on facials

i’ve spent the last 2 days looking in the mirror a little more intently than before. to date i have not seen a difference. don’t get me wrong, i’ve willed a change, i’ve imagined a change, if only briefly, but if i am honest, i cannot see even a new glow.

2 days ago i had the pleasure of being treated to a back & neck massage followed by a facial. it came after a night in a very (very) comfortable bed of a newish hotel, and was the final element in a thank-you from the afore-un-mentioned hotel for the business i’m sending them. and to allow me to experience the hotel (because that does make it easier to sell. genuinely).

anyway, i had the massage first, and am grateful that the masseuse was not of the let-me-tell-you-my-life-story-while-i-have-you-captive-under-my-elbows type. some masseuses clearly have a need to talk, while most people who go for pampering actually do it to get away from inane chatter and to just relax and do as little as possible.

the elbows, by the way, were great. she was very smooth in her transition from hands on my back to elbows in my back after hearing the word “firm” from me in response to her “how do you like your massage” question.

she really got in there, from the nape of the neck to the bottom of the spine.

my only fault on the day was to not mention to her that this was indeed my first facial, a facial virgin so to speak.

my use of soap (a four letter word in the beauty industry) as my (only) product of choice on my skin didn’t seem to give it away; she admonished me for it, telling me that the product she would recommend to me afterwards would last for 8 months, and hence only cost 10c a day. she made it even more appealing by indicating that the 10c i currently give to car guards or beggars i should rather keep to myself and spend on my skin… is it the liberal or the stinge in me that takes offence to this suggestion? coupled with the fact that her maths was out by about 90c per day when i did finally find myself unable to say no to the miracle product… but i digress…

i really should have mentioned to her that i had not had a facial before…then she might have talked me through the process, explaining what to expect. then i might have known to store extra air in my lungs and cheeks in preparation for the hot air that suddenly burned my cheeks. thinking it was only for a few seconds (“this is so hot, they can’t do it for long”) i held my breath… then i tried to breathe normally when i realized it was here to stay a smidgen longer than expected… eventually the lack of oxygen reaching my blood through the attempts to breathe normally through my nose, led me to suck in air out of the left corner of my mouth. lips pursed with a small gap on the side furthest from the steam-blaster.

i did manage to figure out the point of the steam-thing, as most people do in most near-death experiences, but that didn’t make it more pleasant. i suppose i could have said something, but i figured it was all part of the experience, and i’m all for having as many experiences as possible in life. and, i suppose, on reflection, it did make the nose-squeezing afterwards a little easier for her. and therefore probably less painful for me.

i must say, though, that the initial cool gel, and the little electric scrubber whirring across my upper lip, cheeks, forehead and under my eyes was great fun. it was a lovely little massage. followed by her finger massage.
the final product was a peel-off mask that she applied. it came as a cream which she pasted on to my skin, and left there to… sink in? congeal? dry? she said it works into the skin, but i could only think of one thing:
if this cream is to be a peel off mask eventually, it must by necessity congeal into a singular mass that is then convenient for the masseuse / beautician / (insert correct term) to remove at the end. and if the creamy paste is doing that, then how much sinking into the skin is it actually doing? especially while she is periodically prodding the mask (and by default my skin and under-eye-area) to see if it has congealed enough to now remove.

call me a sceptic, which i readily admit i am by nature, because i don’t like being taken for a ride. but i must also confess, i did enjoy the whole experience.

after the event, while i was still vulnerable under the towel on the plinth in her treatment chamber, she brought me a few of the products in the men’s range for me to look at. the one’s you need a thick skin to be told about – the cleanser (“please don’t use soap above your neck anymore”), the scrub, the anti-ageing cream (huh?!) and “this one if for the eyes”.

“what does it do for the eyes?”

“you dab it under your eyes and on the side”, she says while dabbing imaginary dots under her eye with her forefinger.

“and why would i want to do that?”

“it’s against dark rings, puffiness and ageing wrinkles”

all delivered completely matter-of-factly; like, please, don’t let either of us, like, pretend you’re still, like, young dude.

“i’ll leave the products at reception for you to have a look at”.

(it’s like the experienced coiffure in the hair salon telling me that i should colour my grey hairs. and while i’m aware that i have a fair amount of grey, i have been told that it is not bad looking. so, on mentioning to her that some of my friends had actually told me this, madame coiffure didn’t miss a beat when with a completely matter-of-fact face she informed me that these are “not real friends”.)

but i did feel terribly relaxed for the rest of the day, and i think i may just have another facial at some point in the future.

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