of it and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fly here. My facialist Natasha de Almeida tells me that there are over a 100 different combinations of actives and techniques that they can choose from to tailor your treatment to your specific needs and after assessing my skin, she recommends the Murad City Skin Facial (£75 for 60 minutes) as my perfect fit, an intensive facial that protects skin against the stress of living in a big city and specially designed to combat dullness and dehydration (my main areas of concern).
The treatment also places an emphasis on looking beyond topical skincare to address these issues - an aspect clear from the questionnaire that I filled in when checking in with the team at the Murad beauty counter upstairs. It was refreshing - rather than just focussing on the products I’m currently using, it also asked me about my lifestyle too. It was quite eye-opening actually - while my skincare routine is in pretty good nick, it drove home how I need to pay more attention to sleep and stress management in order to make a difference from the inside out.
What’s it like?
First up was a thorough cleanse underneath steam to help open up the pores. Cleansing lotions and exfoliators were gently scrubbed in to slough off dead skin cells and prep the skin for the specialist products to be applied on top. I could have nodded off under the heat - especially welcome on a chilly day.
However, before I felt too snoozy, extraction time beckoned. I had a few stubborn blackheads on my nose that needed a little extra woman power to remove and Natasha swiftly worked her magic on them to coerce them to leave the premises. A little painful, but over in under five minutes and balanced out by the more relaxing parts of the facial that were yet to come.
Next came the peel - a specially mixed up concoction of retinyl palmitate, a less irritative form of vitamin A to improve skin texture, and a high concentration of vitamin C to brighten. This was left on for about five minutes. It tingled slightly, but it wasn't stingy in the slightest and Natasha treated me to a blissful arm and scalp massage while it worked.
To replenish moisture levels after the peel, a cream rich in hyaluronic acid was applied afterwards, which was massaged into my face, neck and décolletage to aid lymphatic drainage and melt away puffiness. It was a hands-on kind of massage, a bit like kneading dough, but not uncomfortable at all and so rhythmic that it was almost hypnotic. After my facial workout, a cooling and refreshing mask was applied which just felt amazing on my skin. It was akin to an ice bath after a long run.
There were a lot of knots in my neck and so Natasha ironed these out with a tension-freeing massage. My face wasn't the only part of me benefitting from the treatment, but also my shoulders and décolleté too for a more wide-ranging result.
Next, a soothing application of the brand’s Hydro-Dynamic Quenching Essence , £65, was applied to my skin to leave it at optimal hydration, combined with a slick of its award-winning Invisiblur Perfecting Shield SPF30, £60 - a personal favourite of mine that leaves skin primed and protected.