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Courtesy of Haeckels

Haeckels algae-infused oxygen facial saved my stressed-out skin

The Margate-based maestros of marine skincare have taken up summer residence in Browns’ newest London outpost

Like most people lucky enough to be able to work from home, I’ve spent the last 18 months mostly confined to my flat, moving between the harsh blue light of ‘the bad screen’ (my enormous glaring Mac) and ‘the good screen’ (my iPhone, duh) ad infinitum. Add to this a distinct lack of sunshine-induced vitamin D – thanks in equal measure to the fact I rarely leave the house, and the British ‘summer’ has disappointingly failed to produce any meaningful rays – and it should come as no surprise that my skin isn’t exactly looking, or feeling, its best. 

Dull, grey, and flaky and dry in patches – with a seemingly endless peppering of mask or hormone-induced zits thrown in for good measure – it’s gotten to the point that even the exalted Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid isn’t really livening things up. Given it’s known to be a miracle worker, as members of the Dazed Beauty community will attest, when it gets to this point… well, let’s just say you know it’s bad. 

Step in Haeckels. The revolutionary Margate-based maestros of organic, natural, and totally vegan skincare have taken up residence in Browns’ newest outpost on London’s Brook Street, where they will be holed up until August 15. As well as debuting a new, specially formulated fragrance exclusive to the boutique and launching workshops that allow fans to come and create their own scents, the brand has also opened the doors to a small but perfectly formed treatment room. With a selection of signature facials on the menu, its dedicated therapists promise to work miracles on even the most stressed-out skin.

Tucked away at the very top of the historic Mayfair building in its parlour, the tiny studio is lined with seagrass and, on the day I dropped by for my appointment, sunlight streamed in through the window. As I settled into the chair, my therapist Audrey asked me a series of questions about my skin: what issues I have with it, any areas I felt needed help, and what my typical skincare routine consisted of. Eventually, we settled on a bespoke facial that incorporated plumping oxygen blasts, LED light therapy, and Gua Sha in a bid to revive, rejuvenate, and brighten my dreary visage. 

Having cleansed my face twice with Haeckels’ Marine Facial Cleanser – which is infused with bladderwrack, parsley seed, and sea buckthorn, soothes and replenishes the skin, and smells beyond incredible – next, my face was massaged with the brand’s Raspberry Seed Oil to promote further hydration. By this time I was feeling pretty relaxed, and I’ll be honest, I was finding it pretty hard to keep up with what was going on, but I persevered because that’s the dedicated kind of journalist I am. 

As it happens, I was in for a bit of a rude awakening, as IRL angel Audrey informed me the next step smelt ‘like Margate on a bad day’. With Haeckels renowned for its focus on marine-derived ingredients, this meant having a cold seaweed mixture sourced from the beaches of the popular seaside town smeared across my face and left to sit for 10 minutes. While I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant in any way, it was a bit of a surprise when compared to the heavenly scented lotions and potions she’d used previously.

After a short hand massage as we waited for the seaweed to do its thing, it was then on to the oxygen blast my skin was crying – no screaming – out for. If you’ve never had one before (which I actually hadn’t until now), this entails a small gun blowing cold gusts of pure O2 onto your skin to boost circulation, promote collagen growth, and help heal marks left by blemishes and the sun. In Haeckels hands, this treatment is infused with a plumping serum formulated using algae for even deeper hydration and plumping. Fine lines? What fine lines?

Bringing the facial to its conclusion was a pair of cooling eye patches and ten minutes under an LED hood, which again, is brilliant for stimulating cellular activity, minimising fine lines, and healing sun damage, redness, and blemish scarring. I emerged plumped, rejuvenated, relaxed and glowing, like a freshly birthed, much better version of myself.

Two days later, my skin is still reaping the rewards – my pores are refined, my eyes look bright and far less baggy, and my pandemic-induced frown lines are far, far smoother. Best of all, after months of clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth in the night, I slept like a baby the evening after the facial. Sure, it’s a treat, but I’ll definitely be booking myself into Haeckels – perhaps at its Broadway Market house – at some point again in the near future. In the meantime, that Raspberry Seed Oil is being added straight to cart. 

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