Great things come in small packages. In her TV show British chef Rachel Khoo wowed us with extraordinary French cuisine from her tiny Parisian kitchen and now facialist Linda Palcic is offering beauty 'for the skin and the soul' from a teeny salon in London's swanky Knightsbridge.
Linda Palcic is one half of Georgia + Linda, a luxury boutique skincare salon, based in London and New York. The London outpost is a bijou one-room space, decorated in white with chic silver accessories. It has a single bed and not much else but is flooded with natural light and a quiet ambiance. I'm here because I have a wedding looming — not mine — so I need my face to shake off its winter pallor and get a boost for spring. My skin is showcasing the damage from London pollution, stress and lack of sleep so Linda decides on the Environ Signature Facial with an anti-ageing twist (facials start at £135). I settle down for what I think will be a relaxing hour of pampering and snoozing. But Linda warns me — in a gentle soothing voice, almost a whisper — that the Environ facial is not relaxing.
Before we get started, my face is spritzed with Linda's own blend of organic essential oils, including peppermint and rose geranium, to cool the skin before a gentle steam preps it. Linda creates bespoke packages depending on your needs and as the skin can change on a daily basis, you may never have the same treatment twice. She then gets to work with a deep-tissue massage telling me oxygen is vital to add colour, energy and vitality to the skin (all of which mine is desperate for). I make a solemn promise to myself to practise what she preaches when I get home. Linda also massages my head, neck and shoulders to release tension and allow blood to flow.
Next comes a mammoth cleansing session. My face must be pretty mucky because it gets a pre-cleansing oil, a cleansing lotion and then a clay mask with kaolin to double-clean the skin. Why so much cleansing? Linda tells me a clean, hydrated skin can efficiently absorb the nutrients from the moisturising products far better than a dry, parched skin with a layer of debris. It certainly feels hydrated. Then comes some rather painful extractions followed by blue light therapy to promote fast healing.
Now for the scientific part: Environ products are classed as 'cosmeticeuticals' (a combination of cosmetics and pharmaceuticals) and contain medical grade vitamins A, C and E, powerful antioxidants and growth factors such as colostrum gel (taken from bovine breast milk). All of which, I'm told, help a deeper absorption into the skin.
A rich vitamin mask is slathered on the skin and then starting very gently around my eyes, Linda uses a probe to apply sonophoresis (sound waves) and iontophoresis (electrical stimulation), which dramatically improve the collagen and elastin production (responsible for the skin's firmness). The mask acts as a conductor for the electrical current so the vitamins can penetrate the skin. As the mask dries, it hardens, locking in moisture. There's a slight stinging sensation at times and although it's not painful at all I am a little relieved when it stops.
Now an algae mask is applied over my face. It feels wonderful and very soothing — until the electrical stimulation starts up again. I try to keep calm with thoughts of silky looking skin. And in no time, it's over. The whole mask comes off in one piece and my skin emerges feeling fresh as a daisy. A final slathering of Environ moisturiser and I'm all done.
My skin looks completely refreshed. I feel it too. I buy the Environ cleanser and moisturiser so I can give my skin a daily boost at home. Next day at the wedding, my skin gets as many compliments as my dress.
Linda's beauty know-how and friendly courteous manner.
The not so good:
There is no changing room to cover your modesty so if you're body-sensitive you might not like stripping off in such a tiny space so close to your therapist — luckily Linda is so lovely and down to earth that you won't mind a bit.
A holistic, personalised facial that gets results, from a practitioner who respects you and your skin.
Georgia + Linda, 24 Beauchamp Place, London SW3 (+44 (0)20 7589 9911, georgialinda.com).