Muddy reviews: Virgo Beauty, Goring
Facialist Sarah Virgo counts Elton John among her clients so it's A list quality facials (and helpings of Prosecco) all the way at this classy Goring salon
If your beautician lists Elton John as one of her regulars, you’d feel you were in pretty safe hands wouldn’t you? Well, the man himself just happens to be a client of Sarah Virgo, the owner of Virgo Beauty in Goring. When I do a double take, ‘THE Elton?!’ Sarah smiles and says matter-of-factly: ’I’ve been looking after Elton for the past 13 years’. Just inside the doorway of the salon, there’s a small signed photo of the man himself on the wall that reads: ‘To Sarah, my HERO! Love Elton’. Not a bad recommendation, eh?
Virgo Beauty, the salon, opened in Goring two and a half years ago, but Sarah has been a mobile beauty therapist for the past 25 years. It’s a family business – as well as her and her husband (Mr Virgo’s star sign is Virgo – love a bit of serendipity), Sarah’s father is out the back office taking care of the books. Sarah’s skincare brands are family companies too – Clarins and ESPA – both only allow the top salons and spas to stock their products, so kudos right there.
I was here to experience Virgo’s USP, its bespoke facial. Rather than overwhelming clients with a daunting list, Sarah keeps things simple. When you arrive at the salon your face will be assessed using a skin analysis lamp that shines UV light on your face to show up any dehydration, sun damage, lines, wrinkles etc, then your facial will be tailored to what you need, where you need it.
It’s a little daunting to see your flaws lit up like a Christmas tree, but apart from some dryness and a bit of ‘congestion’ (which I think is a diplomatic way of saying ‘spots’), Sarah tells me my skin is actually in pretty good shape. She recommends an ESPA aromatherapy facial (£69) to introduce me to the product range suited to my skin type and to address my main concern – which is hitting age 46 and finally admitting I need to deal with fine lines before I start resembling an Ordnance Survey map.
My facial is nothing short of bliss. I choose the music I’d like to listen to, the scents I’d like to smell, and then Sarah gets to work using ESPA’s Pro Range of products along with her latest gadget, a steamer. It directs a constant but gentle mist of steam towards my face – transporting me to a sizzling beach in the Seychelles. A shoulder, head and arm massage sends me dangerously close to passing out and missing school pick up. I fear ’Mummy fell asleep at the spa’ wouldn’t go down well with social services.
The treatment room is luxurious, all deep plums and chocolatey browns, making me feel like I’m in a lovely cocoon. There are lots of homely touches – mahogany side tables, lamps, ornaments, gorgeous lighting and the thickest, fluffiest towels I’ve ever seen.
The results, still visible a few days later (fresher complexion, smoother and brighter skin) are so impressive that a friend who sees me across the school car park, texts me later to say I look about 25 and ask what had I done. I buy the serum (because you only need a few drops so it’ll last forever, plus it smells yummy) but Sarah won’t let me buy the moisturiser because when I say I’ve still got some old stuff kicking around at home she insists I use that up first. There’s no hard sell, which is a relief. If I manage to at least apply the serum once or twice a day I reckon I should look about 19 in time for my summer hols…
I also manage to squeeze in a quick manicure (I know I am a trooper, aren’t I). Unfortunately, I run out of time to have gels so go for normal, but it’s done with just as much care and attention as the client sitting next to me having gels reapplied, and my perfect nails are still chip-free after a week. My manicure gives me time to take in the rest of the salon. It’s modest in size – just two treatment rooms and an area set aside for nails (and nattering) but it’s like a gorgeous stylish boudoir, and it’s immaculate. There are five full-time chatty, relaxed members of staff ready to buff and polish you to perfection. Sarah tells me she regularly takes her staff to visit other top salons, such as Urban Retreat at Harrods, for research purposes.
Yes, you probably could find a salon offering less expensive treatments (the facials are around £70, depending on exactly what you go for) but will they be of this quality? Will they make you feel quite so special as Sarah and her team do? And will your treatments be by the same fair hands that have scrubbed and smoothed Sir Elton? I think not people, I think not.
Mon, Tues, Fri 9am to 6pm; Weds 11am to 8pm; Thurs 9am to 8pm; Saturday 9am to 5pm; Sunday closed.
Virgo Beauty, 14 High Street, Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG8 9AR. Tel: 01491 874202 www.virgobeauty.co.uk.
Words: Sarah Prior