What Makes a Great Facial?

Working in the the wellness/skincare industry for many years now I am regularly asked for recommendations on where to go for the best facial in Dublin, London or Hong Kong - where I lived for 18 years and where my passion for skincare was first stirred. My reply varies and depends on WHO the person delivering that facial is and what products they use - both being intimately connected as, in my opinion, a great facialist will only use quality products - like us, they want results.

Alexandra Soveral

Alexandra Soveral's cosy clinic in Maida Vale

Alexandra Soveral's cosy clinic in Maida Vale

Over the past 15 years or so years I've been lucky enough to experience the very best of the best skin experts - and many others in between, and in truth, there are very few I return to. One of my enduring favourites and top of my list when in London is the multi award-winning Alexandra Soveral. Where possible, I visit her little basement clinic (or salon?) in Maida Vale to lie under the cosseting care of her hand-picked team of facial experts. I managed to return last week and my middle-years skin continues to smile. Her products are wonderful too - natural, effective and so beautiful to apply, especially her exquisite oils and balms - great for every age really but so perfect for our middle years (more on these here.)

Home in Ireland I only recently discovered Olga Kochlewska at Skin by Olga in Dublin, who combines her healing hands and knowledge with the results-driven French brand Biologique Recherche. More to come on this very soon!

How do you know if your chosen therapist really is an expert?

Soveral Midnight Oil

Soveral Midnight Oil

Basically, there is depth of knowledge and confidence that you can sense from the outset. Real experts know what they are doing and they know exactly what your skin needs while you are under their care. Although some very young therapists can be innately in tune with skin, I have found that the slightly older therapists (as in those with some years experience) are generally more confident and competent and I feel safer in their hands.


Most importantly too, a skilled facialist will adapt a set facial routine to meet your skin's needs at that time (be they seasonal, hormonal or stress related etc). While in most salons/spas there are set procedures that therapists are obliged to follow, a truly skilled therapist will adapt this to work with what your skin needs at that time and to deliver longer lasting results. The same goes for massage, and while you might be booked in for a lymphatic drainage massage for instance, your upper body may be so tight and stressed that an expert therapist will adjust their routine using firm and thorough stokes (none of the wishy-washy stuff that happens in too many places) to dig deep, loosen the knots and relieve tension to leave you feeling lighter and brighter.

In all honesty, you could be in a tent in a field or indeed a very posh bedouin tent in the Middle East (where great facials can also be experienced!) and under the hands of an experienced therapist and their chosen products, plump, fresh glowing skin will be yours. And the beauty of this type of facial is that this fresh, plump skin doesn't just disappear overnight - it lasts.

PS Alexandra Soveral's first book Perfect Skin: Unlocking the Secrets is just out - to learn more about your skin look no further.