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.