January came. Probably the most hated month of the year. For most people, of course. But not for those of us who have their birthday in January. We have something to look forward to. On the other hand, you can't celebrate your birthday in January anywhere but indoors. So that sucks. Jumping in inflatable castles somewhere in the open is therefore automatically off the table. The choice is thus reduced to beer at home or beer at a bar. So many choices. But you what? Forget about that typical birthday celebration. After all, this is your glorious day and you can spend it however you prefer. You can cry because it's your party (as Lesley Gore would say) or you can book an appointment at Zagreb's most fabulous salon, Biologique Recherche and ask your boyfriend to pay for it.

BR, as us fans like to call it is a French cosmetics line is best known for its P50 acid toner. This so-called elixir of God is supposed to wipe out all your bad choices from your life, including your asshole ex-lover. The P50 has a stinky smell that many people can't stand. Joke aside, the toner is considered as the gold standard in the cosmetics industry. Ask anyone. Of course, not everything is as glam as it seems. The original P50 1970 toner formulation contains a phenol ingredient that is thought to be so irritating to the skin that it has been banned for cosmetic use both in Europe and Canada. Phenol is nowadays produced from petroleum and is most commonly used for the synthesis of plastics in the production of polycarbonates, herbicides, detergents, etc. Not exactly the most glamorous ingredient one could say. But in America, unlike in Europe and Canada, the formulation with phenol is still in circulation. Why? God knows. I would rather not go into that. In the EU we can only buy P50 in the phenol-free variation. And this is supposed to be fine, as they say in the salon. In contrast, experts at beautypedia.com label both products as extremely irritating and advise against use.

I was looking forward to visiting Biologique Recherche in Zagreb. As much as little girls look forward to petting ponies. Insert a cute emoji. I have been following the brand for quite some time now and of course, I had to know if the hype is true. I booked some kind of basic treatment because I didn't even know what their system was. An extremely polite lady explained to me over the phone that they would first do an analysis of my skin and then determine what my treatment would contain. Let me mention that you can only buy BR products in salons where they do a skin analysis and then prescribe the most optimal care for your skin condition. The phone call ended on the same polite note as it began with the question "tell me your esteemed first name". I was so shocked about the level of politeness, that I almost replied "Queen Ines the Great of the House Sercelj, the first of her name, a patroness of beautiful skin and mother of kittens." But of course, I couldn't, my Croatian is not so advanced.

The salon is located in an old-town building in the heart of Zagreb, where you ring a bell to enter and wait for the heavenly door to open. The interior is just as gorgeous as on google photos. High ceilings, predominantly beige tones, cosmetic bottles impeccably sorted, architecturally minimalist interior branded to the last little detail. Even their hangers have the BR abbreviation. The combination of the beautiful interior and exceptional professionalism clearly make half the experience.

We started by measuring the current state of my skin. These measurements are then stored on a computer where each person has its own folder. This makes it easy if you come back just to buy some products. As I mentioned above, you cannot buy their products without skin analysis. After a brief skin consultation where I was poked with some pen-like apparatus, I was invited to another room. The other room was so big and beautiful as the rest of the salon. I took off my shoes and my top and wrapped myself in a towel to lay down on the "doctors" table. I'm lying, first I took a few more minutes to observe the beautiful interior. It's amazing how space affects people. What came next was an hour of pampering, which I would gladly describe more accurately, but I did not receive any information about what they put on my face. Loads of masks, exfoliants, serums and similar, I suppose. At one point I had my face covered in gauze like a mummy. They only use cold water and Cyro Sticks placed in ice. This part was not as pleasant as I expected it to be. In the beginning, it is pleasant, but somewhere in the middle, it turns into an unpleasant feeling as if someone rubbed your face with snow. The experience is probably more enjoyable in the summer. In the winter, when my skin is already very stressed by the low outside temperatures, it just doesn't feel nice.

After I finished my treatment, I went to the toilet, as I drank a whole bottle of their excellent water. While washing my hands, I looked into the mirror and examined the condition of my skin with forensic precision. Because of the bad light, I didn't see much, but just enough to create the first opinion. The skin looked extremely moisturized, with a greasy glow as after almost every facial treatment. I don't know how women on Instagram look so perfect after facials when I look like someone just poured a bucket of oil on my face. In addition to the oily glow, my skin was quite red. The red didn't go away during the day, so I didn't get to my much-anticipated Instagram moment. I did not want to form my whole opinion based on the first day. The skin needs time to calm down. Then arrived the next day and I ran into the bathroom full of expectations. I looked in the mirror and saw nothing special. No word about that special glow, no change in tone or redness. To your and my regret, I have to admit that my skin was exactly the same as it was before the treatment. My lines were still the same, the number of blackheads was exactly the same, and the redness had not quite calmed down. I grabbed my comedone extractor and finished the job myself.

Expectations were high, but I can honestly say that they did not affect my final opinion. I still recommend a visit to the BR salon to anyone who wants to bask in the beauty of interior design and professional service. They excel at politeness and professionalism. A bit too much for my taste. It lacked a kind of personal touch, relaxed feeling, and authenticity. The exaggerated courtship even bugged me at times. I also missed communicating about the condition of my skin and the details of the treatment. I came out of the salon the same way I entered it- skin condition and information-wise. All I could pull from the lady who was treating me was the fact that my skin was slightly reactive, but it quickly calms down. Maybe she had a bad day and I just happened to run into her? Maybe she chose the wrong skincare? Or maybe I'm just used to something different. Who would know? I will definitely give them another chance, as I am reluctant to judge things so quickly. Also because my friend was extremely satisfied and had a completely different experience. Of course, it all depends on what you expect and how much experience you have. I admit that my current facialist is hard to beat.