Nicola – My journey into Beauty

I began my career through teaching Art in a secondary school. Art is something I’m very passionate about and is something I still do a lot of on a regular basis.

I went through a stressful time in my life and realised that to improve my happiness I had to make a change. My work life balance was off and it became all consuming. It wasn’t until I went away for a weekend in Chester that I realised what it was that I wanted to do. I booked myself if for an Indian head massage which I’d never had before and I knew then this is what I wanted for my career.

Straight after my massage I felt a huge weight lifted of my shoulders and after feeling stressed for such a long time it amazed me how a 45 minute massage could completely change my mood and set me on the right path.

After this I joined an intensive course in Beauty level 2 and 3 and fell in love with the more relaxing and holistic side of the industry. I love how a person can come in for a relaxation treatment and leave almost like a new person. The way they hold themselves, the way they speak and walk after a treatment is so nice to see and being able to be the person that provides that for them is so rewarding.

Its no doubt that people are more stressed, more lonely and lacking in connection and its nice to be able to be the one that improves a small portion of their lives that ultimately can make a bigger change for them further down the line. Being the one to improve someone else’s physical, psychological and spiritual wellbeing is something that not only rewards the client but rewards me too.

I provide many different treatments in salon that can greatly benefit you on many different levels and if you have any questions regarding these I’d love to answer them for you!

You can see my art here:

You can book treatments with me here:

Halt the Habit: Nail Biting

Halt that Habit: Nail Biting

Nail biting is common. It’s a ‘trivial’ habit that secretly has a big impact. I have bitten my nails for twenty years. Now I am at a point where my nails are growing again. It’s a small achievement but to me it feels dramatic. It took me a long time to get there and many failed attempts.
I’ve suffered from infections, self-consciousness, and hopelessness when I have failed to quit. Sometimes, I would bite my nails so badly they would bleed, and I would keep going, as if my life depended on it.
So, why do we bite?

It’s been estimated that roughly 30% to 40% of the population has a chronic nail-biting habit. Habitual behaviour is notoriously difficult to stop. Often, we don’t even realise we are doing. There have been times when I was driving along and found myself ten minutes later having bitten every nail without noticing.

The reason we often struggle to stop varies from person to person. It might be that we don’t really understand why it’s such a big deal to quit. Even when we know why we should stop it might be that we try and fail and so we wonder what the point of trying is.
A little dramatically, part of me felt like I was not capable of doing it. It was my crutch to calm me down. I was biting my nails when I entered a panic or became stressed in my every day. It scratched an itch. I had a false feeling of control over my body and because I was focusing on biting it was distracting me from my nervousness. Although it felt great in the moment (and even then, sometimes not), it didn’t feel good after. Calming techniques and adapting to cope with anxiety can be used to replace nail biting, scratching or hair tugging if you are struggling with stress or anxiety. It may be that you simply need to occupy your hands. Perhaps you need to fidget? Nail biting might have become the habit that keeps your hands occupied but there are healthier ways to fidget. If your condition is extreme, it is a good idea to seek medical advice from professionals as it may be more than a behaviour habit.
Whatever your reason is for biting your nails there are many good reasons to give the habit a good kicking.

What is the impact?

Your hands meet a lot of bacteria day to day which then goes straight into your mouth when you bite. Nail-biting helps harmful bacteria enter your body. Not only are you ingesting bacteria through your mouth, you’re sharing it. The bacteria in your saliva goes onto your hands and that then gets passed to anyone or anything you touch, putting others at risk. Germs love a ride and your nails are free transport.
Nail biting can lead to other health problems. It causes irritated skin, tissue damage and open wounds, even very minor ones that you might not really notice, which can then become easily infected.
You’re not only hurting your hands by biting your nails but your teeth and mouth. The flesh of your lips, gums, inner cheeks and tongue are sensitive and your nails are sharp and hard. Chronic nail biting can lead to some serious dental problems like abscesses and damaged enamel.
Finally, and as silly as this might sound, your nails are a tool. It’s much easier to take off a label, open a can, and pick up tiny objects. I can finally peel an orange without using my teeth. However you want to use your nails there is something to be said for the reasons we have them in the first place.

