If, like me, you would love to have regular beauty treatments but spend all your money on magazines to read about them instead, I have a present for you. Enter the London College of Beauty Therapy. Housed really near the Liberty store just off Oxford Circus, this little gem is perfect for a pamper that doesn't just have to be saved for a treat, as it's so freaking cheap.www.lcbt.co.uk
Background bit: LCBT is a training school for beauty therapists, and there's a salon at the school so customers can have treatments from the students, which they use as part of their training course.
I first visited about a year ago (I can't remember how I found out about it) and had a Purifying Back Treatment. At the time I was suffering from nasty spots and generally clogged skin on my back, so thought I'd give this a whirl. When you arrive, you pay immediately. I don't know if I like this but I assume it's so people don't try to take the Mickey Mouse and leave without coughing up, but anyway, I paid, and waited in the, um, waiting area until my therapist was ready. Now, as this is a training salon, don't expect massively luxurious surroundings. It can be a bit noisy, and treatments take place in individual cubicles that are curtained off only, no door. This is so the lecturers can walk around and make sure students are carrying out their procedures correctly, so don't be alarmed if a lady pops her head round the curtain mid-wax. However, it's not that bad, and after all, this is a cheap and cheerful treat rather than a bank-busting full-on spa experience.
Anyway, the lovely therapist took me to my cubicle and asked me to fill out a form detailing any medical conditions or allergies I might have (only takes about 2 minutes) and then she talked me through the treatment and asked what I wanted out of it, to make sure it was the right thing for me. All done, and then I hopped onto the table and let her work her magic. Over the next hour, she steamed, exfoliated, extracted, massaged and moisturised until I was thoroughly relaxed and left with a beautifully clean and soft back, and the results lasted an impressively long time, too. Afterwards, you're asked to fill out three little boxes about what you thought of the care and treatment received, and what advice you were given, if any.
So, that's an hour long intensive, relaxing and effective treatment, in a salon, in central London. Price? £50, £60, £70, right? Oh no my friend, oh no. £15!!!! FIFTEEN ENGLISH POUNDS! That's two chickens in Sainsburys! That's 15 crappy tops from Primark! That's another thing that costs £15! Amazing.
Since then, I've been back a few times, and have had a brilliant facial (1hr, steam, extract, mask, etc. - £20!), an eyebrow tint (£5), eyelash tint (£8) and pedicure which included a foot mask and heated booties (£11). Seriously, this place is brilliant. If you're worried about being treated by students, don't be. They have a lot of training hours before they work on the public, and there are always at least two supervisors there at all times checking everything is being done correctly. I cannot recommend this place highly enough for treatments so good and affordable you'll wonder why you'd ever painting your own nails or waxing your own areas again.
They do a wide range of treatments including men's grooming. For treatment information and booking details go to www.lcbt.co.uk.