Facial: an experience

Following my adventures in facial masks, I decided to bring my facial journey to the ultimate conclusion: a proper spa facial. A week at my mother-in-law’s over Christmas provided the perfect opportunity to sneak away for 90 minutes and spend an exorbitant sum. I went to Beverly Day Spa in Woodstock Georgia and got the European massage (which was on sale). Here’s how it’s billed:

European Facial

This therapeutic facial will leave you feeling refreshed
and renewed. It begins with gentle cleansing, exfoliation and
steam therapy. Your skin is analyzed, extractions performed and
then customized for your specific needs. This includes a face, neck
and décolleté massage, appropriate mask and protective hydration.
A soothing warming hand treatment completes your relaxation.
This Seasonal Special includes a $20 Facial Moisture Treatment
as a FREE Gift fromBeverly’s Day Spa Salon
Regular Combo Price $100
Giving Season Special $80 Save $20

Before the facial

Before the facial

So, like a massage, it started with me under a sheet on a table in a darkened room. My aesthetician, Stacy, cleaned off my face by gently rubbing it with cleanser. There were many hot towels and wrappings and gentle upward circles across my cheeks. It was quite pleasant and relaxing.

Then we exfoliated (I’m not sure what product she used for that – sorry! – except that she said it was perfectly circular unlike walnut or apricot scrubs). By the way, exfoliation is a fancy way of saying, “take off the top layers of dead skin cells”. There was a steaming wand that got waved at my face – not unpleasant. Be warned though – I was asked if I was claustrophobic and all the towels, cloths, covering, steam streams etc. might be not fun if you were claustrophobic.

Next up: looking at my skin through a bright magnifying glass to tell me everything that was wrong with it. This, my friends, explains so much about who we are as a cosmetic culture. I was paying someone to look at my skin through a magnifying glass and tell me everything that was wrong with it. Now, I was assured I had very good skin (which, well, I think I do). But on the list of horrors for my mid-30s skin I was told I had fine lines in my forehead and neck (but no crowsfeet!), large pores on my chin (although blessedly small ones on my nose), broken blood vessels around my nose (avoid hot and cold to prevent those from getting worse – and if they ever bothered me I could have them lasered off) and rosacea.

This was also the section where she would do “extractions” which is a fancy way of saying “popping your zits, with a needle if need be”. I did not have much need for extractions. I was wondering if this was really a good idea, given that every mom in the history of the universe has told her teenage children to just not touch them. (Of course, every teen in the history of the world has ignored this advice.)

Of these, I have noticed the lines on the forehead and neck. My mother has a serious case of rosacea, so that wasn’t too surprising and helps explain why my cheeks can be so sensitive. The pores I’d never noticed, and I think the broken blood vessels are invisible for those NOT using a magnifying glass to evaluate my skin clarity.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I went in thinking, “I have good skin”. I came out thinking, “I have good skin, but large pores, fine lines, rosacea and broken blood vessels. Maybe I should manage/fix/do something about those.” And that is precisely how the beauty industry ends up getting quite so big and profitable. But at the same time, I’m actually glad to know about the rosacea, because it is something better prevented in one’s 30s than attempting to be fixed in one’s 50s.

After the delivery of this bad news came the paraffin mask. This was part of what made it a European facial, I guess. She snipped out a nose hole from some gauze. Warm paraffin was put on the gauze and laid on my face. (Although I thought it was funny she did this right after telling me not to put hot stuff on my face.) Then she did a massage of my shoulders, arms, hands and top of my chest as the paraffin cooled.

I was getting pretty drowsy at this point. I think she put the facial mask on? She put lotion on my hands, put them in plastic baggies, and then put them in these warming gloves. Then she left me for a nice little nap. I have no idea how long it was – somewhere between 2 minutes and 20. But mmmmm that was a great little nap! The final step was to put on another round of some sort of cream (I think) and some lip balm. I was told not to put on makeup for AT LEAST half an hour to let it all soak in.

After the facial

After the facial

With the Christmas special, I paid $80 for the service, plus a nice tip since Stacy was great. I also decided to spring for a sampler of the product – it cost $12 for the teeniest tiniest samples you’ve ever seen. The product they used is CRAZY expensive – even on Amazon a 1.7 oz bottle of serum costs over $50. So overall I spent $112 for about 120 minutes of pampering.

Summary:
The facial was extremely relaxing and enjoyable. But it was also a “problem-finding” experience – the sort that ends up making you think you need to spend more money and buy more things. Although I think it did noticeably improve the quality of my skin, I suspect we’re talking no more than a 2 to 3 week improvement. I also suspect that the only person who notices the improvement in my skin is me. (Maaaaaaybe my mother-in-law, but almost certainly NOT my husband.)

I asked what people usually got facials. I think facials are most useful when you have a skin problem or big event. For instance, I think it would likely be a pretty good idea to get a facial a week or a week and a half before a wedding. Someone battling acne or an active skin problem would find competent help with an aesthetician.

Do if:
– You are having an active skin problem you’d like some help addressing
– You have a big event coming up in more than a week and you’d like your skin to look better than average
– You want to know what’s wrong with your skin
– You would like a relaxing pampering thing to do, but don’t want a mani/pedi or massage
– You have some decent cash to splash around

Don’t do if:
– Your skin is already good
– Money is being carefully watched
– You’re susceptible to “Experts” telling you that you need to spend a lot of money to fix things that are wrong with you, and that you never noticed before
– You don’t like having your face touched
– You are clausterphobic

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