Whether you’re living and working in the city full time, or are need of a bit of downtime, the best facials in London are a must to have on your radar.
They’re a great way to take things up a gear from your best face masks for more intensive results, so we’ve scoured the city from east to west to bring you the definitive guide to the top facialists and treatment options in the city.
For several weeks I’ve made it my life’s mission to find the best facials in London, whether the end goal is clearer skin, a brighter and firmer complexion, or simply de-stressing the mind. But a girl only has one face and one skin type, so I enlisted the help of the most reliable guinea pigs I know – the MC digital team.
Getting monthly facials would be the dream, but in reality it’s a treat you save up for. So consider these the ones worth stashing your pennies away for when it’s time to treat yo-self. You deserve it.
‘The first thing you need to know about this seriously relaxing facial – and boy, is it a good one – is that included in the price is an an hour of chill in the ESPA Life at Corinthia facilities beforehand. That’s steam room, sauna, chill, the works. I had to double check that my booking confirmation email wasn’t too good to be true. As someone who really struggles to switch off, this alone makes it incredibly good value as you’re already significantly calmed going in to the facial. I could just pack up and end the review there, but I won’t.
‘What comes next in one of the treatment pods is a thorough skin analysis under a UV lamp, then a delicous-smelling combination of triple cleanse, steaming and extraction (that you barely even notice because you are too zen), followed by a treatment mask. It’s a facial, so there’s facial massage and lymphatic drainage involved, but you’re also treated a bit of massage on the head, neck, shoulders, arms and hands, as well as exfoliation of the latter two.
You know when you remember having the facial, but you were so relaxed that you sort of don’t at the same time, because you were off floating on a cloud somewhere? Yeah. That. I’m already experiencing ESPA Life withdrawal syndrome and I desperately need to go back for another fix.’ – Lucy Abbersteen, Digital Beauty Writer
How much is it?
£140 for 60 minutes, or £190 for 90 minutes, at Corinthia London
‘I had always heard excellent things about Sisley Paris, so when an opportunity arose to try out their signature facial at Claridge’s, I leapt at the chance. I’d recommend arriving a little early in order to make the most of the stunning changing room (it’s literally an Instagram gold mine) and to spend some time reclining with a coffee in your fluffy robe and plush slippers. But that was nothing compared to the 60 minutes of pure relaxation that followed. I’m generally quite an uptight person, but this treatment switched me off in seconds.
‘Sisley is renowned for its scientific approach, using only the finest natural ingredients, and after deciding that my treatment should focus on hydration, my facialist went about choosing the right plant extracts and essential oils for my skin. Then came my signature facial, catered specifically to my skin and its needs. Lavender, rosemary, sage, geranium – you name an essential oil, it went on my skin in the form of gentle cleansers, serums and scrubs.
‘The highlight was the nourishing mask – which was quite literally bandaged to my face – and while it sunk in, I was treated to a surprise foot massage. It was pure luxury and I left the spa considerably more relaxed, not to mention, my skin was GLOWING.
‘For me, this kind of facial is ideal. It wasn’t hugely informative and it wasn’t a skin consultation; but that’s not why I went, nor is it what I personally look for in a facial. I don’t need someone to tell me about my skin, I just need to relax and feel pampered, something it offers in spades. If you want to know the ins and the outs of your complexion or try off the wall methods and violent extractions, this isn’t the treatment for you. But if like me, you want to lie on a warm bed and switch off for an hour as an expert facialist calms your senses and nourishes your skin with the most luxurious oils, look no further. Can I go and have another one now?’ – Jenny Proudfoot, Junior Digital News Editor
How much is it?
£120 for 60 minutes, or £165 for 90 minutes, at Claridge’s
For the uninitiated, Omorovicza are skincare Dons. Conceived in Budapest, and harnessing the infamous ‘healing’ powers of Hungary’s thermal waters, Omorovicza’s products and facials (I’m looking at you Elemental Emulsion and your everlasting wait list…) have been a mainstay in my otherwise ever-evolving beauty routine. They look great, smell great, work great and never once have they made my unruly skin breakout.
Tucked away in the heart of the Liberty store, the Omorovicza Treatment Rooms act like little slices of Budapest; they’re peaceful, dimly lit (no one wants a facial with a side order of fluorescent strip lighting) and smell incredible thanks to the unique blends that subtly flood the air.
After an initial skin consultation (I wanted hydration and glow), I opted for the Illumination facial, which all sounded very Harry Potter so I was there for it. I was so thoroughly relaxed, that the many varied elements of the facial merged into one hour of facial bliss, but the signature element consists of a gentle copper peel (don’t be alarmed by the slight tingle, my skin showed no sign of redness after it finished) and an energising facial massage that I was convinced made my skin more buoyant. And of course, plentiful spritzes of the cult Queen of Hungary Mist in-between.
