Category Archives: Beauty

What you need to know about laser hair removal

What beauty regime?

I’ve never had a beauty ritual, nor regular treatments. Occasionally I double cleanse, but I’m just as likely to hit the sack with a full face of make-up if it’s been a late night. Since my last facial, my skin has felt great (thank you Luxskinclinic) and I’ve been kinder to it. Hair removal, however, is a treatment that has nothing of the treat about it.

Laser hair removal: Research

I’d been thinking about laser hair removal for a long time and finally decided to do some proper research and find answers to my questions, such as: Where should I get it done? How much will it cost? Does it work? Does it hurt? Is it safe? And, does it hurt? (Again). After a fruitless internet search which left me more confused than ever, I walked into EF Medispa in St John’s Wood to speak to a human and (over)shared my hair removal history, which I am about to share with you.

EF Medispa reception, St John’s Wood

Hell is a Brazilian

When I was 25 I had a Brazilian wax by the woman famed for bringing it to the UK – Otylia Roberts. Whatever has possessed me to do this, I thought, when I was on all fours and it was too late to back out. When the torturous treatment was over and I had been plucked like a chicken, I suddenly became cold and shivery from the shock (or perhaps the humiliation). I did discover what pubes are for, though – they gather to a little point which directs your pee into the loo in a nice, tidy stream. Without them, well, it’s a bit of a mess.

(You do not need to see photos of this).

The patch test

After that I tried modest waxing but still found it unbearably painful and ended up with ingrowing hairs, so skip to 2018 and my laser hair removal patch test at EF Medispa. I was convinced it would hurt too much for me to sign up for a full session and that would be the end of that.

Goggles are worn to protect the eyes from the laser

The SopranoIce machine – the daddy of lasers

But lo! As I was donning the goggles to protect my eyes from the laser, apologising for being jumpy and scared, the nice lady put some cool aloe vera gel under my armpit and rolled a little plastic gun around on my skin for a few seconds until I heard a beep, which meant it was over. No pain. I laughed. The relief!

She did the same to one of my legs and then my bikini line. My patch test was a success.  I was actually giddy. I proceeded to sign up for a course and have never looked back.

What you need to know

The treatment room

  1. You could be in a room staring at the picture of this lady’s perfect bottom for quite some time.
  2. I’m not a hairy girl. If you have shaved your entire life and have stubborn hairs, the treatment might feel more sensitive and prickly.
  3. Make sure your clinic has the a state of the art machine. Laser hair removal has been around for a long time and there are some old machines out there (= pain). You want the SopranoIce machine that’s the price of a Lamborghini.
  4. Menstruation can make your skin more sensitive. As I found out.
  5. You’ll need to shave the area(s) 24 hours before your session (not immediately before, as it makes your skin sensitive. I found this out too).
  6. Certain medications and skin conditions conflict with treatment so discuss this with your therapist.
  7. If you want a completely hair-free bikini/undercarriage, you’ll have to lie on your stomach and spread your butt cheeks (sorry, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t give you the full picture).
  8. The recommended number of treatments is 6-8, but after just three sessions I remain smooth. A few strays have started to appear so I will have a top-up eventually, but I don’t think anyone would notice.
  9. Don’t go with a tan – your skin needs to have been out of the sun for several weeks (before and after treatment), so winter could be the perfect time to get started.
  10. The pain will be the payment – up to £2000, depending on the areas you want to treat and how many times you need to go.

The result

My greatest disappointment came when I realised the treatment had worked. I thought  – what if it’s cool to be really hairy again, someday, like the eyebrow thing? What if everyone is flaunting a big bushy triangle and I won’t be able to grow mine back? (Which is surely the whole point). Be prepared to mourn your bush.

The humiliation factor

The staff are incredibly calm and professional at all times – they have seen a lot of bottoms (see point 7, above) – so we managed to maintain bright and breezy chat throughout. However, my clinician seemed quite taken by the fact that my skin is darker in that area and suggested I might like to try anal bleaching. I think I’ll pass on that, actually, but if I were thinking about it she’d be my girl.

EF Medispa, 69 St John’s Wood High Street, NW8 7NL. Branches elsewhere.

Not a press visit – I paid for my treatment.



Will a facial with LED therapy give me renewed, radiant skin?

