Saturday, August 18, 2012

First Facial

Once you are settled in to the chair in the darkened room, the aesthetician comes in an inverts the chair. You know you are supposed to feel weightless; instead, you feel like your whole weight has landed on your lungs. From this position, you notice a device that is filled with water that has begun to boil.You freak out momentarily wondering what the hell she is going to do to you that requires boiling water. She leans over and flicks a switch on this barbaric boiling machine. Steam pours out of it. Relief washes over you but it is not long before you realize the humidity isn't doing anything to help your breathing. You try not to panic.

Suddenly she is washing your face. (You've closed your eyes at this point because in the darkened room your rapidly aging eyes can hardly see anything anyway.) You realize this is the only time in your adult life that another adult is washing your face. It feels a little like shame. As the procedure continues, it occurs to you that this is not the face washing of your youth. It begins to feel like a massage writ small. The bubbles are wiped off with an abrasive cloth, and the process begins again with another substance. This time the goo is removed with a warm towel that she wraps around your face like she is Bugs Bunny about to give you a shave.

She begins to massage your arms and hands. She wants you to bend your elbow, but what she tells you to do is relax. As a command, this has never meant anything to you. She presses down on your elbow to get you to fold your arm, so she can massage your hand. By the time she moves over to the left hand, you are savvy. She says, "relax"; you bend your elbow. You do come to the realization, however, that every stitcher should get a hand and arm massage, if nothing else. You put it on your list.

She returns to your face, to examine its imperfections. She flicks on a lighted magnifier. You decide you will talk. She paws over your face for a while and says, "You have this acne, but you also have scarring. I'd recommend microdermabrasion." You think back to the beautiful smooth skin you had in high school and college. You wonder where it all went wrong. You find yourself agreeing to be dermabraded. She goes off to get the machine. When she returns, your eyes are still closed. She explains that the machine will exfoliate the top layer of cells and suction them up so the new cells can come to the surface. She assures you that it won't hurt, just "feel different." "If it hurts, tell me."

She begins to swipe your face with something that feels like sandpaper. Eventually your face numbs to the abrasive quality of the machine and you begin to feel the suction. It is like having a vacuum cleaner run over your face. Still, it doesn't hurt. She switches tips on the suctioning device and begins to get into the tight spaces around your nose. It feels disconcertingly like your face is being written on with a ball point pen by your college friends while you are passed out drunk. Except you are not drunk, she is not your friend, and you are paying for the privilege.

"Next," she says, "I'll do the extraction." She does not say this will not hurt, and it does. You realize it has been years since you have popped a zit, and here you are in an antigravity chair paying someone else to do it. She seems to be popping zits you weren't even aware you had. As if she is popping the thoughts of zits on your face...only with more pain.

Suddenly the Gestapo light is switched off, plunging you into semidarkness, highlighting the relaxation music playing in the background. You wonder who finds the noise of trickling brooks relaxing; you just have to pee.

She begins to massage your neck and back. "Good luck with that," you think. This goes on for quite some time before she returns to massaging unguent into your face. You slowly realize that the warmth you are feeling isn't coming from her hands but rather from the goo. You begin to worry that there is some kind of chemical reaction happening on your face. She lifts your head and slides a warm wet towel under your neck. "I'll be back after the masque has time to work." She leaves. You realize your hands are balled into fists.

While she is gone, you think about what has happened so far. You realize that, at this point, most people would be relaxing. You think you should try to relax. This is an oxymoron or something; there is no try in relax. You think about the warm wet towel at the back of your neck. You concentrate on the temperature with a laser focus. You try to estimate the temperature it will be when she returns. Will she be back in the split second it turns cold? Or just before? While you are focused on the towel, she returns and removes it from your neck. (It has cooled noticeably, but it is still warm.)

She takes another warm, wet towel and removes the masque from your face. You realize how effective these towels are in removing goo from your face. You consider investing in thin white towels and installing a microwave in the bathroom. After a final swipe with something that smells like a medicated towelette, she is massaging your face with yet another lotion.

Suddenly, the bright light is back on and you deeply regret scheduling an eyebrow wax for the same session.

After the extraneous hairs have been yanked from your face, a peppermint lotion is massaged in. This, you decide, is the wake-up call. Soon your antigravity chair is returned to land. They are kicking you out, though she tells you to take your time.

