I don’t know about you, but if I’m booking in for a facial, I expect to see results. I want the therapist to offer something that I can’t do at home, whether that’s using extra-strength products I can’t buy over the counter, gadgets that would be lethal (or at least a bit dangerous) in my hands, or the kind of massage that takes years of training and practice to perfect.
You see, I once went to review a facial at a luxury London hotel where the therapist settled me into the comfy bed, cleansed my face, applied a face mask, left me in the room while I listened to whale sounds, returned, washed off the mask and sent me on my merry way with a slick of sticky lip balm and a wave. Needless to say, I never returned because I can do all that in the comfort of my own bathroom. I vowed after that to choose my treatments wisely. So when I was emailed about a facial based on DNA results it piqued my interest enough for me to swab my cheek, post my saliva to the other side of the world—an address in Sydney—and then wait six weeks for my appointment with London-based facialist, Kate Kerr. Keep scrolling to find out whether this facial was as life-changing as I hoped it would be…
I arrived at the Phi Clinic on Harley Street not really knowing what to expect. My results had arrived a few weeks before, and Kerr had read over them before I arrived. Funny to think we had never met, yet she knew more about the skin I had lived in for 31 years than I did.
First we sat down to talk through my DNA test results. It was a lot to take in, but luckily Kerr emails all her clients the results afterwards (in a handy PDF) so you can peruse them in your own time. So why should you know about your DNA? A PR for a DNA testing company once told me that if I was a house, the results would show me the blueprint for the house, essentially what the foundations are like. It doesn’t tell me what state the house is in right now or how it will fair in the future. So if I don’t take care of the house, the paint will peel, the walls will crack. If I maintain the house, it can withstand a lot of bad things that are thrown at it, in a house’s case that’s turbulent weather, spilled wine. In my skin’s case, that’s lack of sun protection, too many glasses of wine. Essentially the results are just a guide to your genetics.
First off, Kerr and I talked over my existing skincare routine, with such detail that she was pulling up the ingredient lists of each item on the internet. A lot of the products I was told to ditch immediately, including anything containing oil, and any moisturisers I was slathering on morning and night. “I can see your skin is quite dull, it’s not reflecting the light well, which is surprising since you’re using so much glycolic,” she told me. “But using a moisturiser is flattening the dead cells down and preventing them sloughing off effectively.”
Next we chatted about the results. Skin DNA, the company Kerr uses, tests 16 different genetic markers and five different areas of skin ageing: firmness/laxity (whether you’re are breaking down more collagen than you're protecting); wrinkling/glycation (the effect of excess glucose in my bloodstream on my collagen stores); sun damage/pigmentation; antioxidant protection (how effective my body is at producing my own antioxidants); and sensitivity/irritation (how likely I am to have a reaction). It then compared my results with the global average for each, and also the average for my ethnicity.
Each is broken down on the PDF in layman’s terms with topical products and supplement recommendations. I was high risk for sun damage/pigmentation, which is no surprise since I’m a redhead. Luckily my body is great at producing antioxidants, although Kerr did warn that I could use up my rich supply if I smoked, drank a lot of alcohol or sat out in the sun a lot. In all other areas I gained a medium score.
The combination of the DNA results and my current regimen gave Kerr an unrivaled view of what my skin needs. I’m not going to lie, the treatment that followed wasn’t relaxing; forget whale music, we had a great chat instead. I was fully lucid the whole time. There weren’t any hand or scalp massages here. Instead, I was treated to a heavy-duty peel, 20 minutes under a red LED face mask and a good number of extractions.
After, I was handed a “prescription” of products I should be using. Essentially I had to throw out my products and start again, but Kerr is realistic; she cherry picks from her favourite brands and advises where to spend and where to save. You can find the products she endorses on her website and there is an online quiz you can take where you’ll be recommended a regimen based on your results.
After six weeks of using the products that Kerr told me to, I can honestly say I am hooked. My skin looks the best it has since before puberty. I rarely get spots, my skin tone is more even, less oily, brighter. My fine lines have reduced. Most incredibly friends, colleagues and even my boyfriend comment positively on my skin. I’m averaging about 1–2 positive, out-of-the-blue comments a week. I’ve gone from hiding my hormonal breakouts behind my hair to proudly showing off my complexion. Sometimes I don’t even bother wearing foundation; I don’t really need to. My skin is that good. If you can’t stretch to the DNA test (from £495), but can book in with Kerr for a facial (from £150), I would highly recommend it. Otherwise take the Skin Type Diagnosis quiz on her website—seriously stop whatever you’re doing and click over to katekerrskinhq.co.uk now. And below you can shop the products that have changed my skin for the better.
To book in with Kate Kerr at The Mondrian, visit her website or call 01914 958 468.
What's the best facial you have ever had? Sound off in the comment box below.