Why the Skin Matters MOT is the treatment by which all others should be judged
Lisa Armstrong on the ultimate facial
FACIALS GET A BAD rap these days. Overworked therapists with vaulting sales targets result in customers feeling short-changed on their £100 (and the rest) investment. ‘ You shouldn’t leave your treatment with a long list of products to buy but very little in the way of hard facts,’ says Joanne Evans.
Jo’s bespoke ‘Skin Matters’ MOT facial is expensive, although her (not so) basic is similarly priced to others. But because it ’s always useful to have a benchmark to measure others against, here’s an idea of what she provides – and what you should expect from others. Pigmentation? She’ll zap it with IPL (intense pulsed light therapy). She’s also way more effective than Lady Macbeth at outing those damn spots and can’t understand why most therapists today are so reluctant to do extractions. ‘If you’re properly trained, it shouldn’t cause any trauma to the skin,’ she says. Massage (face, shoulders and feet)? Tick. Dermabrasion? Tick. Vitamin infusions, peels (if you want them), ultrasound, steaming, thread veins, hair removal? Tick, tick, tick… She’s the antithesis of the namby-pamby facial where they slap on a succession of gunky creams and ask you about your holidays.
Unless you have a specific problem such as acne, your facialist shouldn’t try to flog you a package of six treatments. Or do a hard sell on the creams they use. Jo works across four different lines, including Environ. And if you want her to recommend cheaper products to use at home, she’ll do that too (she likes The Ordinary, Cetaphil and Boots No7). Ask nicely and she’ll also tell you which brands she considers rip-offs or overly chemical. I can’t repeat them here because they might kill her. Suffice to say, they’re not products I rate either so you won’t see them on these pages.
She favours Foreo electronic cleansers over ones with bristles, believing them gentler and more hygienic, and says there are only five essential ingredients for healthy skin: peptides, hyaluronic acid, vitamins A and D, and a plant-derived growth stimulant. She recommends supplements where necessary (coenzyme Q10, vitamins C, D and B12), and will ste er your skin through breakouts and menopause (she firmly holds that skin quality can improve with age). If sleep’s a problem, she suggests getting your hormones looked at (‘When progesterone and testosterone are out of kilter, you’ll constantly wake in the night ’). She’ll tell you when you’re over-cleansing, overmoisturising, over Botoxing. And she has trained two therapists, who’ve been working with her for 10 years, so there are other options.
And if trips to London sound too highmaintenance, here are some guidelines for making facials work for you: avoid the one-size-fits-all approach. If your facialist starts to trot out platitudes that you know don’t apply to your skin,you can, in the nicest way possible, challenge them with a ‘really?’ or, ‘I’ve tried that…’ Once they see you’re informed and engaged, they may raise their personal bar. Ask them for general advice – it’s a good test of their holistic knowledge and an indication of whether you’re on the same page. ‘For many clients, this is about more than the mechanics of looking after their skin,’ says Joanne. ‘It’s a psychological unloading.’
It’s annoying she can’t be in 20 places at the same time. But there’s always her website, plus an app via which you can communicate with her directly. Not the same as hands on, but a start. Classic facial, 90 minutes, £165; Skin Matters MOT, from £380; skin-matters. co.uk. The app is 99p from Apple
Jo doesn’t just slap on gunky creams and ask about your holidays