Caroline Phillips meets the ‘Queen of Facials’ and discovers why, despite global economic gloom, the high-end beauty industry is positively glowing
Caroline Phillips meets the ‘Queen of Facials’ and discovers why despite global economic gloom, the high-end beauty industry is positively glowing
RECESSION, WHAT RECESSION? There’s a healthy glow emanating from the worldwide beauty market. Despite many things financial going (liposuctioned) belly up, the area of all things bright and beautiful has reported consistent growth. Indeed the beauty and personal care markets recorded growth of just over 50% in the first decade of the new millennium. Even in 2009 — arguably the eye of the credit crunch storm — there was an increase in profits, albeit a small one, for this market.
We’re talking everything from sales of cosmetics — think of the Lipstick Index, which notes how lipstick purchases increase in times of economic strife — to the spend of those taking their expensive tresses to colourist-to-the-stars Carl Dawson and world-class snipper Craig Pellow at Nicky Clarke’s salon.
This brings us to the rise and rise of the super facialists, those beauty practitioners who between them are turning over hundreds of millions. They offer work of a quality as high as a tower made of all the pots of moisturiser ever sold in France; and even mid-recession, their businesses are running as smoothly as the skin on a baby’s bottom.
There’s Amanda Lacey—the ‘English Rose of Skincare’—who polishes the pores of George Clooney. Nichola Joss— the famous red carpet facialist beloved of Elizabeth Hurley and Keira Knightley. Skincare legend Eve Lom, whose products grace the faces of many an ultra-high-net-worth individual and whose signature facialists are found in top spots in the British Isles. Plus Anastasia Achilleos—dubbed the ‘Goddess of Skin’—who scours the globe for the best skincare products and buffs the faces of a multitude of famous clients, including Kate Moss.
Then there’s Vaishaly, the Queen of Facials, who — like Madonna, Angelina, Brad and Sting— is known to fans only by her first name. She has created a line of eponymous products, a super-natural skincare brand that is starting to go global. Plus she performs her magic-fingered, glow-getting facials on men— who account for 20% of her business and growing—as well as on the likes of Elle Macpherson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Meg Ryan, Sophie Dahl and Patsy Kensit. Vaishaly’s signature facial is on offer for a reassuringly expensive £350 for 55 minutes.
So what does Vaishaly offer the high-net-worth individual? Why does she have a waiting list of three months? And why has she just been scooped up by the spas in the über fabulous Four Seasons hotel group, with a view to her products and methods being rolled out worldwide?
The facial Vaishaly gives differs from client to client, factoring in everything from the season to an individual’s state of wellbeing. But everyone gets deep-cleansing, extraction, and gentle micro-dermabrasion to lift off dead skin cells. Then there’s the ultra-luxurious facial massage she does —known to insiders as her ‘anti-ageing beauty secret ‘ — that includes elements of Reiki, cranial work and manual lymphatic drainage.
She uses the face as a diagnostic tool— much as reflexologists work with feet—looking at the client’s skin to detect internal malfunctions. She then gives advice on lifestyle, diet and home care, the latter from her own skincare range. Plus she also offers intangibles, such as a calming, intuitive approach: ‘A spiritual experience’ is the way she puts it. But, most importantly, she gives treatments that work and a high level of service.
Like Madonna, Angelina, Brad and Sting, Vaishaly is known to fans only by her first name
When Vaishaly first disclosed to her family that she wanted to go into the beauty industry, her brothers were aghast. ‘They asked, “Of all the jobs you could do, why go right to the bottom?”’ she says. Undeterred, she trained with skincare guru Bharti Vyas, now one of the industry’s tribal elders. Vaishaly started her own business in 1996, renting a room in the basement of a Mayfair hairdressing salon. Now she operates from a discreet clinic in Marylebone. She has, she explains, a turnover of £1 million a year.
The next step up the beauty ladder was to launch her own skincare range in 2006. At this point I feel compelled to plug her lotions and potions, they smell divine and work so well. Her products are sold online at www.vaishaly.com, at some of the Four Seasons spas and at Fenwicks in Bond Street. ‘Sales are already over half a million pounds’ she says, ‘and are growing at 20% a year.’
In 2009, Vaishaly was approached by emissaries from the Four Seasons hotel group. ‘They wanted to sell my skincare range,’ she reveals, ‘But it made no sense not to offer the facials too.’ With that, her fingers made their début in the Four Seasons, Provence, and the waiting list for Vaishaly facial weekends grew and grew.
Now she’s probably limbering up for inter-galactic domination. The Four Seasons, Park Lane, has started stocking her products and has just launched the Vaishaly Signature Facial in The Spa. And that’s just the beginning. ‘I’ve trained their therapists,’ she explains. “Now I’m going to be growing the brand through the Four Seasons world-wide.” Independently, she’s also going to roll out her products to the USA and Far East.
It’s good timing. Higher-end products are gaining sales despite the gloomy economic environment. Indeed sales of prestige (rather than mass) products are valued at £380 million in the UK, having increased an impressive 21% between 2009 and 2011.
Over the past five years, sales of women’s facial skincare products has grown a healthy 26%, rising from £738 million in 2006 to £930 million in 2010— according to Mintel, a leading research company. This market is expected to reach almost a billion (£964 million) in 2011 — up 4% since 2010 — and grow an impressive 31% to reach £1.3 billion by 2016. With facial skincare spending set to reach a beautiful £1 billion in the UK by 2012, the market for moisturisers and cleansers is in dazzling shape.
Today just two per cent of Brits have had cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance, with high net worths also relying on super products and super facialists. Anti-ageing treatments are a bull market: from non-invasive therapies by the super facialists to Botox (which you can read all about in the newly-launched Spear’s Spa supplement.)
Yes, the recession has bitten and a second dip may be on its way, but the super facialists are still exfoliating merrily. ‘We’ve increased turnover,’ confirms Vaishaly, ‘employed more therapists and brought out new products that are manufactured in the UK.’ Recession, what recession?
Vaishaly, 51 Paddington Street, London W1.
+44 (0) 20 7224 6088
The Spear’s Spa Supplement, edited by Caroline Phillips and Jo Foley, is available with issue 24 of Spear’s, January/February 2012.
Caroline Phillips has written for the Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Times and The Financial Times, among others