There is something about having sensitive skin that makes you feel quite inferior; it’s certainly not attractive, given that it’s usually pale, blotchy and prone to a rash, but the association of clinical products gives it sickly connotations which means you feel more at home in a chemist than where others go for their skin fix , such as the premium beauty counters in Selfridges or indeed a luxurious spa. ‘Luxury’ rarely enters my mind when it comes to skincare in fact; it’s a word to be wary of, usually coupled with ‘potent’ or ‘fragrant’. It’s a lesson many of us have learned the hard way that luxury beauty and sensitive skin do not gel well. Until now…
I’ve mentioned my reluctance to don the disposable slippers and relax in a spa before, having had one too many reactions to ‘Oh but we only use natural oils here’ treatments which left me horribly angry (and that was just my skin). Back in 2013 however, Pai gently wooed me back to the spa with the launch of their facials at Herb House Spa , a beautiful location in the New Forest, and now they’re doing it again only this time in the heart of London at one of the city’s finest hotels.
The Beaumont, a majestic hotel in the midst of Mayfair with an oddly calm presence just behind the chaos of Oxford Street, is now offering four signature Pai facials (suitable for both women and men), giving sensitive skin-friendly spa treatments an upgrade and making it the premium spa of choice for Londoners with reactive skin.
Unsurprisingly, the service is second to none; I was greeted by name by everyone I passed, from the doorman to the receptionist to the spa therapist, who led me through the spa for a quick tour (it’s small, as you’d expect for a central London location, but immaculate and stylish). The Art Deco spa has a Turkish hammam, a cold plunge pool and ice bar, and a small sauna and steam room, centred around sleek white relaxation beds where you can enjoy fresh fruit-infused water pre or post treatment.
anywhere else, I’d be checking the products they were about to use on me thoroughly, perhaps even swapping them for my own
My therapist sent me into the plush changing rooms to switch into some fresh black paper underwear (the first spa that’s ever given a disposable bandeau bra top as well as the pants - top marks for this alone) and a fluffy robe, before showing me through to the treatment room; an intimate, dimly lit den of relaxation with soft instrumental music floating through the warm air.
Now this is usually where the facial fear kicks in; anywhere else, I’d be checking the products they were about to use on me thoroughly, perhaps even swapping them for my own that I’d brought in from home. But here, I can close my eyes and truly relax, comfortably reassured that no skin reaction is on the horizon. Having filled out a consultation form before, my therapist noted that I’d been experiencing redness in my face for the past couple of days (down to the weather or a product, I wasn’t sure - I just had a consistently ‘flushed’ appearance) and prescribed the Instant Calm Facial. (The other options, should you be sensitive but not quite so red, are the Perfect Balance Facial, the Pure Hydration Facial, or the Age Confidence Facial.)
MORE GLOSS: The 10-minute mask that soothes sensitive skin
Next was a blur of product, massage, more product; all the while with soothing strokes that relieved built-up tension from staring at a screen all day long and gently lifted my neck and under my chin - an area I am guilty of ignoring. The refreshing Lotus & Orange Blossom BioAffinity Tonic was used before and after the Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (my regular cleanser of choice) which was softly swiped away with a hot, fluffy flannel; next was the spa-only Echium & Cupuacu Intensive Conditioning Mask, which was left to work its magic while my therapist gave me a hand massage to help me relax further into the luxe experience. After using a fresh cloth to remove the mask, the Sea Aster & Wild Oat Instant Calm Redness Serum, Chamomile & Rosehip Calming Day Cream and Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream were then applied layer by layer; it occurred to me that my own evening routine could do with some additional steps as I relished the comfort I could feel in my skin.
Relaxing with a fresh herbal tea in the spa area post-facial, my skin felt different; thick, soft, almost bouncy, so much so that I half expected my face to look twice the size when I headed to the changing rooms and looked in the mirror, but while it looked plump, it also looked more shapely somehow (perhaps those lifting neck massage techniques really do work). Better still, I didn’t need any additional product before bed as hours later it still felt saturated with the nourishing creams, and the next day that red flushing I’d been experiencing had disappeared. For people like me, good skin is the true luxury - and that’s something I could definitely get used to.
Pai facials start from £55; The Beaumont Spa is in Mayfair and is open for treatments to the public, seven days a week, from 9am until 9pm. To book, call 020 7499 1001 or view their website
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