No awards season is complete without a facial, and celebrity British aesthetician Adeela Crown knows this well.
When I learned that I would be flying out to Los Angeles for a facial with Crown, known for her hands and skin tech, I calmly wrote down the details and booked my flight. Internally — I squealed with joy.
This. Was. An. Actual. Dream.
But the day did not start without its mishaps, dear reader, because something always happens to me. It started before my flight. My third alarm went off, and I rolled out of bed to discover it was raining. This may seem inconsequential, but have you ever tried to order an Uber or Lyft in the rain? Thirty minutes past my planned departure from my apartment, I finally managed to snag a driver. Two minutes away from picking me up, he stops at Starbucks — which sends me into a panic.
And the small pimple, which had been brewing on my chin, immediately pops up from the stress cloud swirling around my body. Ten minutes later, my ride shows up with his hot Starbucks (note: I have not had coffee yet and still feel very bitter about this), and I, along with my new friend on my chin, head to the airport — and successfully make it on the flight.
Have you ever tried to take a selfie on an airplane? Spoiler: They are never good, which is why you will not find my super excited pre-flight face here. But trust me, I was ready for the best facial of my life.
Three hours later, I jumped off the plane at LAX … into pollution (I checked, the air quality was moderate.) A full day of travel and 6 a.m. makeup application has not been kind to my skin. I can feel it revolting.
When I meet Crown in her suite at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills (where she is set up for the Screen Actors Guild Awards), I must admit the hype is real — the instant she walks in the room you can feel her energy. And after a nearly 18-hour journey from London, where I would have collapsed into bed, she powers through.
Crown was born in London — her family background is Indian and Persian — but recently moved to Munich with her husband and eight-month-old son — although her spa is still based in Kensington where she consistently sees clients. “Skincare is just inherent in the family — always been like that,” she says. “We used to make our own masks for hair, face, everything.”
But she did not originally pursue a career in beauty; instead she attended the London Business School for finance. “I changed my career because I said, wait if this can change my skin — and I have rubbish skin, when I pigment, I pigment badly,” she says. “If my skin can change, I can maybe make a change in other people’s skin, too.”
And so, she went back to school for three years to get a degree in cosmetic chemistry and completely altered her career.
Known for her hands — clients constantly tell her there is an indefinable energy there — and her use of technology (she says she will never do a facial that is not backed by science), Crown has quickly become a leader in her field.
“My technique is slightly different. I like to work with devices … I do use smart products, I elevate them with LEDs, ultrasound, radio frequencies, back in my clinic, lasers, microneedling, everything,” she says.
“There will always be some component, some device in there, which makes it a little bit techie, yes, but you know it’s skin tech,” Crown adds. “Skin tech is there to actually elevate the product. On its own I would never just do the skin tech, apply a serum and say ‘goodbye, I’ll see you next month.’ It’s always a combination of everything.” Including her signature skin dance, also known as face yoga, — the part that keeps people coming back.
I was lucky enough to indulge in a 75-minute Crowning Glow-ry exclusively using Sunday Riley products, the same that the stars, like SAG-nominated Julia Garner, and influencers, like Sazan, who walk through the door this weekend will receive. And while it may be one of her signatures, the idea of “glow” has recently taken market by storm. “Suddenly, you have the term glow — everywhere. Where did that come from? Because you can’t get glow from Botox. You can’t get the glow from fillers … because if you start treating your skin, you know it penetrates from within, it also elevates that sense of well-being from inside you.”
After getting set up and pulling out her clock — the one thing that she always keeps with her as it was the first thing she purchased and finds it grounds her — we begin. The treatment starts off with a deep breathing. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I typically find deep breathing almost claustrophobic, but when Crown does it — it is nice. I instantly feel relaxed.
She examines my skin and quickly identifies my problem areas: adult and hormonal acne (e.g. my new chin pimple), scarring and dry spots. Then, after cleansing with C.E.O. C + E Micro-Dissolve Cleansing Oil, she applies a mask of even parts Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment and Ceramic Slip to exfoliate and give the skin clarity and radiance.
After about a minute comes her first tool: the Clarisonic. As she slowly moves it around my face, I can feel the exfoliation and dry patches clearing off.
But the real treat is about to come: her skin dance. “It’s literally where my hands just sing and dance on your face. And yes, there’s slapping and there’s tapping and there’s all sorts of dancing moves on cheeks and foreheads and sculpting, and so on. But that’s the fun part,” she says.
She applies Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream, infused with hyaluronic acid, to make the skin slick for the massage that is about to begin. And let me tell you: This was the best feeling in the world. I agree with her clients; her hands are magic.
The skill is not something that is taught, she says. Instead, she has incorporated techniques she has learned over the years from Hong Kong to Hungary to make her signature skin dance.
“It’s almost like cardio for your skin,” she says. Filled with lymphatic drainage and sculpting (yes, she will even go in your mouth if she sees fit), her hands work all the angles of your face. “People pay a lot of money to come and get slapped.”
After the slapping (I can not wait to go home, apply Tidal and practice my own facial massage), we cool down with C.E.O. Glow Vitamin C + Turmeric Face Oil, a new Sunday Riley product that will not be released until March, which uses THD ascorbate and golden turmeric to improve radiance and instantly absorbs into the skin. After gently applying the gorgeous oil to my face with a brush, she follows with LightStim LED light to help the product penetrate the skin deeper — and it is UV-free light, so it is safe to use on the skin.
When that is done, she brings out another “toy” — the Clarisonic Opal — and applies Auto Correct to my eyes. The tool aids in lymphatic drainage and helps depuff the eye area, along with pushing the product deep into the skin.
She then applies C.E.O. 15% Vitamin C Serum to give the skin added bounce — she loves serums— followed by a final layer of C.E.O. C+E Antioxidant Protect + Repair Moisturizer to lock in the moisture and we are done — and my whole body is completely relaxed. My face feels, for lack of a better word, amazing: the tightness is gone, the puffiness from the traveling has been obliterated and oh my god is it lifted. The glow is real.
That glow that you cannot get from fillers, making it even clearer that when Crown says she is never one to accept a shortcut, she means it. “I believe in prevention. So, I start to educate my clients from very early on. Even if someone comes to me who is already in their 50s and contemplating … get[ting] this line filled because nothing else will work — no. I still sort of stop them in their tracks and say look let’s try other things, let’s try preventative treatments and see if that works.”
Crown is aware of the devices that they sell for at-home use — and if you are properly trained in them, great. But that often is not the case. “They’ll buy this — how many times at home are they actually going to use it to make a difference to their skin? And how quickly do they give it up?”
She recommends getting a facial every three to four weeks to see continued results from your treatment plan — longer than that and you have to start from scratch again with your face, and shorter does not allow your skin to go through its monthly renewal cycle.
And most importantly, her facials are tailored for you. “None of my treatments are 60 minutes in my clinic, that’s not enough time,” she says. “The amount of stuff I combine with products, and devices, and hands, I always spend 75 to 90 minutes.”
And today? Well, that pimple is gone, and I felt confident enough to go out sans-makeup. My skin has never looked better, and I can proudly mark myself as #gotcrowned — just like the stars walking the SAG red carpet.