Thursday 12 October 2017

Exploring John Lewis, Newcastle -- The Beauty Retreat And The Beauty Hall*

I don't know if this applies to other bloggers, but in my world at least, blogger and press events are like buses, you don't attend anything or get any invites for what seems like forever and then in the space of a couple of days 4 invitations appear in your inbox!

It's been a busy couple of weeks in LouLouLand heading to events and what not and now I'm just trying to get my photos edited, and get my thoughts together, so that in my next few posts I can tell exactly what I've been up to. I know posts about events aren't for everyone but I promise you they aren't just about bloggers and journalists showing off and drinking fizz, when you attend an event yes probably will have a bit of fun, but at the same you're experiencing new products and new things and you're learning things that you can pass onto your readers In essence I guess we do reconnaissance work and suss things out so you don't have to.

Last Wednesday I was one of a number of North East bloggers that were lucky enough to be invited along to John Lewis, in Intu Eldon Square in Newcastle city centre, to attend what was to be their very first official blog event. John Lewis is one of the big 3 department stores in Newcastle city centre, and it's another store that has it's roots firmly planted right herein the North East. Formerly known as Bainbridge's, the store originally started trading on a small scale in Newcastle in around 1838 and ultimately became one of the first true department stores in the world, it changed hands and locations several times over the years before eventually be taken over by the John Lewis Partnership in 1952. The store traded successfully as Bainbridge's for many years before the Partners voted in 2002 to somewhat controversially change the name to John Lewis (at least in my mums eyes - it will always be Bainbridge's to her ;)

The purpose of last weeks event was to give us an opportunity to see just exactly what John Lewis has to offer the beauty lover, from the numerous cosmetic counters in the beauty haul, to the self selection stands and of course the Beauty Retreat.

Heading into the Beauty Retreat area of the store we greeted with glasses of bubbly, event programmes, and goodie bags, and we given the opportunity to have a chat, to try some canapes, and to enjoy the live music provided by a very talented local singer and musician, David. We then a had a talk from the Beauty Retreat Manager, Clare Meadows, about the Beauty Retreat and the night ahead. There were quite a lot of us in attendance so we were split into two groups to make sure we had an opportunity to try everything that was on offer to us. Whilst one group explored the beauty hall and the beauty counters, the other group had the opportunity to try out some of the brands that the beauty retreat has to offer, and try out some of their 10 minute taster treatments

In it's simplest terms the John Lewis, Newcastle Beauty Retreat is a spa within a store, with subdued lighting, and calming colours, the first room that you enter is a combined reception area and a treatment area where you can get brow and hair removal treatments from Blink and Jessica manicures and hand treatments, both of which we had the opportunity to try on the night.

Go upstairs in the Beauty Retreat and you're greeted with a Clarins Spa offering everything from facials to massages and self tanning. Clarins were offering pressure point massage tasters on the night but I'd already made my mind up what I wanted to try and that was downstairs.

As well as the reception and treatment areas, the Beauty Retreat also features 4 individually decorated, and furnished treatment rooms that are devoted to some of the biggest spa and skincare brands on the UK scene, ESPA, Liz Earle, Elemis and Decleor. As tempting as it was try everything that was on offer, time was really was of the essence, there were still a lot of bloggers who wanted treatments, and we only had an hour before the two groups swapped over so we had to be selective over what treatments we tried

On reflection I probably played it safe, and top of my list were two brands that I loved and I've used on and off for years, Liz Earle and Elemis. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish is a cult product and rightfully so, it does exactly what it says it does, but the team from Liz Earle were giving us the opportunity to try out some of the newer versions of the classic C+P. Whilst keeping the base the same Liz Earle have started to experiment a little bit, and have introduced several versions with different essential oil blends. I tried a couple but the stand out for me was definitely the Rose and Lavender, I sometimes find the eucalyptus in the original too stimulating but this one felt more calming on the skin and I think it's something that would be lovely to use at night.

Another skincare brand that I love has to be Elemis, Pro Collagen Marine Cream is probably the best moisturiser I have ever used, and I can honestly say that I've loved nearly everything from them that I've tried. Again the treatment room was perfectly suited to the brand with the subdued lighting and beautiful aromas emanating from all sides, and what Elemis were offering us on the night was a taste of their Deep Drainage Facial. This wasn't about make up removal, so the make up stayed put, this massage was all about the feeling and the sensation. I was only lying on the massage bed for a few minutes but I could easily have stayed there all night. My therapist gave a gentle facial massage with just enough pressure and positioning to relieve all of the tension in my head, my sinuses and in all my facial bones and muscles. When she'd finished my head literally felt lighter, and despite the bubbly, and the warmth of the room I felt very clear headed and refreshed.

