KATE WEIR gets a back-to-life glow-up courtesy of Kensington’s hottest aesthetician…
"Then there’s ‘the reveal’ – and there I am, indeed looking younger and more revitalised then I’ve felt in months."
‘Languishing’ is creeping into the lexicon of Covid-related terms as we inch out of lockdown and back into our lives – it’s the ‘meh’ sensation of recalibrating your life after a traumatic year, and the other day I felt it quite strongly after a difficult few months. Trying to jump-start yourself out of a malaise like this isn’t easy, but I can show you a good place to start: Shane Cooper’s beautiful Kensington clinic. Now that we can tentatively be beautified in safe, PPE-protected surrounds, those longing for haircuts and some full-on pampering have swooped in to nab appointments; and while we can’t claim Shane’s fountain-of-youth facials to be wholly evocative of ‘the lipstick effect’ (this level of bespoke luxurious self care costs a couple of hundred at the least), we can tell you – emphatically – that you will leave with the freshest, glowiest of visages and feeling somewhat lifted from any post-lockdown funk.
On arriving at the hush-hush clinic – a non-descript door on Cromwell Road, that nicely aligns with Shane’s one-toe-in-the-spotlight approach – I do wonder what kind of facial upgrades to expect. My usual experience is to lie back, have some delicious balm rubbed and scrubbed into my face then relax with a hot cucumber-y towel over my eyes as Enya-esque music plays – but here I’m in for an altogether more serious, yet indulgent and soothing treatment. Any concerns are soon alleviated on meeting the chatty, warm and welcoming Shane, whose workspace is hung with hip artwork, dressed with stylish furnishings and feels professional yet reassuringly far from anything too white and clinical.
Spice Girls play in the background and Shane gets to work on his Exclusive Facial Treatment – one of his most popular, also used as a pre-red-carpet booster by many a celeb (Maya Jama, Vicky McClure, Lily Allen, Rita Ora and many more can attest to his magical skin-brightening powers). He’s keenly aware of how diverse skin types can be and as such, he’s much sought after for his ability to tailor treatments to the client, so I’m confident that he can quench and enliven my dry, psoriasis-troubled face.
We kick off with some radio-frequency exfoliating to prime the epidermis and slough off any unwanted flaky bits, tighten things up and boost collagen. Then we move on to micro-currents to give the muscles a nudge back into shape – they’re tamed using plastic wands with a small electrical current (not as scary as it sounds, honestly), and I can already feel mine leaping to attention as he works. It’s a therapy used on stroke patients that’s made the crossover to beautifying and appears to be equally adept at aiding both. Next up, dermablading to a marble smoothness that I haven’t felt for a while, having been too timid to wax at home – it’s immensely satisfying to feel those hard-to-tweeze hairs and dull patches of skin be scraped away to be reborn with a more literal radiant outlook.
Then a cooling oxygenating mask infused with hyaluronic acid and rose water for a dreamy scent is laid over my face as I’m treated to a mini rave under Shane’s LED light machine (another gentle encouragement to my collagen). It also bestows some much needed hydration on my ‘dehydrated due to being back in the pub again’ face. Throughout Shane tells me about how he started, helping his mother with anti-aging treatments in Essex and giving me the lowdown on his ascendence to a top-of-the-field therapist and his interest in emergent technologies, with some enjoyable conversational diversions into Nineties pop music and our desired travelling spots once things are ‘back to normal’. The coup de grâce for any troublesome skin is a blast on Shane’s cryotherapy gun, which caused some consternation with its beeping countdown, but proved to be a refreshing digestif. Then there’s ‘the reveal’ – and there I am, indeed looking younger and more revitalised then I’ve felt in months. I’ll admit that I had some skepticism about the efficacy of facials that come with a hefty price tag and involve methods that may seem torturous to the uninitiated, but what’s a few hundred pounds when you look like a million bucks? And, I’ve been converted to the ways of serious beauticians after such a pain-free – indeed, very laidback – experience. But, what matters even more is the psychological difference – I’ve gone from colourless languishing to thriving and feeling very human again in the space of an hour, which is honestly something that’s hard to put a price on. Now, the bad news: Shane’s diary is chock-a-block; but, if you’re jonesing for a refresh, he’s releasing his own line of personally approved pick-me-ups in the form of firming creams, serums and masks that will tide you over until you get an appointment – and if lockdown’s left you desperate to do so, we highly recommend you try to secure his next free spot.