Interview with Marcia Kilgore, founder of Bliss Spa, Soap & Glory and FitFlop

As the founder of three super successful brands -the Bliss spa chain, cheep and cheerful beauty products Soap & Glory and Fitflop, the anti-cellulite shoe sensation -, few people are more qualified to talk about beauty than Canadian Marcia Kilgore (40). The former beautician to Uma Thurman, Madonna and Demi Moore moved from New York to London in 2004 and lives in South Kensington with her French husband and their two young sons. Here, she offers some frank advice on how to look good and explains why good products needn’t be expensive.

What is your definition of a good facial and what should it achieve?

Anyone can just scrub some cream and a mask on your face and do a nice massage, and call it a facial. But a good facial means that you should leave the spa feeling like your face has been worked out, after a deep cleaning that includes removing dark heads and a lymphatic drainage. If you just want to relax, then book a massage: a good facial shouldn’t be relaxing.

Which treatments are worth having in a spa and which ones may as well be done at home?

Lymphatic drainage is a very efficient treatment, which definitely requires being done by someone who has been trained. The same goes for Swedish, deep tissue and cellulite massages, that are very intense and technical. But you may as well have a body scrub done at home, by steaming some hot water and then scrubbing your own body for five minutes.

What makes a moisturiser efficient? 

A well moisturised skin is essential, as moisture equals youth, and should be used every day. A good cream should mimic the epidermis in order to stop the skin from drying, thanks to a combination of lipids such as free fatty acids, ceramides and cholesterol. The price of the cream is not always an indication of the price of its ingredients: Crème de la Mer, which is one of the most expensive moisturisers on the market, is composed mostly of mineral oil, so works very well by forming a barrier that protects the skin, but it is not much different from Vaseline. Some components such as aloe vera, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid are also very good ingredients to be found in creams.

What is the most important daily beauty gesture?

Sunscreen, as the sun is the number One killer of the skin. In general, avoiding the sun and not smoking will help to keep a youthful skin. If you can’t stop smoking, then it might be a good idea to use a cream containing some antioxidants, such as beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E, to help protect the body from forming the free radicals that can damage the cells. The oxygen facial, which I created for Bliss spa, also helps to give energy to the skin cells, by promoting the regeneration of collagen and elastin.

What are the principles behind the brand Soap & Glory?

Our motto is “You shouldn’t spend an arm and leg to moisturise one”. When I started Bliss in New York, one could get a great facial for just fourty dollars, which meant that I had amongst my clients some celebrities but also some secretaries with not much money. After I had my first son, I didn’t want to go back to the service industry, but I wanted to bring this escapism and affordability by creating a new brand which could offer great products for less than ten pounds.

How do you manage to keep the prices low and maintain good quality on a budget?

Soap & Glory is sold in Harvey Nichols, which is a great and exclusive place for beauty brands, but also in Boots, as big production volumes and sales make them much less expensive. We don’t do any advertising, which can be awfully expensive, in order to keep the prices as low as possible. We also go direct from the factory to the retailers, without using any middle men. Our packaging is fun and well designed, but it is simple and minimal, and we don’t use expensive components such as silver foil and leafing. Our customer knows that she doesn’t need packaging and is the kind of person who might like to dress at Topshop as much as Chanel.

Which is your best beauty trick?

I would say blush: if you look tired, a little bit of colour on the cheeks can work wonders, by mimicking the youthful aspect of a good blood circulation, as if after jogging. I would advise applying it quite high, only on the apples of the cheeks, and to use a cream or a stick instead of powder, as the former make the skin look dewier. I would also say that the older you get, the less foundation you should use, as foundation tends to settle in wrinkles, making them more obvious. Personally, I like to use a foundation stick on the T line, and only where strictly needed.

The Soap & Glory range

The Soap & Glory range