Saturday, 11 April 2015

What to expect from an ESPA Facial at John Lewis, Southampton

Back at the end of 2014, I was introduced to ESPA at the Southampton Bloggers meet up. After a little consultation and a chat with the lovely Jo from the counter at Southampton's John Lewis, I left with a small batch of samples, which I used with much enthusiasm. My skin never felt so soft and it all smelt amazing! Since that weekend they have been my go-to products for a Sunday-night pamper session.

I was also kindly given a leaflet which gave me the opportunity to enjoy a 30 minute facial with ESPA, and after trying to fit it in to my busy weekends, I finally went along to enjoy thirty minutes of luxury!

I met Jo at the ESPA counter  at midday one Saturday and, after a quick introduction, I was lead to the beauty room. I had no idea that this room was in John Lewis, as it's tucked away - it really is a hidden gem, as it means that you're never too far away from the opportunity for a little pampering.

Having only ever experienced a massage before, I wasn't sure what to expect from a facial! Jo left me to sort myself out at first. After filling out an information sheet about my health and any conditions or concerns I may have, I removed my top (leaving my bra, straps down, on - thank goodness!). I tucked myself under the towels and lay on the bed waiting for Jo to return. I was both excited and nervous.

The room was incredibly peaceful, considering I was in the middle of one of the biggest shops in Southampton's West Quay shopping centre. I could hear distant sounds of shoppers, but my surroundings were so lovely I barely noticed. The room was dimly lit, giving the feel of candles and glowing lights - it was comfortably warm, the towels and bed were soft and cosy and I felt very safe (which is important when you're feeling a little vulnerable).

Jo was wonderful and made sure I was comfortable and relaxed before starting the cleansing process, using products to ensure my skin was clean and clear and ready for treatment. It was a great start to the experience and my face felt so fresh afterwards! I was asked to smell two cleansers - the strongest scent would indicate what my skin needed the most, which was a great way of allowing my body to choose products according to its response. I loved this, and ended up opting for a beautiful floral cleanser.

Next came an analysis. Jo explained to me that she would dim the lights and hold a mirror up before shining UV lights onto my skin. This was so that we could see what was really going on - sometimes what your skin does on the surface doesn't reflect what it really needs. For example, my skin may be dry on the surface, causing me to use hydrating products, but underneath it may be incredibly oily, which would require a different skincare routine altogether.

I had explained at the beginning that my skin was dry, with hormonal outbreaks and scarring. I wasn't surprised, then, that when the UV light was shone up to my skin that the feedback was focusing on dehydration. I was shown that I had black patches beneath my eyes and on my cheekbones, when the rest of my skin showed purple, meaning that my skin really was very, very dry. I also had tiny orange dots around my nose, indicating oily skin. Jo confirmed that I needed to focus on hydrating my skin, and would need to start using eye cream to ensure that I would start preventing early ageing, which I'm at risk of. At nearly 25, I was wondering when I should start getting concerned about this, so I was pleased (and admittedly a little shocked!) when she told me this.

I have to admit, I'm not overly surprised my skin is so thirsty - I've always struggled with keeping myself properly hydrated, and barely drink throughout the day. This has been just one of a number of alarm bells from my body telling me to drink more, so it's time to start getting serious about liquids.

After the analysis, which was a real highlight for me,  Jo set about pampering my face, neck and decolletage according to what my body really needed. I lay on the bed as her fingers tapped, stroked and rubbed my face, working its magic, occasionally asking me friendly questions and explaining what she was up to so that I'd know how to care for my skin at home. She even massaged the back of my neck and top of my shoulders. I was allowed to relax...and boy, did I.

Last year I went to the Marriott Hotel in Bearsted and had my first full body massage, which I loved but didn't feel I could fully relax during. This facial however left me feeling extremely calm.

As the session ended, Jo gave me a moment to sort myself out, and I sat in a daze for a few minutes in that calm, glowing room.

At the end, Jo gave me a list of all the products she'd used in case I wanted to treat myself in the future, and also provided a few generous samples of the products which had been rubbed and massaged into my skin during the past thirty minutes. I left and wandered around West Quay for a few hours afterwards feeling as if I was walking on clouds. I didn't want to break the calm that had come over me and was so delighted that it had soothed me so much!

Another little perk was that I felt that I could shop in Southampton's city centre for a few hours after my facial (still in a daze!) with no makeup on. I was barefaced, but I truly and honestly could not have cared less. I felt amazing, I was confident that I could care for my skin, and I was at the calmest I had been in a long time.

That evening I texted Jo to thank her for the experience, and I really could not be more grateful for those amazing thirty minutes that she gave me. I have never felt so relaxed and so happy with my own skin. It really was what I needed.

Since my consultation and facial I have banished those drying facial wipes from my routine (except for dire emergencies!) and have started cleansing every day with micellar water, using serums, moisturisers and eye cream every night. I'm hoping to see a real difference in my skin - and in my general health too, as I endeavour to drink more during the day.

If you'd like a facial experience and some luxury product advice, I'd really recommend checking out ESPA at your local John Lewis, if they have a counter. If you hail from Hampshire, I can't recommend seeing Jo enough. You'll have a really luxurious experience which is more than just a relaxation session, but an education as well, and Jo is just so friendly and helpful.

I hope to return to the ESPA beauty room in the future (the brand is slightly out of my budget, but I may indulge and treat myself!) - however, in the meantime, I'll be taking better care of my skin - and what's under it.

Have you ever been for a facial, or used ESPA products? I'd love to hear your thoughts and about your favourite items. 

She Wears Burgundy

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