The 10-Minute Laser Facial

I know what you’re thinking.

Why on earth would you purposely put lasers in the vicinity of your face?!

Say it with me: ‘eternal youth’

As anyone who has spent any amount of time around these here Blonde In Grey parts will know, I’m a sucker for each and every skincare craze I come across. From facials to microneedling (spoiler: it really should be left to the professionals) I love to try new things, especially when they promise to leave my skin looking healthy, glowing and any amount of years younger.

It’s no surprise then that when I heard about the Skin Laundry 10-minute laser and light facial I was intrigued (yes, even though it sounds like something that was created for the Fourth of July or a KISS concert).

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Skin Laundry promises that the treatment is the perfect amount of laser power and light energy to deep clean the skin from the first treatment and that the more you go the more dramatic improvements you’ll see – acne scars will fade, the skin surface will get more smooth and even, fine lines and pores will be reduced…the list is lengthy!

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So, how does it actually work?

From the website:

Our unique method involves using a YAG laser and IPL (Intense Pulse Light). The laser actively vaporizes excess dirt, makeup and bacteria from your pores first and foremost; the long-term effects of the laser can help with pigmentation and collagen production. The IPL works with the brown and red tones of the skin to even out the skin tone as well as stimulate the natural collagen that lies down in the dermis. The combination of laser and IPL clears tones and conditions the skin. The pores are also minimized so they appear less visible.

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What is the treatment like?

The first treatment (which is always free, that’s how sure they are that you’ll love it!) is a bit nerve-racking as you’re really not sure what to expect. The Skin Laundry ladies are really lovely though and talk you through the whole thing. First they cleanse your skin to remove any makeup and put on protective goggles (very similar to what you’d wear at a tanning bed, from what I remember of my misspent youth. My poor skin!!) They warn you before they start, using this scary looking thing:

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They start at the centre of your forehead and run the laser up and down one side and then the other. The sensation is a slight tickle – nothing painful at all – and it’s warm. From the forehead they move to one cheek, across the chin, across the other cheek and then over your nose. There’s a brief pause and then they start all over again. The only disconcerting thing about the laser process is the faint smell of burning. Don’t worry – that’s just dirt and grime being blasted our of your pores! (Gross)

Once the laser is done they apply a wonderfully cool gel across your face. They then start with the light portion of the treatment, which is a series of incredibly bright (even through the protective goggles) red-looking bursts as the light is dabbed all over your face courtesy of this beast:

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Almost as soon as it starts you’re done and the gel is being wiped off your face (though this is usually done with what feels like a spatula – I can’t tell, I have goggles on! – which I don’t love as it doesn’t feel like it’s all actually come off before they put moisturiser on). You’re then good to go as there’s absolutely no down time with the procedure!

Overall thoughts

I love that they give you the first treatment free (value: £60) and I did totally cave and buy a course of treatments because you get a discount if you buy them the day you have your free treatment (so sneaky!). My reasoning is that it takes time to really see a difference so making a judgement call after one won’t give you an accurate idea of what the treatment can do.

I have my fourth treatment in four weeks this coming Saturday as they recommend you going once a week to begin with (which I do realise is a bit of a cheeky money grab…) in order to see results more quickly.

I do feel like my skin is looking brighter and I do leave the appointment with the refreshing feeling of a facial in a quarter of the time it normally takes. There’s also the fact that with a normal facial I can never see a difference and so I’ve always just enjoyed them for the ritual of being pampered. But the laser facial? My skin feels cleaner, I like the promise of improved benefits over time and it’s fab to actually feel a difference in the texture and tone of my face. I really love it.

I’m going to stick with it and see what happens…at least until the next major skincare craze 😉

For another account of the laser facial from one of my favourite beauty information sources head over to Into the Gloss to read their thoughts.

