Actually, I feel quite elated because I think I finally found ‘my’ facial. I’m not a fan of facials – I can’t bear people fiddling about with my face and wafting oils all over me – I just get plain bored. Worse still, the irritation of butterfly fingers – those you can barely feel vaguely rubbing something into your face that you can just as easily do at home. And, hardly any facialists do extractions any more, and I’m a believer that unless you come out flawless and looking better than when you went it, there is pretty well no point. Many facials today are far more about the relaxation element rather than the skin care element and that’s just not what I want. I can relax at home for free, thank you.
So, I opted for a Su-Man Hsu facial because it sounded like a ‘busy’ one with each massage movement repeated 36 times to give skin a lift as well as a glow. Taiwanese Su-Man already has some A list fans, and now me, a fully fledged Z list! I’m told she regularly treats Anne Hathaway and Juliette Binoche.
The facial itself is serious skin care, with steamed extractions, combined with shiatsu elements, collagen plumping and nourishing, and oh boy, do you go through your paces! After a skin analysis (I’m dry.. no news there) and a gorgeous cleanse with a home-formulated oil, Su-Man performed a few extractions (not too many – whew) before starting to massage fully. I should say that there is nothing delicate about this facial.. in fact, it is facial boot-camp.. you can feel that Su-Man’s hands are really strong and she uses them very firmly..it isn’t a facial that you’d sleep through. She massaged my neck, jaw line and anywhere she could feel facial tensions and does a very thorough exfoliation with a soy based formulation that feels like paste. The whole time Su-Man is busy – she applies hot towels on my face at various stages to cleanse off product and then applies a freezing cold algae mask which covers my eyes as well (protected by cotton wool). At this point, she starts on a really hard massage on my arms and hands – I shrieked a bit because the finger-pinching really properly hurt but all those typing induced knots are well and truly gone!
In the middle of being slathered in algae and having my hands crunched I could hear a very familiar voice outside the door of the treatment room that I instantly identified as my friend Jonathan Ward (who supplies candles to the W hotel), so I got Su-Man to call him in, accompanied by Michelle, the W Spa manager, and it was quite the party for a minute or two. I was slightly hoping Su-Man might forget to do the other hand but she didn’t. She followed the hand and arm massage with an equally rigorous back massage (more squeaks from me) and then took the face mask off before adding toner and moisturising cream. By the way, there is no wishy-washy ‘smoothing’; Su-Man does a kind of ripply thing with her fingers, very fast so it feels like your face is being drummed. The background music was the usual tweety birds and waterfalls but really, it should have been heavy-metal (Bat out of Hell) to echo the treatment!
Su-Man also focusses on the decolette and the chest pressure points and includes a strange, forceful head scratching type treatment to get the blood really flowing to the face.
The whole experience flew by; it went just over the hour, and Su-Man never stopped working on my face, back or arms. It was amazing – invigorating, holistic and bracing and I totally loved it. I would do it again in a heart-beat and I have never, ever said that about a facial before. I would even say you haven’t actually had a proper facial til you’ve had this one. My jaw line is tighter and my skin feels like silk.
The W Spa is very small but rather lovely; low lit with flickering candles, crunchy apples for the hungry and a tranquil atmosphere. An hour with Su-Man costs £120. Contact Su-Man directly on firstname.lastname@example.org for treatments at her facility in Crouch End or at the W Away Spa on 020 7758 1071.
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