After a quick hit of SPF for the journey home, the facial was over. My skin looked dewy, plumped and yes, GLOWY. With no sign of irritation or redness, this facial is a goer for pre-event skin boosting. Omorovicza, I bow down. – Holly Rains, Digital Editor
How much is it?
£125 for 60 minutes at Liberty London, redeemable against Omorovicza products on the day
Facial legend Kate Kerr and her right-hand woman Michelle (who I met with) are based out of Mondrian London, overlooking the Thames. It should be noted from the get-go that this is a thorough skincare session, so if you are looking purely for relaxation there is much more to this facial than that. Michelle and I discussed my complexion in great depth, and then she got stuck in. After serious deep cleansing, she hand picked treatment masks to target my skin’s congestion and brighten the overall tone. She then got down to business, really paying attention to every area of my face when it came to extraction, not just the nose and chin.
‘The treatment rooms are very chic and minimal, and there’s zen music playing for the whole duration of your treatment – not too tinny, not too over the top and not too ‘pinky-plonky’ – which I find really helps me to zone out while someone is sorting out my face. If you want your skin thoroughly analysed, complexion cleaned up to look healthier and brighter, and a bespoke skincare routine at the end of it to boot, this one is for you. You’ll understand your skin so much more when you leave and I can’t recommend Michelle enough, both as a facialist and to chat to!’ – Lucy Abbersteen, Digital Beauty Writer
How much is it?
From £150, or £230 with Kate Kerr herself, Mondrian London
‘If blackheads are your biggest skin woe, this treatment is one of the big guns when it comes to giving skin a deep-clean. My now-husband’s nose REALLY needed clearing before our wedding day, so he was the perfect candidate to put Eve Lom’s Ultimate Cleanse to the test. It’s pretty unique as the treatment involves applying hot paraffin wax onto the skin to heat the skin, which in turn really opens up your pores, so that the therapist can get all of the built-up gunk out. And they really, really layer the wax on. At first, it feels pretty peculiar, unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before, but the warmth from is calming and therepeutic. The wax is essentially painted on with a brush in rhythmic motions and it feels like pure heaven.
‘Once your skin is ready (aka warmed to perfection) your pores are basically the most open they’ll ever be, which means the therapist has easy access to all the nastiness. If you think about how much pressure you usually have to apply to remove blackheads, it’s the opposite after the wax – next to no pressure is needed. To ensure the skin stays warm, the therapist rips the wax off bit by bit, only working on small areas at a time. It’s called the ultimate cleanse and it’s exactly that. If anyone needs a full on skin clean (and those men who don’t do anything to their skin really do), this is IT.’ – Katie Thomas, Digital Beauty Editor
How much is it?
£100 for 60 minutes, Sanderson London
‘As with all Decleor treatments, this facial started with a back diagnostic (bear with me). This involves the therapist looking at your back to reveal why your skin is behaving in a certain way, by gently stimulating pressure and reflex points. This revealed that I was stressed and hormonal, as my lower back was quite hot (I was in fact about to come on my period). I honestly found it fascinating as I believe the way to great skin is understanding how it behaves. This was followed by cleansing, a lymphatic drainage massage to remove toxins and pollution and replenish moisture. The rest is tailored to your skin concerns, and as mine was congested, I had a purifying mask and scrub to remove dead skin cells.
‘My skin obviously felt amazing afterwards – glowing and smooth – but what I loved is that it’s an overall super relaxing experience. Whilst Decleor products are working hard tonight the damaging effects of pollution, the therapist massages everything from my face to my shoulders and limbs, really releasing tension. Because how can your face glow if the rest of your body is strained?’ – Penny Goldstone, Digital Fashion Editor
How much is it?
£75 for 75 minutes at the Decléor Day Boutique and Day Spa, also nationwide
‘After chatting with my ELEMIS therapist about my skin woes over a piping hot cup of tea, she sat me down in front of a machine that scanned and analysed my face to discover what my problem issues were. Once she had a better idea of what my skin needed, she then told me that the Biotec Radiance Renew Facial was the ideal one as it was designed to even out your skin tone, restore radiance and reduce dark circles (all things that were issues I flagged in our consultation). It included a facial massage, ultrasonic peeling technology – this electronic spatula that weirdly feels like they’re shaving your face, but miraculously does away with any dead skin – and their radiance activator packed with anti-oxidants, hyaluronic acid and peptides that had me glowing for days afterwards. The entire session finished off with a cooling gel mask.
