I went for a facial this week.
Who doesn’t love a facial? All that creaming and smoothing and massaging.
Before I left, MrWI64 told me I deserved this. Which was nice. Then he said, “you’re going to look and feel beautiful.” Also nice but wildly inaccurate. Women know this.
So in that vain and what with this being Valentines Day eve; Gentlemen, this is for you. A primer on facials. Not to discourage you from gifting facials, but to advise you not to get your expectations unreasonably high.
The facial spa experience starts this way: arrive at a fraqrant and tranquil salon where you choose a type of facial from a menu. At the spa I attended the facials were said to be based on an Indian health system that balances body, mind and spirit. Whatever.
I chose the anti-aging facial, although I’m pretty sure that horse has left the barn.
People speak quietly in these surroundings and a soft-speaking practitioner escorts you to a dimly lit treatment room in which pan flutes enhance the mood.
The treatment bed is heated and you know from the get-go they’ll have to pry you off.
The whole business starts with a terry cloth band around your head to keep hair out of the facial doings. This is when you remember you forgot to bring a hairbrush.
A warm damp towel removes any makeup you arrived in and for an hour or so all focus is on you and your face. This is the real purpose of a facial. The steaming, the creaming . . . the focus.
There’s some analysis by the soft-speaking practitioner. Skin’s a bit dry here, she sees the beginnings of rosacea there, then the lotions and creams deemed right for recovery are applied smoothly and soothingly. There’s lots of massage involved. Practiced strokes that do who-knows-what, but are heavenly.
About two-thirds of the way through your appointment – at a cost of about two dollars per minute, you try to stay awake throughout – your face is covered in clay. Minutes later, another warm damp cloth is applied to remove the clay. Facial veterans know it won’t be long now before you have to open your eyes and get your act together.
More cream and then a massage: cheeks, chin, scalp then – god, how will I ever get off this bed – shoulders and arms.
“There,” the practitioner says softly, “Take your time getting up.” Easier said than done.
You’re a wreck. All energy, adrenaline, and will to move has gone up in a clay mask and damp cloth.
As you dress, you spot a mirror. You look in it.
This is what you hope will result from a facial:
This is the reality:
Can you spot the difference?
Do not be dissuaded. A facial is a marvelous experience and gift. But for obvious reasons, this is not the time to book a table in a posh restaurant.
This will be a cheese on toast night.