A novelist writes about the mind, body and soul.

Archive for the category “Beauty”

The extraordinary Mr Mark Whiteley

About eighteen months ago, I wrote an article for Vogue, in which I tried out several “cutting edge” treatments, including having fat cooled off my hips, and my own blood injected into my face.  The most credible person I saw was Mr Mark Whiteley, who is the vein man. I started a treatment to  have the thread veins on my legs removed.This is what I wrote about him at the time –

Mark Whitely, pioneering consultant vascular surgeon has a reassuring, courteous manner and I feel calm when he casts his eyes over my thread veins. In 1999, Whiteley was the first to introduce “keyhole vein surgery” to the UK. His clinic in Guildford is a leading specialist centre in vein treatment and he divides his time between surgery, research and lecturing. During my initial consultation in Harley Street, I am given an ultrasound examination to see what the underlying cause of my veins is. To eradicate the small, visible thread veins, he will have to treat the feeder veins, (the hidden veins) under the skin with foam sclerotherapy. At my next appointment, he injects foam containing a liquid mixed with a gas combination directly into the veins, guided by ultrasound. The foam pushes the blood out of the veins and acts like a chemical burn on the walls of the vein to destroy them over a period of months. The injection and the sensation of “killing the veins” is a little sharp but the procedure is all over in twenty minutes. Afterwards my legs are bound with bandages and trussed up in  compression stockings which have to be worn 24/7 for two weeks. On day one, I feel depressed  but by day three, I am sort of used to sticking my legs over the bath .

What I didn’t realise is that one treatment won’t necessarily get rid of the little buggers (although after two treatments, the majority of the really ugly bruise like veins behind my knees were gone). Yesterday I went back for my third treatment (in eighteen months) and was charmed by Mr Whitely all over again,despite being worried about an odd brownish mark that has appeared under my knee and won’t seem to go, since I had the first treatment.  God knows when the man gets any rest?  He’s so in demand all over the world, to talk, and research, and operate. He kept my mind occupied as he told me about astrophysics, black holes, theories on vein research, the inability of the NHS to understand why they should operate on veins immediately.

A big downside to having the treatment is that you then have to wear surgical stockings for 14 days and nights, and it’s pretty tortuous. I thought I’d check in with you all about that procedure, as I need some encouragement and perhaps writing it down, will egg me on.

First night: Determined to carry on with my life as normal, I did my Monday night yoga session. Mr W said it would be fine as long as I didn’t get sweaty. It was pretty much OK. But during the night, the back of my knees hurt when I curled into the foetal position, (as the stockings were cutting in)  so I kept  having to stretch my legs. Then this morning was the washing challenge:  It basically means getting into the bath, and sticking my legs over it. Not too bad, but my feet already have huge dents in then from the tight tights.

I feel very lucky to have seen Mr W. New thread veins had appeared on my calf, long green veins, which are really ugly and ageing, YUK….
Location and details »

The Whiteley Clinic
1 Stirling House
Stirling Road

T: 01483 477180
Fax: 01483 477194

Location and details »

The Whiteley Clinic
at The Wimpole Clinic
4th Floor, Hannah House
11 – 16 Manchester Street
London W1U 4DJ

T: 01483 477180
Fax: 01483 477194


Complexion Perfection Review

The other day, depressed by winter, and feeling exhausted, I booked in for  a facial with Neena Trehan, who is the owner of  Spa fabulous Organic. She designs all her own 100% organic products. The ones she used on me smelt exquisite, (she is very fond of Frankinsence, which she discovered while working in the Middle East) and most importantly the products are free from parabens, pertro-chemicals,  sulphate,  artificial fragrances,  colours and are not tested on animals.  Her new facial is called Complexion Perfection. As well as massaging the skin with her hands and a muslin cloth, she uses a vacuum suction machine which she designed, which actually feels quite pleasant. This facial makes your skin glow and is more effective than a usual steam and mask and more relaxing than a peel or a caci facial. It brings blood to the surface, and the bags under my eyes definitely looked less dark and baggy, and the skin on my nose free from blackheads.  24 hours later, people were telling me how well I looked. Sadly it’s now, 3 days since the facial and after two late nights my skin no longer has that special glow, but it was marvellous while it lasted.  It costs £70 for 70 minutes, but will vary in price according to where you have it. Below is a photograph seconds after my facial, with a great glow. 

All About Beauty

I was really excited to be asked to review a beauty box from AllAboutBeauty: One because I love beauty products, and two because receiving a box in the post, is fun.  Once you have signed up a box is delivered once a month, with products that are sourced from around the world, and not in sample sizes but full size products.  Half the fun is not knowing what you are going to receive. The Allaboutbeauty BEAUTYBOX costs £15 (plus £2.95 P+P)which seems very reasonable. There were four products, plus a kind of oil burner – (one thing I would have appreciated would have been a description of the products in a letter format or something, as I am not quite sure how the burner works and it would be interesting to read about the Kipos cleanser, toner and face drops and the Moonlife Moisturizer.) I would have liked to know who Kipos are? Are the products new? How much do they cost? Where are the ingredients sourced etc and also how much they would have been to buy direct so that I would feel smug, knowing how much I was saving. The toner seems particularly good and really gets the London grime off, more than the toner I use at the moment. There is also a thick night cream from Dr Laranne, which is something I lack, so was extra pleased to receive – my skin dries up like an old rag in winter. The nightcream looks expensive, more than the £15 for the entire box, but I couldn’t seem to find out exactly how much when I googled it.

So if you’re thinking of subscribing to a beauty box in the post scheme, this one seems very good. The only scheme I have so far been signed up to, was receiving lacy knickers in the post once a month, for a year, from my husband, for Valentine’s Day. Lovely.

