Spa Junkie on… LED Phototherapy with Teresa Tarmey

Our reporter embarks on a facial mission to revive tired, dull skin

Image: Jay Yeo

I book my appointment with skincare expert Teresa Tarmey with one thing in mind: the “sleep box”. This is my name for her LED phototherapy treatment that, in just one session, promises to recreate the look of weeks of restful sleep and revive a dull complexion, while a course of several treatments promises to reduce fine lines and acne scars. The theory is that skin can absorb non-thermal UV rays and use them as an energy source to trigger the body’s natural means of repairing cells.

Although she has been a therapist for 18 years, Tarmey is something of an industry secret – beauty editors and A-listers (including Suki Waterhouse and Tallulah Harlech) make the pilgrimage to her apartment in London’s Belsize Park, or fly her out to the Oscars, Cannes and fashion shows (this year has seen her backstage at Kenzo’s and Stella McCartney’s AW15 runway shows, prepping models with “flash facials”).

Tarmey’s treatment area – the upper deck of her mezzanine home – comprises a pretty (in other words not too surgical looking) bed surrounded by cutting-edge lasers and machines for radio-frequency treatments. I lie back and she asks where I think my problems lie. I stare through the skylight at the treetops and sigh, telling her that I don’t drink enough water. “I believe that most skin conditions are down to diet or hormones, or diets that lead to hormone problems,” she says. She works closely with model-turned-nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson, who tests her clients for allergies, intolerances and general nutrition.

Tarmey inspects my skin, first asking me to smile and surveying the lines, before taking a closer look and asking: “What’s the scarring from? Did you have acne? Do you pick your skin?” What scarring? I’m baffled, but one woman’s tired face is a fastidious facialist’s map of thread veins, pores and scars, it seems. Tarmey is in her element, buzzing about me in a resplendent vintage velvet dress. “How are your pores?” She asks. A little open, I suggest. I sheepishly pull back my fringe and confess that I only use serum on my forehead at night for fear of greasy hair. She too is be-fringed; I think she understands. She lists slight scarring, dry skin, a small nose vein and a spot or two as the most obvious current issues and prescribes a “very light” salicylic and glycolic peel followed by LED phototherapy.  

Using SkinCeuticals and Natura Bissé products, she starts with a double cleanse followed by the peel. It stings slightly; she says it is removing dead skin cells and softening my pores ­– all the better to do some extractions (never a pleasant experience).

Next, the reason I am here: the LED phototherapy. I don some special spectacles and slide my head into an MRI-style metal arch of pink light. It’s like a DayGlo disco for my face. Rave on and rejuvenate. I close my eyes. Bright light shines through my closed eyelids and there’s warmth to my skin. It feels glorious, like a sunbed session back in the late 1990s, and deeply relaxing.


After 20 minutes, I slide out from under the light. Tarmey cradles my face and performs a strong finger massage to stimulate blood flow.

When she has finished I look in the mirror; I’m impressed, and more than ready to step out and show my face to the world.

The Bottom Line

Immediately after the treatment I look as though I’ve eaten healthily and slept for days. I do have to dot a few reddish bits with a BB cream, but my face is glowing. It looks like post-holiday, ultra-rested skin.

The next day my complexion is clear, smooth and evenly toned – as if I’m wearing make-up. The slight dry patches have improved and while my small nose vein remains, my lines appear less pronounced, my pores are smaller and for the next few days my skin has a waxy-looking, airbrushed glow.

Spa Junkie, aka Inge Theron, is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies. Follow her on Instagram @spajunkiechronicles.


Looking to tackle fine lines and pigmentation problems? Our spa reporter tests a non-invasive superfacial at the Phi Clinic. Or is anti-ageing more of an issue? Read about a targeted facial at Grace Belgravia.

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