After growing up in the countryside, just on the edge of the South Downs to be precise, a journey into London never elapses without a little buzz of excitement, even now. Yes, the countryside is beautiful, but the city… Sparkling lights, a plethora of exciting cafes, new restaurants, stylish bars, and the scopious stores we can only dream of out in the sticks. But most importantly for this beauty-obsessed creature, central holds the homes of a thousand beauty brands, each more exciting and alluring than the last.
As I step off the train at Paddington and take a walk through Hyde Park, tendrils of winter sunshine lick the frosty paths, eagerly splash reflections off the water and burst through the bare trees. It’s a wonderful start to the day, and I arrive at Harrods pink-of-cheek, my fingers gently prickling with the chill. As always, it’s a feast for the eyes. I wind my way through corridors flanked by all the best names in fashion, to reach the bright and expansive beauty hall, as always filled with temptation at every move. But I see my destination ahead, the UK home of Decorté, and my host for the morning is smiling warmly, eager to greet me.
I am welcomed by Chinatsu who introduces me to the AQ Meliority range that she will be using in my treatment, before leading me through the new Harrods Beauty Concierge and into the generously spacious Decorté therapy room. Honestly, I’ve rented rooms smaller in the past. A thorough consultation covers my skin health, complexion concerns and general wellness. Do I suffer badly from the cold? How much water do I drink? Do I keep a good routine in supplements?
Whilst she plans my treatment, I change into a cloud of a robe and set myself down on a heated bed with soft, thick blankets. The room itself is a womb of comfort and deep relaxation, gentle music plays paired with low ambient lighting, and a wall shows moving visuals of a rolling waterfall in an emerald-green glade. It’s been a busy period for me, and I sigh a deep breath of calm before we even begin.
Chinatsu explains that today I will be experiencing Decorté’s premium AQ Meliority Ultimate Lift, one of their four Onjun Rituals. It’s their most luxurious treatment and is only available here in Harrods. Roughly translated from Japanese, ‘onjun’ means ‘to tame’. Designed to repair, revive and transform skin after the stressors of everyday living, with a focus on perfecting skin before any cosmetic is reached for, you can see why they have named their menu so.
She gently takes my hair over the edge of the bed and wraps a headband over my hairline, ensuring I won’t look as though I’ve just finished a workout when I leave. Using products selected as per your consultation, the first aspect of skin care begins with a traditional double cleanse. To start, the squalane-rich High Performance Renewal Cleansing Cream, then, the deeply clarifying Radiance Repair Foaming Face Wash. Gently and thoroughly, every last trace of my journey here is removed.
As we begin, I am treated to a glorious head massage, which moves on down to the jaw and neck, using their AQ Botanical Pure Oil. Chinatsu explains that tension is held far more widely across the body than just the shoulders. I can’t say I have ever actively noted tension across my scalp before, but we address it now. It melts away with the perfect combination of pressure and movement employed.
You know that feeling during a massage, when you want just that little bit more pressure, a little further reach, or just simply, a little more time? The sense of relaxation has become addictive, you need a bigger fix. As if reading my mind, we move onto the shoulders and décolletage, and that glorious sense of warmth and repose radiates further.
Chinatsu tells me that, now, we invest our time in facial massage, something so keenly overlooked by so many, even myself on a busy morning or late night. Relieving facial tension, aiding in lymphatic drainage, and furthering the effectiveness of your subsequent skincare, Decorté has a product specifically designed for this moment, of course, their Massage Cream. She further explains hydrating squalane and rice bran oil offer the perfect amount of slip to aid motion, with a massage designed for micro-circulation and muscle toning. Each movement in this routine is precise and defined, mapping the face, lifting facial muscles to sculpt and strengthen. It’s ‘The Japanese way’ as Chinatsu says; attention to detail, purpose to each element, and the knowledge that every treatment held in this room will create the same lasting impression.
After massage comes hydration, but the Japanese custom adopts more than just a one-for-all moisturiser. First, a serum, the most highly concentrated skincare of any range, to be applied directly after cleansing. Chinatsu explains that their new Liposome Advanced Repair Serum has been an eagerly awaited launch for the New Year, combining skin-assimilating phospholipids and cultured ferments to protect the skin and actively repair and prevent further damage. Step three, the emulsion, and in my tailored regime, it’s the Intensive Revitalizing Emulsion. Lighter than a moisturising cream, with a higher percentage of active ingredients, and a fuller texture than the serum prior, the skin rapidly absorbs this next layer of hydration.
