The sound of a singing humpback whale is filling the room; the smell of starched towels and scented candles mingling with it. Relax says your body. Relax says the whale. Except the cream being massaged into your face is burning and tomorrow you’ll be red raw. Facial finding – it’s risky business. For anyone who’s been promised the baby-soft-skin world by a facial pushing one magical beauty brand and left disappointed, this one is for you: Pfeffer Su.

Pfeffer Su is a new Fitzrovia clinic that specialises in bespoke facials founded on the premise that everyone’s skin is different. Beauty obsessed founders Andrea Pfeffer and Kym Su, no longer wanted to be flogged products that weren’t right for their skin or trek to west London for the pleasure. They launched their salon space this March and enlisted the expertise of facialist Tarryn Warren.

Tarryn studied nutrition and aromatherapy, focusing on more holistic facials in her native South Africa. Shortly after her degree she came to the UK and started working for Virgin, Environ, Gino Perna and later Sarah Chapman where she stayed for six years before joining Pfeffer Su. Hunting down products without questionable ingredients and a head for the science of skincare, Because asked Tarryn for her good skin guide.

When you start your Pfeffer Su facials you do a couple of things – a series of touch tests. When you analyse skin what are you looking for?
First of all you feel. When you feel you look for puffiness which is normally around your ears and that can show toxins being stored. You feel for puffiness around the eyes. And then you feel for heat and heat shows vascular damage and irritation in the skin, it shows the skin is not quite right. You also feel for resistance. If you are stroking your skin upwards and you feel that sandpaper effect, you know there is dead skin on the surface. If you stroke upwards and there is no resistance you know that the skin layers are right and you don't need to worry about exfoliating so much. If it feels really smooth and really hot then it also means it's too sensitive and too thin and you need to work out how to thicken the skin. But then you also look for open pores, pigmentation and fine lines. It's really interesting because you can tell so much about the skin – where the spots are, where the glands are high and then you build it up from there. And then the eyes are a big thing. Do you have darkness, tired eyes, puffy eyes? That's a sign of nutrition. Get your body on track, drink more water. Your eyes show everything. The other things is fine lines under the eyes, if you are seeing a puckering and think you are ageing that's again about water and oil. Increase your water and increase your oil (coconut oil etc).

Can you give us a quick guide as to what certain spots mean?
The chin 90 percent of the time is hormonal. Between the eyebrows is high stress or eyebrow waxing – one or the other. Forehead also 90 percent of the time I find is digestive. Your cheeks can be either teeth related or sugar and health. If you have your wisdom teeth or sinus infections those toxins are coming out through the skin. Around your lymph nodes is sleeping or not enough water and illness. I ask questions related to what I see and determine it from there.

With the facials that you've developed, can you explain how Andrea, Kym and yourself decided on them?
One of the main problems I see is acne and a client wants to know that there is a facial specifically for acne problems so there is always a facial revolved around it. There's the Essential Facial which is bespoke and it's for anyone that wants maintenance or correction. And then there are the short ones for clients that just want to have that quick burst – that's the Glow and Go. And then we have our advanced treatments which are pigmentation, ant-ageing and corrective which are your peels and needling. All the main concerns that come up, we've tailored a facial around each one of those but everything is adjustable.

That’s what’s most exciting for me about what Pfeffer Su are doing – you're not tied to pushing one product or system. What have you included in the routines at the moment that you would recommend?
Everyday we are looking at new products because there is so much stuff out there. I've got a bit of Organic Pharmacy because they have got some really neutral simple stuff for very sensitive skin and I know there is no junk in there. And then we have Environ who I absolutely love, I worked for them for 10 years. I trust the brand because I know it has good stuff in it. We have the Emma Hardie Moringa Balm cleanser and a few bits and bobs from other brands. We've got the Higher Nature coconut oil and their apple cider vinegar. It's not to say that any of these products will always be there, if new stuff comes up we'll swap it. 

In terms of establishing routines, cleansing daily. Do you have structure that you would recommend?
It's so different for each client but cleansing is the most important step. Everyone needs to cleanse once in the morning and twice in the evening, that's always a must. Exfoliating depends on the skin type and for me the most important thing is a vitamin serum, a high concentration of vitamins a serum is a must have.

You mentioned you have Higher Nature products and recommended using virgin coconut oil with a squeeze of lemon as a moisturiser. Do you have any other natural remedies?
Lemon is great for pigmentation. A lot of brands use Apple cider vinegar in their products so if you use it directly then you will see benefits. There are malic acids, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, it ph balances your skin and it breaks down keratin – it's the ultimate toner.

How would you use it?
I use it neat on my spots, it works a treat but if you do that all the time your face will fall off eventually. I dilute it 50/50 with water and use it on cotton wool pads. I'd use it after you cleanse at night time and before moisturiser. The only problem with apple cider vinegar is that it stinks. If it didn't stink we'd all be using it. You smell like a fish and chip shop but it works a treat. I also don't think you need to buy masks. Honey, avocado, yogurt, papaya, cucumber, you can blend any of those together and make great masks. The product companies get these vitamins from fruit and produce and extract it. So just take it from the source. It's already composed of a molecular structure that's easily accepted by your skin. But of course science is great and I love science too.

For many it’s the science that’s overwhelming – as a consumer with basic chemistry it’s hard to know your ingredients. It's still very difficult to find a source you can trust when it comes to beauty advice.
I like to look at a blog called the Truth in Anti-Aging – a blogger in the states and she gives you everything in the product that's good and bad. If you want to check anything I go straight to that. You've got to also figure it out for yourself though with products that work for you.

How much did you study the scientific side to skincare?
Cosmetic science, chemistry, anatomy and physiology was the basis of the course I did in South Africa. It was like a first year medical in a way. It's so important to know. People forget that you need to have barriers in the skin. We spend our lives stripping it away and peeling it and scrubbing it to try and fix it and sometimes you need to stop all that and build it back up again. If you are stripping and peeling all the time you need to reverse that by using vitamins, adding moisture and sun block. Especially in London where pollution causes half of our problems here. Forget about your black heads for a second, which is hard to do, but give yourself a layer against all of that then your skin will repair and regenerates. Everyone is so concerned about blackheads but they will come and go. Your pigment and your lines they will come and stay.

Text by Naomi Bikis

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