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2008 is here and what better way to start the year than with a Ciao review! Well I must admit I can think of more exciting things that I could be doing but unfortunately I'm at work and I can't do most of them here! At least I can safely tap away on my keyboard, typing up my latest review and it looks like I am working away to everyone else (sneaky eh!)
For this review I have decided to go back to what I know - a health & beauty review. Not this time on a product but on an organisation that I recently visited and was very impressed with.
For years I have suffered with occasional spots and blemishes, from having poor skin in my teens it has improved slightly as I've got older but the on thing I have always yearned for is clear, smooth, beautiful skin. My skin did improve slightly in 2007 - I think this was because I chucked away all my cheap products and invested in a few better quality items. Away went the Clean & Clear facial washes I used to buy and in their place came Estee Lauder and Lancome instead. I still had a few outbreaks but nothing in comparison to what I had before.
I had been researching the possibility of having a chemical peel or microdermabrasion on my skin for a while as I know they help with dull looking skin, minor blemishes and can help with scarring etc . After watching a couple of makeover shows where the 'victim' had been given a peel and their skin improved afterwards the idea appealed to me even more so I had look on the internet to see what was available and a company caught my eye - Sk:n Clinics.
These clinics have a few premises around the UK and offer a number of services that not only help with skin rejuvenation but also laser hair removal, tattoo removal, teeth whitening and even cosmetic surgery. I however was more interested in the skin treatments they offered which are microdermabrasion, glycolic acid peels, tca easy peels, treatments for lines and wrinkles, temporary and permanent skin fillers, skin tightening, endermologie (a treatment for cellulite), treatment of stretchmarks and reducing excessive sweating.
I had a good read of their website which gives information on each available treatment, explaining what it is and what results you should expect. There were some testimonials from previous customers who have had the treatments too. Each treatment available was described in brief detail but not so much that there was pages of information to be read through. I was quite impressed with their website and when I noticed there was a call back request box. I filled in my details and awaited a consultant to ring me to discuss my needs.
A few days later a consultant rang me and what information I was after (laser hair removal, skin treatments, body treatments etc) she told me that a new clinic was due to be opening in January in Milton Keynes and would I like to be informed when they opened. As I live in Milton Keynes this would mean less travelling so I said yes. To my surprise the first week in December I received a call telling me they were going to be opening early and would I like to go in for a free consultation. Now I do love a freebie and since setting our date for the wedding I had decided that I was going to get my skin in tip top condition and what better way to find out how best to do this than to have a consultation with a skin expert? I was booked in for an appointment on a Saturday two weeks later.
On the day of my appointment I arrived at the clinic, a massive building right in the middle of a new area called the Hub in Milton Keynes. From the outside the building looked very swish indeed! I announced myself to the receptionist who gave me a card to fill in some details - name, address, doctors name, skin type etc. About 5 minutes later my nurse arrived and took me up to the consultation room, she was very friendly and asked me what it was I had to come to enquire about, I explained that I am getting married and that I really wanted some advice on what would be best for my skin to enable me to look like the radiant blushing bride I would love to be. She said that from initial first thought she didn't think my skin was too bad but to get a better idea she would look at my skin on the analysis machine to see what my problem areas on my skin were.
The skin analyser was very interesting. It was basically a machine which had a kind of hooded curtain at one end which I had to place my head under and at the other the nurse looked through a special lens under a light which then showed up certain things on my skin. I could see what she was looking at as there was a viewing screen at my end too. Suprisingly she told me that my skin was in very good condition, there was a small amount of sun damage but nothing serious, an oiliness on my nose which I already knew as I suffer from blocked and enlarged pores in this area, some dry skin in my eyebrows and a bit of dehydration around my eyes. She explained everything as she went along and advised me how I could work on these - slightly more exfoliation, apply eye cream regularly and always use moisturiser with SPF included.
We returned to the treatment room so she could give me some advice on what treatments would have a good effect on my skin. I had always wondered about microdermabrasion but she told me that for my skin it wouldn't be advisable as it could encourage oiliness and age spots to come through. She recommended the best thing for my skin would be a facial peel. At Sk:n they do various kinds of peels and I had assumed she meant the kind that made the whole surface of your skin peel off in chunks which are called tca peels, she told me that my skin really didn't need that level of peel and explained that they also do a low intensity glycolic acid peel which she felt would be more suitable.