What can I do?

By identifying and noticing our behaviour we have greater chance of stopping. I started forcing myself to notice the habit when I was doing it and stated, “I am biting my nails”. The next step was to take my hand out of my mouth and replace the habit with something healthier. Weirdly, the thing that helped me most at work was a fidget cube. I couldn’t carry that around all day though and certainly not driving. I began doing a breathing exercise when I was at home and thought about why I wanted to quit, my goal. When I drove, I tapped my fingers in a rhythm on the wheel.
Something that helped me notice when I was biting my nails, and associating it with unpleasantness, was some foul-tasting nail treatment. You can pick this up from your local pharmacy or from amazon. I began tolerating the taste of the solution, so I cycled through a couple to keep myself from getting used to the taste. Just a warning, if you do use this, don’t eat food with your hands. Trust me.

Proper nail care and keeping them short stops you from wanting to bite them all off. If you break a nail, or chip it when its growing, resist the temptation to bite it off to correct it. Instead, use nail clippers as it stops you from repeating the actions of biting your nails and teasing your brain with the feeling.

Keeping yourself from falling off the wagon once you stop is part of the challenge. When you start seeing your nails grow it’s motivating but habits creep back. You will bite them and have moments of weakness it’s about powering through those moments. Recognise the act, stop and do something else.

Forgive yourself. It’s not all or nothing. Don’t give up. You can do it!

Kathryn Jenkins
Freelance Writer
Kathryn is a passionate freelance writer with a keen interest in our mental health.

Holly’s Health Corner – My stress skin.

Last month myself, Kelly and Nicola all made the trip to London to attend an acne workshop with Environ skin care which was amazing! The training centre in itself is wonderful and the staff are accommodating and very friendly.

Environ is my favourite facial brand out of all the ones I’ve trained in and I wouldn’t use nor advise you use anything else. This is purely down to the fact that it works. Time and time again I’ve had clients come to me saying “I’ve tried this, I’ve tried that and nothing ever works” Well I’m telling you Environ skin care works. For everyone.

It was great to be up at head office and get some new information on problematic skin and how we can treat it and help you. Problematic skin often feels like a constant battle. One minute we feel like we are finally getting on top of it and then those pesky spots appear again. Whether its stress, hormones or diet that’s causing our acne we have the products, treatment and home care advice to correct it.

I myself struggled with Acne last year after spending my whole life with fairly good skin and I put it all down to stress. Not only was I struggling with personal stress I was also then stressing about having bad skin. It became a vicious cycle. Once I changed my skin care routine with Environ my skin cleared up very quickly and that became one less thing to worry about. It’s a range I love and I’m very passionate about it and how all the science works to deliver the best quality products to your skin in the quickest time. You can see my results using Environ after only 10 days.

I won’t spend this blog telling you about all the wonderful products we have that can help and what treatments you should use because everyone’s skin is different and our facials and topical treatments will be tailored specifically for you. That’s why we offer 30 minute environ consultation for free. This way we can get an idea of how your skin can be improved and what we can do to help.

No matter what your skin concern all clients are entitled to one of our free 30 minute consultations!

You can book these online directly through our website or call us on 01908 567766.

Stuart’s Sports Clinic – Running

Here we are again trying to keep you all fit and healthy.  From time to time I thought it would be useful to tell you a little about some of the sports I work with.  Whilst a good fifty percent of my clients suffer from muscle pain brought on by bad posture, sitting at a desk and driving, I do still work with a fair amount of amateur athletes.  The most popular are runners.  Everyone can run right?  That’s the point of the various park runs around the country.  Well that maybe true but it takes work.


