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After a year of lockdown what haven’t we tried in effort to keep ourselves looking and feeling… normal? From DIY gel manicures, online workouts and TikTok inspired hair cuts, we could make a brilliant game of Bingo out of our new skills. I for one recently realised that I’ve been walking around with panelled hair from a scissor happy session at 10pm one wine-filled evening. Now that things are “back to business”, these are the best beauty services in London that I’ve tried this year. Best of all, I would recommend these to everyone!
Rachele Gilman, a yoga instructor that left her corporate background (sounds familiar to anyone?) is the founder of Stretch Inc. As you may have guessed, it’s a stretch studio – not an exercise space or chiropractor – but one dedicated to pure, unadulterated muscle relief. Situated in Covent Garden, the spacious sprawling space is minimal with the right amount of decor and warmth that I didn’t really mind that my session would take place right in front of the shop window. There’s an impressive lower ground where group classes are conducted.
There are a few simple offerings, ranging from 15 to 5o minutes (£25-75) are one-to-one assisted stretches, where a combination of Theragun and manual techniques are performed by trained stretchologists. Then there are the group options, online (£10) or in person (£18) that lasts 45 minutes.
What I really enjoyed about Stretch Inc was how normal it felt to be gently twisted and pulled. After the rather taxing yet liberating session, I was warned that I may experience slight muscle soreness the next day. But I genuinely felt I had just had the most amazing massage – despite never sniffing a single essential oil or being placed in a dim room with soothing music. I was also surprised that not once did I feel self conscious, which is precisely Comer’s goal. The concept came out of a need for a democratised wellness space where customers didn’t need special equipment, clothing or knowledge to participate. Something that is the bane of the very much commercialised mindfulness movement we’re experiencing, where Lulu Lemons and designer exercise mats are a norm. The truth is, whether you’re an amateur athlete, a slave to your keyboard or a sloth, like myself, stretching is something all of us need to do and simply do not.
Leonor Greyl Scalp Treatment at Gustav Fouche
A neighbourhood hair salon in Notting Hill, Gustav Fouche is also the new home to the Leonor Greyl scalp treatment. Once in Harrods (there is a slick new Hair and Beauty hall in its place), Masa Ohta has moved to West. She’s the charismatic genius, a former hair model who has become the master of scalp detox. I last saw her in 2019, where a microscopic analysis revealed that I desperately needed a breakup from SLS, SLES and CAMPB in my hair product. It was creating excessive sebum build up, inflammation and dandruff. Three incredibly unappealing things to hear, let alone see in front of you on their screen.
Making my way back this year, the Leonor Greyl scalp treatment (£135 including a blow dry) revealed that after my true dedication, my scalp condition was significantly better. No longer looking like an alien landscape with slick black follicles, I was much healthier and could sense it too. My hair fall had dramatically reduced. But it was definitely time for intervention – the days between my hair washes were shrinking and I needed a detox.
Aside from stellar hair advice and the most convincing conversion to natural hair products, the experience is always a pleasant one. You’ll walk away feeling like you’ve caught up with an old friend and a head that’s significantly lighter and healthier.
SkinDesign at John Bell & Croyden
It’s rare to come across a facial that can truly deliver results the very first time. I’m a sucker for medi-clinics but with so many in London, it’s difficult to tell what to get and who to trust. I was delighted with my appointment at SkinDesign, who has a residency at John Bell & Croyden, the pharmacist to the queen and an emporium of beauty in itself.
The facials here are bespoke and range from £250 for Christa to £450 for a Face Infusion with Glow Pen facial with founder Fatma. It’s a unique combination of micro-needling, laser resurfacing and a peel. But just as efficient, tech-y facials range from £75-£250. So yes, it has a little more down time than your typical spa treatment. But it’s oh so worth it. After a few days, you’ll start to see a true glow and a softer petal-like skin. And because treatments like this always have a custom edge, mine included a little collagen stimulation and lip-plumping, which increased the longevity of my filler. An absolute treat to invest in after a year without professional skin care!
Nails at Townhouse
The new 5th floor Hair and Beauty Salon at Harrods is a true sight to behold for any beauty lover. A mix of retail and salons, this is one place where you won’t complain about getting lost.
The manicures at Townhouse are a favourite among London’s luxury influencers and their new outlet is most definitely designed with photo opportunities in mind. An aesthetic living room meets a first class lounge at the airport, you’ll find private booths to sip Champagne and have your talons preened with a friend (starts from £30-185).