Chantal Sharpstone was always going to have her work cut out with me and my dehydrated skin. I have an underactive thyroid which makes my skin feel like hide, plus I’d been sick for a week. Maybe someone could only make me look better.

Chantal Sharpstone, owner and founder of LUX skin clinic

I had met Chantal years ago when our kids were small, without realising she was a make-up artist. We were ‘just’ mums. Years on, these mums now have kids at school and are embarking on wonderful careers – Whitney Bromberg Hawkings has launched Flowerbx, Lizzie King has a whole food empire called lizzieloveshealthy, Tamara Rothstein has developed her own athleisure brand, Laain and now Chantal has launched Lux skin clinic.

Chantal and me, post-facial, at LUX.

The bad news is LUX is in NW11, so unless you live on the northern end of the Northern Line you probably won’t have a clue where it is. I hadn’t. But of course I was going to go and give her a try. I will always support sisters doing it for themselves.

That’s the only bad news. The rest is all good. More than.

Chantal has always been pretty (this is relevant). I have often remarked on her skin. With age, she has developed hyper pigmentation and is very relaxed about the way she looks, which is refreshing. Instead of wanting to ‘fix’ me (with injectibles or whatever) she’s encouraging, realistic and kind. She wouldn’t do micro needling on me, because of sensitivity – but she does this a lot and is about to adopt the finest 0.3mm needle which is the least invasive yet. Under the lamp/magnifier she found pigmentation that hadn’t surfaced yet ‘but probably would, in years to come’. Right, thanks for that. But I didn’t feel depressed about it. She told me it was fine, nothing to fret about – plus I already have some pigmentation that’s visible. One day a school mum asked me if I had been punched in the face…because I had a mark on my cheek…I said no, that’s just my skin. RUDE.

As it turns out, hyper pigmentation is linked to oestrogen so the hormonal link is strong (peri-menopause, the contraceptive pill) and of course sunlight is the aggravator. She just said to keep using sunscreen. She gave me a sample of a day-cream by Heliocare with an SPF50 that has no chalkiness whatsoever and a light coverage (they do a mineral version too). I like ‘natural’ sunscreens but they make me look ghostly, so I figure better to use a less-natural product than nothing at all. This one looks and feels great.

Apparently a peel would also help me (Chantal did one on herself and the brown, pigmented skin literally rubbed off on her hands) and I was told that peels are not stripping and lethal but simply lift off the gnarly layer that becomes slow to shed, as we age.

I had a treatment of LED light therapy which is very healing (I’ll do anything if someone tells me it’s healing. Healing what? Who cares). It basically penetrates the skin to fight acne-causing bacteria while plumping skin and reducing wrinkles. It’s also mood enhancing.

I can’t actually tell you what else she did except that it felt quite wonderful and that for probably the first time since I hit my forties I feel completely happy without a scrap of make-up.

Who knew NW11 would hold such treasures?

I’ve subsequently seen on their website that they do something called ‘v-shape jowls and submental’ which takes 45 minutes and costs £120. I’ve no idea what it is but I want it.

I’m going back. Book me in. Self-care is the new me.


Thank you to LUX skin clinic for the facial. Prices from £80 for a 60-minute bespoke facial. £120 with LED light therapy.

LUX, 21 The Market Place, Falloden Way, NW11 6JY. Nearest tube Golders Green or East Finchley. 15-min walk from the tube. Barely any parking restrictions. I’ll be driving next time.

Tel: 020 8701 6336. instagram @luxskinclinic

Very few parking restrictions in East Finchley.

For great style, you need great hair

There’s nothing quite like a good haircut. You can literally feel the magic happen. You bounce out of the salon and glide down the street, feeling quite marvellous and unstoppable. Everything you try on looks good. Your boring old clothes suddenly look super-stylish. You want to go out for lunch, dinner, drinks, more drinks…oh to never have to go home and sleep on it.


Darren and I in NYC.

There are few people who can work that magic. Darren Smalley is one of them. I met him at Fourth Floor and went to him for years until he abandoned me to go and live in New York, where I continued to go for my haircuts – ridiculous, perhaps, but such is the Darren effect.

