Since being appointed a Yonka brand ambassador in June a trip to Paris to the head office and the laboratory was on the cards. I have long been a fan of the products and when I was a teenager actually had a Yonka facial.
In terms of partnering up with a company there were considerations my side. Naturally it had to be completely ethical and never tested on animals, secondly I will always have a preference for natural skincare and thirdly it had to be results driven. Rosewater is well and good to splash on your face but if it doesn't do anything - there's no point. Thankfully Yonka ticks all the boxes for me and since building a relationship with them I have gone much deeper into my understanding of the formulations and results. I was very excited when they invited me and my fellow ambassador Pamela Flood to the Paris labs to see how the products were made, experience some treatments and squeeze in a little sightseeing.
Paris is a city I have been to a few times before but for some reason this trip felt more special than any time before.
Waking up at the crack of dawn my fellow ambassador and the Irish PR representative Amy Buckeridge met close to the Butlers coffee stand in Dublin airport at 6 am. The flight is relatively quick over and despite all being exhausted the chatter began and literally did not stop for a second!
We were immediately greeted by a driver who took us to the Yonka headquarters.
After a tour around the lab which was fascinating although I couldn't take pictures I learnt so much. Simple things like the fact that in the room where the essential oils are extracted for the products there is an air filter which cleans the air in the room entirely every four minutes. Everyone wore white coats and there was a meticulously hygienic atmosphere to everything.
It's quite fascinating when you are only used to looking at things from a consumer buying things point of view to know how much work, dedication and research goes into formulating a product like this.
We then went for lunch with all the Yonka team to include Catherine Muhlethaler who is the company director. Given that the product range is a world-wide brand she is one of the most modest and personal people I have ever met. We had a delicious lunch in a restaurant called La Petit Poucet.
Arriving back at our hotel we checked in and - serious perk of the job- there were Yonka goodies waiting for us. The hotel was beautiful and so well located. I don't know Paris well but we were in walking distance of everything we needed.
That night we walked to dinner. When halfway there the heavens opened and within a minute or two any effort at being Parisian glam was impossible. This hair became a frizzy curly mess about two minutes after Pamela took this photo.
We arrived for dinner in Kong This is in Sex and The City - the scene when Carrie meets The Russian's ex wife. It's a glass conservatory style restaurant high up with incredible views over the city.
The next morning I woke early and slipped across the road to Ladurée. I know it's here in Dublin now but the tea rooms are so special and incredibly beautiful. The complete tourist in me emerged and I was snapping everything in sight.. not trés chic but kind of essential.
We walked towards the Louvre which thankfully we had all seen as the queue was about 200 people long. There was a stunning scene with a ballet dancer getting her friend to take pictures which we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of.
We then went to Rue Cambon where all the fancy shops are. The Chanel shop here was hopping with activity. Sadly no pictures were allowed inside and within seconds of taking my phone out a security guard was waving a finger at me.
Afterwards we passed by the Hotel Costes which is where Kim Kardashian had her hen.. I am sure much more exciting stuff has happened here but let's just take a moment for the flowers!!
Next up we went to Angelina's which so many people were snapping me about. Everyone kept going on about the hot chocolate - which having now tried- I can say is very special. It's kind of what I imagine Augustus Gloop fell into in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It's literally like liquid chocolate. I seemed to be obsessed with lemon tarts so had yet another one of those having also had one after dinner the night before (!)
We then checked into the Yonka Spa Aquamoon. It becomes immediately apparent walking around Paris that French ladies take their beauty very seriously. Not alone is this reflected in their appearance but also in the fact that so many thriving cosmetic brands are French and have been in business for decades. At this stage Pamela and I were feeling as lucky as can be as we slipped into the discreet spa for massages and facials. I had an Aroma Luxe Body treatment and Vital defence facial and it was heavenly. The chill out area was beyond stunning.
The wine was bio-dynamic (I don't know that much about it but I think it means the grapes were harvested in relation to the moon cycle) and delicious and apparently doesn't give you a hangover.
With an amazing sense of occasion Amy wanted us to leave Paris on a high, and after a quick trip to meet her brother who is working in an Irish bar in Paris, took us to a gorgeous jazz club for champagne. I am still dreaming of the interior.
The next day I crept out early to go for one last coffee. Maybe it's being newly engaged or just that we were taken such wonderful care of but the romance and beauty of Paris really shone out to me this time. It felt magic and lived up to all expectation possible.
I was a guest of Yonka skincare in Paris. All opionions and imagery my own. For stockist information on Yonka products and salons see Yonka.ie