“Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver
So much craziness going on now with our pending move (11 days ’til the big day!), work stress (a big project coming to a head), and recovering from the last week with our whole family having strep throat. Between that and the changing seasons — spring finally arrived — I’ve got some seriously messed up skin; breaking out like a teenager, which is so not fair considering how much closer I am to 40 than to anything resembling the teens!
The cure, a trip to the neighborhood day spa for a facial. Awesome because it serves dual purpose of relaxing me and clearing up my persistently combination skin. When I returned the babysitter said, “I’ve never had a facial, what is it like?” And this made me think, I should write about this, because I know massages, manis, and pedis are the more popular spa treatments, but facials are really my personal fave.
When I began my career in consulting and was traveling every week I also started getting facials every six weeks, because all of the airplanes and hotels were wreaking havoc (not to mention the work stress, late hours, and woeful diet from eating too many rich restaurant and/or room service meals!). But, what I found was that a facial is really the best value in a spa because when done right, you’re basically getting a mini-massage plus the facial, so for me I always feel like it’s a bit more productive, since I can SEE the difference versus just feeling it.
So, what happens: go in, take off your clothes – usually all but your undies, but could be just the top half if you’re more comfortable that way. Definitely want the bra off though for comfort and because that way it won’t get “greased up” from the massage lotion later. Then you get on a massage table and tuck yourself under the covers. At that point the esthetician will come back into the room, ask you some questions about your skin concerns, examine it under the lights to gauge condition, and then begin with a gentle cleansing, using cotton pads and/or her fingers. The gentle massaging of your face, throat, neck is so soothing – it is also so much different than when you cleanse your own face at home.
After this there’s usually exfoliation, with some type of gentle chemical or scrub-like cream. There might also be some steaming starting at this point, to help open your pores and loosen all that “gunk” in there. That way, when the next part comes, the least pleasant part called “extractions” it is easier to get the dirt out. Basically, the esthetician pushes and prods to get blackheads and whiteheads cleared out. To me, a facial is not a facial if they don’t do this critical bit, but it’s usually optional if you don’t care to be poked and prodded – but you’d really be missing out because I’m telling you, you don’t want to know what they get out in this very manual way!
Next, your face is gently massaged and then some sort of mask is typically applied to help deep clean and calm the skin. During this time you receive a lovely massage of your upper back, neck, chest, arms, and hands. Divine! This is usually the part where I doze off. Then, they remove the mask with a lot of warm, damp towels and apply a soothing toner or sometimes a special treatment serum, and then a moisturizer. When you are finished you can literally feel your skin breathing, and it will also look so dewy and fresh, glowing! If you come out too pink/blotchy then I recommend you try someone else, as that should not be the outcome. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I like Spalon Montage at 50th & France in Edina and have seen Somer, Agena, and Tippi there (only change around because of scheduling, not necessarily preference, as all have been great). They’re good because they are open ’til 8pm weeknights and even open part of the day Sunday, which is almost unheard of in the spa world, and typically is an easier day for me to get in. Though I think if you have “problem skin” it’s good to go every other month or so, I really try more for quarterly, because it is an indulgence and sometimes it’s tough to prioritize that time away from home. If you haven’t tried it, could be a good time to try a little spring cleaning of your own!