One time, after a new cut, we went for cocktails in the East Village (Darren is also a dear friend and bloody good company) and our server kept raving about my hair. I laughed along, assuming they knew each other, but after a night of her begging for my hairdresser’s number I came to realise she had no idea he was sitting next to me. She genuinely thought my hair was fantastic. It was.

You need to know that I don’t have easy hair. It’s curly (when it chooses to be), frizzy, untameable, uncool. Anyone can give it a trim and use tongs to make it look pretty, but I hate the tonged, one-look-fits-all and I’m certainly not going to spend more than about 3 minutes on it, post-salon. So I need someone who can really cut. Darren has given me short crops, long waves, heavy fringes (bangs, depending on where you come from). I’ve loved them all. Everyone I’ve sent to him has fallen for him too.

So onto the main reason for my post. Darren is coming to town. He might as well be Santa Claus. Call him. See him. Let him do whatever he wants to do to you. Trust me (and him).


Darren is coming to London

I have to credit my other hair stylist here, who I see in Darren’s long absences (he now lives in San Francisco, sees clients in New York every so often, and LA too, but it’s not easy for us to coincide). So, “j’ai deux amours…par eux toujours, mon coeur est ravi” as the song goes. The other man is Billi Currie, who owns a super-friendly urban salon of the same name in Chiltern Street. He has innate talent and years of expertise (25 years at Vidal Sassoon). I begged for his number from a stranger I spotted with great hair. She warned me that he was expensive, but worth every penny.

billi currie 2

Billi Currie on Chiltern Street, Marylebone

Think of a good haircut in cost-per-wear terms (it makes it an absolute bargain). Go see one of my boys – and then tell me you don’t feel like your christmases have all come at once.

Darren Smalley, in London now – until 10th August 2016. For appointments tel (UK) 07842 821052 or (USA) 646 670 0660. email

Billi Currie, 47 Chiltern Street, W1U 6LX. Tel 020 7486 9016.



Beauty as nature intended


When it comes to beauty, I’ve learned that good skin is more about what goes into my body than what goes onto it. No amount of anti-wrinkle cream is going to help my lines if I don’t drink enough water and nothing will hide the dark circles if I am deprived of sleep.

I don’t always practice what I preach, but the one thing I try to maintain is a bathroom cabinet of chemical-free, ‘safe’ products for me and my family. Because whatever we put on our skin is absorbed into our body and our bloodstream. Scarily so.

Fortunately, safe doesn’t have to mean boring. Being Content is a little apothecary of holistic beauty and skincare products in Marylebone, London, with cult, cool beauty brands that are all free of synthetic chemicals. It’s so much more inspiring than going to a big department store beauty counter – and I feel reassured by their strict criteria concerning what goes into the products they stock (read their list of what is deemed to be toxic here).


Warm smiles and a wealth of knowledge at Being Content

Here are 5 products I can’t live without, all found at Being Content:

1. Soapwalla Deodorant Cream. £14. Rub a small amount of this dry paste under your armpits, stay fresh and clean all day. It works a treat and lasts forever. Prepare to be amazed.

2. RMS Beauty Lipshine in Sacred. £22. Quite possibly the freshest, prettiest red on the planet. As seen on Miranda Kerr. I love everything Rose-Marie Swift does (special RMS blog post coming soon).


Miranda Kerr wears RMS Beauty

3. MV gentle cream cleanser. £34.50. So soft, I can’t believe it lifts all the debris so well. For blissfully clean, soothed, non-squeaky skin. And a rose scent that’s good for the soul.

4. Dr Alkalitis organic enzyme exfoliating mask. £47.75. I have angry skin, so the word exfoliate terrifies me. This is made from oats and is so pure you could eat it.

5. Therapie Roques O’Neill Joie Uplifting Bath Infusion. £44. I used to visit Michelle Roques-O’Neill for aromatherapy massage and was thrilled to see her products on their shelves. This one has magic in it, I swear.


Sadly, I have yet to find a match for my Armani foundation and I’m too vain to give it up. But I remain hopeful, and willing to down a few extra gallons of water to help my organs process the rubbish in it. Cheers.


image courtesy of

BANK HOLIDAY OFFER: Being Content is offering 15% off – enter HOLIDAY at checkout – ends midnight 26th May (GMT).

Being Content: 14 Bulstrode St, Marylebone, London, W1U 2JG
+44(0)20 3075 1006