Cosmetic dermatologist Dr Frances Prenna Jones calls her office waiting room in London’s Mayfair her “disco room”. Glittering balls are on display, along with an incongruous collection of other items, including department store-style dressing tables and a Fritz Hansen chair, all bathed in neon yellow ambient light.
It seems strange at first – especially considering that the room is regularly visited by some of the most famous faces in town – but it soon becomes clear that this relaxed and jovial space is a reflection of Dr Jones’ ethos. “Everyone wants to feel seen and everyone wants to feel good,” she says.
Cosmetic dermatology as self-care
“I wanted to create an environment where people don’t feel guilty or intimidated. I want people to come into this space and think that it’s perfectly fine, in fact, a good thing, to take care of yourself. Since opening her practice, Jones has pioneered cosmetic dermatology as a form of “self-care” rather than “self-improvement”, combining non-invasive cosmetic treatments with automatic therapies and her own formulations. of skin care. With a menu that runs the gamut from Botox injections and fillers to infrared light treatments, peels and skin rejuvenation facials, she has a singular knack for regularly and gently altering the face without the least artificial intervention.
“You come to the clinic convinced that you need a little Botox here or a little filler there,” says one of her patients. “What you really need is a professional, the best in the business, to identify your areas of concern and walk you through exactly how you can address them. It’s not about going back, it’s about creating an improved and better version of yourself. It’s a boost of self-confidence to beat everyone else. According to Jones, his work is its own kind of anthropology: his list of high-profile clients reflects the zeitgeist, and each client reveals unique insights into his life as he walks through the door.
Photography: Maisie Cousins
One of the biggest changes she has noticed recently is a significant increase in the number of male patients. “When I first started doing this I had a lot of male patients, and then the male-to-female ratio [ratio] decreased a bit and in the last three years the number has started to increase again. I think it comes down to self-care. During the pandemic, many men spent more time at home, seeing their spouses or partners taking care of them and thinking they would do the same. More than 50% of the men who came have a partner who is already a patient of mine. Jones has also seen an increase in the number of women aged 35 to 55 who would not have considered undergoing any treatment before Covid. She surmises the pandemic has encouraged them, like her new male clients, to spend more of their disposable income on themselves.
Of course, all of this is subject to change. “It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years when people are able to travel again and do other things,” Jones says. “One of my patients owns a very large gallery in London. She assumed they would have to close their offices when the pandemic hit, but then, within two weeks, they had already had one of their best years, as people were at home staring at empty walls and had an income. available that they used to spend on other things. In the same way, the pandemic has given people the same [time and residual income] think about spending money on themselves. I understand that art is valuable, and investing in yourself is a different return on investment, but there is evidence to support the [significant] the mental and physical feedback when you feel good about yourself.
A range of products in small series
As Jones’ story shows, cosmetic dermatology is a union of science and aesthetics. She worked as an NHS cardiologist for ten years before discovering her interest in cosmetic surgery. She then helped launch UK pharmacy Boots’ in-store laser clinics before setting up her own practice. In the midst of it all, she was fulfilling her creative aspirations, studying fashion design at Central Saint Martins and developing her own line of products.
These products, which Jones has personally overseen from formulation to packaging, are perhaps one of beauty’s best-kept secrets. Produced in small quantities in Devon, they are practically youth in a jar. Its toner-exfoliator-serum, Formula, which stimulates cell renewal and eliminates impurities, aroused such passion that, around Christmas 2006, a New York businessman diverted his trip to London to bring it back to his wife. . , knocks on the door of his clinic, hands him a small cut-out photo of the product and begs him to find him a bottle.
Photography: Maisie Cousins
“That’s when I knew we had created a monster,” says Jones, who has the alert energy one would expect from someone who juggles so many balls expertly – apparently aided, on the day of our interview, by the contents of a huge coffee cup. filled with apple cider vinegar, dark maple syrup, lemon juice and water, which she replaces with caffeine. When asked if there were any industry myths she wanted to debunk, Jones replied, “Let me get out my soapbox and climb on it.”
Dr. Frances Prenna Jones on Botox, fillers and skincare
First on the agenda is the notion that anything containing chemicals is harmful. “First of all, water is a chemical. The world is a big chemical, so stop saying chemicals [are a bad thing].
“Second, stop talking about organic essential oils – some of the most irritating products for your skin are essential oils, which can cause eczema, contact dermatitis, hypersensitivity, etc. Third, you need preservatives, because without preservatives, bacteria grow in your product and will grow on your face.
Another bone of contention for Jones is the idea that Botox is a toxin, and if you use it, your face will inevitably feel like it’s been frozen. Before the Covid vaccine, she says, Botox was the most commonly administered drug in the world. “When you just extrapolate the drug’s effectiveness by these numbers, the idea that it’s dangerous is wrong.”
As for fillers, Jones prefers to call them “volume replacement” to emphasize that they don’t actually fill out the face like a balloon, but replace the fat loss that naturally occurs with age. Jones thinks the machines are misused and stresses the importance of learning about what’s available before choosing a treatment.
A holistic approach
“There are a lot of unsupervised beauticians who use the machines suboptimally or use them in isolation. It’s much more beneficial to use them holistically, as a tool in your anti-aging arsenal, whether it’s treating sun damage, reducing fine lines, or improving collagen, elastin, and more. Machines are a staple of Jones’ practice, but if she could choose just one, it would be her intense pulsed light machine, nicknamed “Betty”, which uses a combination of light wavelengths to destroy age spots, rosacea and other unwanted discolorations.
Yet for all the machines out there, the fact is that effective skincare requires a multi-pronged approach. “It depends on what you put on your skin, the treatments you do, your diet and your psychology,” sums up Jones, who thinks a holistic approach, rather than a one-off solution, can really make an impact. on your look and feel. §