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I went to a biohacking clinic and glimpsed the future of looking hot

Forget facials, in the future we’ll be using science to map and monitor our genetic health and appearance

I’m not necessarily enthused to quote boy band Busted but, I have been to the Year 3000 and it’s somewhat surprisingly buried underneath The Ritz. This is not a place you would merely stumble across on a midweek jaunt across town. Discreetly hidden down a spiral staircase is a high-tech wellness lab where a treasure trove of futuristic treatments and machinery awaits. 

Bellecell is a regenerative biohacking clinic which is the place to go for alternative treatments that focus on prevention rather than intervention. We’re all familiar with the countless beauty hacks that frequent the Internet, but biohacking entails doing various tweaks to your mind or body for optimised function and performance. It is the proverbial crossroads of technology, wellness and science. Quite frankly, I’ll try anything that aims to reverse my social smoking and occasional organic wine binge-drinking sessions. I’m no Gwyneth Paltrow but we’ve all got limits.

As I descend into what was reportedly (and perhaps ironically) Winston Churchill’s wine cellar, I’m greeted by a lab coat-wearing team. Despite their attire, the ambience is anything but clinical. I was worried I’d be met by intimidating wellness warriors that would ooze an air of arrogance and judgement of my gluten-indulgent self, but they were warm and knowledgeable.

Don’t expect an off-the-shelf treatment here, the essence of Bellecell is that every treatment and programme is highly personalised. Rather than a consultation, you have a detailed bio-analysis to get to the crux of who you are in more characters than a Bumble bio could ever manage. Typically, step one is to identify any stressors that cause inflammation which is touted as the number one cause of skin ageing and also distracts the body from focusing on more beneficial tasks. It’s a down and dirty exploration with all manner of genetic testing, stool analysis, blood work and food sensitivity tests – the more they know, the more bespoke the plan. It could be something obvious such as sugar or more vague such a nightshade like tomatoes or aubergines. With results taking a couple of weeks to come through, I had to skip this but the resident doctors and nutritionists often prescribe bespoke supplements based on this testing.

Kasia Zajkowska is the mastermind scientist and Cambridge alumni behind Bellecell. With expertise in molecular biotechnology, not beauty, she believes that by focusing on the smallest bodily molecules, the cells, you’re working on the building blocks of the entire body. Call me vain, but I want to know what that translates to in terms of looking better. Kasia explains that “having detailed information about how our skin reacts allows for a hyper-personalised treatment and also post-procedure aftercare.” It’s the ultimate way of proving that all skins behave differently. Her aim isn’t to provide a temporary beauty quick-fix such as botox and fillers, but to create an actionable approach that adheres to your daily life and genetic predisposition – there are athletes, fitness enthusiasts and global travellers among their clientele.

Naively not knowing what I’d been booked in for, I’m taken into a room to meet the performance lab coordinator to do a 3D body scan which I can apparently also get produced into a mini, but to scale, plastic model of myself. I politely decline. Stepping into the rotating device, a plethora of micro-measurements are taken and I begin an internal monologue of excuses to say if my results are “off”. Measuring fat, water content and muscle percentage alongside individual body parts such as calf and bicep circumferences in mere seconds. I could think of more self-esteem boosting starts to the day but the findings weren’t too shattering.

The first of the space-like machinery I’m introduced to is the Infrashape pod. The horizontal exercise bike combines infrared light, vacuum technology and collagen lamps to help the body absorb more collagen and improve the lymphatic system by increasing circulation and bringing blood closer to the skin's surface. Performance Lab Coordinator, Oliver, explains that this combination has both health and aesthetic benefits as it “improves the appearance of cellulite by reducing water retention and aids the immune system by boosting lymph flow.” Lying down on the MRI-esque machine, my body is cut in half as the perspex vessel covers me from the waist down like some kind of avant-garde centaur. Not only is it much calmer than a spin class, I burned close to 1400 calories which is double the amount I’d expect from a class and without an aggressive trainer shouting over the music. I embrace a smug laziness from the remarkably low-impact 30-minute workout.

“These futuristic, verging on medical treatments are on the rise as we become obsessed with results-driven practices rather than just simply lying down, as facial oils are limply massaged with wave music in the background.  There’s something very satisfying knowing that each decision made is based on your own data rather than just someone’s opinion or worse, limited training”

Next up was the hyperbaric oxygen chamber. If you’re claustrophobic, it may not be your cup of tea, as you lie down in a cross between a coffin and a tent, but it was undoubtedly my highlight. My ears began popping as I settled into the cosy, pressurised tube whilst 100 per cent oxygen is pumped in. It’s a therapy that originated way back in the 17th century for respiratory issues and has the only evolution has been the vessel in which the subject sits in. Truthfully, I just appreciated the lie-down and blissfully fell asleep all the while breathing in the extra boost of pure oxygen that increases cell rejuvenation and boosts energy levels. Although seemingly new to consumers, these technologies have been tried and tested for decades, often starting out at NASA where astronauts are oxygen restricted, before moving into sports science to accelerate healing and recovery among elite athletes. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me.

Getting slightly nervous at the thought of having to re-emerge back onto surface-level London, my session ended with a zero-gravity massage. On a 30 minute setting, I was tempted to grab the remote to extend its duration, as by this point I was suitably acclimatised to the subterranean utopia. Essentially a massage chair on steroids, it compresses and moulds to the curvature of the body and intuitively searches for tension and tight muscles before pummelling any knots into oblivion. 

If I stayed as long as I’d wanted to, I’d have been politely asked to leave. As I floated back up the stairs and my eyes readjusted to natural light, I felt an unparalleled sense of calm, preceded to have the best night’s sleep I’ve had in months and despite not having any facial treatments, my skin looks noticeably brighter which I suspect is from the oxygen-induced nap that boosted my circulation. Like anything else, a course of treatments would provide long-term benefits but even after my three-hour stint, I’m impressed. 

Rather than the wellness fascists I expected, Bellecell is pioneering the revolution based on hard, scientific facts in the most welcoming way. These futuristic, verging on medical treatments are on the rise as we become obsessed with results-driven practices rather than just simply lying down, as facial oils are limply massaged with wave music in the background.  There’s something very satisfying knowing that each decision made is based on your own data rather than just someone’s opinion or worse, limited training. As the saying goes, health is wealth and although you’d need deep pockets to make regular trips (prices start at £2490 for the Peak Performance programme), the depth of detailed information provided could, in fact, lead to better economical decisions by making the correct lifestyle and dietary choices based on calculations for your own unique biological makeup. I’m already itching to head back and become a bionic version of myself.