Winter is the ideal time to have a facial.
The cold wreaks havoc with our skin, and if, like us, you find yourself arriving at and leaving the office while it's still dark, you can no longer rely on your daily dose of vitamin D.
The result is often dull and tired looking skin, so with party season upon us, it's time to talk glowy, dewy skin and the one treatment guaranteed to get you there.
With so many facials out there, it can be tricky to know which is right for your needs. If you're after sculpted cheekbones, opt for Face Gym's signature facial workout (£85), which uses an electrical current to tone and dramatically sharpen features, or splash the extra cash and treat yourself to Su-Man's Chi Flow Contour Facial (£220). If, though, you're after a full blown skin MOT, it's Pfeffer Sal's Essential Facial (£210) - every beauty editor's best kept secret - which involves a full skin scan and LED light therapy.
But, if you are simply after that glorious airbrushed looking skin – if just for a weekend – there is one treatment and only one that's required. An oxygen facial.
There are a number of different clinics which offer oxygen facials, but one brand in particular is becoming known as the go-to treatment for party and awards season among A-listers both sides of the pond: Intraceuticals.
We caught up with Scottish-born Gavin McLeod-Valentine, director of studio services at Intraceuticals, who spends his time between the UK and LA delivering the specialist treatment to his celebrity clientele, which to date includes the likes of Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Olivia Colman, Amanda Seyfried, Helena Bonham-Carter, Kim Kardashian West and Susan Sarandon.
What is an oxygen facial?
"The Intraceuticals facial application method uses hyperbaric oxygen to promote the delivery of professional strength serums deep to the skin," says McLeod-Valentine. "This pressurised oxygen pushes serums further into the skin than they would go topically, so the treatment delivers dramatic and instant results with no downtime, making the it perfect for a pre-party treatment."
Skin specialist Dr Nyla Raja, who offers the treatment at her Cheshire and Harley Street clinics, adds that different serums combinations can be used to customise the treatment to an individual's needs. "We use the Intraceuticals range and their rejuvenating serum tends to be the most sought after, it contains green tea which acts as a potent anti-ageing ingredient infusing the skin with anti-oxidants and vitamins A,C and E to give deprived skin some much needed nutrients for a rested glow."
It also contains low weight hyaluronic acid which deeply hydrates the skin. "Its small molecular size combined with an oxygen delivery allows in to penetrate the skin deeper than your everyday serum," she adds.
The facial begins with a double cleanse to remove all traces of make up and toxins that could act as a barrier to the products reaching the skin.The therapist then fills an oxygen handpiece with serum and glides it over the face, which gives a cooling sensation, paying special attention to areas like the cheekbones and any dry patches. They'll then go over the whole face again from a slight distance to give a second hydration shot to the skin.
"Dry skin can often cause the skin to look flat as it can cause the skin to be slightly textured. Smooth, hydrated skin is able to reflect the light giving it a glow. So creating hydrated, even skin is key to the glow that oxygen facials give," Dr Nyla explains. "The slim nozzle of the hand piece is able to reach areas of the skin which we often miss, such as around the nose, while the oxygen stimulates blood flow so skin cells are renewed allowing the fresh skin to shine."
A treatment fit for a queen
So effective is the treatment, that McLeod-Valentine was asked to give his signature oxygen facial to both Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Princess Margaret, and Olivia Colman, who plays the Queen, while filming scenes for The Crown.
"The cast of The Crown were expected to age 13 years from the beginning of season three to the end," he says. "Both Helena (53) and Olivia (45) were expected to look younger than their natural ages, and Intraceuticals was selected as the best tool to convey the appearance of youthfulness."
The ideal anti-ageing treatment, the Intraceuticals facial leaves skin plump, juicy, glowy and radiant, while fine lines are diminished - perfect for giving the illusion of youth. And, as there is no downtime and no waiting before makeup application, it was the perfect on-set beauty hack.
"For Olivia I selected a collagen booster serum to add volume to the cheek plane and smooth under eyes, while for Helena I picked the kakadu plum antioxidant serum to bring life, colour and energy to her skin," says McLeod-Valentine.
If it's good enough for the royals, it's good enough for our Christmas party...
The Intraceuticals facial is available at various clinics in the UK, including Dr Preema's London Clinic (from £150) in Marylebone and Dr Nyla's Harley Street, Cheshire and Liverpool clinics (from £200).