You go to the bathroom and marvel what this whole process has done to your hair. It looks like she has been rubbing spa oil into it, and for some reason, your straight hair has finally decided to fly away from your head. Your schedule had hardly left time for you to walk the dog before driving to the city to meet friends for dinner. Now you have to contend with spa hair. You apply liberal doses of the dry shampoo they provide, but the situation is a real no-hoper. You walk to the lobby to settle your account.

Anna can recommend facelogic in Newtown Square, but suggests you schedule your appointment in the morning.


xeyedmary said...

YOU are very brave.
The thought of someone getting so intimate with my face and its plethora of imperfections, or pushing the cuticles back on my hands or EEEK!!! my toes, gives me the willies!!
I call my family the "Non-tactile Family". We all cringe before we awkwardly hug each other.

Margaret said...

Ok, that was really interesting. I do think I'll give it a pass though. Can't imagine having someone look at my face in such close detail, much less touch it. lol! Loved the description though!

riona said...

Interesting to get another perspective. I love a proper facial and deeply regret that the technician I used to go to has left the field for a more lucrative career in catering. I haven't had a professional facial in two years. Of course, here in NY it is against the law to do "extractions" unless you are a dermatologist ... it is considered "surgery" and not to be done by technicians. So all my facials were pain-free experiences using only steam, hot towels and botanical lotions, masques, scrubs, moisturizers and astringents ... not a dermabrasion machine or a tweezer or an extraction scalpel in sight. That probably makes all the difference in our experiences.

Catherine said...

Uhm....where are the before and after pictures!?!

Beth said...

All I can say is "Wow!" You survived - I hope your skin glowed!

Chocolates4Breakfast (Terri Malinovich) said...

Like Catherine, I'm left wondering how gorgeous and glowing you looked after the treatment! Despite the fact that your experience may not have been all that pleasant, reading about it gave me quite a pleasant chuckle!

jhm said...

I would probably have balled up fists as well. I would keep thinking about the ingredients in the lotions and wonder what I was allergic to and how long before everything was itching or swelling.
Brave soul!


Robin said...

I love to treat myself to a facial and neck and arm massage. Never did the extractions....ouch! Sometime try the Hershey Spa - everything is with CHOCOLATE!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

I used to have a seated massage every month at the office where I worked, that was lovely.
I also had a chocolate body wrap at Center Parcs which smelled and felt divine but I was told not to eat it!!
Just spotted, it's nearly your Blogoversary! How many years is it this year?

Denise said...

I'll take the massage but can I pass on zit popping??

Needle Nicely said...

having a facial sounds so hedonistic--but I'm really impressed that you were brave enough to let a stranger "sand" your face. Whew! I admire you for your restraint in letting the technician do what she felt necessary. And I also wish you had taken before and after photos. You didn't say--will you do it again?
By the bye, these prove you aren't a computer things are squeezing letters very closely.

Margaret said...

Yes!! That's exactly my feelings on my one and only experience - fortunately mine was on a gift card so the pain didn't extend to the wallet.

Anonymous said...

I may be the only one in this, but I let my Spa expert do ANYTHING she wants with me! :D
she's an expert in different body massage techniques, and I really need that kind of super chilling contact every now and then.. it brings me back to normal.. :D
I had a friend the other day pointing out "that's what boyfriends are for!" ..hem, a. you know how hard it is to find a guy who REALLY knows what he's doing with his hands? b. we all know where the massage will eventually take, and in spite of the fact that it's good stuff, chill out and sex don't necessarily have to go together EVERY TIME :D c. in my adult age, I still want to experience what it feels like to be touched by another adult, without the sex-related side of it, therefore Spa expert.. :D (ok, on the other side she gets payed for this, but hey! what did you expect from life?! :D)

Dani - tkdchick said...

Lol how amusing!

Mouse said...

good grief ... was it worth it ??? hope your eyes had calmed down after the waxing mouse xxxx

valerie said...

I usually do facials every quarter...with extractions. Extractions are no fun especially when they pull the little lancet out but I think it pays off. Love the humour in your experience.

Andrea said...

Well hell, guess I can scratch getting a facial off the bucket list, thanks! ;-p

Melody said...

Interesting reading about your experience. I've never had a facial, now I'm thinking I want to try it. Would you do it again? Were the results worth it?u