Unlike the peels you see on makeover programmes such as 10 Years Younger these kinds of peel do not cause severe skin peeling, they can be done in 15 - 20 minutes and can even be done in your lunch hour as they cause minimal disruption to the skin. They can also be used more intensively in certain areas to give a better result - say for instance on the nose. The nurse told me they can be done alone or in a block, they usually recommended 6 - 8 peels to be done and a glycolic face wash to be used in-between peels to keep up the renewing of the skin and this was what she would recommend for me.
This sounded pretty good but of course the most important thing is the prices! I know that skin peels are quite pricey, in the region of £500 for a tca peel.. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the peels she was recommending were £65 each, not a bad price to pay for nice clear skin. They also told me that if I were to book a course of 6 then the price would be reduced to £55 each which is quite a good saving. The only problem being I really couldn't afford £300 odd just before Christmas and I don't need them until the latter part of 2008.
The nurse then told me that because the clinic in Milton Keynes had just opened they were doing a special opening offer where you get a free trial of whatever it is you were recommended. So if you had enquired about laser hair removal you would get a session of it for nothing, if you had been recommended a facial peel then you would get one for free. When she asked would I be interested in receiving a free peel to try it out I jumped at the chance! I had to make an appointment to return for my free peel so we returned to the reception area so they could book me in.
Another thing they do at Sk:n is sell skincare products - they have stuff for people with spotty skin, anti aging products, eye creams, cleansers, suncare products - all kinds of stuff. These products are not from your usual run of the mill companies but from companies that specialise in certain areas which you can't buy on the high street, products that the consultants use when doing treatments at the clinic. The nurse recommended an eye cream and a cleanser to me and also gave me a couple of samples to take away and try at home.
I was booked in for the following Saturday for my free peel. I arrived at the clinic and was greeted by the nurse who was to be undertaking the procedure, she checked that I had completed the questionnaire when I had attended the previous week and then took me upstairs to the treatment room. The room which was bright and airy looked absolutely spotlessly clean (as you would expect) there was a couch and various pieces of machinery which I assumed were for laser treatments.
After asking me to sign a couple of forms the nurse asked me to make myself comfortable and lay on the couch while she explained what the procedure involved. She explained everything in a clear and concise manner and checked that I understood and asked if I had any questions, which I didn't, she then positioned the couch so I was lying back with my head slightly elevated.
The first step of the treatment was to cleanse the skin. I was asked if I had any make up on so that the nurse could ensure it was thoroughly removed but I had gone au natrel as I had assumed this would be better. The nurse then cleansed my face using a cotton wool pad and a facial cleanser mixed into water, she used approximately three pads to make sure that the skin was clean. Then it was time for the treatment itself.
This treatment uses Glycolic Acid. Glycolic acid (or hydroxyacetic acid) is the smallest α-hydroxy acid (AHA). It appears in the form of a colorless, odorless and crystalline solid that is highly soluble in water and related solvents. Glycolic acid is associated with sugar-crops and is isolated from sugarcane, sugar beets, pineapple, canteloupe, and unripe grapes. Due to its excellent capability to penetrate skin, glycolic acid finds applications in skin care products, most often as a chemical peel performed by a dermatologist in concentrations of 20%-80% or at-home kits in lower concentrations of 10%. It is used to improve the skin's appearance and texture. It may reduce wrinkles, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation and improve many other skin conditions. Once applied, glycolic acid reacts with the upper layer of the epidermis, weakening the binding properties of the lipids that hold the dead skin cells together. This allows the outer skin to "dissolve" revealing the underlying skin.
The Nurse explained that the acid would be applied to my skin using a large tipped cotton bud in a firm rubbing motion starting from my forehead and working around the whole face and would be neutralized once it had been applied right the way round and back to the start. I was told that if at any point I felt any kind of stinging or burning I was to let the nurse know and she would apply a neutralizer to the area to reduce the stinging. She also explained that some customers find they get a slight pinkness to the skin after the treatment which subsides in a short while and that this is completely normal.
The nurse started applying the acid from my forehead working down the left hand side of the face, along the jaw line and then up the right hand side meeting up with the starting point on my forehead. She paid extra attention to the area around my nose as this is a particular problem area for me, ensuring that she had thoroughly worked the acid into every nook and cranny. I have to say that I experienced no stinging or burning at any point of the treatment, however my skin isn't at all sensitive. I suppose some people's skin is more resiliant than others and can take a harsher treatment. The nurse told me that except the area around my nose my skin did not look pink at all which was reassuring as I had been concerned about how my face may look afterwards. The only reason my skin around my nose had turned pink was because the acid had been worked into the skin in that area slightly more rigourously than on the rest of the face to try and help with my open pore issue.
