It’s a mission of mine to share both discoveries and long-standing elements that truly make up the “best things in life" for me. Living well holistically is not just about how many pull-ups I do (or don’t), or my dietary habits: it’s also - importantly - the experiences I am having and what I am doing to take care of myself.
Hyde Park, like the many parks of London, has been a foundational green zone of my youth in the city. It’s where I learned to ride a bicycle and perfect my rowing technique, slow-cruising my parents along the Serpentine. I perpetually gravitate towards here, taking sunrise walks on even the coldest mornings to let my mind percolate in the silent hours. I suggest any Londoner or visitor do the same when they have the opportunity - it is a special time to go wandering.
My most recent blue-skied, icy-morning Hyde-Park walk was an exciting one, though, as I had been invited to experience the brand new D. Thomas Illuminate express treatment service at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge. D. Thomas refers to Debbie Thomas: the go-to skin expert of every major beauty publication and facialist to Brit celebrities and Hollywood stars alike.
I’ve known Debbie for years, since a fortunate first encounter with her in my mid-twenties. In a semi-hopeless state after a decade of failed attempts at thwarting the bane of my youth – acne – a warm and radiant Debbie provided me with the beacon of hope that I thought was beyond my reach. “I can treat this”, she told me with a calm confidence. And so, my journey began to clearing my skin with a series of cutting edge laser treatments and peels administered under her expert hands.
Good skin is a very personal factor in “feeling good” overall. Most of you will identify with the confidence that great skin can bring. To those who have had the good fortune of spectacular skin despite drinking and/or smoking to high heaven and eating whatever you like may find this incomprehensible, but many will relate to the psychological detriment skin issues can bring: eczema, psoriasis, acne don’t just look undesirable, they are physically painful inflammatory conditions, and can knock even the most confident of characters. Nobody, and no facial, has been able to do what Debbie did - and does - for my skin over the years (I will be writing a more extensive story on my journey tackling acne in due course). I am not alone in hailing Debbie Thomas as the best facialist in London, Britain...the World... given she is Harper's Bazaar Facialist of the Year.
Debbie prides herself on her meticulous skill and depth of knowledge: her ability to leave you glowing and soothed – rather than raw and brazen – even after the most intensive treatments, is unparalleled. Moreover, she remains unfazed and unchanged by her rise to superstardom, staying true to her mission and passion of transforming the skin of everyone she works with. So, I was thrilled – and equally proud – to experience the extension of her exceptional work.
I've got twenty minutes to glow
The D. Thomas Illuminate express treatments offer Debbie’s specially curated next-generation skin treatments that leave you with seriously glowing skin in just 20 minutes. I was greeted at HN’s suave and revamped beauty lounge, which already houses Hershesons blow-dry, Nails Inc and Blink Brow bars.
Each Illuminate treatment is given a lumen “glow” factor rating, with higher lumens requiring more pre-planning if you need to time the unveiling of your radiant self with a particular event. The ethos goes that skin needs to be nurtured not attacked and that treatments need to be effective, not aggressive. Given I had just experienced a pretty awful breakout for the first time in a while (long haul travel from +34 degrees to close to zero, admittedly pushing my limits a little too much with workloads, and a packed family schedule) I opted for the SOS Breakout Blitz – Lumen Level 3!
It was natural to wonder what could really happen in 20 minutes, but I’ll say now the result on my face was better than going upstairs and leaving with a pair of new shoes. Carly and Claire-Marie, Debbie’s hand selected and trained therapists, led me to a private treatment room. The delightful duo of conversation and skill got straight to work on easing my facial volcanoes: I was treated to PCA Skin’s oxygenating trio to exfoliate, decongest, brighten and kill bacteria. This left the skin soft enough to perform some necessary extractions without aggravating my skin any further. Antibacterial tonic smoothed things over prior to donning a space-like LED light mask (very much my kind of gadgetry) to stimulate the skin’s healing functions and soothe redness. A protective moisturiser and SPF was applied to finish and alas, I was sad it all ended so soon. The confident and beaming therapists confirmed what I saw in the mirror: mildly pink, but with an undeniable and impressive glow – I can’t say that word enough. The change to my skin in that 20 minutes was significant enough that I decided to re-enter the bright world bare-faced and concealer-free (the only time I use concealer is if I do get a bad breakout).
Back out in the beauty lounge, a rally of the bold, the beautiful and dedicated devotees of Debbie’s work were filing in. For the time-pressed and results-hungry, the Illuminate express service is hands-down my top recommendation. The team here know what they are doing – they have learned from the best in the field. From the D. Thomas Signature Glow to the Get the Glow Meso Boost there is a treatment for everyone combining the highest quality salon-grade skin care, ultrasonic therapies and laser wizardry.
I decided to head to back to Hyde Park to continue my morning musings, with an inner confidence and outer radiance matched only by, perhaps, the glorious winter sun that was blessing the city.
Photography Tiffany Soi © and Thom Arnold ©
Check back for my longer story on my battle with acne and my long-standing praise for Debbie’s work.