In Paula Radcliffe’s book “How to Run” she advises warm ups, cool downs, stretches and regular sports massage throughout your training to help build strong healthy muscle and help you run faster and further.

Warming up is essential.  Running with cold muscles will lead to injury.  Its important to increase blood flow and loosen the joints before any exercise.  Light stretching before a run works wonders.  At the end of a run blood pooling can occur, where the blood remains in the large muscles of the leg leading to dizziness and potential fainting.  A gentle cool down including stretching will prevent this from happening and will help to stimulate your lymph system removing waste products such as lactic acid which can build up during exercise.

While warm ups and cool downs are often part of a runners routine, there are still many who think massage is just a luxury.  It isn’t.  Far from it.  Sports massage is an essential part of any running training program and should be taken seriously.  Look at successful athletes.  Whether its Paula Radcliffe, Mo Farah or Usain Bolt, they all have regular sports massage and physiotherapy.  You may not be looking for your next gold medal but if you are indulging in the same sport why wouldn’t you use the same techniques for success.


A high percentage of my running clients report improved performance and quicker recovery rates due to having regular sports massage.  Sports massage helps to clear out lactic acid, increases blood flow and gives us the opportunity to remove potential problems before they become serious.  There is also a psychological benefit to having someone check over your muscles before a marathon so you feel you are all ready for the run.

So if you are training for a marathon or just want to go a bit faster on next weeks park run, why haven’t you booked your massage yet?


Stuart’s Sports Clinic – Deep Tissue or Sports Massage?

I’m here again with, hopefully, some useful information for all of you with backache, neck ache, headache, or any other kind of ache.  We offer both Deep Tissue Massage, and Sports Massage in the clinic, but many people ask, “Whats the difference?”  Well I’m here to tell you.


A Deep Tissue Massage pretty much does what it says on the tin, the therapist will work on the deeper tissues of the body, including the muscles and will breakdown the smaller knots and areas of tension across the whole body.  The treatment still increases blood flow and breaks down adhered muscle tissue, so you still might feel a little sore afterwards and upto 72 hours beyond.

A Sports Massage on the other hand  is designed to break down knots and tension that have been there a little longer, as well as addressing injury issues and help to breakdown scar tissue from old injuries.  A Sports Massage Therapist will use passive stretching techniques along with other techniques to increase range of movement and help prevent injuries.  A good Sports Massage Therapist will have a more extensive knowledge of the anatomy and movement than a regular massage therapist and will therefore have a better understanding of your injury or condition.  We often start with a postural analysis and a more detailed review of past injuries, to help us work out what needs working on and how best to treat you.  We use various techniques, including trigger point therapy, passive stretching, joint manipulation and sometimes UltraSound.  You need to be aware that a Sports Massage isn’t a relaxing treatment.  Whilst I do my best not to cause needless pain, sometimes the treatment will be uncomfortable and mildly painful.  This pain often continues into the next day, but you should start to feel more mobile and the pain will ease over the next 48 hours or so.


So thats it, simple.  If you have some mild discomfort and a few non specific aches and pains, then try a deep tissue massage, If you have specific pain or restricted movement then you need me and my Sports Massage Techniques.  Don’t be afraid, I wont hurt you………….

Stuart 🙂

Holly’s Health corner – Hand and foot pain!

Hi Everyone! 

This week I’m going to talk about hand a foot pain. How it affects me and others and how I and the team at Alchemy can help. 

Due to my recent anxiety I’ve personally been holding a lot of tension in my hands. I often feel as though they are aching and sore. I’m either clenching them to tightly. Holding onto things with too much strength or its just one of those weird side effects to stress… Either way I’ve been researching what I can do to help myself get rid of this pain and in a round about kind of way I’ve set up a new treatment that will help others. 

We all use our hands and feet daily and can often get issues such as carpal tunnel, arthritis and joint pain. The hospitals offers a paraffin wax treatment that helps to ease these kinds of pain but rather than spending 6 weeks + on a waiting list you can have the exact same treatment with us whenever you want!

