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October 21st 2013 / 0 comment
Sensitive skin columnist Judy Johnson reviews Pai's organic and gentle facial at Herb House Spa in the New Forest
Those with sensitive skin will know that a trip to the spa is not necessarily the blissful experience that it should be. Having had bad reactions to products after treatments before, I've steered clear of all those aromatic havens of pampering for years despite longing for a decent facial that I just can't do at home (my London bathroom is hardly spa-like, candles or no candles).
So when the news came that one of my most loved brands for sensitive skin - organic champions Pai Skincare - had launched their sensitive skin facial treatments into the gorgeous Lime Wood Hotel's spa, Herb House, I couldn't wait to get back into the white robe and slippers to test it out.
Herb House is in the heart of the New Forest, surrounded, literally, by donkeys, horses and picturesque countryside. The spa champions British boutique products and prides itself on using home grown beauty brands in its luxurious wellbeing treatments, which makes Pai a perfect fit; its Soil Association Certified products are 100% natural and created right here in the UK.
Pai has created two facial options using its organic skincare; the Detox and Decongest for oily, combination skin prone to sensitivity, and the Restore and Regenerate, for dry, mature sensitive skin.
My facialist asked me about my skin type and issues before leaving me to lay back and relax on the indulgently comfortable bed. Soft music wafted around the room and I was so at ease knowing that the products I was about to experience were not a threat to my skin that I really switched off; a real first for me when it comes to spa visits.
My therapist used strong, deliberate strokes up and across my face to massage the products in after carefully cleansing away my eye make-up (couldn't leave the house without it; I noted, after, how she'd left me a perfect line of black eyeliner, almost as if she knew I'd want to reapply later. Top marks) with Pai's Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser.
This was followed by a plethora of comforting, refreshing, nourishing products from Pai's arsenal of organic skincare; Lotus & Orange Blossom BioAffinity Tonic; the Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator (the most gentle face scrub I think I have ever come across); Echium & Perilla BioRejuvenate Facial Oil and Echium & Cupuacu Intensive Conditioning Mask (both professional only); Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream; their hero Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil; Echium & Argan Soothing Eye Cream; and finally the Comfrey & Calendula Calming Body Cream which was used for a hand and arm massage. Cold stones were also used across my neck and shoulders, an oddly relaxing sensation that I preferred to traditional hot stones as again I knew my skin would remain calm.
Previous facials have either left my skin tingling, or red, blotchy and sore. Not so with Pai; I didn't feel that tell-tale heat that usually comes along with a reaction and when I emerged from my relaxed state to take a peek in the mirror I saw nothing but healthy looking, glowing skin. My neck pain from a weekend of being hunched over my laptop had eased and the tension around my eyes had released. I practically floated down to the relaxation room where a peppermint tea and soft lighting slowly lifted me back to reality.
Pai's organic, gentle yet effective facials are available at a number of spas and salons - follow the brand wherever they go and you're guaranteed beautiful skin at the spa as well as at home. Facials without the fear; a rare delight for sensitive souls.
Top tip: To truly do your skin a good deed, be sure to head to the Raw and Cured cafe inside the spa - their smoothies are divine and the raw lunches are so good you'll never want to cook again.