‘Although it was of course super relaxing, I really loved that the main focus was on helping me get the best skin I could – both during the session and in the future once I’d left. It really felt like a mixture between a pampering session and a consultation with a skin expert, so it’s perfect for those who want to get serious and nail their skincare routine. Also the ultrasonic peeling was kind of intimidating at first (it hums like crazy and stings a little) but it did absolute wonders.
‘I literally have never glowed like that in my life and I was coming off a pretty dark, hungover weekend. I really loved that they not only took my issues into consideration, my therapist really took the time to help me boost my at-home regimen – as I had relatively dry skin, she recommended I start oil cleansing and then gave me a small card at the end with a proposed skincare routine moving forwards. Just so great.’ – Megan C. Hills, Digital Lifestyle Writer
How much is it?
£110 for 60 minutes, or £160 for 90 minutes, at the House of Elemis
‘There are three reasons why you should go and get a Sunday Riley facial at Hershesons salon. 1) Because you walk out with skin so happy, bouncy and glowy that it’s practically singing. 2) Because this is the only place in the world (yah huh) where you can get a Sunday Riley treatment. 3) Because of Iris.
‘It’s not often that I tell people to go for a facial because of the therapist. Typically, my recommendations are results-based. Don’t get me wrong this facial gives good – no, GREAT – results, but I have to tell you that Iris had me at hello. She asked me about every product that I use, wanted to know the brand name, how often I use them and when. She does this because she wants to know what your skin is used to and what it can and can’t handle.
‘The facial itself is part relaxation – the cleansing, the mask, the lymphatic facial massage, the hilarious chatter with Iris, and part punch – a combination of red light LED and cryotherapy. Don’t worry at all about the LED, which boosts collagen – you can’t feel a thing, and while that’s going on Iris is at the bottom of the giant bed relieving all of the tension from your toes.
‘But the cryotherapy, the cryotherapy took my breath away. Not because it was painful, because it’s so damn cold and my body does this funny thing when it’s super cold – it’s like it’s confused and forgets how to work. I’ve done cryotherapy chambers before and the same thing happened then, I couldn’t regulate my breath. I had to close my eyes and tell myself to breathe in and breathe out. But don’t panic, because Iris is there the whole time making you laugh and making you feel so comfortable.
‘Once she’s finished blasting your face with sub–zero air, give your face a little touch, you won’t believe how cold it is. But that chilliness fights signs of inflammation, so it’s all good. Iris then applies your favourite Sunday Riley products and you’re good to go. When you sit up, you’ll notice the change. You’re a little pinker (in a good way) and a little tighter. And you’ll be smiling, because Iris is by your side.’ – Katie Thomas, Digital Beauty Editor
How much is it?
£120 for 1 hour at Hershesons London
‘Su-Mans facial is legendary’ – that’s the opening line on the about section of Su-Man’s website. Punchy? Yes. Hyperbole? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s impossible not to verge on hyperbole territory when talking about this facial. ‘This was a life changing experience,’ ‘Su-Man has magical hands/is a wizard’ – all words that have left my mouth after having this treatment.
That’s it for me now. I keep thinking, ‘How will I ever go to a “normal” facial ever again?’ I’m truly done for. I now refer to time BS and AS (before Su-Man and after Su-Man). It’s 2018 AS, and I worship at the altar of Su-Man.
Su-Man’s background is in Shiatsu, dance and pilates. So as you’d imagine, the facial is peppered with targeted massage and relaxation tailored to your individual needs. After my neck and shoulders were worked on – all the tension builds up to your neck and jawline – my ears were massaged to stimulate lymphatic drainage, using the most beautiful products. From the watermelon-based gel cleanser to the mask that made me crave chocolate cake, it was all divine.
Su-Man gives you a mirror to marvel at the results yourself. It’s like time stops still. And, if you’re anything like me and hate looking in the mirror, you’ll take the mirror with reservation. But anyway, there you sit, mirror in hand and you really look at yourself. Like, REALLY look at yourself. Part of the Su-Man philosophy is not only looking good but FEELING good. Maybe it was her super calming and caring nature rubbing off on me, or maybe it was because she told me my skin is great, but looking in the mirror I think, okay, I look alright. Actually, scratch that, I look good.
On the day of my great awakening, I did a double take after walking past my bathroom mirror. Hang on, does my jaw look more defined? I stroke my jawline to make sure it’s real.
Later I’m sitting at the dinner table and my hand grazes my chin. ‘What has she done to my face?’, I think to myself. ‘Maybe she IS a wizard?’
Can a facial be a life changing experience? I think so… – Sunil Makan, Associate Editor
How much is it?
£250 at Agua Spa, Sanderson London; call 020 7300 1414 to book now