Paraffin wax is beneficial for:

  • Arthritis 
  • Osteoarthritis 
  • Joint pain 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Dry skin 

Paraffin wax is known to help ease pain and soften the skin and it’s really helped my hand cramps over the past couple of weeks! I find my fingers are less tense and my wrists don’t hurt anymore! The warmth of the wax helps to reduce pain, increase blood flow and soften skin.

As with everything I do to try to improve my own health I try to make a way I can put it out there to help others and this is why I have added a new treatment to our ever expanding list. Book in for a 30-minute paraffin wax treatment of the hands or feet to help reduce your tension and you’ll receive a nice mini massage or the hands of feet too!   

As an introductory offer our treatment is £15 instead of £25 until the end of February (2019)

Call me on 01908 567766 or click the book now button on our website.

Surviving the new year – Holly’s health corner

Hi everyone!

Welcome back to 2019 and the 1st blog of the year. I hope you all survived the busy Christmas period and are all settling in to what will hopefully be a great year! If you joined the chat on Facebook you’ll know I sent out tips and tricks to help you stay calm over Christmas and now I want to share with you some things you can do this year to help improve your life!

As most of you are aware 2018 was a very difficult year for me personally and I’m grateful to be seeing in the new year with positivity and a lot more self care. It’s easy for us to look ahead for the next 12 months and plan ahead but not all things go to plan all of the time. So below are some things you can do to get the best out of your year!

1.Set yourself a goal.

Not all New Years resolutions need to be made to start on the 1st January. A lot of the time we say we are going to eat healthier, go to the gym more or give up smoking. And by the evening of the 1st we’ve already done what we believe we shouldn’t do. Change your thought processes and rather than giving something up completely why not give yourself a more realistic goal?

Rather than saying “I’m not eating bad food ever again” say instead “I’m going to swap some bad food with good food”

Instead of pressurising yourself into giving up smoking immediately. Getting stressed out and buying a packet of cigarettes 2 days later say “Every other cigarette I have I’m going to try and drop”

Thinking in this way makes our goals more realistic and much easier to manage. They’re easier to get back on track if you do have a slip up and can ultimately make you change habits much quicker. Once you’ve got the hang of ‘cutting things down’ instead of ‘cutting them out’ then slowly and surely you can end them all together!

2.Go with the flow

We can plan and plan and plan every step of our lives and yet some things pop up and throw our devoted structure of course. Try to remember life throws curve balls at us (often the worst times) yet some how we always manage to get through them. Keep a plan but nurture the needs that arrive when and if they happen. Don’t expect bad things but also be prepared for them! This way you’ll be able to tackle the more difficult parts of the year a lot more logically and head on.

3. Look after you.

2019 should be the year for you. Along with every year that comes along. The thing I hear the most as a beauty therapist and also the thing I say to myself is “I just don’t have time”.

It’s hard to fit time for ourselves when we have so many other things that need doing or other people to look after but as I have said in my blogs before WE are the most important people in our lives and our health should come first above everything else.

When you find a free half an hour do something you love. Not something you feel you have to do. The clothes washing and washing up can wait a few hours. Read a book, go for a swim, watch a movie. Anything that YOU find calming and relaxing is what you really NEED to do.

Get yourself a massage. I guarantee if you suffer from anxiety and depression massage is one of the best ways in which you can relax and keep calm. It gives you that break, relaxes your body and re sets your mind to tackle the days ahead.

“We can’t make more time, we can only take more time”

My biggest and most important realisation in 2018 is to “take the pressure off”. We are all unique and wonderful in our own ways and trying to be someone who we think we should be just doesn’t work and ultimately makes us miserable. Love who you are. Enjoy what you have. Be grateful. Laugh. Love and enjoy ❤️

Good luck to everyone on your 2019 journey! Feel free to share your experiences with me and where you’re headed in the next 12 months! You can achieve anything you set your mind to.