From the weather in the UK to the traffic light travel system, everything feels wildly unpredictable this summer.
Well, everything except for the bikini silhouette of choice. Every woman poolside is wearing a swimsuit that’s cut impossibly high on the leg (or she’s got one in her drawer at home).
High-rise bikinis have been spotted on beaches from Polzeath to Palma, worn by everyone from Love Island cast members to celebrities. Even mere mortals are rocking the high-cut look this summer, in budget supermarket suits or the costlier designer versions – and the trend doesn’t look to be disappearing anytime soon.
The appeal is understandable: the 80s-era silhouette is flattering, making legs look supremely long, whether you’re curvy, slim, petite or tall. A high-cut leg works with a high-waist or a skimpy bikini shape, so there’s a wealth of options available to suit your style.
One (not so) small issue: it’s a silhouette that requires immense confidence to pull off, something I don’t have. I’m not sure I ever would have attempted a high-cut bikini leg in my perkier 20-something days, but after giving birth to four children, my swimwear look is distinctly modest.
Jennifer Barton, 39, of London had a very modest wardrobe of swimwear after giving birth to four children and often kept her skirt on throughout a day at the beach
A new ‘bikini facial’ treatment gave Jennifer the confidence to adopt a new Love Island-esque look (pictured in a bikini by Boux Avenue)
For much of the past decade, it’s mostly involved a towel wrapped around my waist which I only throw off at the last possible minute, seconds before my body touches the water.
I feel most self-conscious about my bikini area: it can be bumpy and spotty, and I worry it’s aged faster than the rest of me after all it’s been through – my largest baby was 10lbs, 4oz, after all.
I haven’t felt remotely inclined to expose this part of my body for years, and I typically buy bikinis and swimsuits with ‘boy short’ bottoms. My other signature beach look when I’m not wearing my trusty towel is keeping my skirt on the entire time.
However, I have to confess this summer, I’ve been imagining myself strutting down the beach Bond Girl style in a high-leg seersucker two piece with leg holes that start way up on my hip bones (I blame Love Island).
So I was intrigued by the treatment on offer at Kensington’s EF Medispa. The smart beauty clinic offers an ‘intimate peel’ and ‘bum facial’, a 45-minute treatment that combines cleansing with a peel and some LED therapy to rejuvenate the intimate area.
Jen felt most self-conscious about her bikini-line area which she said can be ‘bumpy and spotty’ and appears to have ‘aged faster than the rest of her after all it’s been through’ (pictured left before and right after the treatment)
Jen had been imagining herself strutting down the beach Bond Girl style in a high-leg seersucker – and she now has the confidence to do so (pictured in a two-piece from London brand Maiyo)
EF Medispa is one of the first companies to offer the US treatment in the UK (they’ve been doing it for about four years), and it’s getting more and more popular. My therapist Pauline tells me she’s been doing at least one a day all summer.
The treatment is available year-round and it’s as common to see women in their 20s as in their 50s booking in. It’s suitable for anyone and everyone.
Before you book in for the treatment, some housekeeping: all hair removal in the area should be done in advance (shave two weeks ahead; laser and wax up to four weeks in advance). While it’s a treatment that you can in theory do once, the clinic requires you to book in for a series of appointments (come every two-to-four weeks), in order to see optimal results.
Ahead of the treatment, you have to sign two consent forms, one for the LED light and the other for the peels. The 45-minute treatment involved two parts: first came the bum facial. I climbed the stairs of the EF Medispa town house and entered a calming, white-walled treatment room (there are six in total), where Pauline asked me to change into white disposable panties and take some photos of the area in question, so I could compare before and after results.
Ahead of the treatment, you have to sign two consent forms, one for the LED light (machine is pictured) and the other for the peels
EF Medispa is one of the first companies to offer the US treatment in the UK (they’ve been doing it for about four years), and it’s getting more and more popular (pictured: the products)
She began with the ‘bum facial’, something I must confess I wasn’t expecting (I thought I was just getting a bikini line facial!). It costs £1,250 for a course of six and is designed to diminish any breakouts in the area and get rid of any ingrown hairs.
First, Pauline applied two different Dermaquest products to double cleanse the area, including one with papaya and pineapple enzymes, which smelt lovely.
What’s involved in a ‘bikini facial’?
The Bikini Facial Package at EF Medispa was created to help smooth, brighten and improve pigmentation on the delicate intimate regions that are often exposed while wearing a bikini – front and back.
It includes a gentle Intimate Peel that treats the bikini line using powerhouse ingredients like tranexamic acid, mandelic acid and retinol to help gently brighten up the area. The ingredients help disperse melanin formation and increase cell renewal, resulting in smoother and brighter skin.
The pain-free treatment can be used on all skin types and colours and it’s ideal for anyone experiencing discoloration caused by hormonal imbalance or skin ageing, as well as the uneven tone caused by frequent shaving.
