Thursday, 31 March 2011

Smooth Operator

Smooth Operator..

Harrods has been satiating the needs of its discerning clientele for some time with their uber-luxurious By Appointment personal shopping service. Now, courtesy of cult beauty brand NUBO (Pixie Lott and Kylie are fans), the exclusive (and oh-so-clever) Beauty by Appointment concept is bringing personally tailored beauty to you, via the Harrods Beauty Apothecary. For one week each month, those in the know (yourselves included you lucky devils), will be able to select a bespoke NUBO beauty treatment from a capsule menu, catering to every possible skin concern, from boosting radiance and deep cleansing to banishing fine lines and wrinkles.

The menu consists of five exclusive treatments, though these can be combined to create a bespoke, tailor-made service, to satiate your specific needs at the time:

NUBO Oxygen Surge (Ideal for sensitive skin)

A reparative treatment for devitalised, distressed or damaged skin that delivers an instant plumping sensation. A two part facial to plump and heal the skin, using NUBO's innovative oxygen plasma mask (created with NASA technology no less), followed by a treatment to repair and restore damaged or tired skin.

NUBO Cryolift Facial (Ideal for anti-ageing)

A new concept facial to stimulate and reboot the skin's ecosystem. The proven technique of cooling shock therapy kick starts the skin to reduce lines, lift and plump. The heating, then cooling creates an immediate tightening and lifting sensation. This is the perfect treatment for tired or unbalanced skin.

NUBO White Diamond Radiance (Ideal for brightening)

Diamonds are forever in NUBO's new facial to improve uneven pigmentation, skin tone and brightness. Using innovative methods, White Diamond Radiance instantly penetrates deep into the layers of the skin to create unrivalled luminosity that is visible immediately.

NUBO Jet Facial (Ideal for deep cleansing)

NUBO's turbo-powered, deepl cleansing, rapid results facial for young or oily skin types. The combination of unprecedented exfoliation and NUBO's detox mask leaves skin feeling smooth, cleansed and super charged.

NUBO Black Tie Men's Treatment (Exclusively for chaps)

All the facials described above are suitable for men, however, NUBO's Black Tie treatment specifically addresses all the unique characteristics of men's skin: razor irritation, dry and patchy skin. This treatment imparts a calming and soothing sensation on the skin. The perfect treatment for a NUBO man.

Being a friend of the brand, I had the privilege of popping into the Harrods Beauty Apothecary to see what all the hype was about (and boy was I glad I did).

The minute I caught sight of expert facialist Caroline Htchcock, I knew I was in safe hands. Being a make-up artist, I'm a firm believer in living and breathing my work. I'd have alarm bells ringing in my head if my hair stylist had a dodgy barnet, and by the same token, I'd be some what unsettled if my facialist had awful skin. Caroline was the complete antithesis of this, her skin literally glowed as if she had a mega watt light bulb inside her. It's my job to notice things, my friends don't call me "hawk eyes" for nothing, as there's very little that escapes my attention, especially when it comes to one's appearance. Caroline obviously attended the Audrey Hepburn school of beauty as she is immaculate from head to toe, from her perfect LBD and shoes, to her pristine hair, perfect brows, artfully applied make-up, chic dark nails and pore-less skin. Put it this way, if Gabrielle Chanel were alive today, Caroline would be her personal beautician.

I'm normally staunchly against cosmetic surgery (unless it is so good that you can barely tell). On examining Caroline's exquisite features, I couldn't help but notice that she didn't have one line on her forehead. For the sake of honest journalism, I discretely asked her if she's had any botox, to which she intimated that she had (in her forehead), together with a little filler in her cheeks. I don't know who did her work, but whoever they are, I must state for the record that they are the Rembrandt of injectables, because Caroline is a walking masterpiece!

Now before you all start thinking that I'm rude beyond imagination, my query wasn't solely to satiate my own inquisitive nature. NUBO have just launched their hot new Post-Injection Treatment (currently exclusive to the Harrods Beauty Apothecary), which promises accelerated recovery for distressed skin. As I haven't had any botox or fillers, I wanted to know if Caroline had tested the product herself after one of her treatments, and if so, what effect the product had on her down time. She admitted that the localised bruising she experiences after botox usually takes a week to heal, but that applying the Post Injection Treatment in the morning, throughout the day, and last thing at night, reduced her down time from one week to two days (how incredible is that).

She told me that the secret to the product's efficacy was the Vitamin K and Vitamin P content, together with the lacto-peptides, which work in tandem to rapidly soothe irritation and restructure the connective tissue (I knew there was a reason Tatler has been buzzing about this gem of a product). Caroline also shared that the product is ideal to tackle a variety of skin complaints head on, ranging from high colour and rosacea to broken capillaries and acne, working on all fronts to swiftly calm the skin and minimise redness. Given that the NUBO by Appointment facials are a modest £50 for 50 minutes (fully redeemable against NUBO products), I'd suggest snapping up the Post Injection-Treatment, which quite frankly is a bargain at £48!