A Different Kind of Facial – Environ Active Vitamin Treatment

“What have you done?” My friend Geraldine asked. Have you given up smoking? Eating green vegetables and miso soup? Getting more sleep? Whatever it is you look really good..younger.” We were sitting at Kensington PLace, last night, sharing oysters and King Size prawns, and catching up on three months worth of news. My giving up smoking has been at best pathetic, (I was meant to give up for Lent) but have so far only managed 3 or 4 days without any cigarettes -although as Geraldine says, one cigarette a day is “negligable,” Good friend. Anyway to get back to the point I recently had an interesting Environ Facial and for about a week now, have been using some Environ Products,  – perhaps this is why I look well. Well according to my friend anyway.

You need time to commit to this facial, I’ve only had one, (Which lasted two hours including initial consultation) but you are meant to do a course of six or so. My therapist Faye, at the Skin 3 Clinic,  in Swiss Cottage, talked to me for at least half an hour prior to the facial, about my concerns. I mentioned visible pores, and didn’t bother to add ageing skin generally,  that goes without saying.  She analysed my skin  and concluded that  the Active Vitamin Facial would be best for me as it’s packed with nourishing, anti-ageing ingredients including Vitamins A and C, lactic Acid  and growth factors, which are driven deep into the lower layers of the skin using soundwaves and electronic pulses. Great for me as it’s supposed to address sun damage, dryness, uneven skin tone and scarring and stimulate collagen and improve elasticity.

The consultation with Faye included a skin analysis which was taken from a photograph of my face. The different images scanned on the computer showed where my scary looking sun damage, brown pigmentation, blemishes, capillary damage, wrinkles, scars and imperfections and congested pores are clustered. Terrifying stuff. The machine also showed me what my face would look like in 5 years time, if I don’t keep up with the treatments. Also scary!

This is not a relaxing pampering facial, but you really do feel that your skin is benefitting from proper scientific research and it was obvious that Faye really believes in and is excited about the products. We shall see what happens, if I ever go back to have my skin analysed again, perhaps those blemishes and congested pores will have miraculously vanished!

All I want for Christmas

1.I’d love anything from Neom Organics, a superb company that uses natural organic products, but packages them in a really stylish way. This Christmas I’d like to receive their body scrub, as my skin is a bit dull and grey and lifeless during the winter months. They also have perfect presents including reed room diffusers and candles.

2. Anything from Korres. Their  sun tan lotion is the best I’ve ever used. I know thoughts of sunbathing are not exactly appropriate for this time of year unless you happen to be flying off to the sun for Christmas. I’ve tried their new pomegranate skin lotion. It’s absolutely wonderful and I’ve used it a few times without moisturizer and it’s still made my skin soft. It’s also great for taking off makeup and tightening pores. I also have their Vanilla plum body milk and guava body butter and there is nothing synthetic about the smell.

3. A years supply of Lovea shampoo and conditioner. These products really do make your hair shine.

4. A years supply of Liz Earle muslim cloths and face cleanser.

5. A life time membership to the Park Club in Acton. 27 Acres of grounds, including an outdoor swimming pool, tennis courts (both inside  an allweather  dome and outside)  and every class you could think of, including acqua zumba, pilates and yoga,  keep me sane. I have been known to swim in their outdoor swimming pool in the middle of winter when snow is falling! Extremely child friendly too.

A five star pampering alternative to Botox

About a year ago, I looked in the mirror and saw an angry, tired, face staring back at me. I wasn’t actually angry that particular morning, it was just the two lines between my eyes resembled a furious frown that made me look stern. I took the plunge, did a bit of research and booked botox with a trained doctor at a clinic. It was expensive, clinical and quick. The botox in my forehead felt tight and strange for at least six weeks. A couple of friends noticed that my face looked ‘fresh’ but I haven’t been back. Maybe I will, but for a more gentle, approach I decided to try a brand new package, that has LITERALLY just hit the market.

The initial three hour package consists  of facial acupuncture, facial massage and nutritional advice from a pair of lovely ladies, who are working in tandem, just moments from where I live in West London.  They work in rooms above Kite Studios and the whole atmosphere is much less exhausting and trying than rushing to town, and waiting in a room filled with back copies of Tatler and some wretched flowers trying to survive in a vase filled with not quite enough water. Star Gifford is an experienced acupuncturist who used to work at the Zita West Clinic, where she met Melanie Brown who was working there as  a nutritionist.  They both left Zita West to pursue independent careers and together they have come up with a unique pampering package to enliven your skin.

First you see Melanie for a nutritional talk, (She will give you a form to complete before you visit), she also gives you loads of notes with delicious recipes and wise suggestions on how to live well.  She advises on anti-ageing skin nutrition and the best supplements for you and all kicked
off with a fantastic skin restoring diet, (I have tried out both the recipes she gave me, and they were both delicious.) Next you go to see Star, who will address your face, with fine needles, that don’t hurt at all. The atmosphere is gentle and soothing, restful and peaceful. The acupuncture session ends with Star rolling a jade roller across the skin which feels so soft and smooth its as if she is massaging your skin with the best oils money can buy. I was zonked after my session with Star and you get to keep the jade roller, to use when your skin is feeling puffy or tired.

Next Melanie gives the best facial massage I have ever experienced in my life. It literally takes your breath away and it feels as though it’s definitely doing good, for the tired and/or stressed skin. She ends the treatment by giving you a little pot of bespoke facial oil, that she has made herself. Divine. I give this treatment 10 out of 10. My skin is literally dancing for joy!!!

Need to Know:

First appointment will be nutrition, acupuncture and massage of an hour each, which can be booked separately and the whole package is £170. Subsequent treatments of the massage and acupuncture  are 45 minutes, costing £45 each and can be booked together or separately.
Phone numbers for appointments Mel 07968 369 076,

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