What do you prioritise when you travel? Is it fine cuisine? The thrill of immersing yourself in a different culture? A spot of shopping perhaps? Or all of the above?
For me, treating myself whilst on holiday usually involves booking myself in for a spa treatment – more specifically a facial. But you can just do that whenever, right? – I hear you ask. Yes, there is perhaps some truth in that. After all I do regularly go for facials locally as there are some fabulous spas in Gibraltar that offer a great range of treatments. There is therefore no need to travel for this purpose, but allow me to explain.
As handy as online shopping is it can never really make up for the real experience, especially when it comes to buying something like skincare for which some sensory input is required. And as yet, none of the Instagram updates have resulted in a scent or touch tool and something tells me that as far as technology is concerned this is some way away!
So alas, I like to take advantage of any opportunity to try new brands in person and to sample their treatments, which can only really be achieved through travel. I then take things one step further and come to the conclusion that, since I’m on holiday, why not push the boat out a little further and indulge in a treatment too?
So yes, although I do enjoy great food, shopping, sunshine (when wearing the right SPF!) and sightseeing, no city break is complete without a facial. As I have sampled many a skincare treatment I thought it fitting to report back and share some of my favourites in this article. I am pleased to say that a couple of these wonderful treatments are also available in spas locally (but it’s safe to say that this still won’t deter me from treating myself to one on my next trip).
Going for a facial every 6 weeks is a great way to supercharge your skincare regimen, and another advantage of booking yourself in for one is that you will get an opportunity to sample a variety of products. An added bonus is that therapists will usually be able to recommend what products best suit your skin and will help you tackle a particular skin concern. It is therefore a particularly helpful exercise for skincare novices and enthusiasts alike.
If my exploration into spa treatments has taught me anything, it’s that no two facials are the same.
Why not push the boat out a little further and indulge in a treatment too?
Lush – The Validation Facial
Best for: A complete sensory experience
Those familiar with the high street cosmetics giant Lush can expect the same welcoming quirkiness from their spas. The appointment begins with a consultation in a room which can only be described as a country-style kitchen whose wooden countertops are adorned with glass jars filled to the brim with products. During the consultation you are asked what your skin concerns are and what you would like to target during the treatment. You are even asked to say three words to describe what you want to achieve from the experience. To which I responded: Am I allowed to say “Glowing” three times?
You are then escorted through the adjacent Lush store where the therapist talks you through the various products and helps you chose a selection which will be used during your facial. They carry a slate slab with them on which they literally slather the products you select. This means that each Lush facial is truly unique. Traditionally Lush is thought of as tailoring for bath and body only so I found it really interesting to learn that they stock a huge range of skincare too, which is seriously underrated. Their scrub, Angels on Bare Skin (pictured), is now a firm favourite of mine.
Once the treatment begins you are transported to a sleepy seaside village. This being lush they weren’t going to play just any generic type of relaxation music. Instead you drift off to the soothing sounds of the sea mingled with the soft chatter of distant voices which you would expect to hear on a lazy beach day.
Remember when I was asked to say three words to describe how I wanted to feel? Well these are also repeated to you during the facial, almost as though part of the soundtrack. Making the whole experience all the more bespoke.
No two facials are the same.
My skin was glowing after this, to the point that I chose to go makeup free for the rest of my day out in London. I was so relaxed that even the suffocating busyness of the tube at rush hour didn’t stress me that day, despite its best efforts.
This one is an absolute must for any Lush fans out there.
Lush, Angels on Bare Skin £9 (100ml)
Best for: Relaxation
ESPA is UK spa brand which is guided by a holistic philosophy and a focus on wellness. You can expect to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy during their treatments as all of their products are produced with the aim to deliver both gorgeous skin and inner calm.
Their facials include a full head massage, where their famous leave-in pink hair and scalp mud mask is used (pictured). It was perhaps not the wisest idea to go for this facial when a session of city centre shopping in Manchester was planned for later that afternoon as my hair remained tied up in a wet and matted mess for the rest of the day – but oh my, it was worth it. The point of scalp masks is that you should start caring for your hair right from the roots and I couldn’t agree more. A healthy scalp breathes new life into hair. When I got back to the hotel and washed my hair the bounce and shine it had the next day was obvious.
Espa Pink Hair and Scalp Mud £34
Elemis – Biotec
Best for: Blending Science and Skincare
Elemis offer a range of facials but nothing quite compares to their Biotec range. More expensively priced than other facials, ‘Biotec’ uses Elemis’ 5-in-1 facial machine along with a range of their serums and products. The machine delivers ultrasonic, micro-current, oxygen and light therapy. Elemis refer to this as bio-electric technology which is said to work in harmony with the skin’s natural bioelectric field.
They offer a range of facials tailored for every skin concern you could possibly think of, such as the following: Blemish Control, Sensitive Skin Soother, Firm-a-Lift, Line Eraser, Anti-Pigment Brightener etc. The Biotec Radiance Renew is the one I tend to opt for.
The results speak for themselves and you will notice the difference from the first Biotec facial you have. However, as is the case with most skincare, upkeep is key and the facials are all the more effective if you continue to have them. Thankfully Elemis tend to offer packages on Biotec facials in order to help you get the best possible results from your treatment, these tend to be more cost effective also.
Seaweed bathing is a practice that dates back more than 300 years in Ireland.
Best for: Detoxing
Voya is a luxury brand which use organic seaweed to produce a range of products ranging from skincare, to body, to home. Sustainability is also at the heart of what they do so even their packaging is made from recycled material.
Seaweed bathing is a practice that dates back more than 300 years in Ireland and is widely celebrated for its detoxifying effects. Praised by mariners for centuries for its healing properties seaweed is at the heart of the Voya brand and its treatments. I was therefore thrilled to discover that they offer a range of facials too.
The facial begins with the ‘opening ritual’ where the therapist positions you so you are lying comfortably, to aid complete relaxation. A relaxing room mist is also sprayed. The products used are organic and seaweed-based. Their iconic My Little Hero serum was used. It is magical, not only does it smell amazing but it also delivers some serious glow (pictured). My skin had been feeling particularly dull and congested that week but was left feeling so refreshed and soothed after this treatment.
The detoxifying effects of the products are quite noticeable and after the treatment you are advised to stay hydrated. You are offered a glass of water or to choose from a selection of their Voya branded herbal teas at the end of the facial. Even those who are not typically fans of herbal teas need to give these a go; their Chamomile tea is unlike any I’ve ever tried.
My Little Hero €59