Fair warning: make sure you have a lot of time because you will find yourself getting lost in the Into the Gloss archive of articles. The first time I ventured in I blinked and suddenly three hours had passed and my online shopping cart was filled with cleansers from France, a face mask from Korea made of snail mucus (it’s actually SO good for your skin!) and more moisturiser than I could possibly use in a lifetime. Don’t worry – rationality returned before I hit ‘buy’ – I just want to properly prepare you.

Chelsea in Bloom

Though the cost and limited tickets mean the RHS Chelsea Flower Show isn’t always an option for most, the shops of the King’s Road and the streets surrounding Sloane Square in Chelsea have a wonderful tradition of putting on a floral show of its own…and it’s free!

From 22-27 May this year Chelsea in Bloom saw the shop fronts of Chelsea taken over by elaborate floral displays in line with this year’s theme – Floral Safari – which was inspired by plains, jungles, discovery and exotic animals.

From the website:

The world-class alternative floral art show is back, this year for its 12th Anniversary. Produced by Cadogan in association with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), it will transform the streets of Chelsea from the 22nd to 27th May with breathtaking floral displays. The annual competition has grown dramatically each year with Chelsea’s best retailers, restaurants and hotels adorning themselves with creative designs to compete for the coveted awards.

We cut it close by heading out to view the displays on the 27th and found ourselves having to pick up the pace as the displays started to be dismantled at just 3:30 in the afternoon!

We started in Sloane Square to pick up our guide and make some new acquaintances.

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From there we headed north on Sloane Street, stopping to admire one of my favourite displays this year, courtesy of Rag & Bone.

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After a great start we were excited to see what was next…but I’m sad to say that this year’s displays were a bit underwhelming! Though there is tons of beauty in a savannah, the abundance of sand and grasses just didn’t compare to last year’s bountiful and fragrant blooms. That isn’t to say there weren’t some great displays…I just wish there had been even more like this:

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We made our way north, then south, then west, then east but with displays being actively dismantled we eventually called it a day and made our way towards the tube. We had a date with Pirates to get to!

Chelsea in Bloom is put on every year during the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and though this year didn’t quite live up to the extremely high standard of the previous year it’s definitely something to check out. You get sun, you get some exercise, you see some beautiful displays and you can top it all off with some shopping!

Learn from my (bad) example though…. don’t leave it until the last day!

A Royal Garden Party

As you may have seen here, here or here and read about here, I went to a little Garden party this week….AT BUCKINGHAM PALACE!

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After a morning spent getting glam at Fenwick’s of Bond Street (nails by Nails Inc, hair by Bumble & Bumble and makeup by Charlotte Tilbury) I stepped into my gorgeous, floral Ted Baker dress, popped my fascinator in place, put on my grandmother’s vintage earrings and headed out the door. Royalty awaited!

Now, we could have entered Buckingham Palace through the main gates but I was too eager to wait in a line and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to run wild–I mean, glide gracefully and with dignity–through the normally private royal gardens behind the palace. So, instead of heading in the front door we went to the Hyde Park Corner gate in the northwest corner of the palace grounds and stepped into the royal world through a door that is kept closed 360-odd days of the year.

The palace gardens are in full bloom at the moment and my handsome date was extremely patient, happily obliging my every photo request. (If you don’t photograph the royal flowers, did you even really see them?!)

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We emerged on to the main lawn which was already full to bursting with fellow party-goers and got the lay of the land. The primary tea tent was west, perpendicular to the rather grand Royal Tea Tent, and if you wanted a seat you probably should have started queuing at 9am that morning. It was fine though – I was too excited to sit still! – and we happily wandered around taking in the finely dressed ladies and gents. The clergy were especially well represented and we saw our neighbour, Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury as well as the former Archbishop (the one who officiated at Will & Kate’s wedding!) Rowan Williams.

We were quite near the tea tent when tea was officially served which meant we had minimal wait and the best pick of the sandwiches. Graham played it cool, picking and choosing from the options, whereas I loaded up, determined not to miss anything.

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In no time at all we noticed people had started gathering around the Palace steps so I hurried over to secure a great spot to watch the royals arrive.