Speaking of refreshing, something that I love and that I always find relaxes me is a head and neck massages, hell any massage come to think of it, and when I saw that French, aromatherapy brand Decleor were offering a relaxing neck and shoulder massage, I knew I had to give it a try. If you've ever tried anything from Decleor you'll know that it's not only about results, it's also about the power of the scent. Like all of the spa rooms, they were lightly fragranced, with products (including the new advent calendar) on display and the lighting was both calming and subtle. Although I was wearing a dress, sitting down my therapist still had enough access to both my neck and my shoulders to undo some serious knots. Even though this was just a massage taster the therapist was really professional and enquired about the strength of pressure and how the massage felt throughout. After only a few minutes my neck felt less achy and I noticed a definite improvement in my all be it common muscle pain and tightness. She finished the massage with an application of their Circulagel, which is crammed full of menthol and camphor and gives the skin that fabulous hot, cold feeling. Although it's specifically designed for tired and aching legs, this product is great for relaxing sore and achy muscles all over the body and it's definitely something that spoonies like me need in out lives

By this time it was time to swap over and it was time for my group to attack the beauty hall and see exactly what John Lewis has to offer. The Newcastle store has most of the big beauty brands that you would expect and a few more besides, showcased in a spacious and light, and airy environment. It goes without saying that anyone can go up to a counter and ask for advice but on the night, a lot of the counters were offering some special demonstrations and makeovers just for us. We could try everything from the new Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer, to crimping and hair styling with GHD, to focus makeovers from Bobbi Brown, Chanel, and Benefit.

Again I wanted to try everything that was on offer, but that just wasn't realistic, so I settled for heading to just two counters, Bare Minerals and NARS. On the night Bare Minerals were offering a statement lip tutorial but being the beauty junkie that I am I wanted to find out a little bit more about their new foundation release Bare Pro. The lovely MUA, Sophie colour matched me and then applied a little bit of the product so I could see how it felt it on the skin, the colour match was perfect and since it's supposed to be great for concealing large pores, I've added it to my ever expanding beauty wishlist.

One of the most popular counters in John Lewis, Newcastle has to be NARS. Although it's a department store staple in many southern stores, we only have two department stores in the North East that stock it and John Lewis s one of them.

I was greeted warmly by their make up artist, Jane, who as well as being super friendly, was also very knowledgeable about the brand and it's history. I asked her a few what could be seen as difficult questions about the brands ownership, and their decision to sell in China, and she was more than happy to answer them and clarify a few issues with me, not only did she do that but she also gave me one of the best on counter makeovers that I've ever had.

The NARS demonstration that we were offered on the night was entitled, "Make Up Your Mind" and the focus was NARS' signature smokey eye look, which Jane created by using their Velvet Shadow Sticks, as well as just making up my eyes though, Jane went on a gave me a full face make over featuring everything from the new Orgasm Liquid Blush, to the Orgasm Lipstick, and the Sun Wash Bronzing Powder. I also found out that I've been using the wrong shade of NARS foundation so Jane matched me perfectly to Mont Blanc and gave me a full list of accompanying products in the correct shades.

The result was a relatively fresh, neutral face look, which was counterbalanced by the most amazing, cover girl, catwalk, rock chick smokey eye look. I really did look runway ready as I snapped several selfies of my new glam look whilst in the make up chair, sods law though when I took the pictures off my camera and phone, they were are awful, blurred and unusable, to say I was devastated was an understatement. All that hard work and nothing to show for out. I was gutted but I was so impressed with the makeover that I wouldn't hesitate to return to NARS in John Lewis in the future, for another make up masterclass.

By the time my rock chick transformation was finished though, the night was just about drawing to a close, so we headed back into the Beauty Retreat to finish the remaining canapes and cross our fingers that our lucky numbers might come up in the raffle. Alas I wasn't a winner but three lovely ladies walked away with goodies from Molton Brown, Trilogy and Charlotte Tilbury. Then after a lot of thank you's and chatter, a group of North East bloggers and their plus ones felt pampered and glamorous as hell and they headed off into the night clutching their goodie bags full of beauty samples and Charbonnel and Walker Champagne Truffles

It really was an amazing night, as well as getting to spend some time with some of my fellow bloggers both old and new, I learnt an awful from all of the brands that I spoke to and I left with a product wishlist as long as my arm, and if anyone is listening I would love a series of Elemis facials and Decleor massages in my Christmas stocking! I can live in hope I guess haha. I just want to thank everyone at John Lewis, Newcastle and of course all of the counters, therapists, brands and make up artists who looked after us last Wednesday night, and of course David for the fabulous musical accompaniments. You can find out more about John Lewis Newcastle and exactly what services they have to offer on the official John Lewis website.

*Blogger Event

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