Tried & Tested: Is This The Best Facial In The West? - The Gloss Magazine

Tried & Tested: Is This The Best Facial In The West?

All you need to know about Galway’s finest skincare salon …

On the way back from Connemara (surely the food truck capital of the world?), I stopped in at Tara Casserly’s salon, Base Skin, in Galway, which opened in late 2022.

It’s a beautifully minimalist space that’s home to specialist skincare – Biologique Recherche, the legendary French line, and DMK, an American brand I hadn’t come across before that’s exclusive to salons. With its glass front and sleek monochrome interior, Base Skin is a calm and cool space, a peaceful respite from the bustling streets of Galway.

If you’ve never had a BR facial, your first one might come as a surprise. One of the key differences is that everything is kept really cool – there are no hot cloths over your face here. Luckily, you’re tucked beneath the softest duvet, so you’re warm while your face goes through a really refreshing and energising programme. And this is not a one-size-fits-all kind of place; Tara will assess your skin first and customise the treatment specifically. (It’s amazing how many salons say they do this, but really don’t.) My facial was focussed on hydration and brightening – and once your skin has been swaddled in Crème Masque Vernix for a while (it can be used as a treatment cream or else a mask, left on overnight), you will certainly see results.

The power of P50

With Biologique products, you do have to get used to the lack of fancy fragrance; the cult P50 Lotion, which is what most celebrities use (even when they’re being paid to promote something else!), has a uniquely vinegary smell. Personally, I hate the smell, being honest (most people barely notice it), but it’s a sign of how very good it is that I take a deep breath and use it anyway. It’s an exfoliating acid toner with a unique ability to detox and recondition the skin over 50 days; it’s good for everything from acne to dullness. There are four different versions, including one for sensitive skin (P50W), so you need advice from Tara on which one will best suit you. I use the W as it’s a gentle blend of lactic and salicylic acids that works without being remotely harsh; there’s also a version for targeting hyperpigmentation. This year marks the 50th anniversary of P50, which really set the scene for a new way to treat and brighten the skin, with the current wave of acid toners following in its wake.

Other products, such as the Crème Masque Vernix, also have natural, rather than perfumed, scents; Tara describes the Vernix as smelling a little like whiskey, while Dublin dermatologist Dr Rosemary Coleman describes it as more like bananas! Dr Coleman notes: “This is my all-time favourite night-time moisturiser and when I wake up my skin feels nourished and hydrated. I have seen a change in so many patients’ skins with this cream.” Another brilliant facialist, Dawn Hill of Floraison, also name-checks the Vernix, when talking about mixing products: “A favourite of mine is Biologique Recherche Crème Masque Vernix mixed with Masque Visoelastine, for superb hydration.” You get used to the different smells, and it makes sense that the focus is on active, effective ingredients rather than frills such as scent. The bottom line: I’m astonished how much better my skin looks for going back on the BR.

I also love the uplifting facial sculpting that’s part of a Biologique Recherche facial – to me, it’s the epitome of a no-nonsense, natural approach, where you want to make the best of your skin and give it a boost of plumpness, brightness and hydration, without any unecessary intervention or performative faffing about. The upwards movements and application of products, plus the BR Bio-Lift remodelling machine that Tara uses, are akin to facial yoga. You come here if you want results rather than fluffiness. I love Tara’s warm, honest approach; you know instantly that you are in expert hands. She even brought the treatment bed back with her from Australia, where she worked for several years, as it’s the best one she’s found. Can I also mention the music, which avoids the generic whale, panpipes and lift music that’s ubiquitous in salons – gosh it makes a difference when sound has been considered just as much as all the other senses.

Base Skin also offer skin needling, LED light therapy (from €37.50 for an express treatment, or €35 when added to another treatment). Biologique treatments start from €220.

Take home?

Tara recommends the DMK home treatments, which uses enzymes to rejuvenate the skin. I would add the much-recommended Crème Masque Vernix, as a really brilliant end of summer skin restorer, and the Collègene Originel serum, which acts on the four main types of collagen in the skin to boost it from the inside out, to make skin feel stronger and firmer. Bear in mind that if you’re ever heading to Paris, the Ambassade Biologique Recherche there is said to offer the absolute ultimate in facial treatments.

Galway spots

We are adding Base Skin to an always-growing list of reasons to spend more time in Galway. Admittedly the others are mainly food-related: to mention a few, Kai (always inspiring and delicious food), Ard Bia (great coffee, bouncy staff, fabulous brunches), Éan (stylish, ultra-creative small plates to share – don’t miss the squid toast), the reliably superlative Dough Bros pizza (PLEASE open in Dublin!), Ernie’s Shop (for the best sourdough we’ve ever tasted), the cute Fairhill Coffee Studio, Palas cinema (the perfect spot to indulge in Barbenheimer).

And now we have a skincare destination, too – Base Skin is the newest name in our little black book …

Base Skin, Augustine House, Merchants Road, Galway; 087 180 3361;

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