10 February 2018

Glow To Go with facialist Abigail James

Recently I spent the evening in the company of 'the Queen of skin' Abigail James, a facialist who works on the likes of Rita Ora and Poppy Delevingne. She's collaborating with healthy food hangout Squirrel as part of their 'Best in Field' series, launching a 'Glow to Go' salad.

More on the bowl itself later. First, let's talk about Squirrel, where the bowl will be sold, and where the event was hosted.

Their tagline is 'Nuts about health', something immediately apparent when you step inside. There are acorn lights (!) as you enter the tree house. It's a botanical haven.

The tree house itself is up a flight of stairs, nestled in a glow of green lighting and wooden tables and chairs.

Of course, there's lots of healthiness on hand to keep you on the straight and narrow... but, like, good looking healthy things - the type you'd actually be interested to try (rather than feeling obliged to pick up an unappetising, limp salad).

I read somewhere that to be your most healthy you're meant to 'eat the rainbow', which Squirrel makes very simple.

The event itself was quite intimate (there were about 10 of us), so I was thrilled to be able to chat to Abigail before the interview and audience Q&A. She was so, so lovely.

Abigail, posing with her new book 'Love your skin', which I have since ordered

I asked her what she thought was in 'ingredient of the year', a question she quickly dismissed as she doesn't believe in 'fashionable' ingredients - you have to look at your routine as a whole. As in, we know avocados are very trendy and good for you as they contain lots of good fats, but we wouldn't just eat avocado and expect to be healthy, would we? Point taken.

Next, I asked her for her favourite skincare product. Apparently she loves a good cleanser, listing the likes of Darphin (their cleansing balm) and Origins (their willow herb cleansing gel). In terms of a cruelty-free offering, I've been told to look out for an exciting release from Rituals later this year...

She's also partial to a triage of serums (vitamin c, retinol and hyaluronic acid will give you the best results) from Medik8, which naturally I'm going to look into ASAP.

And finally, I asked her favourite ingredients for a glowing complexion, to which, ever the businesswoman, she pointed to her 'Glow To Glow' salad bowl (which I tasted, and it was really good, although the spinach fell out everywhere), containing...

Pomegranate, beetroot and butternut squash - all full of glow-boosting antioxidants 
Flaxseed crackers - which are gluten-free, as gluten can sometimes be a skin irritant
Quinoa and spinach - the former a healthy grain, and the latter a rich source of iron to take care of what's going on inside your body.

The 'Glow To Go' bowl

That's the great thing about Abigail: she recognises that good skin health isn't just about what we put on the skin. Other factors contribute such as our hormones - something that is tricky to handle - and stress levels.

As everyone was arrived, I snacked on crudites with an avocado and pea dip (I usually loathe avocado, but this was delicious and I kept going back for another dunk)...

And wistfully ogled the chicken, which looked far more substantial (I'm trying to be pescetarian at the moment, and it's proving tricky).

And had a few elderflower G&Ts, because why not?

The discussion was really interesting. I learned that Abigail has been a single mum of 3 for 10 years (she had her first daughter at 23), and was on housing benefit of 5 of those, moving around numerous times. It wasn't the journey she wanted, but she's proud of what she's created, and thinks it's really grounded her children in the process. She's learned there's always an opportunity to be had, regardless of your circumstances.

Unsurprisingly, her skincare regime is extensive and well practised; in the morning she'll cleanse, and typically follows with two serums (she supports the ageing process with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid), a SPF moisturiser and an eye cream. 

In the evening it's all about double cleansing, with a balm to ensure her make-up is removed, a serum, an oil and an eye product with retinol. But above all, it's all about learning to love the skin you're in - an idea I can definitely get behind. Pigment, spots and wrinkles aren't ugly; they're natural and need to stop being stigmatised. 

When it comes to food, James knows its all about balance - in her household they enjoy 'chip Friday', for instance - but generally does eat healthily during the week with lots of fish, protein and veggies for stews and soups, and a green juice if it's a client day and she's rushing around.

By the end of the talk and Q&A I was seriously fangirling over Abigail, with notes as long as my arm (there were various products and facial methods she discussed which I need to try out for myself), and a voucher to enjoy one of her famous facials for a discounted price. Very. Exciting.

You can find Abigail James at the Beaumont Hotel for a facial, her 'Glow To Glow' salad bowl at Squirrel, and her book 'Love Your Skin' on Amazon. I feel like the latter will become my bible. 

*I was invited as a guest to the 'Glow to Go' event, but all my opinions on Abigail, the venue and the salad are my own.

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