Nichola Joss on developing our new bespoke treatments and the power of facial massage


‘I remembered going to Babington House when it opened and how amazing Cowshed was and the natural, ethical, healing message that the spa, when it was created, gave. The products being natural, British made. I liked the heritage so I said I’d like to meet the guys and chat. They wanted to look at updating things, so I spent a couple of months doing some secret shopping, chatting with the therapists, spending time with Jessica and Amie, trying to establish how we could move forward and if I could help.

My spa experiences have always been holistic and hands on, very different to any other salon environment. What came up was there was a need for change, to make Cowshed a future destination for spas. As great as it is and how it works, let’s just revamp it a bit. I gave a few proposals for what I thought needed to be done to make it a more bespoke service. It was about making it very personalised, adding signature elements onto everything. Then it was a case of supporting the training of all the therapists, adding a bespoke approach to make the journey of the clients’ facial, skincare, body treatment very specific to them.

The clients are very loyal and Cowshed has such a well established name, what they are going to experience is something a bit more individual for them, so a signature facial that their best friend could come right after them and have a very different experience, even if their skins were the same. It’s about giving them a sense of safety, security and empathy, that individual edge, so they feel they’re really being looked after. Taking away the anxiety of having to pick a facial or a massage that may be wrong for them, or they’re not aware of what they need. We bring the authority back to the therapists so they decide what would be best for you. You just come in and lie down and have the experience, you don’t have to think about what you need to choose. 

It was about changing how we interact with the client – there’s a procedure for establishing the treatment that the client’s having, making them feel comfortable, then taking them into the room and moving through the journey with them. We’re doing a lot of meditation now before the facial and some breath work to establish an air of authority from the therapist to the client so she understands that she’s getting someone with a bank of knowledge and experience. So retraining them with some massage movements and some new elements that I do in my treatment rooms to make it a little bit more special. Making the therapists understand the importance of touch therapy – you know what it’s like if you’ve got someone who’s feeling a bit sad and you hug them, you make them feel secure and better. It’s about ‘hugging’ our clients - or ourselves - with our own skincare routines, just by using that element of massage that’s really going to give you self care.

My own skincare regime is very different now because I’m older so my skin and my body need more. I’ve always had a really good routine and I’ve always done massage on my face, it was about understanding that I could bring that into my work environment as well. So just heavily massaging my face, using really good oils and balms and making sure I’m cleansing my skin thoroughly, if I’m working a lot in a city, or when I’m travelling, then it’s about cleansing more to remove pollution. But always an element of massage because that does so many different things, not just the skin on your face, but actually connects with your reflexology points, your lymphatic systems, so it’s a wellbeing treatment within doing my regular skincare.

I am quite strict in my advice - though sometimes I don’t follow it myself and that’s fine! We’re only human; it’s quite nice to have a few glasses of wine or if you’re a smoker… it’s about balance so if you do things that are perhaps not great for your body, then you have to counter that with something really good. I am very strict with regards to fuel – what food you put in your body, the cleaner the better. If you can be vegetarian or even vegan that’s going to help the health of your body and your skin because the cleaner your system, the more chance it has of creating better skin. Take supplements, take a probiotic, try to cut down on sugar and dairy. It’s about balance but maybe putting an extra focus on what you eat.

Make-up is a great creative tool. You may want to put on slightly more if you’re going for an interview, if you’ve got a date or you’re holding an empowering training session. You should use make-up as your tool to empower you, I don’t think you should necessarily hide behind it, especially as you start to age. That’s why I’m so focussed on the importance of bare skin beauty because as you age, the better your skin, the more youthful it’s going to look and the better canvas it will be for make-up.

It’s funny, ‘glow’ as a beauty buzzword – I’ve said the same thing for 20 years – it’s always been about massage, radiance and luminosity. There’s a couple of reasons ‘glow’ is trending: a lot of it is to do with the aesthetics of injectables which can make your skin look quite dull because there’s less movement, less blood circulation, so to add an element of radiance, you have to use products, or a tool or your hands to massage your face. Another reason is that there are so many good products out there, especially oils and balms, that will give you that glow. It also comes from massage; that could be delivered through your hands which has always been the case, but also now through really good tools to give your skin that glow'.

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