Review: Astral Bodies Hair & Beauty Salon, Great Barr

The lowdown:

In today’s world with its pressures, challenges and breakneck speed an antidote is fast emerging … Me-time at the salon spent indulging in facials, manicures, massages, hair makeovers and other pure pampering pleasures designed to make you look and feel heavenly! In desperate need of both I decide to treat myself to some serious TLC at the newly opened, Great Barr-based Astral Bodies Hair & Beauty salon which markets itself as a one-stop shop for anything from botox, brow shaping and Swedish massage to state-of-the-art hair colouring, cutting and nail extensions.

Its credentials leave me optimistic. Not only is it experienced in the latest and greatest beauty treatments with a wondrous line in professional hair and skincare products, including Wella, Goldwell, Global Keratin,  Eve Taylor and Celebrity Secrets, it also promises to deliver a holistic approach that improves the quality of the mind as well as the body. Right up my street! But can it transform a tense, vodka-swilling, stressed out marketing exec on the wrong side of thirty into a serene, super-groomed and generally supermodelish girl about town?  I’m about to find out….

Ambience:

Clearly, for Astral Bodies, the tending of Birmingham’s locks is bucking the recession. Each of the chairs is occupied by women (and one man) in various stages of transformation, the backwash is bubbling and it’s mid-morning on a weekday. Trendy, minimalist and, above all, immaculate, it’s a place that smacks of quality and coolness. The hairdressing section might be bustling but walk on through to the adjoining treatment area and it’s like walking into an oasis of tranquillity and calm, a cocoon from city living. Proprietor and head beauty therapist, Laura McKay, is a great ad for her treatments I instantly notice, as she greets me warmly annoyingly bright-eyed and wrinkle-free. So, too, are the rosy-cheeked, radiant clients leaving her treatment room. Whatever, they’re having; I decide I want a bit of it too.

Hairstyling- the verdict:

Seated and gowned up, I’m suffering from a serious case of hair envy as I eye head stylist Liann’s lustrous waves. Because my hair never looks like that, never… It is very fine and very long and has a mind of its own. While others can have a blow-dry on Monday and still look chic on Thursday my bleached, dried out hair resumes its drab, lifeless look within an hour of quitting the salon! Except this time…

After massaging a range of top-notch Wella replenishing and illuminating products into my hair, Liann then proceeds to tease my lank locks into beautiful, bouncy curls with what seems like a magic wand, but is actually a set of GHD’s. Then comes the silicone gloss and serum and hey presto – I’m left looking in the mirror at a lustrous halo of hair. I feel like Cheryl Cole minus the copious extensions and decide, without a doubt, I’m worth it!

Treatment 1 – Swedish Body Massage:

Next up, it’s time for the Swedish body massage, Laura McKay’s signature treatment that focuses on increasing oxygen flow in the blood whilst releasing toxins from the muscles, promising both pampering as well as therapeutic benefits. The stresses of modern living have sure taken a toll on my health and wellbeing, lately, leaving my post-summer over-partied immune system in need of a good kickstart. That’s exactly what it gets. I feel the tension and discomfort in my tight muscles gradually ease up as Laura expertly pummels away the pain.  Lying in the dimly lit treatment room to the soundtrack of soft music, I am lulled into a trance and by the end of the kneading, stroking and rubbing, I’ve forgotten where or even who I am! Wrapped in a deliciously warm towel, my skin feels sumptuous and I feel wonderfully rejuvenated. More to the point, the dimples and knobbly flesh around the top of my thighs, already look miles better. Result!

Treatment 2 – Luxury Facial:

As far as Astral Bodies goes, it’s so far, so great. But can one of Laura’s luxury facials deliver the glowing, soft, dewy complexion I’ve been hankering after for so long. It’s time to find out!

I’ve been told many a time that the secret of a good facial is not so much product, but more technique.  The magic, apparently, is all in the hands: expertise, swift extractions, skilful use of hot cloth and cleanser and a talent for soothing pressure point massage. And, luckily for me, that sums up my treatment at Astral Bodies.

After the application of a sweet-smelling cleansing concoction packed with active ingredients, a glycolic exfoliant and steam are administered to slough off the dead skin cells, open up the pores and kill surface bacteria. A stimulating aromatherapy massage follows, designed – I am told by Laura – to improve bloodflow to facial tissues and in doing reinvigorate skin and muscle, drain toxins,  and wheedle out all those areas of tension in the face that over time cause permanent grooves. A luxuriant masque concludes the experience during which my feet enjoy a well-needed massage.

Being syringe-shy, botox for me isn’t an option, so I’m hoping this treatment will have achieved the tall task of making my tired, dull, dehydrated skin look softer, younger and brighter. And guess what? It does! Laura’s facial has managed to be both deeply relaxing to the mind and at the same time invigorating in the flesh. The fragrant oil, gentle hypnotic pressure and kneading has produced a wonderful feeling of lightness. My face is tingling warm and alive with vitality. What’s more it has achieved the impossible by banishing the angry vertical line that has taken up residence between my brows and draining most, if not all, of the puff underneath my eyes. Even my soft, pink, shiny feet no longer look like mine!

Conclusion:

Leaving Astral Bodies with glossy, voluminous hair and preened to perfection, I only worry now that I’m much too beautiful to eat, drink or make energetic movements! I’m a whole new woman. With my newfound tranquillity, even the sight of a parking ticket on my car fails to crush me! I start thinking about what other transformative treatments I can book in for at Astral Bodies next. Hmmm…. Gelish nails, brand new brow shape or what about a whole new hair colour…

Wallet Watch:

Quality treatments at competitive prices – you’re not going to break the bank here but you’ll  walk out looking and feeling great.

Need to know:

Astral Bodies is a unisex hair and beauty salon offering state-of-the-art hair cutting, colouring and a comprehensive range of beauty treatments. Can be found at: 38 Gorse Farm Road, Birmingham, West Midlands, B43 5LT. For more information visit www.astralbodies.co.uk or make an appointment by calling 0121 448 9494.