I think everyone deserves to be pampered, but frankly who has the time or money? I find lately I'm negative about beauty treatments because they're aimed at ladies who lunch who can afford to spend an hour or two getting a massage. I know I would rather be doing something productive, than wasting my time.
This is how I felt until yesterday, when a friend had booked me a surprise treatment at Benjamin Ryan hair and beauty salon (BR) in the Great Western Arcade.
I guess sometimes it takes an outsider's point of view to make you realise you've been running around like a headless chicken, and you need a break. I did anyway.
So in I went, feeling rather guilty and like I shouldn't be there, but as soon as you walk in the staff at BR make you feel welcome by asking if you'd like a drink and offering you a velvet upholstered seat.
Benjamin Ryan is the bustling hairdressers with the achingly cool members of staff looking like they belong on the cover of i D magazine. Clipped Birmingham accents, and a whole lot of charm, mingled with the confidence of being experts in their field BR are a capable handed bunch.
I was guided upstairs to the (surprisingly large) upper treatment rooms with Natasha by my side talking through the treatment, whilst carrying my cuppa in heels too!
My treatment room felt like a secluded retreat compared to the hustle and bustle of the downstairs salon. The carefully-chosen décor with mink and muted tones coupled with flickering candles and 'om' relaxtion music makes for a truly decadent experience. Deafeningly quiet, which is what I always seek when looking for a decent spa. Not so quiet you can hear your own breathing, but quiet enough to hear your own thoughts and the squidge of more product being smoothed over your face.
My skin feels like velvet, but also like a plush, plump cushion. It feels healthy and rejuvenated, and yes that an over-used term but it's exactly how my face feels – like my therapists warm fingers has got the blood pumping in my face again, she's woken my circulation, and I've got that newborn skin look. Oh yes, I'll be returning.
A healthy dose of professionalism usually makes for a grand experience, and Natasha, the beautiful, knowledgeable and funny therapist at BR was like a polished air hostess. She has expert product knowledge but also explains what certain ingredients do and how they benefit the skin. Details aside I fell in love in love with her hands. Her gentle, but firm fingers smoothed, stroked, pressed and plumped my skin until I felt like I was drifting off.
I had a mini facial (not that they scrimped at all). I always find you can tell the different between a mini and full facial, but Natasha put every effort in to ensure I felt like a Queen. It was an indulgent thirty minutes of me resisting the urge to say 'mmm' and 'ahhh' every time Natasha's expert fingers did what they were doing.
The facial consisted of a bespoke treatment, and based on my skin concerns Natasha completed a thorough cleanse, scrub and moisturise, spa style. She started with my eyes, which I welcomed because they were aching after looking at my laptop all morning, and pressed cool cotton pads onto them and began my deep cleanse. She asked whether the pressure was okay and then let me lie there like a happy bunny I was, savouring every moment.
For a 30 minute treatment - even though it felt longer - my friend had paid £35, which, considering the city centre location, quality of the products used, and customer satisfaction is pretty good. Only after the facial did I realise how much I needed to relax, and be pampered - and my skin looked fantastic.
It was just what I needed. I recommend the mini facial if you're having a rough day at work and want to be pampered in your lunch break, or if you've got a party coming up. It's a great refresher for the skin and gives it that extra 'oomph'.
A week on, my skin is still amazingly soft considering I didn't buy any of the products. I am considering going back soon though, I don't want to lose my glow, and God knows we all need a break sometimes, even if its a precious thirty minutes.