After the acid had been applied the nurse then applied the neutralizer. She explained that I may hear a kind of fizzing sound but this was the active ingredients in the mixture working on neutralizing the acid on the skin. The mixture was applied, it felt kind of foamy on the skin, not at all uncomfortable and I heard no fizzing at all, it was left on for about 1 minute and then cleansed off using the same mixture the nurse had used to cleanse my skin at the beginning of the treatment.
After having an acid peel your skin is more susceptible to sunlight because of the removal of the upper layer of skin and therefore extra care must be taken. The nurse applied a Vitamin A serum to the skin which felt absolutely gorgeous and sunk in really easily. She then used a moisturiser with a high SPF to protect my skin from the UV rays, this sank in quickly and left my skin feeling exceptionally soft. That was it my peel was complete.
So I hear you asking what were the results like?
After I'd got up off the couch the nurse gave me a mirror so I could see what my skin looked like. My skin looked fantastic! You could definitely tell I'd had something done as the surface of the skin looked much smoother and fresher and my skin looked a lot clearer. There was a slight pinkness around the nose but nothing that was too unslightly and I had been expecting this anyway to be honest - I mean I'd just had acid put on my face after all. The most amazing thing was when I touched my face though - my skin felt softer and smoother than I had ever felt it before. Even my fiance noticed the difference in my skin and commented on it when I got home so it must've done something good.
That was the weekend before Christmas and I have to say that even after 2 weeks my skin still looked fantastically smooth - not bad considering I had two pretty heavy nights out clubbing during that time. Even now I can still see an improvement in my skin, I have been helping to extend the effects by ensuring I cleanse, tone and moisturise everyday. My skin still feels pretty smooth and looks more radiant than it did before I had the treatment but I can see how certain areas are starting to lose the effects ever so slightly, however this treatment is designed to be done on a regular basis from what I can gather so I am not surprised that there is a deteriation in the effects as it is almost 3 weeks since I had it done. The nurse said that ideally they recommend using a glycolic facial wash in between treatments as this can help the skin to peel at a quicker rate revealing the fresher skin from underneath. I think if I had been using one of these washes after my treatment the effects may last longer and they sell a range of these but I decided not to purchase one on the day but may consider doing so in the future.
All in all I was very impressed with the peel. The therapist/Nurse was fantastic, very friendly, very knowledgable and put me totally at ease with the procedure. The results were great too - I'd say I saw the best effect around two days after the treatment. I will definitely be going back prior to my wedding, ideally I'd like to have a course of six peels every fortnight in the weeks running up to the big day teamed with the use of a glycolic wash inbetween each peel. Unfortunately it's a case of if I can save up enough cash to afford a course at the moment as weddings are expensive enough on their own. If I cannot afford a course then I will probably aim to have maybe two or three peels done quite closely to each other in the six weeks before the wedding.
My nurse explained to me that when booking a course of peels they will take a picture of you bare faced before and then another picture of you at the end so you can see the full results documented in picture form.
I would definitely recommend that anyone who suffers from problem skin think about having a consultation at their nearest clinic as they can also offer advice on more specialist products than the stuff you can buy in the high street.
Even though I cannot comment on their facilities for Laser Hair Removal as I haven't experienced them first hand a friend of mine has visited them for this reason and she had nothing but praise for the facilities, the staff and the results.
They sometimes run special offers for example at the moment they are running a 25% off laser hair treatment promotion. I am keeping an eye to see if they run a 25% off peels promotion as that would give me a decent amount off if I were to book a course then.
Sk:n currently have clinics in the following cities/towns:
Glasgow Leeds Liverpool Manchester Middlesborough New castle Sheffield Edinburgh East Finchley, London Harley Street, London Holborn, London Maida Vale, London Shaftesbury Avenue, London Bristol Portsmouth Southampton Sutton/Surrey Brighton Plymouth Birmingham (Bull Street) Harbourne (Harbourne Road) Leicester Wolverhampton Norwich Nottingham Leamington Spa Milton Keynes Cheltenham Northampton
You can get more information from their website www.sknclinics.co.uk
If anyone does contact them and decides that they want to have any treatments done I am able to get you a £25 money off voucher by referring you - if you would like me to do this then please drop me a message in my guestbook and I'll get back to you.
As I shall I shall definitely be returning and would recommend this company - I would give them 5 marks out of 5 not only because the treatment actually worked and made my skin look much better but also because their staff are helpful and friendly and they offer a number of treatments under one roof.