One of the benefits of personally knowing a facialist is that you can track not only your skin’s progress after their treatment, but ask yourself if the treatment still continues to being exceptional or …if it’s time to up the ante. I first met the facialist and former dancer Su-Man Hsu in the first decade of this century and was curious to experience her Advanced Awakening Oxygen Facial at Away Spa, especially after not having any facials for the duration of the pandemic.
Away Spa is located at the W Hotel in Leicester Square and I arrived there feeling somewhat emotional after quite a stressful experience on the public transport. The lobby was dark, with a pink neon sign glowing, mysteriously, in the background, and I was accompanied to the elevator by a quiet security man, wearing a face mask, From the moment I saw Su-Man’s face glancing at me from her image by the elevator buttons, my breathing started to slow down.
AWAY Spa, located next to the hotel’s gym, is small and looks in need of a light re-decorating job, including wall sound-proofing for the benefit of the relaxation of the treatments administered. After filling in the usual questionnaire related to my health and skin, the gloriously gamin Su-Man arrived to take me to the treatment room. Petit, with her dark hair in Pippy Longstocking braids, simple, but impeccably white t-shirt and jeans, she looks more like a cool teenager, rather than a mother of two teen girls. I said it before and I will say it again – look at your therapist’s face before you have the treatment – Su-Man’s complexion looks radiant and makes you want to know all of her secrets when it comes to skin and body care (which she generously shares by the way, if only you ask!).
If I had to sum up Su-Man and her approach to face care it would be ‘no-nonsense nurturing’. She is not about miracle products or pills, but rather about combination of effective skincare with the massage technique that at times makes me wonder, if she actually has bones and joints in her fingers. Su-Man always had a 360 degree approach to beauty and she passionately talks about the importance of movement for ultimate function of the human body – in terms of overall health, as well as the beauty. The saying ‘movement is life’ is particularly relevant nowadays, as many choose to delegate more and more daily tasks to delivery services and lead a more sedate lifestyle. Effort and consistency are two other pillars of Su-Man’s professional philosophy, rather than the promise that a product or a supplement or a therapist will do all the vital work for you – they won’t, if you don’t actively participate in your own life!
Another unique element of any facial with Su-Man is her incredible massage technique that goes into what seems the depth of your muscles, connective tissues and bone structure. It feels incredibly pampering, even if at times you feel the ache, when Su-Man unknots the tightly wound-up muscles and releases the deeply-ingrained tension. Within minutes you feel not only the relaxation descend on your features, but your whole face starts lighter, as if defying gravity. I particularly enjoyed a very strong neck and head massage, including vigorous scalp brushing and combing, even gentle hair pulling. That alone is worthy of the trip to see Su-Man!
What follows then is the precise focus on the state of your skin and addressing its needs. Su-Man thoroughly cleanses, steams and scrubs your face and neck, while you struggle not to succumb to baby-like state of sleep. Even the not the most pleasing (but necessary) process of extraction feels more comforting than in some other therapists hands that I have experienced in the past (a testament to both experience and skill (or lack of) of the facialist you are seeing). Su-Man expertly removed a few milia from my face, which appeared on my skin during the days and months of the pandemic and that was a definitive plus. I also absolutely loved the cleansing done with the soft and fluffy cotton towel and the soothing and stretching muscles release with the warm towel, infused with lavender essential oil. Su-Man places the lavender towel around the neck and then proceeded to release all the remnants of the tension that I so expertly accumulate daily, by working on my laptop.
The experience of Su-Man’s tissue Facial Glow Rejuvenation mask that harnesses the bio-cellulose technology with mimicking the 3-D structure of your face is coupled with oxygen therapy when you see Su-Man for a facial in person. The combination of hydrating mask and oxygen is so deeply relaxing, you will emerge feeling like an innocent alien into the bright light of a busy city. While you enjoy the sensation of your face being pampered, Su-Man switches her focus to your digestion.
It’s a big peeve of mine when a therapist puts a face mask on you… and then leaves you in silence (or listening to jarring music, the choice of which you are never consulted on), so I doubly appreciate that every minute of the 75 that you spend with Su-Man is spent together, with her giving you the maximum possible benefit – for skin, mind and body. The stomach massage that Su-Man does (not suitable is you are pregnant or had any surgery or serious illness recently) is focussed on improving your digestion, while also helping your body to willingly switch into a calm & relaxed mode on a deep level. Su-Man massages your abdominal area with her warm & strong hands, as if kneading the dough, but with the lighter touch. She also uses a special ceramic tool that glides beautifully & soothingly, thanks the cream or oil that Su-Man applies to your stomach. What you truly do notice is the sense of almost instant, deep level calm that we all feel quite rarely and only when the mind stops warring with thought and the body itself feels at ease with the surroundings.
Once Su-Man completed the massage and removed the mask, massaging the remnants of the essence into my skin, my time on her comfortable treatment bed was over. When Su-Man handed me a mirror to examine my face, without exaggeration I looked at least five years younger. My skin even and hydrated, the face as plump as the baby’s bottom, my complexion radiant and features completely relaxed. In part my face probably mirrored what I felt internally – happiness to have finally had such an integrative facial after such a long time and inner peace from being so wonderfully pampered, face and body aligned in zen. While £300 pounds for a 75 minute facial is costly, the overall effect is truly worthy, especially as both the radiance of complexion and inner calm lasted for a good few days.
NOTE: the facial was gifted to me, but my editorial reflects my true impressions of the treatment and services provided on the day.
To learn more about Su-Man or book a facial, please click here
Advanced Awakening Oxygen Facial with Su-Man lasts 75 minutes & costs £300. Facial treatments at done at Away Spa W Hotel Leicester Square. Details of the spa to make an appointment directly:
W Hotel Leicester Square – Away Spa
Book online here
T: +44 207 758 1071
Address: W Hotel, 10 Wardour Street, London,W1D 6QF