A whizzy Guinot peel
We try out a new Guinot skin-brightening treatment. Will it turn Muddy's Kerry Potter into J.Lo? Ready, steady, glow!
Dependable, friendly and accommodating (they offer working woman-friendly appointments until 8pm on weeknights), this little salon, a fixture of the genteel market town of Thame, mid Oxfordshire, for 30 years now, happens to be my local. I’ve tried it all here – from massages to manicures to midlife crisis cartilage ear piercings.
Each of the first floor treatment rooms is decorated in a different style, with bold wallpaper, big mirrors and wellbeing mantras aplenty. There’s also a framed poster of a naked man’s bottom near the loo which looks like it was purchased in Athena circa 1987 but each to their own. But, more importantly, each room is immaculately clean, toasty and cosy, with treatment beds piled with fluffy towels perfect for having a cheeky snooze under. My therapist Laura was friendly, efficient and clearly experienced, with a sixth sense of when I wanted to chat and when I wanted to drift off under those lovely warm towels.
Launched in Oct, the Guinot Hydra Peeling treatment is the Parisian brand’s new chemical peel, marketed as an alternative to aesthetic medicine – in other words, it’s results-driven but doesn’t require needles or anything else scary. There are two versions available – the one I had which requires an in-salon patch test at least 24 hours ahead of the treatment (bit of a faff to be honest – I wish they could post these out) or a gentler version for sensitive skin, pregnant customers or those who can’t trek in for the patch test.
The facial promises to even out skin tone, add radiance, lighten dark spots and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, using a chemical exfoliant peel containing phytic acid. I’m an evangelical convert to acid exfoliants (as opposed to the old-school granular ones) and use them daily (Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant has been a game-changer for me) so was keen to see what a turbo-charged salon treatment could do to my sallow, sad winter visage.
Laura cleansed my skin (the décolletage as well as face), then painted on the peel, which tingled every so slightly. She left it on for seven minutes, then followed up with various bursts of massage on my face, hands, neck and chest (my timeline is a bit hazy as I started snoozing at this point – a sign of how surprisingly pampering the treatment is), before slathering on a rubbery, cooling, soothing mask, which later peeled off in one satisfying piece. Final touches were moisturizer and eye cream.
Chemical peels have certainly come a long way since that episode of Sex And The City when Samantha’s one leaves her looking like she’s got third-degree burns (Google it and goggle in horror). This one manages to be as gentle as it is effective. And I was pleased to note there’s not a great deal of peeling involved after the event – I merely had a slightly flaky nose for a couple of days but that was soon gone to reveal perky new skin underneath.I rarely go out bare-faced but I managed the rest of the day without a scrap of base or concealer. My skin was brighter, softer to the touch and more even, with old acne scars and an annoying blotch of pigmentation on my cheek noticeably faded. When I did apply foundation the following day, it buffed in beautifully. My face looked tip-top for a good fortnight too making this is a world away from wafty, pamper-y, pan-pipe-y facials that feel nice at the time but don’t really do much. If I’m going to spare a precious hour to lie down in the middle of the day, I want noticeable results and this totally delivers on that front.
I’m not sure my photos really do it justice to be honest, but here’s before and after close-ups of my mug (apols if you’re eating). Hopefully you can just about detect a less haggard vibe in the right-hand one? I don’t think J.Lo will be quaking in her boots just yet but I was impressed nonetheless.
It costs £70 for a one-hour treatment, which is the top end of the range for facials in our ‘hood but obviously a whole lot cheaper than having anything invasive (and similar treatments in London). Given the lasting results, I think it’s good value.
Monera, 62-63 North Street, Thame OX9 3BH. Tel: 01844 260454. monera.co.uk