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Everyone in the crowd was so lovely and several encouraged me to move ahead of them (#PerksOfBeingPetite) which meant I had a minimally restricted view. The royals arrived to the sound of a fanfare played by the military brass band and then we all stood for the national anthem.

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As The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh led the way down the steps I was thrilled to see them veer left…towards me! They came to a stop no more than 8 feet away where there was a group of people that had been chosen to speak to them. Though I couldn’t hear every word I caught the odd few and just generally enjoyed seeing how smiley and happy they both were.

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Once The Queen and Prince Philip had moved on I went in search of other royals, finding Princess Beatrice of York just behind where I had been standing.

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My friend Tilda was also at the party with her family so we headed across the lawn to find her, pausing unexpectedly when we stumbled on…

The Duke of Kent (in the grey top hat and spotted tie):

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Princess Anne the Princess Royal (in quite the yellow hat!):

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Princess Michael of Kent (in the sunglasses):

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Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex (in black morning coat):

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Prince Michael of Kent (with the white beard):

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Tilda’s family had arrived a bit later (creeping in just before Her Majesty!) so they went to get tea and I went looking for the holy grail, aka Kate and Wills.

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The Cambridges had the second biggest crowd around them (after The Queen, of course!) so they weren’t as easy to see but I was glad to get a view of what they were wearing and to overhear a bit of them laughing and talking with the people chosen to meet them. Don’t you worry – I know my day will come!

Once the royals had finally made their way to the Royal Tea Tent we took the opportunity to get some more tea and sandwiches ourselves, rather than join the throng of people who were (I kid you not) standing and staring across the closed off field in front of the Royal Tea Tent. I felt so bad for the royal family and their guests inside who must have felt a bit like zoo animals!

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The gardens and lake are beautiful and we got incredibly lucky with the dry, sunny weather – especially considering it poured with rain the day before and the day after! The atmosphere was really calm and happy with everyone offering to take everyone else’s picture so they had a complete record of the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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Once the royals had taken tea they made their way back to the palace (William and Kate lagging behind everyone else as they did their best to say hello to as many people as possible) and things started to wind down just as the weather turned a bit cooler. We weren’t in any rush to leave so slowly made our way towards the palace so we could exit out the main gates (seeing as how we hadn’t entered through them).

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The walk across the Buckingham Palace courtyard was purposefully slow as we savoured the chance to see (and photograph!) an area normally closed off to the public.

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It was also so fun to see the famous balcony up close and walk behind the iron walls in front of the palace! The policemen on duty kept telling everyone to keep moving but I made a point of smiling at each of them and telling them to have a great night and suddenly they weren’t so concerned about me and we were able to snap some pics.

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The last step through the gates was the hardest as I didn’t want to leave! We wandered along Green Park to catch a bus towards home (getting some rather interesting looks from commuters – what, you don’t see a girl in a fascinator every day?) making a stop for dinner. Though online reports claim that Garden Party guests consume thousands of sandwiches and cakes we didn’t actually have that many in the end so wanted something light. Just kidding – we went for a feast.

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It was a fab end to a truly unforgettable day. The weather was perfect, the experience was perfect and I wouldn’t have changed a thing….well, maybe I would have liked an invite to the Royal Tea Tent. Reliable sources tell me The Queen was in fine form! 🙂

Chelsea Gardens

I was recently wandering along the far end of the King’s Road in Chelsea, killing time before a reservation at Bluebird, when I stumbled on the most gorgeous hamlet of streets filled with blooming gardens.

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Though many of the houses were tucked behind gates only opened with keys granted to residents, we still managed to grab a glimpse of a few of the charming houses which have all shot to the top of my ‘Dream Home’ list.

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Each house was prettier than the next and it was amazing that such a quiet, tranquil area exists a (literal) stone’s throw from one of the busiest streets in London.

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^ My particular favourite. Look at those gorgeous lavender blooms!

