My spa junkie adventures have taken me to many curious salons, but none quite so melodious as that of Annee de Mamiel, who uses tuning forks for “seasonal attunements” – a rejuvenation ritual using facial diagnostics that eases the skin’s transition from one season to the next.
Annee, a diminutive Australian with a wonderfully calm aura, takes my pulse, looks at my tongue and says, “I take a Chinese medicine-influenced approach. The face is a roadmap; it is the first place that shows disharmony in the body.” She takes a careful look. “I can see insomnia, digestive issues and emotional stress. You need some rebalancing to improve the quality of your skin – a combination of acupuncture, skin treatments and tuning forks to bring body harmony.”
Her treatment room is scattered with bottles of all different sizes, plus stones, sticks, spoons, rollers, and – of course – tuning forks. She lies me down and tells me to close my eyes, switch off, breathe deeply and drift away for the next 90 minutes (though the whole treatment lasts for 120 minutes).
After chanting, she plays some soulful tribal music and begins placing acupuncture needles in my body. “Central to this treatment is making space for some stillness so that life can flow more smoothly. The modern world often pulls us away from our centre and our stillness. I help people to recognise this and realign.”
I hear a chime; I open my eyes and Annee is holding the ringing forks over my heart and moving them slowly down my body. “They bring balance by creating a general state of relaxation and harmony, and clearing blockages,” she explains.
Annee then takes my head in her hands and performs a short but intense craniosacral massage before starting the facial. A rich balm is placed on my skin. She says it is an initial cleanse to “explore musculature and tension” and is followed by an exfoliant to remove any dead skin.
A rose quartz gua sha (a bit like a polished, flat stone with rounded edges) is stroked along my jaw line with a light pressure. Annee explains that the technique stimulates blood flow and draws out toxins. I feel the tension ease.
She then slathers some hot and deliciously fragrant manuka honey over my face. Sticky and sugary, it feels warmly soothing. She then begins tapping my face, explaining that this is a technique to brighten the skin. Herbs are then used for an autumn poultice. She kneads the mixture into my skin using little white muslin compresses. She says this helps to brings qi (energy) to the surface and ready me for lymph drainage.
As I slowly sink into a soporific state, Annee performs a 40-minute chi-rejuvenation facial massage. She uses a variety of techniques, working up from my neck with sweeping strokes and pushing over the contours of my face in brisk movements from my ears to my nose – using her finger tips and several rollers made of jade and rose quartz. The derma rollers feel cool on my skin. She then applies a thick mask made from plants rich in fatty acids. For the 15 minutes it is left to set on my face, Annee massages my feet. It is wonderfully relaxing.
The acupuncture needles are then removed from my body and my skin anointed with aromatic oils – Ren 17 (with rose, pericardium 6 and rose geranium) and Annee’s signature Altitude oil (which contains lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, pine, lemon myrtle, patchouli and jojoba). They are headily fragrant and really revive me – just in time for a final round with the ringing tuning forks, which are once again held aloft and moved over my body.
The Bottom Line
This attuning session with Annee was a very special experience that not only left my skin feeling buffed and bright but also lifted my spirits. With so many aromatic oils, balms and poultices, the treatment is a glorious assault on the senses – a seasonal MOT for the soul and the skin I’d highly recommend. Waiting lists are currently four months, but seasonal attunement sessions with Annee can also now be booked at the Agua spa at London’s Mondrian hotel.
Spa Junkie is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies.