From the acres of towels to their voracious consumption of water, spas are rarely bastions of planet-friendliness. Spa products too have come in for criticism, although it has to be said that spa brands are generally better creating genuinely natural products than their high street counterparts. So could there be such a thing as an eco-friendly spa? Well, there’s the Hay Barn Spa at Daylesford Farm in Gloucestershire, which uses organic Bamford products in its Ayurvedic repertoire, and the Titanic Spa in Yorkshire, which combines energy efficiency with a variety of natural beauty brands including Decléor, Carita and Pinks Boutique. And in town? Well, in London, Poole, Kingston-Upon-Thames and Leeds, there is Lush.
Arriving at Lush’s Kings Road store in Chelsea, you’d be hard pressed to notice that there’s even a spa there at all. Reception, also known as the cash desk, helpfully pointed out the entrance – tucked away at the back of the shop. I pottered around, looking at the piles of gaily-coloured soaps and fizzy bath bombs before coming face to face with therapist, Anna, who had arrived to show me downstairs for my treatment. Down in the cellar was an unexpectedly homely room, which looked like a cross between a West Country tea-room and a Cath Kidston boutique. Complete with chintzy floral curtains and a bare pine table, I half expected my grandmother to appear and offer me a cup of tea. Seated at the table, Anna went through my needs – both skincare and emotional – then produced a slate palette before we headed upstairs to the shop to choose products from the ‘deli’.
Right at the front of the Kings Road store is a counter filled with crushed ice, topped with dishes of freshly made beauty products. Resembling the sort of installation, you’d expect to see in a sushi bar, it plays a similar role during a Lush treatment, as it’s here you stand to make your choice. Slate palette filled, we headed back down into the cosy treatment room, decked out in warm Moroccan hues and with an inviting looking couch in the middle. Picking up a fruit and water filled jug, Anna added dry ice, which produced a fragrant steam that snaked along the couch and through the room. It looked amazing, although whether it actually did much to purify the room, I couldn’t tell. I loved it anyway.
Dotting a soothing essential oil blend onto my temples, the facial began with fragrant steam and a thorough cleanse. Gentle exfoliation followed, then an utterly blissful facial massage using one of Lush’s famous massage bars (the pale pink ‘Ego’ in my case) and then – unusually – some cold stones. This was a first for me, which having tried everything from sound therapy to thalassotherapy, doesn’t happen often. It felt good – cooling (naturally), tightening, de-puffing – and even better for coming on the heels of a dose of steam. After the cold stones, my anti-oxidant packed Ayesha mask was applied. As I lay there half asleep, Anna gave me a wonderfully relaxing hand and arm massage. Having gently wiped the mask residue away, the facial ended with a spot of Celestial moisturiser (smells like Victoria sponge) and a dab of eye cream.
Having had more than one bizarre facial in my time, I’ve come to the conclusion that what really makes for excellence in a facial is simplicity. Dry ice aside, that just about sums up Lush’s Validation Facial, or to put it another way, good basics – cleanse, exfoliate, massage, mask – done brilliantly. The cold stones gave added oomph to the facial massage, while the organic freshness of the products meant I never had to worry about having unforeseen chemicals applied to my skin. As an added bonus, you also get to take home any product left over from the treatment – I’m still using my massage bar. Natural products combined with a friendly vibe: the Validation facial was Lush in a nutshell and showed again just why the brand is so popular.
The Validation Facial lasts for one hour and costs £75. Find the spa at 123 Kings Road, SW3 4PL or call 0207 349 9648 for more information. www.lush.co.uk
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