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Outfit details:

M&S Coat (old, similar here), Roots Sweater, Asos Jeans, Primark trainers (shockingly comfortable and durable!), Marc Jacobs bag (old, similar here), H&M Sunnies

I took a final moment to savour the fragrant flowers before heading back towards civilisation, which suddenly felt very loud and overwhelming.

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We grabbed our table at Bluebird and dove into a delicious, early dinner before starting the long walk back to Sloane Square.

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No food pictures I’m afraid (sorry, Lucy!) as phones and cameras were quickly forgotten.

Though Bluebird and the west end of the King’s Road are quite a trek from the more central Sloane Square, it’s worth the effort. The food is great, the people watching is fantastic (true Londoners  – and Sloane Rangers, at that! – in their element), there are barely any tourists and you’re only a moment away from one of the most serene corners of London I’ve ever seen.

Happy wandering!

Early Morning City Streets

After a very early start yesterday in order to fit in some life admin before work I found myself with some time to kill before my first meeting of the day. Luckily for me, the sun was (almost) shining and I was in one of my favourite parts of central London – the stretch from Trafalgar Square along Pall Mall to St James’s Palace.

As I had nothing but time on my hands I treated myself to the most leisurely of strolls and couldn’t help but stop and take a few photos on the way.

I love love love the diverse architecture in this city! Every magical era of history is captured in the facades that line the well-worn roads and it’s nearly impossible to pick a favourite.

Thankfully we don’t have to – we can love them all!

A round-up of my wanderings to help you through this Thursday, starting with Trafalgar Square.

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Pall Mall

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St James’s Palace

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St James’s Street

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The Royal Academy

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Fortnum and Mason (who knew these gorgeous wrought-iron gates existed? The benefits of going before they open!)

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I couldn’t resist popping into Hatchard’s – one of my favourite London bookstores. I could happily browse these shelves until the end of time. Literally.

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I love you, London!

The Biologique Recherche Facial

It’s no secret that I love Liberty and tend to spend (too much) time there but I only recently learned that there is a secret wing…where magical, beautiful relaxation and transformation takes place!

Hidden away behind a secret door lies a warren of rooms where you can indulge in all manner of spa treatments courtesy of the brands found in the beauty hall below.

To kick off my birthday week I booked in for a facial with my newest cult find – Biologique Recherche. Having read so much about their products and sampled P50 for myself I thought it would be fun to go all in and splurge on a Soin Lift C.V.S facial which promised to be ‘the ultimate facial to accelerate cell renewal, restructure, firm, hydrate and protect against exterior aggressions. Using the Jacquet-Leroy massage technique to stimulate elastin and collagen whilst lifting and defining facial contours. Contains diatome powder, amino acids, silk proteins and hyaluronic acids. Lifting, exfoliating and nourishing.’

I arrived at the counter a bit early and was swiftly escorted up the stairs, through the hidden, magical door into the hallway of dreams. I need this wallpaper and design aesthetic in my life!

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The room itself was just as gorgeous.

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There’s something about a spa treatment room that just instantly relaxes you. The soft lighting, the gentle background music, the subtle scent of the lotions and potions they’re about to use to turn back the clock and have you walking out looking 5 years younger.

I got comfy on the table and the specialist got to work using the wide variety of products to address everything going on with my skin.

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For the next hour she massaged and sculpted my facial muscles in what can only be described as a ‘unique’ way. There was undulating pressure, feather-light application and firm pressure to work away any remaining tension in my shoulders and arms.

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After she had applied what felt like 9 layers of oil onto my face she abruptly announced that we were done which left me feeling more than a little confused. Surely she needed to….remove said oil so that it didn’t run off my face as soon as I stood up?

I could have voiced these concerns, sure, but whenever I’m having a beauty treatment (skin, hair, nails – doesn’t matter) my internal dialogue is always a lot more assertive than what I actually say and do out loud. So my response was a very polite ‘thanks so much!’

As soon as she left the room I was up and across to the mirror to see what state my skin was in – and I was pleasantly surprised! My cheeks were smooth and supple and though there was a faint dishevelment to my overall appearance I attributed this to the brief scalp massage and lack of makeup.

