The Five-Day Blow Dry at Neville Hair & Beauty
There’s nothing quite as mood-boosting as a good blow-dry. While I’m not an addict by any means — neither time nor finances will allow, sadly — I use heat to style my hair after almost every wash, but a home blow-dry can’t compare to a professional one. What would be great is a salon-level blow-dry that actually lasts. Enter Neville, home of the five-day blow dry which, I’m told, is all about soft, tousled waves and a worn-in look that gets better with every passing day.
After a wash and condition, sections of my dark Indian hair are wrapped and dried around a barrel brush, and allowed to cool slightly before the brush is pulled away. Cooling gives the curl longevity as well as shine. Before long I have a crowning glory of the sort of curls you’d normally see in an advert, and I’m double-taking at reflective surfaces to make sure that really is my hair — it’s the nicest it’s looked in months. Five days later, and with a spritz of dry shampoo and careful avoidance of water, my strands are still in excellent shape. Neville’s five-day blow dry is the perfect time-saving treatment to have for Christmas.
From £30; nevillehairandbeauty.net
Edy London Lashes
On the Christmas party rounds, I find myself looking enviously at a colleague’s long lashes. They looked feathery and fluttery, light — we fair-skinned folk hanker for better definition, while fearful of ending up with strip lashes that recall the late Barbara Cartland. “It’s all Edy,” says my friend. The Wunderkind of lash extensions, responsible for those of Trinny Woodall and Ellie Goulding, and a new approach to the va-va-voom look for eyes that doesn’t rely on hyper-volume mascara or powder shadow. At the Beauty Club off Oxford Circus, she begins with a review of a client’s natural face structure, hair and eye shape.
We agree I’ve got a small face, upturned “cheerful eyes”, as she puts it, and light brows so we don’t want to overdo the artificiality but we do need some impact that will work with stronger make-up for parties and TV. For the next 40 minutes we chat and Edy gets going, weaving magic with a light touch and hypo-allergenic glue.
The result is a deft opening up of the eyes with some lovely long “look my way” lashes at the end, tapering inwards to shorter ones so the effect isn’t overwhelming. She sends me off with a nifty brush to keep the extensions from clumping after showers and instructions to use “any old mascara”. I feel more like a party queen but with a subtle touch, and I can skip on to Zooms with zilch make-up on without fading into the background.
Full set, 90 minutes, £300 (in salon); salon.edy.london
Amanda Harrington at The Ned Club Spa
I am a staunch believer that a sun-kissed glow can mask pretty much all signs of disrepair, but fake tanning comes with its risks. However, it needn’t be this way. Amanda Harrington is who celebrities call to give them the illusion of a healthy glow, and she has just launched her Bespoke Body Contouring Technique at the Ned Club Spa. Her layered method begins with skincare — a glycolic pad gently exfoliates, which is followed by a base layer of primer for the face and body, then the deeper tan is expertly buffed into the skin using a big fluffy brush. Shades are matched to your natural colouring: choose from rose, if you’re fair-skinned and burn easily in the sun; honey, if you have a yellower skin tone; and olive for darker tones. The treatment can also be used to bring out that natural healthy glow on black or brown skin. The result is flawless yet subtle — somehow I look like I’ve had a week of good sleep. I’m told it could last up to two weeks if I moisturise regularly but avoid oil-based products.
£85 for 40 mins; thened.com
Dr Barbara Sturm Clinic Darker Skin Tones Facial
Walking into the Dr Barbara Sturm clinic in Mayfair is what I imagine the waiting room in heaven to be like: clean and stark white with staff floating around with bright smiles and porcelain skin. An hour and half later, I left feeling completely transformed by my Darker Skin Tones facial, and ready to preach the Barbara Sturm gospel to anyone who would listen.
The treatment used all of the products from the Darker Skin range, which has been formulated to cater to common skin sensitivities of people of colour such as hyper-pigmentation and oiliness. In between being lathered up with products like the enzyme cleanser, the aesthetician got to work picking spots I didn’t even know were there. She followed this up with a clay mask. Then came a thorough microneedling session and after a darker skin tone face cream mixed in with Sturm’s SPF50 sun drops. The end result: a complete glowy refresh; perfect to walk into 2022 with your best face forward.
Dr Sophie Shotter’s Mandelic Enerpeel
I turn to the talented and lovely Dr Sophie Shotter for all my big occasion preening. And this year, contrary to my default setting of mega-Grinch, I’m going all-out for Christmas (c’mon Omicron, let me have this one). I’ve booked it all: immersive plays, festive markets and carol singing. That much merriment calls for a true magician and so off to Dr Shotter’s Harley Street clinic I’ve been trotting every few weeks for the mandelic Enerpeel.
Designed for super-sensitive skin, unlike so many peels, there is no downtime with this one. Particularly clever at targeting things like hyperpigmentation, this exfoliating peel is a great choice if you had a bit too much sun over the summer and need to slough away some of the damage. It’s also a great anti-ageing all-rounder and effective at softening fine lines. The treatment is straightforward: cleanse, apply peel, wait for 10 minutes — it will tingle but nothing more — before it is neutralised. After a couple of weeks, you’ll have brighter, smoother skin.
Enerpeel recommends three to four sessions, two to three weeks apart, once a year. £145; drsophieshotter.com
Vixen & Blush hair extensions
If you’d told me last Christmas that hair extensions would be top of this year’s wish list, I’d have eaten my Santa hat. But as it turns out, I’ve finally found the answer to my thinning hair woes, and the results surprised me as much as they did my flatmates, who struggled to compute the fact that I returned home with fuller, thicker hair in just an hour. My Angel Gabriel? Danielle from Vixen & Blush, a hair extensions salon in Soho which has become one of the top in the country thanks to its expert specialists and extensive in-store inventory of hair (they found my exact hair match in less than two minutes).
The express treatment (10, 12 or 14 invisible tapes, which thicken your hair and last up to eight weeks) takes less than 60 minutes, including before and after photos, and is available for walk-ins — perfect for a speedy party season glow-up (even if you’ll just be on Zoom).
The effect was like magic: the weightier, fuller hair I’ve always dreamed of, without six months of meticulous thickening treatments (just make sure you invest in a clarifying or volumising shampoo and obey the after-care instructions, such as tying your hair in a low ponytail and avoiding using your towel as a turban).
Friends assure me my hair looks so natural they’d never have guessed it was extensions. The only downside? I can see myself becoming dangerously addicted. At least, now that I own the extensions, the treatment is cheaper if I ever want them put in again (and includes a complimentary wash and blow-dry). I’ve had a hair epiphany and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go back.
£375 for 12 pairs of tapes, refits cost £187.50 after that; vixenandblush.com