Review: Clinical Facial at Mortar & Milk


Every couple of years or so, some friends and I book a spa day and take ourselves off with bags of magazines and snacks. We hop on some loungers, catch up on each others’ lives, and ignore the disapproving glances as we wolf down Poulain (at one particularly strict spa I thought we were going to get mugged for our chocolate by the starved looking hordes coming out of dinner). For our first few spa visits I booked a facial, but soon realised that I could recreate them at home for a fraction of the price. Nice cleanser, exfoliating mask, treatment mask, plinky plonky music on Spotify, job done. I smugly thought I’d nailed facials and would never need a ‘pro’ one ever again. And then I went to Mortar & Milk in Fulham, and realised there was a whole world of facials beyond the whale music.

Mortar & Milk is a small beauty store which has a retail space, selling lovely brands like Aromatherapy Associates, Sam Farmer, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare and Delilah Cosmetics, but the real transformations happen in the cosy treatment rooms. Pam Marshall, who previously owned a clinic in the US, came to this country a few years ago and went through a full training programme to requalify in the UK as a Level 4 clinical aesthetician. She’s got the skills and experience to use far stronger preparations like acid peels, and more specialised techniques like diathermy, than you would ever normally get in a day spa or local salon. Before she started any treatments on me, we had a one hour consultation where she looked at my skin, both visually and with one of those terrifying cameras that show how much pigmentation you have and how hydrated your skin is (not enough in my case), discussed any issues I wanted to tackle (skin tone and rosacea) and chatted through my diet and lifestyle. Pam then did a one hour bespoke clinical facial on me, using acids to help exfoliate skin and target pigmentation and cauterising the worst of my thread veins. I left with a simple skincare programme for me to use at home, based on Exuviance and Neostrata products (these products are only sold in clinics / spas).

I’ve had two facials with Pam now and there was a definite improvement in my skin tone between the two – it’s tighter, brighter and the pores are less obvious (I can see this, others have commented and we also were able to look at the photos Pam took on my first visit and compare them to photos taken on my second). The treatments didn’t irritate my rosacea at all, and we’re going to continue to treat my pigmentation to reduce it further. I don’t think I’d ever be comfortable with cosmetic surgery (I’ve had way too much surgery that I’ve had to have to be volunteering for more), and am doubtful I’d ever have injectables, so for a non-invasive, effective treatment I will be coming back to see Pam and listen to her pan-pipe-free Spotify playlist a few times a year.

Note: there is little to no regulation around the use of stronger treatments like acid peels. I could set up “Debra’s Superstrength Facials” on the high street tomorrow and start offering a glycolic peel with zero training. Please check the qualifications and experience of any therapist before having a clinical facial, and if you’re at all unsure, walk away. These products can really damage your skin if applied incorrectly.

Pam Marshall can be found at Mortar & Milk, 793 Fulham Road, London, SW6 5HD.  An initial consultation is £50 as a standalone or free with first treatment. For treatment prices see: My initial consultation and facial were provided as a press sample; I paid for my second treatment.

Debra Brock

Debra Brock is co-founder of and a contributing writer.

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