This week’s beauty guinea pig is skincare refusenik Ellie Austin. She tests a facial designed for plant-lovers.
A facial for people who want to avoid animal-derived products, whether for health or ethical reasons. It involves the same steps as your everyday omnivore facial, but with creams, serums and masks that are 100% sourced from plants.
What does it feel like
As someone who has never had a skincare regime and isn’t a clean-eating acolyte, I’m not the obvious candidate for a vegan facial. But here I am, in a smart west London townhouse, waiting for Nataliya Robinson (dubbed the skin whisperer by her devoted clients) to perform the most high-maintenance and Millennial of beauty treatments.
Unsurprisingly, it’s largely women in their twenties and thirties who book the treatment. “Do you see any plant-loving men?” I ask Nataliya (an enthusiastic carnivore), as she massages an exfoliator made from blueberry, orange, lemon and sugar cane into my forehead. “Never. It’s women who have either suffered with acne and want to avoid the toxins in normal skin products, or who don’t eat animal products for ethical reasons.” She lathers (homemade) calendula flower and aloe vera cleanser onto my cheeks with her silky-soft angel hands. It’s bliss.
Not so blissful is the extraction part of the treatment, which comes once my face has been cooled with an organic camomile compress. Nataliya snaps on a pair of surgical gloves and doubles down on my nose, firmly wiggling oil and whiteheads out of my pores with her fingertips. Does it hurt? Yes. But there is a satisfying, almost addictive edge to the pain, knowing it’s expelling London dirt from my poor, polluted skin.
My chin, scattered with painful hormonal spots, is a different story. “They’re internal,” Nataliya declares. “Are you OK for me to use a needle?” Yes, I say, not feeling very OK at all. She pricks each spot, allowing the gunk to trickle out. It’s surprisingly pain-free, but there’s a bit of bleeding, which indicates that I’m deficient in zinc. I promise to eat more chickpeas (one of the best ways for vegans to boost their zinc intake, apparently). Next she moves a high-frequency electrode across my face, holding it on my spotty problem areas to release a short buzz of electricity, which blasts oxygen onto my skin, killing bacteria.
The treatment ends with a rosemary balm, which she says will leave my skin fresh, soft and plump, while also “improving my cognitive function”. I’ll take that.
I float out into the street feeling relaxed, refreshed and incredibly clean. Nataliya presses a tiny bottle of orange powder into my palm. “I can’t tell you what’s in it,” she whispers. “It’s a secret. But you’ll never get spots on your chin again. ( https://www.nataliyarobinson.co.uk/product/spot-solution/). ” She’s right — within 24 hours my skin looks clear, bright and healthier than ever and the spots on my chin, which I’ve battled with for years, have completely vanished. This former skincare refusenik is about to become horribly high-maintenance.
£190 for an hour