The eyes have it – the top head treatments in London
Caroline Phillips discovers the latest luxury beauty treatments to add some serious sparkle to your peepers and your tresses….
“Karen Betts permanent cosmetics,” the brass plate on the mahogany door proclaims.
Inside her third floor Harley Street consulting rooms, it’s all white floor boards, white wood panelling and white wallpaper with silver chandeliers. And a cushion on a chaise longue that sets the mood of: “always believe something wonderful is about to happen.”
Something wonderful is about to happen. I’m seeing Karen, a global leader in permanent make-up, for what I’ve always called semi-permanent eyeliner. (She calls it “permanent” because the body may not break down the pigment in full, she says, but it will fade in colour). There’s a man waiting ahead of me, in line for “guyliner.” Permanent guyliner, that is.
Karen’s colleague Sue — a friendly Yorkshire lady, and a lass so chatty that I now know her favourite fast car and also that she takes therapy pets into old people’s homes in her spare time — checks that I’ve done my “homework.” Yes, I reply, I’ve already done a patch test to check for sensitivity, and, luckily, have had no reaction.
Next Sue gives me some extensive questionnaires to fill in. The first sheet covers allergic reactions and a zillion other matters medical. Then there’s a disclosure questionnaire, that leaves no aesthetic or medical stone unturned. “Just say ‘yes’ to all of them,” advises lovely Sue, who like many of Karen’s staff, has worked for her for two decades. One question reads: “I can confirm that I do not suffer from any physical, mental or medical impairment or disability that may affect my ability to decide whether or not to have a permanent cosmetics procedure.” Another is: “I understand that the application of permanent cosmetics pigment may be painful.” Yes. Yes, I write. And on and on.
Then Sue puts local anaesthetic around my lids and tells me not to close my eyes, counselling that the fumes will go into them otherwise. So I sit gazing at the 14 mirrors in front of me in the reception room, eyes wide open. A few minutes later, my lids suitably anaesthetised, Karen, with bronzed face, Yorkshire accent straight from Central Casting, and wearing a cool petrol coloured uniform instead of the usual (dreary) clinician’s look appears, and ushers me into her treatment room.
I’ve decided on my “look” in advance. Karen offers a perfect classic pencil style, a liquid eyeliner with a dramatic flick or a sexy and sultry smoky eye. Or even a two-toned eyeliner or butterfly shading. I’m going for Greek goddess meets Audrey Hepburn, I decide.
Wearing a distinctly un-Audrey shower cap for hygiene, I lie on a therapy couch as Karen expertly sprinkles microscopic dots of pigment through my lower lashes to make them look thicker and to underline my peep holes. Then Karen draws lines along my eyelids.
As Karen works on me, she and Sue operate in stereo — Sue passing things to Karen as far as I can guess from my supine position, and alternating between a kind of hilarious northern girls’ comic act whilst also imparting serious information. One of the latter being that even if the ceiling fell down, the direction in which Karen holds the needle with which she administers the pigment, means that the needle would merely hit my nose and not enter my eye. Phew. And is the procedure painful, even if the ceiling stays put? No, no worse than a feeling of a little gentle scratching.
So, what of the finished effect? Wow, does Karen do them well. Yes, I end up as sort of Audrey Hepburn meets Greek goddess — albeit only in my permanent make-up — with lines and colour that are sophisticated and subtle. In the mornings, I’ll now be ready to get up and go without so much as a fumble in the make-up drawer.
Little wonder Karen — who does permanent make-up for eyebrows, lips and breasts too, tattooing life-changing replacement nipples after surgery or beautifying a cleft lip or improving the appearance of burns and scar tissue — has built up an empire. She has an elite team and clinics in London, Cheshire and Yorkshire in the UK. She pioneered permanent make-up in the UK and has over 25 years’ experience in it. She’s one of the leading authorities on the method.
Karen Betts. Her surname must surely be short for “Betters.” At any rate, she betters anything anyone else in the industry offers when it comes to permanent eyeliner.
When it comes to semi-permanent eyebrows…. who could fail to love Sophie Thorpe, known variously to her celeb clientele as The Eyebrow Master? She’s the tops when it comes to eyebrows. She looks after you in her outpost behind Sloane Square in London (in Sarah Chapman’s clinic), where there’s a blazing fire and air-conditioning — normally both at the same time. If you’ve ever over or under-plucked your eyebrows, have badly shaped ones or brows with no natural arch, Sophie’s your lady. Her brow grooming is second to none. After numbing the area, she uses a fine needle to tattoo the semi-permanent mineral pigment hair by hair onto your skin using feathery strokes. Around a month after the initial treatment, you’ll have a top-up appointment to ensure that the results are excellent. Your new eyebrows usually last between one and two years, depending on skin type and age and whether you’re stupid enough (that’s me) to get into a sauna immediately after the treatment or have hot showers every day and sweat the new pigmentation of your eyebrows out. (You mustn’t expose your skin to extreme heat or cold or moisture for two weeks after a treatment). Get your brows done by Sophie and you’ll get arches as perfect as those on the Ponte Vecchio. And you’ll never want the pigment to fade.
Philip Kingsley’s recently-launched Density hair care range is the sort of thing that makes you swoon in delight. It’s not just clinically proven —developed with the latest innovations and pioneering ingredients to help slow hair loss and create your healthiest, personal-best hair at home. It’s also like having a collection of nine hair care wizards — which come in smart white, green and gold packaging — at your fingertips, to thicken and preserve your locks and stimulate your scalp by exfoliating, nourishing and plumping strands, and strengthening your tresses. You’ll find that friends —and possibly even strangers — start remarking on how thick, full and lustrous your hair is — even when it’s fine and previously looked like dead rats’ tails. If there’s a top wizard among the nine, a cult beauty item in the making, it’s probably the Density Scalp Drops — great for stopping hair shedding, and creating the best environment for healthy hair growth, and brilliant too as a preventative treatment for hair loss. Think of these wizards as your magic circle.
Or, for some pampering, you may wish to go and have a treatment in the Philip Kingsley clinic. You’ll enter a private house in Mayfair — all chandeliers, friezes and quiet zones, with nobody nattering on mobiles. Go upstairs and sit midst mirrors on three sides of you, as trichotherapist Lina works her magic. Wearing a blue uniform, mask and rubber gloves, she’ll diagnose your dry hair ends or perhaps a touch of eczema. And then she’ll start massaging your head with her exfoliating and soothing cream, popping on a mask for your itchy scalp, and then shampooing (you’ll choose between jasmine and mandarin). She may use around seven products on your head — from heat protector spray to scalp toner. It’s better than treating yourself at home because you’ll sit under a steamer, which helps the products absorb, as does the infrared. Plus, Lina’s a deft hand at this: she’s worked there doing this for 20 years. You’ll leave with hair that has a sheen, bounce and moisture.
Caroline Phillips is an award-winning freelance journalist who contributes to publications from Sunday and daily newspapers to glossy magazines and various luxury websites. To see more of her work, go to www.carolinephillips.net.