This year had been a turning point in my focus on well-being, motivation and self-nurture. As a single, independent person I have a lot of 'me' time, but that also means I'm the only one responsible for looking after myself. When my to-do list gets clogged up with every single little thing I've been putting off or have yet to even start exploring, and the two free days of the week feel like they flutter by in a flash of errands and commitments, you do stop to ask if you are truly content, and secondly, if you are thriving. I usually skip the content part and push myself to achieve and set goals that never seem to end. This year I've been spending time reviewing and thinking mindfully about how I can be more 'in the present' and feel energised by my current situation and experiences, rather than propelling myself to a future dream that is never achieved because there's always a next step after that. Time to stop and smell the roses.
As much of a multi-taker that I am, I also know that sole, calm experiences are something I used to have a lot of, and now find hard to factor in. Whether it was browsing charity shops across the city for hours as a teenager hunting vintage clothing, to reading all of the books in the Young Adult section of the library, to writing blog posts about every little detail of my life in 2007, I used to glide into my 'me' time with ease. Now I fill it with errands, tax returns, courses, budgeting, or just reminding myself of what I should be doing, when in fact the world will not stop if none of those things are not done immediately. I slowly but surely turned over a new leaf and made a conscious effort to read, write and be open to 'treating' myself. After all, what are we working for if it's not to enrich ourselves, enabling us to create better lives for us and those around us?
I received a wonderful email from Alison Knowles, an experienced beauty therapist who recently opened a new beauty spa in local Moseley Village; The Moseley Haven. I'm so keen to explore the business' we have around us. I have grown up frequenting the green grocer and visiting the markets in town with my mom, and today I like to dabble in any local offerings, from dance classes to beauty to cocktails. There's nothing like experiencing a local independent, and Alison mentioned that her spa uses Eve Taylor Aromatherapy products, who is the creator of Dermalogica oils and the found of professional aromatherapy, with an OBE to prove it. I've had many facials, which I'll come onto next, and the products are a key player in not only the results, of course, but the facial experience itself. Eve Taylor is only available to professionals so this was a unique chance to try the skincare in all its glory.
On the bright Saturday morning I strolled along to Alison's beautiful house; if you know Birmingham then you'll certainly know that Moseley Village is so picturesque and serene. The spa is the most ambient, inviting space, and feels especially cosy but also refreshing and tranquil - a hard balance to reach. When going to an in-store or hectic spa, it does feel like an extravagant affair that I never know if I am 'grown up' enough for and also doesn't always feel private, but The Moseley Haven is so inviting and the sort of place you want to take your time to enjoy and appreciate - and never want to leave! After the warmest welcome from Alison, I felt right at home and settled into the heavenly, heated bed ready for the Skin Quenching Facial. The setting felt quite literally like you had stepped into an oasis of calm and it's easy to drift away.
I started this blog almost nine years ago because when I feel passionate about something, I want to tell all of my family and friends about it. Facials and spa treatments are the most wonderful experience as there is nothing like the care someone gives your skin at that moment, the music, the excitement to see the results, and not to mention the amazing massages and treatments. If you have a good facial experience, this will include hand, neck and shoulder massages too! I urge everyone I know to have treatments alongside their usual beauty routines as I can't stress enough how luxurious they are and so much more of a buzz than buying a fast-fashion dress. The feeling is priceless!
Each stage of the facial blended into one another yet each felt like a different chapter for the skin, and you feel more and more harmonious as the hour goes on. The Skin Quenching facial starts with preparing with the Balancing Cleanser, with Lavender and Jasmine, Sage, Linden Blossom, Rosewood and Soya to balance and harmonise the skin; then an all-important Enzyme Peel. Papain and Bromelain enzymes gently break down the surface skin cells and loosen comedones, aka blemishes, and Bentonite clay absorbs excess oils. Then there is an incredible lymphatic draining massage for the face and decolette using a treatment oil with Rosewood, which helps promote cellular stimulation, Jasmine for balancing the skin, and plant oils to protect moisture and natural oil levels. Facials are so important if you take your skincare seriously as there is just no way you could work this sort of magic on your face yourself. It's not just the products but the actual motions on your skin that really make the ingredients work and literally breathing life into your face contours. Yes - did you know a facial actually creates sculpted cheekbones and lifts the eyes, it's not just your skin's appearance that is affected.
The Soothing Masque gave the healing powers of Green Tea, and then Alison's favourite Oxygen Response Serum concluded the hour, which aids Oxygenation of the cells, leading to skin renewal and removal of those toxins. The treatment finishes with the Refining Eye Gel containing Algae and Seaweed extracts for firmness with reduced puffiness, and Balancing Moisturising Lotion with the star Vitamin E. Not only do you have a sublime experience, but you are also set to leave with skin that is perfectly primed and ready to take on the elements and continue working across your day, complete with SPF. Absolute bliss! My skin felt like a flawless canvas, glowing with hydration.
The Moseley Haven also offers popular gel manicure and pedicures using China Glaze, lashes, waxing and massage treatments.
"Regular facials are so important to keep your skin balanced and looking at its best, using the right products will help with your skin tone and complexion, and the facial draining massage helps keep the skin firm and helps release any toxins which can lead to unwanted puffiness, dullness and keep the skin glowing and radiant.
Using products at home with a good skin routine is very important but the reason facials are great is because you get the facial massage which has so many benefits to the skin and really boosts your circulation.
Having regular treatments is also very beneficial to your well-being and gives you time to really relax and de-stress." - Alison Knowles
I also loved how the Eve Taylor products were based on natural essential oils; a reason the range was chosen as the signature for Alison; also making for a serene and natural experience. Paraben and fragrance free, and not tested on animals, it's practically saintly. Alison uses the peel or mask to exfoliate once a week herself and then applies either the Soothing masque to hydrate the skin or the Purifying masque to combat any impurities. Words of professionals are gospel to me! Why do I never use masks?!
The dream would be to have facials every few weeks and then continue on every month or so when you have settled into a great skincare routine. I can't say I ever have a constant run of feeling my skin is especially pampered, as once you have felt your skin after a facial you realise it's never been so clear or so hydrated. I'll definitely be visiting the spa again to influence not only my skin but also my well-being and self-appreciation - the prices are extremely reasonable too.
And Alison's top beauty tips? Always remove makeup before going to bed, always use a sunscreen on top of your daily moisturiser and don’t forget to include your neck and décolleté when you do your skincare routine.