Talking to… Teresa Tarmey |

6 mins

Talking to… Teresa Tarmey

The celebrity facialist and skincare expert tells Ellen Cummings about her passion for treating skin holistically and her thoughts on regulation

When it comes to world-renowned facialists, Teresa Tarmey is up there with the best of them. With her top-secret roster of clients rumoured to include the likes of supermodel Kate Moss and actors Sienna Miller and Naomie Harris, and features in British Vogue and Forbes magazine, Tarmey has nearly 50,000 hours of hands-on treatment experience. However, the Yorkshire-born “super facialist” didn’t know she was destined for skincare stardom when she started out.

“I genuinely didn’t know what I wanted to do,” she says. “I wasn’t academic at all; dare I say this, I didn’t even take my GCSEs. I just wanted to get out into the big wide world and work because I didn’t want to do exams.”

Tarmey originally wanted to be a nurse but, fortunately for the beauty industry (and her clients), she changed her mind at the last minute and enrolled in a two-year beauty course at Rotherham College. More than 25 years later, Tarmey now has a team of seven people based in her sleek, art gallery-esque clinic in a converted synagogue in Notting Hill, in addition to her newly opened residency in luxury London hotel, The Cadogan.

Tarmey carrying out a treatment at The Cadogan

Tarmey insists that her success didn’t happen overnight. Explaining how she grew her impressive client base from scratch, she says, “I moved to London 16 years ago and I didn’t know a single person. I wasn’t aiming for the stars or to get press attention. It’s just word of mouth – someone gets results and tells someone else about it, and luckily enough for me, someone must have told a celebrity. I think celebrities trust celebrities, so they think ‘If it’s good enough for so-and-so, it’s good enough for me’. Then press take notice because they’re interested in celebrities; it’s like a domino effect.”

Making connections

Getting to work with a variety of people is part of the reason Tarmey has stayed in the industry so long. She explains, “I get to meet so many different people on a daily basis. I usually do a maximum of seven treatments a day, but it’s actually like meeting seven friends every day. It’s such a social job.”

Aside from people, Tarmey’s other great love is skin, with her treatment menu consisting of myriad advanced treatments including laser, fractional radiofrequency, peels and HIFU, to name a few. While she loves helping clients with their concerns, her motivation behind focusing on skin started out personal.

The Teresa Tarmey Clinic in Notting Hill

“The reason I went into skin was because of my own adult acne,” she explains. “It was really bad until I was about 40, but I still get spots occasionally. I was trying to treat skin from an acne point of view, but also trying to keep it at bay and prevent scarring – so there were different stages in skin that really inspired me to go more into aesthetics.”

When it comes to her ethos, Tarmey is a big believer in not treating issues aggressively. “‘Little and often’ is a phrase I use a lot,” she comments. While she does take a gentle approach to her treatments, they are still very much targeted, and all the more effective for it.

“I like to treat clients for different concerns in one session. So, we don’t do standalone IPL, we don’t do standalone peels – we don’t do standalone anything, apart from resurfacing and ultrasound. Other than that, every single treatment we do is a combination treatment. I think this is really important because most people have more than one concern, so I like to treat them individually and in a bespoke way.”

Laser-based treatments are “hands down” Tarmey’s favourite way to treat clients. “Removing pigmentation and broken capillaries is such a buzz, so if I had to pick one treatment, it would be resurfacing,” she says.

In her clinic, Tarmey uses the Alma Harmony multiplatform device. “It’s great because we don’t have to mess around with different machines. One of our signature facials is called the Advanced Facial. We always start this with a light, no-downtime peel to get rid of any dead skin and prep the skin for extractions. After extractions, we use the lasers for any pigmentation, broken capillaries, scarring, things like that. We also always try to do a bit of light microneedling to deliver vitamins and help rejuvenation. Then we finish with LED to calm everything down.”

Tarmey studies beauty therapy at Rotherham College

Moves to London and rents a treatment room in Shepherd's Bush

Operates a home salon in Belsize Park

Opens her Notting Hill clinic

Starts a two-year ambassadorship with Dior

Commences partnership with The Cadogan

Becomes brand ambassador for Alma UK and Ireland

The skin concerns Tarmey is most often asked to treat are usually a result of sun damage. “The education around SPF and sun safety has come on leaps and bounds, but I still think there’s a certain clientele that’s not ready to give up the sun. People who think they’re really educated are still trying to get their SPF from their foundation. I see a lot of sun damage, from broken capillaries to pigmentation, especially on the chest and neck.”

Championing experience

As someone who puts so much emphasis on the value of combination treatments, the categorisation of these in the amber section of the Government’s draft aesthetic licensing document is a concern for Tarmey.

Combination treatments – along with other beauty mainstays like standalone radiofrequency, HIFU and non-ablative laser treatments – have provisionally been placed in the “Amber: procedures with medium risk of complications” category, meaning that – if the proposed categorisations go ahead in their current form following the consultation – licensed aesthetic practitioners would need to have oversight by a regulated healthcare professional (who has gained an accredited qualification to prescribe, administer and supervise aesthetic procedures) to carry out the treatment.

A hands-on facial in the treatment room at The Cadogan
Tarmey using the Alma Primex device

Although nothing has been confirmed regarding aesthetic procedure licences at the time of writing (the consultation period only ended on October 28), Tarmey is wary of what the potential outcome could mean for herself and other experienced beauty therapists who have built businesses around providing combination and advanced treatments.

She has voiced concerns about the attitude of generalising beauty therapists and medics, regardless of individual experience, training or qualifications, explaining, “I do disagree with a few things that are in the amber category, and that’s not from a selfish point of view. It’s so broad. There are a lot of people who shouldn’t be using lasers, for sure, but then how could someone stop me, who’s been using lasers for 26 years?

“If that happens, I think it’s really unfair to the people that have been doing it for a long time. Just because someone is a GP, it doesn’t make them a skin specialist. So how is someone who’s a GP now suddenly going to be good at doing lasers a year later? I’ve been doing this for 26 years.”

Prestige partnerships

Tarmey’s extensive knowledge and experience has landed her some enviable brand partnerships, including a two-year contract with luxury fashion house Dior. “With Dior, I did a year as UK ambassador and a year as global ambassador,” she explains. “I was delivering facials Dior-style with Dior products – so it was from a professional angle, which is what I like to be known for.”

Tarmey’s desire to champion the professional aspect of treatments also pairs perfectly with her latest role as brand ambassador for advanced treatment device manufacturer Alma. After using the brand’s devices for 15 years, it’s a natural progression which Tarmey is thrilled about. “I’ll be doing educational things, a bit on social media, but mainly the more professional, behind-thescenes stuff as well. I hope that one day I get to give advice on what I think will be good in terms of technology and what the customer wants too.”

This article appears in November 2023

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November 2023
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