The facial that takes its brief from your skin
Have you ever had a facial and resented paying for it?
I have. It feels like a kick in the teeth, especially when we are regularly lead to believe, through slick advertising and marketing, that the more expensive the facial, the more effective it must be.
So you can imagine my delight when I came across a premium facial which (I think) is absolutely worth the investment.
Gazelli House in South Kensington has a cult following and it is easy to see why. Founded just a few years ago in 2015 by the daughter of respected genetic scientist Dr. Zarifa Hamzayeva, Gazelli House is the kind of place one imagines magical facials happen (whispers: “They do”).
Gorgeous interiors meets gorgeous skin
Stepping into Gazelli House is much like stepping into a beautiful and much-loved designer home. The decor hugely appealed to my own taste (just look at that floor and MUSTARD VELVET ARMCHAIRS *swoon*) but there wasn’t a hint of pretentiousness about it. From the relaxed and unfussy welcome, to the chaise longue to the upright piano (a lovely touch)…all I could think was “Oh, to be locked in here for a night!”.
Shortly after my arrival I was offered a glass of cucumber (and grapefruit?) water and whilst filling out the consultation form it struck me that even though the facial hadn’t even started, I was already feeling more relaxed after five minutes in the waiting area than I had done in months. Telling!
I was escorted down to the treatment room by Andrea, a South African facialist with 25+ years experience. Andrea’s approach is undeniably warm but professional and her brilliant sense of humour provided a bit of light relief during the session (which I desperately needed having had a pretty stressful week).
Entering the treatment room I think I paused for breath because it was just. So. Darn. Beautiful.
One of the notable differences with treatments at Gazelli House is that it does not have a menu of facials for one to choose from but rather offers a structure around which prescriptive facials are then tailored according to the client’s needs.
For first timers there is an introductory session of 1.5 hours, the first 30 minutes of which involves an in depth ‘7-phase diagnostic’ interview with your facialist. I found this part to be really comforting because in addition to the usual ‘Tell me about your skincare routine’ questions, I was asked to rate my diet, exercise habits and overall happiness on a scale of 1-10.
After listening to my skincare concerns, my general ‘state of play’ and my hopes for the session, Andrea decided to tailor my facial around the following treatments:
- A chemical peel (to exfoliate the skin)
- Some minor extractions
- Some LED therapy (to help with my acne)
Before she did anything, however, Andrea began my treatment with a 10 minute gut massage (actually amazing). You see, one of the founding principles of Gazelli House is that “the emotional and physical self are intertwined” (how true). I loved the fact many of their facials start with this as don’t experts often say that the skin provides a window into the gut?
My first professional peel!
To say I was excited at the prospect of having a professional chemical peel would be an understatement, having always wanted to try one. As Andrea started preparing my skin for the treatment all I could think about was that scene in Ab Fab when Patsy is in hospital recovering from a face lift and her face is red raw (lol).
Notice the PH level on the bottle above? Healthy skin has a resting PH of 5.5 so to lower it to 1.5 is quite a significant jump. Andrea kept me well informed of everything that would happen throughout my facial which I was grateful for because the moment she applied the peel I desperately wanted to scratch my face! This, she reassured me, was completely normal and to take my mind off the itching she used a device which blew oxygen onto my skin thereby cooling it and relieving some of the discomfort (placing my hands under my butt cheeks as I was lying there also helped 😉
After the peel we talked about my hormonal acne which has been steadily getting worse for about a year (*sobs*). Andrea was empathetic and spoke openly about how to deal with spots, blackheads and those which just sit beneath the surface for months on end. She performed a couple of extractions on me which I really appreciated (can’t be fun), including one on the side of my cheek which has felt like a teeny, tiny hard ball under the skin for well over six months! I was so grateful she managed to get rid of it.
One brilliant tip she gave me regarding spots was this (scroll past this section if you are at all squeamish):
When you can see the white head of a spot, if you want to try to pierce it at home (to encourage the infected liquid to leave the area), rather than pierce it head on, try piercing it gently from the side. This will open up a small air pocket for the ‘gunk’ to escape from. I have since tried this with the needle Andrea was kind enough to give me and I can tell you, it works a treat! Plus if you are only using this needle on yourself she reassured me it is OK to use the same needle several times over (though I try to sterilise mine with alcohol after each use).
Let there be light
The last part of my bespoke facial involved placing an LED mask over my face which emitted three different LED lights (red, white and blue) at intervals of a couple of minutes each. Red LED light works by stimulating collagen and promoting healing, blue is known to help kill bacteria and white penetrates a little deeper than the other two to tighten, tone and reduce inflammation. Andrea chose this treatment to finish off my facial to help with my acneic skin and I was thrilled to get to try it.
On the day of my facial I happened to be wearing my old Mango faux leather jeans (super comfy) and my blouse and jacquard coat are old H&M (my stylist friend spotted the latter on a @trinnywoodall instagram post and I always get comments whenever I wear it).
To some my skin might appear terrible here but believe me, post facial, it was much clearer.
That red spot in the middle of the side of my face? That was the stubborn ‘hanger on’ Andrea managed to extract. I could have popped a bottle of champagne I was so happy to have it FINALLY removed! The woman is a genius.
My Insta story after the facial. That expression dear readers is one of renewed hope and confidence (for which there is NO substitute).
The start of a new skincare journey
I took this selfie immediately after arriving home and whilst not the most flattering of photos, I can see here that, despite the aggravated areas where Andrea performed extractions on me, the texture of my skin is visibly improved. Not only that but BOY did I feel good.
The best thing about this facial, aside from the fact that Andrea clearly had a wealth of experience and knew exactly how to treat my skin, was that I didn’t feel like my facialist was going through the motions or applying products just because they were part of a particular menu. The service is completely bespoke to what your skin needs in that moment and offers clients a chance to begin a skincare journey that will improve their skin over time rather than just ‘make it feel nice’.
Did I mention celebrity makeup artist Lisa Eldridge has been known to have facials here? Yup. Enough said.
Oh, and they have the most gorgeous therapy room (as in, talking therapy) which can be booked for one to one sessions. It is called the Sky Parlour and is wonderfully private and drenched in light during the day.
Facials start at £185.00 (for 90 minutes) and follow up sessions are £145.00 for 60 minutes.
Gazelli House also sell their own skincare line. Many of their products feature Dr. Hamzayeva’s patented formulation ingredient ‘Gazelli White Oil’, which is derived from an elusive natural resource unique to Azerbaijan, known for its regenerative properties.
For more information or to book an appointment visit gazelli.com
Coming on the blog soon…
Another amazing facialist who managed to drastically diminish the vertical frown line between my brows, WITHOUT BOTOX and in just one session.
I was a guest of Gazelli House in October 2017. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This is not a sponsored post.