From high street to streamliners: ‘Defined by nature, led by science'

Toni &Guy in Karachi cosies up with Elemis to promise nature and luxury, but is it more than just pretty packaging?.

Halima Mansoor October 07, 2013
Rachel Leah Jones and Saeeda Mandviwalla. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


When you hear the name Toni & Guy (T&G), you automatically think ‘hair’. So imagine our surprise when Toni & Guy invited The Express Tribune to come on over to talk skin instead.

As it turns out, a British spa and skincare brand Elemis has decided that the T&G in Karachi be the first salon in Pakistan to offer Elemis skin and body therapies as well as a limited range of retail products. Elemis itself was the result of one woman’s ambition to create a skincare line which is “as close to nature as possible with no expenses spared”.

“I wanted to benchmark skincare like I’ve benchmarked haircare,” T&G franchise owner and art director Saeeda Mandviwalla says about her decision to bring Elemis to Pakistan. “I wanted to bring something which gives instant results to my clients. Elemis is tested to the extent a product can be and their ingredients, grown in farms over the world, are special and potent.”

Nature in a pricey bottle?

Elemis Trainer and senior certified skin and body therapist Rachel Leah Jones has flown in from Dubai to train the team at T&G Karachi for a second session. She tells us the brand uses plenty of “marine-life extracts”.

“We use a type of seaweed in our pro-collagen range which is known as padina pavonica. It’s grown in Malta and we have our own little glass houses in the sea where we grow it. We take the first extract of the product.”

She points out that while other products also use padina pavonica, they use the tenth extract. To explain how that makes a difference, she says, “It’s like a cup of tea. If you have 10 tea cups made from one tea bag, which one will be the strongest? The weakest will be the tenth.” She adds that their products use the first extract from every raw material, be it lavender, rose or chamomile.

The big sell for Elemis is the use of natural plants and oils. “Take Moringa oil for example,” she says. “Elemis tested and found Moringa oil was 1,700 times more anti-oxidising than any other oil.”

If you’ve gone through years of trying products, by now you know nothing is 100% natural. But Jones claims the brand is about as natural as it gets, minus the preservatives which are used “to give the product shelf live.” She confirms that none of the products are tested on animals.

Anglophiles in our own skins

While many skin and beauty breakthroughs are made in western laboratories, it takes a few decades to bring diversity to product lines. For years, people with darker skin tones struggled to find the perfect shade of foundation, which could infinitely range from English Rose to a Madrid tan, but nothing darker. So why trust a brand developed for skin types used to grey skies and brief summers?

Jones explains while Elemis did start in England, it quickly landed in cruise ship spas where the audience was global. Hitting on the great South Asian blind spot, she dives into her tool box and comes out with the Tri-enzyme facial – designed to “brighten and lighten”.

“Especially in Dubai and in Pakistan, people want to lighten their skin – but it’s not only that. They are concerned with breakouts, T-zones, blackheads because of the pollution and the weather.” The Elemis trainer promises facials like the SOS Purifier will target that, but only if you listen to the skin consultant and follow up with a home regimen.

Part of what Jones flew down to teach is something most of us miss in our skin care routines – the quality of the product is the baseline but how you apply it is the holy grail. Facial and body therapists are trained to understand how to stimulate the dermis, to circulate the blood and to get the most out of products that take a substantial bite out of your salary.

Many people get facials, body massages or call over a masseuse to their homes but Saeeda Mandviwalla promises, “The moment you get this [the therapies] done, you are never going back.”

To pay Rs6,000 a pop makes you stare the obvious question in the face – is it worth it? Will a Tri-enzyme facial get rid of acne war scars?

No. Old scars cannot be ‘facialed’ away; there are no miracles in bottles. But as Jones explains, “The therapies will help lighten and remove old pitting from acne. Once it does, it will stay that way.” But before you fork over a few grand after your facial to buy the retail range, T&G promises to give samples of Elemis so you know what you’re in for!

There’s a hole in my pocket 

Salon                    Facial                                    Brand used        Cost

Toni & Guy     SOS Purifying               Elemis               Rs6,000

Peng’s              Hydraclean treatment  Guinot               Rs3,500

Bina Khan      Cleansing                       Dermalogica     Rs2,500

*The facials mentioned above will be customised according to your age, skin type and condition

Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2013.

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Asad Gul | 8 years ago | Reply

Raj, mera bhai. I come from a lower middle-class family with roots to KPK (my father) and Lahore (my mother). My father's family were very poor and so was my mother's and still arn't the richest people yet in a tiny village no one has even heard of in Haripur, Khyber Pakhthunkwa people are wealthy and rich but prefer to not live an outlandish living, the weddings are spetacular as well. They do not spend it on any of this stuff. Yes, people are poor in Pakistan but in this village the rich help the poor. I've seen my grandmother cook food for the poor, distribute food and money, she pays her maid a lot of money. Now there are thousands of villages like this across Pakistan and I hope the rich help the poor this way. Drones are faced by less than a million in Waziristan. That too is the fault of corrupt leaders, earthquake is a natural disaster as well as floods. The rich also suffer from natural disasters and the likes of extremists. For my family, we're not rich, but what matters is that we have huge families and comfort ourselves with love and duas to Allah for thanking Him that we at least get to eat food or at least are able to educate ourselves and breathe. From my perspective the poor are getting help than they ever use to before. In Sh Allah my own dream is to open up centres for the needy! I look at other countries and see how far they have come. If my family could, why can't we as a country.

raj | 8 years ago | Reply

costly things that only the 0.1% of pakis can afford while the other suffer for roti,kapda,makan and those who have little face drones and earthquake,floods and taliban and come under the remaining 99.9% ...sad :(

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