If you are new to this layer by layer multi-application of products, it might seem intensive at first look, but there is a distinct motive to its manufacture. It ensures that the skin is perfectly prepared at each step, that every ingredient is absorbed to its fullest before the next application, and each formulation works to its best ability.
The final course at this point further increases the skin’s ability to hold hydration, and with another unique formulation of active ingredients for anti-ageing and skin-fortification, is the Intensive Revitalizing Lotion. The hero ingredient across the entire Decorté AQ Meliority range is Benifuki tea extract, hand-harvested from UNESCO World Heritage Site, Yakushima Island, Japan. Grown on the rich fertile soil, it is nourished by the many waterfalls on the island, very much akin to the one that flows over the wall ahead of me.
All of this is the precursor to something you can’t offer yourself at home. Chinatsu leaves me for a moment as I float away with my thoughts. Behind me, she mixes a face mask, then applies this over my mouth and eyes – with a conservative gauze and muslin seam below. Weighing in at 200g, this self-warming plaster cast provides gentle pressure and heat to further imbibe the skin with the carefully selected products applied below, quite literally pressing them deeper into the dermis. Covering the eyes and mouth isn’t unusual in a facial, but can be declined if preferred. For me, however, it’s a weighted blanket of stillness and detachment from the perpetual movement of my schedule and is accompanied by another beautiful moment of massage, this time, arm and hand, my favourite.
I am gently brought back to the room with the removal of the mask, and my skin is lightly cooled with a lotion-soaked muslin. Each action is brought to a close with a final layer of regenerative moisturiser, their Intensive Regenerating Day Cream. I admit, at home, this would usually be thrown on around ten seconds after cleansing. My skin thanks me for the time dedicated to it today.
The Decorté AQ Meliority Ultimate Lift Ritual is so much more than a facial. Scientifically developed preparations meet massage, acupressure technique, and temperature differential. The combination is not only to condition and protect the skin, but to kickstart lymphatic drainage and metabolism, remove tension from the facial muscle fascia within, and create an overall bodily experience of calm to support this synthesis. It’s a full harmonious experience across 90 beautiful minutes.
In terms of comparison to other treatments, it’s a non-invasive, traditional and device-free facial that gives instant brightening and firming results. There is no downtime to this treatment, intensive hydration always means illuminated skin. It’s the perfect tonic for a busy period and should be top of the list for pre-event prep. This is a facial for deep relaxation. Step in, and leave your worries and tension at the door.
Of course, you will want to keep the glow going as long as possible. Here are my top five products to take with you as you leave…
Without a doubt, this miracle-level night cream is the most luxurious product ever to have graced my skincare regime. Across 30 key ingredients and 18 botanical extracts from Murasaki and Benifuki teas to soy ferment extracts, the blend increases the skin’s Growth Factor and intensely hydrates. The serum-light texture sinks in effortlessly, and a cypher of double-peptides (proteins) and phospholipids (structural molecules) biosimilar to those in the epidermis visually smooth and illuminate the appearance of the skin on contact. This is six weeks of perfect sleep and a time machine in a jar, and who doesn’t want that cheat code?
In this super-light foundation, a serum-like fluid holds illuminating pigment. It’s comprehensive coverage for any imperfection or sign of fatigue, with a barely-there touch. But its skincare element is extensive too, with mineral-rich Japanese Onsen water, algae-based antioxidants and, of course, broad-spectrum SPF. If you like your skin to look makeup-free, yet perfected, glassy and clean, this is a makeup bag must-have.
For very good reason, this serum needs a little more airtime. New to the range this year, research has led to the development of an ingredient list that supports both the internal and external cell structure, using multilayer bio-similar liposomes, to rebuild the skin’s natural barrier. The high-concentration formula contains 1 trillion of these 0.1-0.2 micron liposome microcapsules to penetrate deeply into the outer dermis which hydrates over 24 hours, overall, improving texture and limiting further environmental damage.
This SPF is a regular sell-out, so make sure you stock up. Gone are the days of heavy suncare, the light gel-lotion absorbs rapidly with no trace, yet is water, friction and perspiration-resistant, providing protection you can trust. And, with antioxidant Eucalyptus extract, Vitamin E and marine collagen, and oil-soluble Vitamin C, skin elasticity and clarity are further protected.
I defy you to pass by Decorté without poring over the vast collection of colours and textures in their Eye Glow Gem range. Super-fine pigment in a dewy texture blends seamlessly for an effortless smokey eye, in smudge-proof long-lasting colour. Try Smokey Taupe for an on-trend off-duty dusky neutral, or Antique Bronze as your new go-to daily shade. Who needs palettes? Customise your colour collection to create your own truly personalised look.