I’m very serious about my nightly skincare routine, and I’ve stuck to it religiously for as long as I can remember. Here’s how it goes:
- climb into bed and lie down
- remove make-up with Simple facewipe
- throw soiled facewipe in the rough direction of bin
The true beauty of this routine is that it takes about 30 seconds, leaving me extra time for shut-eye. Because as any parent of young children will know, sleep is the most precious commodity known to (wo)man.
But things change. Firstly, children grow up a bit, and get better at sleeping, procuring cereal and switching on Netflix, leaving we parents more time for weekend lie-ins (Pink House Husband actually managed a record while I was away this weekend and didn’t wake up until 10.30am on Sunday, by which time the kids had watched three straight hours of Paw Patrol and drawn all over the cushion #parentfail).
And secondly, as the kids get older so, sadly, do we. In my head I’m still about 22, but my face tells the world I’m the wrong end of my 30s. My twenty-something self used to regularly opine: ‘I won’t care about wrinkles; they just add character’. But now ‘character’ is starting to appear all over my face, funnily enough I’m not quite so keen.
So when I was invited to experience a Murad facial at Zen Lifestyle’s Edinburgh salon, I jumped at the chance, especially as I’d just spent a week soaking up the sun on holiday and my face had turned into a giant freckle.
I’d heard about facials. I’d even had one or two, but these were facials designed simply to soothe, not proper ones that actually do anything. And from what I’d gathered, Zen’s facials weren’t messing around.
So it was with slight trepidation that I climb the steps to Zen’s Hanover Street salon. As I step across the faux flower-filled threshold, my concerns melt away.
Inside all is white, light and airy – and everyone looks calm and happy. Am I in…heaven? Despite the fact that I’d shouted at the eldest Pink House Dweller earlier for getting his toy lizard stuck on the ceiling? Seems the spa God had forgiven me.
I’m invited to sit on a white sofa and fill out a form. Above me, Tom Dixon pendant lights sparkle, and on the table in front a Neom candle emits a soft, delicious scent. In front of the large windows a row of Perspex Ghost chairs welcome you to the nail bar, with views onto the bustle of Hanover Street.
Form filled out, I’m led to my luxurious treatment room. The lighting is perfectly dim and there’s a furry blanket to snuggle under. In a soft voice, my therapist explains that before the facial I’ll be treated to a back massage to help me relax. She also talks me through the facial process (cleanse, skin diagnosis, peel, facemask) so she won’t need to bother me with info when I’m in my post-massage relaxed state – a thoughtful touch.
Having done all my exercise for the month (cycling, running, Body Balance, stretching) the previous day, I’m after a massage that really gets to work on my abused muscles. Unlike with so many spa treatments I’ve had, my therapist listens carefully to my requirements. She also makes me feel genuinely at ease so had the pressure not been quite right (it is), I would have spoken up (why is that usually so hard to do?). As a result, the massage is the perfect balance between relaxing and de-knotting.
Now for the facial. First my face is cleansed (mmm cucumber foamy stuff and blissful hot towel), before a light is shined on my skin (my eyes are covered so it’s not too bright) so my skin can be assessed. To my delight, I’m told my pores are in decent condition (yay!), and that I’m not as wrinkly as I had feared (double yay!). But as expected my skin is somewhat dehydrated (that’s be the G&Ts), with some pigmentation where I’ve roasted it in the Caribbean sun (sorry not sorry). But it’s OK as she’s going to help fix everything.
Having diagnosed my skin, it’s time for the dreaded peel. I think the name is the problem: I’ve never had a ‘facial peel’, partly because the term has always conjured up gruesome images of skin being peeled away to reveal the muscles underneath, like that Bodyworks exhibition I flatly refused to visit. Turns out, a peel - mine was the Murad IP5 intensive peel (which is designed to increase cell turnover, even skin tone, provide skin clarity, increase smoothness and luminosity, and firm and re-volumise skin – phew!) is nothing more than some clever stuff that makes your skin tingle a bit while its applied in small, massagey circles (nice). It’s then removed with one of the lovely warm towels that keep turning up at just the right time. At first the tingling increases for a short, slightly alarming moment, but after my skin is wiped fully clear of the stuff, the tingling abruptly stops and I’m left with a face that feels strangely energized.
After a face massage during which I fall asleep and start snoring (twice), the mask is applied. I don’t do masks either, largely because I don’t like staying still with my eyes closed unless something seems to be happening (ahem). But this is different – while my mask is doing its job of plumping and firming my thirsty skin I’m given a lovely hand massage.
Finally the mask is gently removed – more hot towels of amazingness – moisturiser stuff is applied, and I’m done.
I leave the salon with a perky face, feeling all chilled and happy; I’m not even worrying about the Instagram post I failed to publish. In my well-oiled hand I’m carrying a selection of products to help me recreate the perky-face look at home.
That night I decide to use the Murad products to remove my makeup and tone and moisturize my skin (who have I become?). Surprisingly, I find the process rather soothing instead of boring, and it’s nice to have such a visceral experience – instead of staring at a screen – before lights out.
As I climb into bed I sense Pink House Husband staring at me. “What’s happened to your face?”
“What do you mean?!” My fingers fly to my cheeks in alarm – what terrible thing has this new regime done to me? A rash? Spots? Is my face literally MELTING?
“Nothing – it just looks…well…it looks kind of…glowy.”
I stare at PHH, slack-jawed. He literally never says things like that.
“Well…that’s good then,” I reply, giving him a big, moisturised kiss with my non-aged, glowy mouth, before falling fast asleep.