Recently I did a post about How to Get Ready for a Big Night Out but the one piece of advice I forget is letting someone else do the hard work for you! I had a taste of these pleasures a couple of weeks ago when I had a glamorous makeover at Smooth U, a stylish new hair and beauty salon in Islington. It opened this summer and since then has attracted a huge celebrity fan base and it's not surprising because the service here is nothing short of being treated like Hollywood royalty. Especially as all the treatments take place in privacy. There's no being swivelled around in fake leather chairs and paraded in the windows for passer-by’s to give you off putting stares. Instead you enter into a welcoming product filled reception behind which is a bright, modern hair studio. Then follow the steps downstairs to a variety of treatment rooms for manicures, pedicures, massages and best of all, a private pampering parlour for make-up application.
|Andrew adding some much needed body to my locks|
My beauty adventure started upstairs with Principle Stylist Andrew Cruickshank. I only wash my hair once a week (it's the way I preserve the colour) so by the time Andrew got his mitts into it; he was dealing with a greasy, flat mess. Thankfully he understood my infrequent washing ways and managed to add shine and body to my mop by applying some Smooth U secret ingredients. Hair is an important part of the ethos here. The salon is run by a Brazilian hair expert called Luma who aims to bring her Latin Locks experience to the capital. If you're looking to swap a tight, straight bob for luscious body filled waves, then this is the place to come. There is a big emphasis on hair extensions, a treatment that can take all day. But luckily if you do come here for one of the longer sessions, you'll be given an ipad to occupy you and be kept refreshed with complimentary wine, herbal tea or champagne. This is no ordinary salon!
I’m ashamed to admit I’ve just recently ended a year long addiction to acrylic nails. It started last November and I was hooked after one application, even though underneath I already had good nail beds to start with. Being ‘au natural’ has been tough so it was nice to get a manicure done on real nails for once! The nail technician did a brilliant job of disguising the acrylic residue that is still left behind on my nails. I opted for a subtle brown; very different to the vivid coloured airbrush designs I used to have. I miss the fact acrylics never chip but at least she got my talons into a good shape. As I waited for them to dry I was transferred to the private pamper parlour.
|Sophie in the super comfy chair|
It’s the kind of dream room they showcase on Cribs where they reveal mansions in the Hollywood Hills that have a walk-in wardrobe with an en-suite beauty salon. All I had to do was sit back on the comfiest seat ever and look into the ‘I want one of those’ light up mirrors while make-up artist and lashes expert Sophie Stafford created a vintage Bollywood vixen theme with flicked eyeliner and heavy eyeshadow. Unlike some make-up artists who only use one brand (there are far too many MAC obsessed ones) Sophie’s make-up chest is a treasure trove of different brands and shades. So whether she’s working on a celebrity, bride or just a girl like me who just fancies getting dolled up she has all the magical ingredients to hand.
Decadent illustrations adorn the walls of the salon giving the interiors an air of sophistication.
They’ve been designed by visual artist Emma Crammer who specialises in portraiture. When we were chatting she said she’s witnessed a big rise to people wanting murals in their homes, which is her current main interest and I wouldn’t be surprised if more people didn’t request them after seeing how great they look in the salon.
As a one stop beauty haven, there are a range of treatment rooms to experience other signature services like waxing and laser hair removal, facials and body firming massages.
|Dream Team: Andrew, Georgina, Sophie & Katie|
With so many beauty salons in London it’s hard knowing which one to go to, especially if you only go to them on special occasions. I've tried all sorts from cheap no-frills stands at market stalls where they don’t care about their customers to lavish spas inside luxury five star hotels, where all the attention is on you. For regular treatments most people stay local, but I recommend travelling to somewhere that will give you the best experience. The reason someone goes to a salon is because they think something could be better or needs improving so they should leave filled with confidence that they look gorgeous; otherwise there is no point in paying for the service.
Smooth You is aimed at a high-end clientele and a visit there is much more of a pampering treat then just popping by to get a quick pedicure done. It certainly offers a choice and change from the usual standard of a local salon. However the one thing for me that lets it down is the opening hours, they just aren’t open for long enough! Hours are 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday (until 8pm on Thursday) but in these crazy, busy times we live in, I don’t know anyone that could get away from work before 5pm to visit a hairdresser, especially if it’s for an evening do. I’ve noticed a lot more salons are open late (around 9pm) on most days now, so there must be a demand for it and there have been countless times I’ve needed a blow dry first thing in the morning, as I need to be in a meeting by 10am, but perhaps this will change as the salon gets more settled.
Before I left I was presented with a lovely goody bag full of things I needed. It contained yummy chocolate, travel size make-up remover and hair gel, a night face serum by Murad (I’m pleased to report my face has been looking clearer in the mornings) and a delicious lavender and pear jam by their neighbour Food Lab…) I’m crazy about anything edible with lavender in it.)
Yes I know it was a school night but I was looking hot and there was no way I going to let my glamorous makeover go to waste. So I headed to the closing party of Pakistani Fashion week at No.5 Cavendish, an exclusive private members club where my favourite Bollywood Djs Raj & Pablo were on the decks and spent the night dancing and trying out the comfy selection of settees.
Smooth You, 70 Essex Road, Islington, London, N1 8LT0207 704 1955 www.smoothyou.co.uk