I have a quick look at the lipsticks at the Charlotte Tilbury concession and step into the menswear department at Peter Jones, the John Lewis branch that occupies pole position in Sloane Square, London.
This isn’t a morning sesh at the beauty counters – I’m here to inject my décolletage with rejuvenating Profhilo at the new enhancement clinic hidden behind the men’s suits. Peter Jones? Gadgets? Yes, you read that right.
Lip fillers, fat freezing devices and anti-wrinkle injectables are now available here and in five other John Lewis & Partners stores.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that John Lewis had partnered with the Cavendish Clinic. Not because of the choice of partner: Cavendish is an aesthetic clinic based in central London, with impeccable premises for high-quality, doctor-led, natural-looking cosmetic procedures.
Lip fillers, fat freezing devices and anti-wrinkle injectables are now available in six John Lewis & Partners stores
It seems very, well, un-John Lewis. Let’s face it, this is no haberdashery department. But maybe that’s unfair. Society is hardly stuck in the dark ages, and Harrods and Selfridges already have beauty clinics on site.
Even so, you can always count on John Lewis to provide you with things – furniture, clothes, tableware – that won’t spook the horses.
Perhaps, however, cosmetic procedures are just what her thoroughbred customers desire these days. Injection treatment has become almost commonplace. People don’t get much better at owning them, but any woman over 45 who looks surprisingly good probably gets the odd touch-up on a regular basis.
What really got me excited was discovering that these in-store clinics have been quietly operating in locations from Edinburgh to Southampton over the past 18 months, and it’s because they’ve proved such a success that John Lewis has taken the bold decision to officially announce their arrival.
You can have your skin deep-cleansed with a HydraFacial, a treatment where a pen-like device scrubs away deep-seated impurities.
There are body contouring procedures, including the more controversial CoolSculpting, which freezes stubborn pockets of fat and which, in rare cases, can cause “paradoxical fatty hyperplasia,” where the treated fat solidifies into a lump instead of dissolving. (Few of us knew about it until supermodel Linda Evangelista went public last year about how it happened to her.)
Available from Peter Jones, Profhilo has won a following for the way it hydrates crepey, dry skin from the inside out and restores its glow.
Add micro-needling, laser facials and laser hair removal and you have a full dance card of options. The injectable treatments – dermal fillers to contour the face, Profhilo to rehydrate the skin and anti-wrinkle injections to soften wrinkles – arrived last month.
When I get to Peter Jones, I’m struck again by the happy family in the store – after all, this is where I brought my kids to buy their first StartRite shoes for school while the ladies tried on their shoes. well.
I walk past nice garden furniture; see couples going through wedding lists; and looking down the famous circular staircase I see the kitchenware department where I spent hours. Down that first-floor staircase, the clinic couldn’t have been more hidden, hidden – like Mr Benn – behind John Lewis suits and Ted Baker concessions.
My treatment is with the impeccably guided Dr. Dianni Dai. At a previous consultation, when I showed her my wrinkled chest, she agreed that a Profhilo injection would be a good idea. One bike costs £425, which is on the expensive side for this kind of upgrade – the same price you’d pay on a Street Harley.
At the Cavendish Clinic, John Lewis has chosen a partner that employs only properly trained aesthetic professionals who scrupulously adhere to the highest standards.
Profhilo has gained a following because of the way it hydrates crepey, dry skin from the inside out and restores its glow. It is made from hyaluronic acid, similar to injectable dermal fillers that are used to plump the lips or shape the jawline, but unlike fillers, it does not add volume to the face. That’s because that’s how it goes. After injection, it spreads under the skin and stays in place as a layer of injectable moisturizer.
“It’s a basic treatment,” says Dr. Dianni. “It will help hydrate the skin and over the next six weeks the injection will help increase collagen and elastin for skin that is firmer and more hydrated.”
I wave her hand at her offer of numbing cream, knowing that the treatment only requires ten small injections of 0.2ml Profhil each around the long lines on my chest. Each one stings a fraction when it goes in, but it’s a 2/10 on the pain scale. It takes five minutes and I’m left with swollen bumps on my cleavage, like insect bites.
They look alarming, but this stuff gets under your skin quickly. By the time I put my shirt back on and talked to the aftercare (leave the rest of the day alone until the little injection holes close, then go about your business as usual), the lumps had almost subsided, leaving behind a few tiny scratches.
I need a second round of treatments in a month and then I can look forward to smoother, less wrinkled skin in the weeks to come.
Are these in-store enhancement clinics a good thing? As someone who has long campaigned for more regulation of wild west cosmetic procedures, I think so.
At the Cavendish Clinic, John Lewis has chosen a partner that employs only properly trained aesthetic professionals who scrupulously adhere to the highest standards. They will only offer the injection treatment to people over 25, who must first undergo a full consultation, followed by a one-week cooling-off period.
For the multitudes of people interested in the procedures, having more well-trained and qualified doctors available in more accessible locations can only be a good thing. Most people who want to try an enhancement are afraid of looking weird—and it’s a rational fear, given the terrible lack of regulation surrounding cosmetic procedures.
There are poorly trained injection users everywhere: in hairdressing salons, in pharmacies, expanding their services on social networks, all within the law.
This move by John Lewis (there are clinics in Milton Keynes, Cambridge and Kingston, as well as Southampton, Edinburgh and Peter Jones) shows that we have reached a tipping point where procedures have become, if not standardised, more acceptable.
Still, attitudes seem to be changing. I recently received an invitation from a women’s institute to talk to their members about gadgets. Jam, Jerusalem and… pricking?
And now John Lewis. One friend paused when I told her the news, given all the implications. “John Lewis is safe,” she said at last. “You know you can trust anything you buy from him, so I guess we can trust that it did its homework.
Would she try something? “Hmm,” she said. “I don’t know, but I know a few.
- ALICE HART-DAVIS is the founder of thetweakmentsguide.com