But I digress - let's get back to my fabulous facial. I have to admit, blogging about all things beauty means I spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a laptop, which not only sucks every drop of moisture from my skin but also leaves me with dark circles (how attractive). Caroline could see that I needed a boost, so she designed a bespoke treatment just for me, combining the Oxygen Surge and Cryo Lift treatments to instantly boost my lacklustre complexion.

My 50 minutes of fabulousness commenced with Caroline cleansing my face with the Velvet Cleansing Cream, which, just as the name suggests, leaves skin feeling a smooth as velvet, thanks in large part to a nifty line banishing and collagen boosting tri-peptide. Wheatgerm and coconut oils restore optimum elasticity and replenish moisture levels. This cleanser is so divine that I'm using it on a lot of my high end make-up clients in Urban Retreat at Harrods. Actually, the entire NUBO line is so heavenly that I've started to rely on it as frequently as other super-luxe brands in Urban Retreat, such as Creme De La Mer, Sisley, La Prairie, Rodial, Elemis and Omorovicza. One of my clients from Hong Kong was so enamoured with the cleanser when I prepped her skin with it today, that she snapped it up on the spot.

Given my naturally oily skin, I'm a huge fan of twice-weekly exfoliation. If I don't exfoliate regularly, I can guarantee that I'll get breakouts. Similarly, anything relating to microdermabrasion gets my vote, as there's nothing better to instantly brighten the complexion, diminish fine lines, and prep skin for nourishment. Given this information, you can imagine how much I enjoyed the Diamond Peel & Reveal treatment. This uber-luxurious two step, at home microdermabrasion treatment contains micronized diamonds (how chic). I can't stand exfoliators with large grains, which inevitably drag on the skin, causing more harm than good. But the micronized diamond particles in this product duo are so minute, that you get the most satisfying exfoliation.

To date, my favourite microdermabrasion treatment had been one I'd had at The Refinery, but this at home treatment knocks The Refinery's professional treatment out of the park. Once you've massaged The Exfoliator (containing the diamond dust) into the skin for a couple of minutes, you then add The Activator (containing fruit and lactic acid suspended in gel form) for the optimum in skin smoothing and brightening (in minutes). I used this on the aforementioned client from Hong Kong today as her skin was dry, dull and flaky from frequent flying and sun exposure, and I was amazed at how smooth it left her skin. When I cleaned her face after massaging both products into her skin, the cotton pads literally came away a dull grey colour (all the dead skin cells had been removed, paving the way for a host of nourishing NUBO treats).

Once Caroline had sloughed off all my dull dead skin with the Diamond Peel & Reveal, she gave me a little modern "Mummy" treatment, wrapping my face in hot towels infused with peppermint oil, to warm my facial muscles and open my pores.

I have to admit that this part of the treatment was amazing, the heat from the towels was so comforting, it was like being enveloped in a peppermint oil cocoon! Up until this point, I'd been bombarding Caroline with questions, but it was it this point that I finally shut up and started to enjoy the experience.

Having warmed my facial muscles with the hot towels, Caroline then treated me to the most amazing face, scalp, neck and shoulder massage with the NUBO Bien-Etre Serum. This divine holistic oil is infused with juniper essential oil, known for its detoxifying properties, expressed with lemon, lime and vanilla oils, which combine to, as the name suggests, impart feelings of Bien-Etre (well being). The first thing that hits you about this oil is the incredible "green" scent. It is so sharp and invigorating, immediately clearing the mind of any worries or stress.

I'm not known for being especially quiet (the term motor mouth could have been coined for me), but you can see here, that Caroline's massage skills had me on the brink of slumber (why go Buddhist when she can get you to Nirvana in well under 50 minutes). She is resolutely petite, with the physical stature of David, and the strength of Goliath. I couldn't believe how strong her hands were, I felt like a piece of melting putty in her superbly capable hands. Having hit the gym especially heavy that week, my neck and shoulders were as stiff as a board and full of painful knots, but Caroline expertly kneaded away every lump, leaving me in a state of bliss.

There's nothing less satisfying than booking in for a massage, only to have a therapist pussyfoot around from the task at hand, but Caroline approaches massage like a commando, she goes in for the kill, getting the job done line a pro. I'd book in with her again solely on the basis of her massage skills. I find it incredibly hard to switch off as my mind is so over-active, but somehow, she was able to relax me in a way that I've never experienced before. She told me that she also practices Reiki, when customers are receptive to it.

I'm a huge fan of all things holistic and definitely believe in alternative therapies. I can't help thinking that this marvellous woman has magic hands. Whether it was energy flowing from her finger tips, or just exceptional skill, she is far more than just a typical beauty therapist. As she massaged the pressure points on my brow and temples, just as she had done with my neck and shoulders, she intuitively read the areas where I was harbouring tension, as if she were reading braille with her finger tips. With just the right amount of pressure, I felt my energy channels unblocking, releasing all the pent up tension and anxiety I'd been manifesting for goodness knows how long.

