Why I’m Going Old-School For My Facials

by Olivia Cox February 9

New-gen beauty treatments can be an absolute minefield. Discomfort, down-time, unrealistic expectations.. It’s as risky as a new boyfriend (joking. Sort of).

Facials used to be exempt from this. They were a category of treatment entirely unto their own: all-but guaranteed to relax, and almost entirely self-indulgent.

My first ever facial was off the back of particularly sleepless red-eye back from NYC. I’d been visiting my twin and rest hadn’t been high on the agenda. I booked into a luxury salon opposite Harrods and settled myself in a bed that would make the princess from Princess And The Pea sob with envy. Suffice to say, it was divine. At least, I think it was. Because I was asleep within the first five minutes. To this day, I chastise myself for ‘missing’ what was almost certainly one of the most relaxing hours of my life, but I’m reliably informed by facialists across the industry that this is one of the highest ever compliments a client can pay. So, I guess, you’re welcome for my snores ;).

Unlike other treatments that can feel like a chore (manicure), painful (waxing), or a lengthy means to an end (highlights. No joke, a full-head colour & cut can take up to five hours on my mane), facials were something I actively looked forward to. Never was there a moment I wished I could leave my face behind in the chair to get the job done and just pick it up at the end.

Then, somewhere circa the early 2010s, a need breed of facial arrived: the Results Driven facial. On paper, this was exactly what we’d been asking for. Something backed by medical science, delivered by highly trained professionals, designed to make a real difference in minimal time. Problem was, this came with a pay-off. Facials became functionary, clinical, occasionally bordering on the unpleasant. Gone were the candles, soft music, and spa-like scents. In came practitioners wearing scrubs, harsh fluorescent lighting, and the occasional unpleasant sensation (I had one that smelt like egg. Apparently this was a good thing). New-gen facials came were the beauty industry’s equivalent to the bedside manner of a doctor.

But when did results mean clinical? In the chase for maximum results in the minimum time, we usurped everything a facial traditionally stood for. We lost the power of touch, and forgot the benefit of massage. The transition to results-driven completely eliminated the experience, and became a part of the chore-based conveyor belt that was life.

Then 2020 hit, and facials were entirely out. Life slowed down as we all fabricated ways to kill time (banana bread, colouring in, zoom quizzes et al.). And upon exiting our road-map, a very happy consequence (for me, at least), has been the resurrection of the traditional facial. We’ve inherited a sense of gratitude for treatments missed during lockdown, and human connection once again reigns supreme.

I recently tried the latest addition to the Secret Spa menu: the Neom Prefect Night’s Sleep Facial. The treatment is conducted under candle-light, and begins with a foot massage, which is probably about as much as I need to say to demonstrate the level of relaxation reached. Neom’s Scent To Sleep products are lovingly applied in sequence, and there is not a second that a part of you isn’t having a tension-releasing massage. Mask in place for 15 mins? Don’t worry, you’ve got a hand massage to fill the time. It’s just exceptional. At the end of it all, I felt supremely relaxed, my skin was glowing, and I was ready for what was a probably the best night’s sleep I’ve had in two years. All made possible, of course, because Secret Spa pop-up in your home for the treatment.

Click here to browse the Secret Spa treatment menu, and use my code OLIVIACOX for 15 off your first treatment.

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