I emerged back into the patterned hallway feeling revived and relaxed, anxious to hold on to the feeling for as long as possible as I knew the impending rush hour tube journey home was likely to put a damper on things.

Overall my skin was in excellent shape in the days that followed and the relaxation (with minor moments of weirdness – I refer you back to the mention of undulating pressure) was lovely. I’d say that a facial at Biologique Recherche is worth a try but with a somewhat steep price tag you may want to limit it to special occasions, as there are plenty of spas in London with fantastic facials at a more affordable price point.

If you are going to book in though, make sure you do it well in advance and be warned that the treatments are only available on certain days at certain times because all of the Liberty beauty brands share the treatment rooms.

Thanks for stopping by today – hope you have a relaxing rest of the week!

White Light Yoga

Though my preference is usually to spend Sunday sleeping in and then lazing about my house in a decidedly sloth-like fashion, I was happily up and out yesterday as I made my way to east London in pursuit of a different type of relaxation.

(Apologies in advance for the phone pics!)

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When Lululemon Instagrammed about yoga teacher Steffy White‘s urban day retreats I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing a yoga retreat without having to leave London. I started following Steffy and as soon as she posted about March’s retreat I booked in for 5 hours of retreat fun:

12-1.30PM: Dynamic Yoga

1.30pm – 1.45pm: Replenish and hydrate

1.45-2.30pm: Inversion workshop

2.30pm – 3.30pm: Sound AND MORE with a special guest

3.30-5pm: Yin yoga and deep relaxation

 

The schedule looked a bit intense (that’s a LOT of yoga in one go!) but, being honest, the promise of a gift bag and deep relaxation was really all it took to sell me.

Arriving at the studio in Hackney, Steffy greeted us warmly and encouraged us to grab a mat while she finished her prep.

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We started with dynamic yoga (which is all about movement and flow) and in no time at all the room started feeling warm and my limbs started to shake. Steffy has a fun, engaging energy as a teacher though and she was great about talking us through the poses so that everyone felt inspired and could fully engage no matter their experience or skill level.

Following the first practice and a rest we moved on to inversions. Working in partners or groups we practiced headstands and handstands and I was thrilled to be able to get into both positions (with help, but still!) and hold them. They weren’t what you would term a ‘long hold’ but to be able to do any sort of freestanding inversion for any length of time is a win in my book!

The class got a bit giddy and louder as everyone attempted the different poses and we ended up running long because people’s energies had skyrocketed – the natural result of all that blood rushing to our heads!

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We took a break and conversation turned to what to expect from the next section of the day – a ‘Gong Bath’. You’re probably asking what a Gong Bath is (I definitely did!) so here’s what the interwebs say:

‘A gong bath is a form of sound therapy where the gong is played in a therapeutic way to bring about healing; this can be done as a one to one or group treatment. The term bath comes from the fact that you are bathed in sound waves.’

It all sounded very new age but as I’m intrigued by the idea of meditation in general (do any of you have the Headspace App? Is it worth the cost?) I was open to seeing where the music would take me. I was also very up for an hour of lying comfortably after all that bending, stretching and inverting!

We all got cosy on our mats and the music began. I can’t say that I went into a full meditative state and I don’t think I fell asleep (though other people definitely did, as evidenced by the different degrees of snoring that could be heard around the room) but I did enjoy the quiet nature of shutting my eyes and relaxing onto the mat.

Opening my eyes again an hour later was a bit jarring but I grabbed a snack from my tote bag of goodies and mentally prepared for one last yoga push. The last section of the class was yin yoga which is all about dedicating time to each pose in order to allow your body to really sink into it and tension to be released. Though you’re not moving, I find this form of yoga more challenging because it takes a different, more difficult strength to hold the poses. I tried my best to keep still but sometimes you need to stretch in order to keep from (feeling like you’re about to start) breaking.

With one last savasana (corpse pose – my fave) we were done and I headed home. A really fun Sunday and a perfect mini-break from life!

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