Having rendered me almost unconscious with her expert hands, it was time for me to experience NUBO's hot new Cryo Lift Face Mask (launching this summer). Ginger and Peppermint oils combine to stimulate blood flow, simultaneously warming and cooling to invigorate the complexion, as well as the senses. Having placed some cooling cotton pads over my eyes, she smoothed the mask over my skin, and proceeded to massage a high tech device over my face, emitting sonic waves to aid the mask's active ingredients to penetrate deep into the deepest layers of the skin. Though odd at first, the subtle buzzing sensation was strangely soothing. The mask is without doubt stimulating, I could feel a strong tingling sensation all over my face, it was as if my skin had woken up from a deep slumber and had been electrocuted into life.

Once she had removed all traces of the Cryo Lift Mask, it was time to boost my complexion even more with NUBO's Plumping Oxygen Boost. The technology for this groundbreaking serum is derived from NASA research no less. The world renowned aeronautics institute created the technology for this serum, initially to ensure the optimum skin health of astronauts in space. Skin cells rely on oxygen for optimum healthy function, but as there is no oxygen in space, NASA created this oxygen plasma especially for astronauts. NUBO being the cutting edge brand that it is, purchased this technology from the NASA scientists, and formulated it into a cosmetic serum. The first thing you notice when it comes into contact with the skin, is a bracing icy sensation, it's almost as if you can feel it pumping life into your skin. As my skin was already tingling from the peppermint and ginger oils from the Cryo Lift mask, the Plumping Oxygen Boost was especially bracing.

This mask was also accompanied by a crazy gadget, this time, a mini pen that blew a cooling jet of oxygen all over the face. Caroline paid special attention to my under eye area, which was especially dark due to fatigue and a build up of toxins.

To tackle my dark circles and the beginnings of dreaded crow's feet, she smoothed NUBO's Cell Dynamic Eye Focus Cream around my eyes. Beloved of The Daily Mail, Hello! and Instyle magazines, this wonder eye cream tackles every concern that we have about our eyes, from dark circles and lines to sagging skin, thanks to a potent cocktail of Vitamin P (combats broken capillaries), Pro Vitamin C (to instantly brighten shadows), neuro-peptides (has a botox effect on lines), tri-peptides (boost collagen production to plump hollows under the eyes) and tetra-peptides (to further tighten the skin).

To help combat redness from my blemishes and to accelerate the healing of pigmentation from former blemishes (thanks to a terrible habit of squeezing my occasional pimples), Caroline smoothed the Post-Injection Treatment over my skin.

I'd been rushing around attending beauty launches all day, and hadn't drunk as much water as I ought to have done, so you can imagine my lips were rather dry. To combat this, she smoothed the collagen boosting, natural capsicum infused Instant Lip Perfection treatment over my lips, which has a delightfully moist, balmy texture. I regularly use the superbly conditioning and minty Creme De La Mer lip balm to soothe my clients' chapped lips, but I use the NUBO Instant Lip Perfection on clients in search of an instant lip plumping effect. It's great to have options, at the end of the day, I use the products best-suited to my clients' specific needs at the time. It's all about bespoke beauty.

As I had to dash off to another beauty launch later that day, she smoothed a little of the Voile in Shade 5, Tan, over my skin, to act like a tinted moisturiser / primer hybrid, to diffuse fine lines and imperfections. This divinely silky primer is so good that I now use it on all of my make-up clients at Urban Retreat in Harrods. I apply it to my clients' faces after the Cell Dynamic Day Performance SPF 20 (using a foundation brush to apply both, to further enhance penetration and efficacy). I swear by both for creating a perfectly smooth canvas on which to apply flawless, airbrush effect foundation that lasts all day.

The only low point of this treatment, was the fact I had to get off the treatment bed afterwards. Walking to Mayfair to make my next appointment was some what of a challenge, given that Caroline had left me so relaxed that I could have happily gone to bed and not woken until the next morning. On the plus side, my skin was so radiant, I was able to get away with just wearing the Voile (which for the record, is super sheer). I had brought my make-up bag with me but didn't even need to apply my tinted moisturiser and concealer, which just goes to show how dewy and glowy the treatment had left my complexion. I suggest clearing your schedule after your treatment so that you can truly relax and make the best of Caroline's legendary skills.

Velvet Cleansing Cream - £28
Diamond Peel & Reveal - £65
Plumping Oxygen Boost - £80
Cell Dynamic Eye Focus - £180
Post Injection Treatment - £48
Instant Lip Perfection SPF 15 - £38
Voile - £40

NUBO Beauty by Appointment is £50 for 50 minutes, available at Harrods Beauty Apothecary, 8th - 21st May with expert facialist Caroline Hitchcock.

To reserve your place, call the NUBO counter on 0207 730 1234 extension 3285

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