By Clare Finney
I am, to be frank, not great at skin. Cursed with a nervous habit that finds my nails perpetually attacking my face, if I’m not causing new damage I’m dousing the whole thing in tea tree oil. Short of a laser, I’ve tried everything under and including the sun to break free.
Part of the consultation is to test my skin’s hydration levels, a process involving a small instrument that looks quite terrifyingly like a pregnancy test. “Everyone says that!” laughs Norie. “We don’t use it in quite the same way.”
And yet I’ve never asked for advice. Wary of counters manned by girls mumbling “some help, madam?” thorough several layers of make-up, I have steered studiously clear of exposing my skin—and my dignity—to strangers. Melvita, the organic skincare brand in St Martin’s Courtyard, seems more approachable, but even then I hesitate. It proves, though, to be a revelatory experience. Though as a skincare junky I was sold on Melvita products moons ago, my experience of the store itself was confined to running in, buying the same three items and running out. I passed the time of day with the staff, but never asked for their help choosing my products. I thought I knew. I was wrong.
“What do you use, and how do you use it?” Upon entering the store I’d been given a glass of (organic) prosecco and placed in a comfy white armchair. Now, readied and steadied by fizz, I am being grilled. I reel off my usual routine: cleanser then face cream in the morning, cleanser then rosehip oil in the evening—all Melvita products, and all, I presume, good. Yet while I am indeed praised for brand choice, my consultant is not so impressed with my methods of use.
“The oil is good for scarring—but if you are going through a time when break outs are likely, it will just make them worse.” More disappointing is the discovery that, despite this regular oil bath, my skin is still dry. Part of the consultation is to test my skin’s hydration levels, a process involving a small instrument that looks quite terrifyingly like a pregnancy test. “Everyone says that!” laughs Norie. “We don’t use it in quite the same way.”
In fact the procedure proves both unembarrassing and totally painless. Taking the ‘pregnancy test’ in one hand, Norie places it variously on my cheeks, nose and forehead and tells me the reading. “Six is good, anything below is fab.” My scores are surprisingly sound—my only problem area, it turns out, is my forehead.
“This is very dry. Do you moisturise up here?” Norie says worriedly. I squirm. I don’t want my hair to get greasy. “Well, you’re going to have to do something. You’ll need anti-aging cream otherwise. In fact you should start now anyway—you’re already showing signs of lines.
“WHAT?!” I exclaim fearfully. Being made aware of your lines is upsetting to a woman at any age, but at just 24 years old I couldn’t help but feel it to be bitterly unfair. I use rosehip oil. Miranda Kerr uses rosehip oil, and her face has never seen a wrinkle. What have I done to warrant this? Norie loses no time explaining.
“The rosehip oil is good—but it is also dense and difficult to absorb. That’s why it’s best to mix it with something water-based.” This means not only that the oil is absorbed more easily, but that it penetrates deeper into the skin, leaving your skin free of the sheen you get when you smother it with oily stuff. Rocket science it isn’t, but I’m impressed.
“Do you drink a lot of coffee?” Norie asks. I smile. Now I will redeem myself. No, I’ve given up, I say. I just drink tea. “That’s still not that good. It’s not hydrating. Have you tried some of our herbal teas?” She gestures pleasantly towards the shelves. Oils, toners, creams and serums I’ll consider—but I draw a deep and wrinkled line at funny tea.
Be that is it may, I still learn an enormous amount about skincare here, from the benefits of blemish water to the perils of using normal cream around your eyes. “I know it’s tempting, but it will just cause puffiness.” Happily my visit also happens to coincide with the release of an eye cream, as well as a new range called Nectar Bright.
Containing active ingredients which help tackle pigmentation and dark spots, the range is not the first to jump aboard the ‘brightening’ bandwagon in skincare,but it is among the most natural.
The ingredients come from flowers—narcissus, wintergreen, bellis, white lupin and white sea silly—that protect themselves against the sun’s UV rays by responding to cycles of day and night and hiding from the sun. I am intrigued. Perhaps, in a few months, I’ll introduce some bits into my regime. For now, though, I’m sticking to rose facial water, rosehip oil, rose day cream and rose cleanser. Oh, and keeping my hands off my face.