Soho is the perfect place for some well-deserved ‘me’ time, with a diverse offering of excellent beauty spots in which to be pampered.
Margaret Dabbs is London’s foot fatale, specialising in meticulous medical pedicures and equally wonderful manicures. Her product range is a massive step away from the traditional, often rather chemical footcare unguents, and her Sole Spa in elegant department store Liberty is a luxurious one-stop shop/spa for feet.
Step into the calming space and you know you are going to leave with a spring in your shoes. I checked in for the Ultimate Luxury Foot Therapy treatment (£135, 70 mins), plus the Supreme Manicure (£50, 50 mins) performed at the same time – the ultimate indulgence.
But first I had the difficult task of having to choose a Rococo nail polish colour. This took a while but I finally decided on lively hot pink for toes and sophisticated Liberty lavender/mauve for my hands.
Not your standard pedicure, this luxury treatment involves oxygen revitalisation and a medical pedicure in a bespoke massage chair, to soothe away tension while transforming tootsies to fabulousness.
At my feet I had podiatrist Yolanda, while taking care of my hands was Charlotte. And it goes a little something like this: feet are exfoliated, bathed and completely overhauled, with dead and dry skin and callus whisked painlessly away. Nails are shaped, hydrated and buffed – and let me tell you, the Margaret Dabbs buffer alone makes your nails look gleaming for days on end – then the chair is reclined and you are treated to 10 minutes of oxygen, while your back is pummelled and feet and lower legs massaged.
The Margaret Dabbs Fabulous Feet product range, which is used in all treatments contains emu oil, said to moisturise, energise and visibly transform the skin of the feet. And yes, all this is every bit as good as it sounds, in fact, I did not want it to end.
But end it did, but not before Charlotte rounded things off with a toenail paint every bit as flawlessly executed as the manicure she had just perfomed.
With newly liberated soles, I floated out of Liberty and headed round the corner to The Lash Bar, a great place that’s been in my beauty address book for some time now, and offers the latest, greatest lash and brow treatments at competitive prices.
Having had semi-permanent eyebrow treatments and tattooing in the past which had now faded, it was definitely time to get my brows beefed up again.
I was booked in for a Hi Brow service (£30), which lasts 3-4 weeks and involves tinting, waxing, threading and shaping/styling to leave you with brows that would give Cara D a run for her money.
My therapist, Constantina, immediately got into my good books when she told me that my brows were a good shape, and she wouldn’t have to do much shaping to improve them. But being fair they would definitely be tinted, then shaped and defined.
I asked how popular the service was. “Very popular, and most people look in the mirror afterwards and remark how they can’t believe it’s their brows they’re looking at,” she told me.
The first round of tint didn’t quite hit the spot, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution, because you can always go darker but you can’t go lighter. So we agreed on a second application, which got them to a mid-brown shade I was happy with.
Not sure I remember ever having my brows waxed before, but the warm wax they use at the Lash Bar is good for sensitive skin like mine and Constantina is very skilful, so any stinging was minimised. They were a bit red afterwards, but Constantina had some amazing mineral make-up that instantly diffused them, while they calmed down on their own accord.
To finish, she used the brilliant Hi Brow compact to slightly thicken and define the shape further – I wish I was as handy with a brow brush as she is!
She showed me the mirror. Wow. They were quite dark for me but strong, shaped to perfection and pretty damn perfect, definitely brows to be proud of. And then I said it, that immortal line she’s heard so many times before – I couldn’t believe they were actually my brows. How predictable…
Other brilliant pamper parlours in Soho include the Benefit Boutique in Carnaby Street (book a Vita Liberata tan or make-up lesson), and Cowshed Carnaby which has a great beauty menu, including ‘speedy’ 30 minute treatments.
Margaret Dabbs Sole Spa, Lower Ground Floor, Liberty, Regent Street, W1B 5AH. Tel: 020 7494 4492. liberty.co.uk
The Lash Bar, 35 Marshall Street, W1F 7EX. Tel: 020 7434 4554. lashbar.co.uk
Benefit Boutique, 10 Carnaby Street, W1F 9PS. Tel: 020 3597 5886. carnaby.co.uk/store/benefit
Cowshed Carnaby, Fouberts Place, W1F 7QG. Tel: 020 3350 3470. cowshedonline.com/carnaby-treatment-menus