Hot date? Vital work presentation? School reunion? Or simply because you want to, the reasons for craving an esteem-elevating treatment are endless. Besides, who actually needs a reason? When you want a treatment, you want a treatment. Pronto.
Which is why it pays to have your speed dial stacked with savvy professionals who understand your time is precious and tailor their services accordingly. Here’s the bh guide to beauty school speed stars.
On your marks, get set, go!
What: En Vogue spray tan
Where: Ciao Bella
I have a dinner party this weekend with my girlfriends who have just returned from Thailand. So instead of being the only one sporting lily white legs and a moon tan, I decided to fix the problem with a lunchtime spray tan, which saved me time, effort and made me feel like I had just flown in from a sun-drenched tropical island, too.
I went to Ciao Bella after phoning for an appointment two days earlier. The girls not only booked me in when it suited me, but made me feel so comfortable, talking me through possible tanning options.
I decided to go with En Vogue, which is a long-lasting tan suitable for all skin types that gradually develops over eight hours and leaves your skin feeling soft. It comes in three colours, light, medium (my choice) and dark, doesn’t have that horrible self-tanning smell and dries instantly. Perfect for the dash back to the office. Better yet, it took ten minutes and left me feeling and looking great.
The girls at Ciao Bella also filled me in on the tanning rules. For best results, shave and exfoliate the night before going for a tan. Avoid wearing any deodorant, make-up or tight, clingy clothes. Don’t wash for at least eight hours after and when you do, ignore the soap. Also follow with moisturiser to hydrate the skin.
I would definitely go back next time I need a quick pick-me-up in my lunch break because the service was so friendly and the colour looks amazing. And guess what? Now I’ll look like the rest of the gang at dinner. Only my tan is UV-damage free. Even better.
What: Express manicure
How much: $35
I walked into the blue-themed salon where I was warmly welcomed and offered herbal tea or water. From the gorgeous greeting to the lovely OPI and Dermalogica products featured around the room and the Voluspa candle burning in the corner, I instantly felt this was a professional salon.
My green tea arrived with a beautiful purple flower on the saucer, which gave me a sense of being pampered before we had even begun. Once seated at the nail station, my manicurist removed my old polish while showing me the new OPI La Collection de France brimming with rich dark purples, reds and browns. I opted for a hearty deep purple called 'Eiffel for this Colour' – the name had me from the start!
Cuticle oil and exfoliant were massaged into my nails, which felt divine. Next my cuticles were pushed back, dead skin was removed and my nails were filed into a subtle square shape (this helps to eliminate breakage my manicurist explained). A quick massage with handcream and my scaly winter skin was gone.
She then applied a base coat followed by two coats of my chosen OPI shade. Eight minutes later my nails were not only touch dry, but in the best shape of my life: conditioned, neat and uniform. Ooh la la!
What: Haircut and blow-dry
When your stylist joins you in sitting down for a glass of water and a chat at the beginning of an appointment it hardly seems like the start of a speedy service. But that personal contact is part of what makes a cut with Grant Norton, artistic director of Toni & Guy Australia, stand out.
A finalist in the 2008 Australian Hairdresser of the Year awards with 13 years experience, he believes in taking time to understand his client’s needs before they visit the basin. Back in the chair, Norton parts my wet hair, combing it into three sections, two in front of my ears to give the effect my of having my long hair out.
“No one looks good with their wet hair scraped off their face in the middle of a cut,” he explains. Point noted.
Norton snips quickly, reconfiguring my layers and trimming the blunt edge across my shoulder blades I’m currently obsessed with. Then he dries me off, revealing he prefers to cut sections around the face only when dry.
This is all part of the speedy service since I don’t require a post-cut blow-dry. Instead, Norton deftly irons the lower half of my hair, picks up his scissors and cuts a curve into the layers closest to my ears. The length remains but the shape emphasises my jaw and neck. In a few seconds he also takes some of the weight out of the side most of my hair falls to.
Flicking it around so it’s loose and messy the way I like it, Norton adds a little shine spray and next thing I know we’re shaking hands. I’m up and out the door with a new ‘do in exactly an hour.
What: La Prairie Cellular Skin Treatment
Where: The Paddington Beauty Room
Anna Field, owner of The Paddington Beauty Room, believes treatment products are more effective when we’re relaxed. I just like having my shoulders kneaded so I knew we were going to get along perfectly fine.
Field is something of a La Prairie guru having worked for the brand as an international trainer for 10 years. She immediately diagnosed my skin as over-exfoliated and in urgent need of hydration. The word sultana may have been used, but only because she promised I’d walk out plumped up like a grape.
And I did. A very happy grape that wished Field’s rhythmic facial massage would never end. All the products she used can be purchased for home use but her fingers remain in the salon so this is most definitely the highlight, and in my opinion the very reason for such quick results.
Field also does extractions with those skilled fingers. If you want. Not only are they part of her regular facials, they also feature during her signature emergency express treatments to tame pimples. The 15-minute Beauty Room Short Cut, $45, can also be tailored to tired eyes and dull skin.
Given a choice, I’d definitely prefer to spend 90 minutes under Field’s skin supervision but when pressed, I’d take 15 minutes over nothing at all.
– Alicia Pyke