It also treats the derrière; it works to refine and smooth the skin, addressing any concerns that might be stopping you from feeling comfortable when wearing a cheeky bikini bottom. This involves cleansing and removing any impurities and ingrown hair on the area, followed by a chemical peel to gently clear congestion and exfoliation of the upper layer of the skin, before a revitalising moisturiser is applied.
Each Bikini Facial treatment doesn’t require any post-treatment downtime and usually a course of 4 treatments is recommended, spaced between one to two weeks apart.
I felt a bit self-conscious about having my bum cheeks out on display, but the process itself was nothing other than relaxing.
Then Pauline applied a self-neutralising peel, which contains a salicylic acid resurfacer. Depending on how your body reacts, you can get up to three layers of the peel applied; I managed two coats before ‘frosting’ (when the peel starts to penetrate).
It was tingly but not uncomfortable and reminded me of facial peels I’ve had in the past – no surprise considering all these products can be used on the face, too.
Since the peel is self-neutralising, it didn’t need to be washed off, but Pauline followed up with Dermaquest’s SkinBrite Solution to enhance the results and, once dry, applied retinol to give the skin a firmer appearance.
The peel is meant to help with any areas of ‘congestion’ (read: spots), and while I couldn’t actually see what was happening on my bum, I now can’t stop touching it, and it does feel softer. Just be aware it’s normal for some light shedding of the skin to occur for a couple of days after the procedure.
The peel was followed by 10 minutes of LED on the area (you wear glasses for this part), using the Dermalux machine. Pauline switched on both the red light to stimulate collagen and help firm the area, and the infrared IR to heal and repair.
I could feel the slight heat from the machine but I’d pretty much forgotten where I was by this point since Pauline offered me a foot massage while the LED was on, which was blissful and reminded me how overlooked my feet were (even more so than my intimate area, perhaps?) If you’re not keen on people touching your feet, you can opt for a hand massage instead.
Then Pauline flipped me onto my back: time for the ‘intimate peel’. This is most popular and effective for those with hyperpigmentation, promising a reduction in discolouration and spots between 20 and 40 per cent across four to six treatments. It should also help with anti-ageing and improving the overall look of the area – my issue – although Pauline warned I wouldn’t get the full results with one treatment.
She applied Me Line cleanser to the bikini area, followed by a degreasing solution, followed by the peel. Unlike the bum peel, this one is designed for use just in the bikini area.
A week after the treatment Jen said her skin – both bikini and bottom – is still the smoothest it’s ever been. ‘It really feels like I’ve taken some years off,’ she says
After the treatment, Jen said she proudly went swimming with her children last weekend, without her customary towel cover-up (pictured in a Boux Avenue bikini)
The peel has some powerful ingredients, containing 20 per cent mandelic acid, 15 per cent lactobionic acid, 2 per cent salicylic acid and 1 per cent retinol.
It stayed on for 10 minutes, tingled a bit, and I was instructed to keep my legs flat so the peel didn’t gather in certain areas. I kept fidgeting because the peel was all over my bikini area – as in, covering every inch – and it was a strange feeling. Once the tingling had faded away, Pauline applied moisturiser with an SPF to finish. Top tip: you can use E45 at home to keep the area hydrated.
The ‘intimate bikini peel’ costs £1,650 for four sessions, which includes a Me-Line pen you take home. The pen acts as a pigment suppressant and should be used as a touch-up four days after the procedure on the areas being treated.
After the treatment, there are a few no-nos to watch out for: no gym or hot baths for 48 hours, no swimming for two to five days, don’t use any perfumed products around the area and, crucially, no sun exposure for two weeks. The skin is most vulnerable to sun damage after a peel, so the last one is a biggie, and applying an SPF with a high factor when you do go to the beach is essential.
Jen says: ‘I’m not planning a midlife career change to become a 39-year-old who dons a bikini for reality TV anytime soon. But this has made me rethink my swimwear options for the future: high-leg bikinis, here I come!’ (pictured in a two-piece from Maiyo)
Don’t be surprised if you notice some pigmentation coming to the surface in the few days after the intimate facial – that’s perfectly normal.
It’s been a week since I had the treatment done and my skin – both bikini and bottom – is still the smoothest it’s ever been. It really feels like I’ve taken some years off.
Even more transformed, however, is my confidence: I proudly went swimming with the kids last weekend, without my customary towel cover-up – without any towel at all, in fact.
This treatment is pricey, sure, but if you’re spending weeks at a time in a bikini, we can attest that the effects are more than just skin deep.
I’m not planning a midlife career change to become a 39-year-old who dons a bikini for reality TV anytime soon. But this has made me rethink my swimwear options for the future: high-leg bikinis, here I come!
For more details, visit https:efmedispa.com