An Honest Review: Zen Lifestyle

Last night I attended a bloggers’ event at the newest Zen Lifestyle, which opened around six weeks ago. There are already two award-winning Zen salons in Edinburgh, but the new salon is located on Hanover Street in Edinburgh, it’s the perfect location for busy city people who need an express tidy up and for tourists looking to unwind for a few hours in the city.
I arrived at Zen during rush hour and was surprised to find the salon was extremely peaceful despite the chaos of the New Town. Princes Street was mobbed with buses rumbling by, while on George Street, taxis manoeuvred around what seem to be continuous road works, drilling and clanking and banging. As I made my way to Zen, people were bumping into one another (too busy chatting or Tweeting) while tourists wandered aimlessly, getting in the way of impatient workers. To my surprise, I opened the door into Zen to find a serene open space, decorated in soothing shades of purples and accessorised with pristine white sofas and glossy Perspex surfaces. The masses of flowers and jug of water with mint and cucumber added freshness to the room, which represents Zen well; it’s the small things that count. Relaxing music played loudly enough to drown out the city noise, but not so loud that I couldn’t hear the beauty therapists welcome me to the salon.

Julie was my therapist (a very pretty, petite blonde who chatted animatedly throughout and made me feel completely at home) and she suggested applying the Blink & Go temporary lash extensions before starting on my Shellac pedicure. The brow and lash bar (as well as the nail bar) is in the same space as the reception and waiting areas, making for an exciting buzz. I think that smaller treatments such as nails, brows, etc, are great for people-watching and feeling part of the surroundings. Zen’s interior design is spectacular, so you really want to spend some time in it! (The silver balls hanging from the roof were my favourite, along with a white threaded curtain that shimmies as you walk past).

Above: Amanda (aka Beauty Blogging  Blonde) having Blink & Go lash extensions; silver roof balls!

I was nervous about having the lash extensions as I’d heard mixed reviews. I needn’t have worried, because Julie did an excellent job and kept me informed of what she was doing the entire time, putting me at ease. She went on to tell me that she joined Zen straight from college (almost six years earlier) and that the Zen Directors invested a lot of training into their staff in order to provide a consistent and top class service throughout the three salons. This ensures all clients in all salons are completely happy with the service they receive, no matter which therapist they see, and this was reassuring. If Julie is an example of the Zen Therapist, then I have no hesitations in recommending Zen to anyone – she was the best therapist I’ve seen in a long, long time because she took into consideration my concerns and explained what she was doing and why. She really took into account my features when providing the treatments, which is the key to making a treatment work for an individual.

Anyway, the end results of the lashes? A-MAZING. Julie gave me fuller lashes, with a little extra length (she promised I wouldn’t look like Daisy the Cow!) and they look perfectly natural, but defined – no mascara is required (and I am totally a mascara girl because my lashes are quite fair towards the end and I look like Tiny Eyes from Cougar Town without mascara) and the lashes are completely waterproof! Opening my eyes after the application was slightly odd – a strange sensation of sticking lashes – but within seconds my eyes were open, and within minutes I was used to the feeling of having long, light lashes.

Above: my Blink &; Go lash extensions!

Then it was time for the Shellac pedicure. I was led through corridors towards the back of the salon, where it was impossibly peaceful, and into a treatment room which smelled great (Zen have recently launched their own scented candles) and was lit in soft lilac, illuminating a treatment bed with fluffy white towels on. Julie made sure I was comfortable (I was continually offered tea, coffee, water or even Champagne) and then she set to work. She soaked my feet in foot spa, exfoliated my feet and then shaved (yes, shaved) the hard skin off. Julie went on to moisturise my feet before shaping the nails, rubbing oil into the nail bed and tidying up my cuticles. The Shellac polish was applied (a stony, dark plum-y colour) and each foot was placed under a UV light to set the polish. Et voila – the polish was completely dry, completely hard. My pedicure was complete! I could slip my gorgeous feet into my high heels with no worry of smudging the polish and off we went to join the other bloggers who would soon be arriving.

Above: my Shellac pedicure.

Above: Champagne always goes down a treat!

I was offered yet another glass of Champagne (this was the first one I accepted) and the Director (a tiny woman called Fiona, with sparkling green eyes and a fabulous jumpsuit) talked us through the evening while yummy nibbles were served with the flowing Champagne. The bloggers were excited and once Fiona had finished the run-through, we all ran off towards our favourite treatment station. On offer were Shellac manicures, Blink & Go lash extensions, HD brows and a skin analysis from Murad (which is stocked at Zen and used for some of the treatments).

Above: display products at Zen.

I forced myself to have the skin analysis done, which was fascinating – it shows sun damage, redness, scars and spots, and even bacteria (quite frightening, the amount around my mouth – and apparently, everyone’s mouths have a lot of bacteria around them). The Murad therapist assured me that my skin was fine for my age and advised which products were best for me (samples of these were in my goody bag), promising that they were clinically proven to work by almost 50%. I was pleased to discover that I don’t have crows’ feet yet!

Above: facing my skin analysis fears.

After that, Julie offered to do HD Brows for me. I couldn’t refuse as I’ve heard (and seen) so much about them. HD Brows is a technique that combines tinting, waxing, threading and tweezing to achieve the right colour and shape for you. Up until last year, Zen was the only official salon to offer HD Brows (their staff attended training in England last year). Even now, the Zen therapists have had a year’s experience in providing HD Brows so they really do know their stuff, and they know how to apply the HD Brows template to your face to get the right shape and colour for you. None of this “one size fits all” malarkey.

Above: the brow/lash bar at Zen; having the HD Brows treatment.

After the HD Brows I had to fly out of Zen to catch my train. This was not ideal as I got blisters on my gorgeous feet but by the time I caught the train and took out my book, I felt like a new woman. I felt groomed, but not OTT. Women are taking better care of themselves these days and I can see why – I think these marvellous treatments could easily become addictive because, even though it seems costly, it’s less hassle and less money spent on every day cosmetics. I shaved around 7-10 minutes off my make-up time this morning by not having to apply mascara and shape and groom my brows or worry about chipped polish, and if I continue with the lashes/brows I’d save around £40 on mascara and tinted brow wax every other month.

Above: Shellac manicure being given at the Zen nail bar; yummy nibbles.
This morning I woke up like a kid on Christmas day. My eyes sprung open and I prodded Mr Man awake. “How do I look?” I asked, but without waiting for his response I ran to the bathroom to see for myself: fluttery, tidy, gorgeous – if a little tired, but I’ll blame that on the effects of Champagne on a week night.

Above: me posing on the train after my pampering. Stella at Alison Jamieson Consultancy LOVED my necklace, which is a couple years old by Mikey.

Above: taken quite by surprise by the lovely Snooki, who was walking round snapping the bloggers while they were spoiled by Zen.

With huge, huge thanks to Zen Lifestyle for treating me to their first-class service. I had a wonderful evening and just wish I could have stayed longer to have a proper chat with the staff and bloggers. Thank you Fiona for spoiling us all, and to Snooki and Alison Jamieson Consultancy for inviting me.
Images courtesy of my dodgy iPhone4 camera, and the better shots are courtesy of Alison Jamieson Consultancy / Zen Lifestyle, with thanks.

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