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A beauty editor’s review of Soho Skin’s new advanced facial

Can this treatment really off-set the effects of modern city living? Grazia’s Phoebe McDowell puts it to the test

By Phoebe McDowell

Modern city living is great - but dear lord, my skin. When I'm not on my bike, wedged up against the back of a bus, I'm commuting on the underground flanked by moist men twice my size with half my hygiene. My upper lip harbouring the wet of a small pond, my forehead resembling the kind of beaded bottle you see on a Coca Cola advert. In an attempt to make it to meetings looking presentable, if not passable, I fan myself, duly calcifying the dirt into my face.

Then there's the somewhat relentless travel (mostly for work I might add). I'm giddy to the point of combustion that it's back, but boy does it whack me off kilter, sapping my skin of the little vitality that remains. Picantes constitute my main source of hydration, and routine goes out of the window, from exercise to skincare.

However, I'm acutely aware - the rain is hammering as I write - that cloud-scuffed skies are around the corner, and with them an unfavourable pallor that will highlight spots, pores, pigmentation and the like. And so off I scuttled to Shoreditch Health Club in east London, hoping to be cured. Hoping to leave with skin that compelled passers-by to double take and quiz me on the potency of my vitamin C.

I'll let you off for thinking I get a lot of facials, being a beauty editor and all, but I'm a particular and sceptical one, which means I rarely partake. I need something in a space that's as bright as an Apple store - sanitised, white and medical. While having exotic, sweet-smelling oils sploshed around my face feels nice, it rarely facilitates long-lasting results. How nice then, that the Soho Skin Advanced Facial, is both relaxing and thorough, cossetting and clinical, working to right myriad wrongs. And of course, it's all done with the new skincare range.

Having been one of the lucky ones to try Soho Skin early, I find the retro glass brown bottles a comforting sight. Sturdy and reliable, I believe them when they say they're going to afford me brighter, better-looking skin. The central formulation, the Soho Skin Concentrate, has been designed to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier and microbiome. There's glycogen to help with cell function, pistacia lentiscus gum to activate collagen and elastin, and lactococcus ferment lysate to maximise good bacteria.

At the Health Club, a subterranean space befit with a well-designed treatment room, the therapist asks me what's bothering me with my skin, and I rattled off all of the above complaints (and more). During the 60-minute treatment, five minutes of microdermabrasion - gentle, gratifying sandblasting - excavated the pores on my nose and got rid of the dead cells that had been hanging on like afterparty stragglers. There was also high frequency, a practice that's lauded by aestheticians as a way to boost elastin and collagen, giving my skin strength in the face of exhaustion, gravity, late nights, and one too many Marlboro Lights.

In between the two technology-powered techniques was the kind of jaw-slackening, drool-inducing massage that makes you feel like you could purr at any second. The products used - the line's standout offerings, the 24/7 Treatment and the brightening Renewal Serum - are pretty much scent free, meaning my desire for this facial to feel steadfast and serious was completely satisfied. Any detection of a rose petal picked at midnight and I would have been out. And so, I left with skin as shiny and smooth as marble (hyperbolic I am not), and more importantly, a feeling that this is exactly the kind of facial I not only should but must make time for.

Soho Skin facials are available at selected Soho House locations and can be booked here.