Thirsty Skin


Has an Esthetician ever told you that your face is superbly hydrated when she inspects your skin before beginning a facial?

I went for a facial at one of those Massage franchises where you pay $65/month for a membership to get discounted massage/facial care treatments. (I canceled my membership because their services weren't that good or consistent, so I had (2) hour sessions to use up, or I would lose them.) 

The deal at this place is you go down to a dimly lit room and tell the Esthetician what brought you here today. The wisp of a 22-year-old with flawless skin asked me if there were any specific areas of concern, and I seldom reveal my genuine fears.

She certainly doesn't need to know my nose is getting more prominent since Menopause or that I've furiously tweezed so many under-chin coarse whiskers that some are still clinging to my decolletage, catching a free ride to this same skincare appointment. I answered all her questions about not having a recent Chemo treatment, Botox injections, Retinol prescriptions, or chemical peels. Finally, I lie about my skincare regimen precisely as I lie to my hygienist during my bi-annual dental cleanings. (Why yes, you bet I floss every night before bed and sometimes at work. I don't know why my gums are profusely bleeding. Could it be your instrument is just too sharp?)  

I don't even know why I'm compelled to lie about having a daily routine because she will know exactly what I DON'T do every day when she runs her fingers over my dusty skin. She'll need to determine a treatment plan today, and guess what? Our area of focus is always going to be hydration. My T-Zone lacks moisture, and my nose pores are blocked up like the Holland Tunnel. Big surprise.

Here is my Pro-Life Tip: You will never have a facial and be told your skin is too supple from hydration. It will never happen. 

You might be wondering why I even bother with getting beauty facials when clearly, I don't take good enough care of my skin. I must admit that I love those 6-seconds of pure pleasure as my hair is tossed about to accommodate a terry-cloth headband stretched and fastened securely across my forehead. The hot mist pumping out of the steamer directly onto my face to open closed pores is another terrific feeling while lying naked under a blanket on the table. Her delicate placement of artificial cucumber slices on my eyes before intense blackhead extractions is the calm before the storm. (It's like sucking on an Atomic Fireball knowing that the heat isn't so bad, and then BAM! your tongue is on fire.)  I don't want to forget the heated towels used multiple times on my face to clean off various perfumed soaps and exfoliating scrubs used during our session together. (If I were a man, I would be addicted to going for a shave at the Barbershop: the hot towel wrapped around the head like in one of those Chi-town gangster movies, a bristle brush being dipped in menthol shaving cream swooped over my beard, the precise swipe of my barber's razor sharp blades at my throat and of course, all that testosterone bravado amongst the other men in those metal fold out chairs against the wall waiting for their turn on the spinning throne.) 

At the end of your session, Dixie cup of filtered water in one hand and your Visa in the other, you will be handed a pamphlet listing several recommended products sold exclusively at this spa. Do not buy anything! You never need a $120 tube of their exclusive moisturizer despite being told it will last you three years if you only apply a dime-sized amount to your face daily. If you cave and purchase it, this Anbesol-sized tube of youthful miracle is used on your face for a couple of days and eventually becomes lost in the depths of a bathroom drawer amongst the other expired yet equally expensive beauty products.

It's up to you to decide if you want to get a facial and spend the money (plus at least a 20% gratuity) on yourself. It's your decision to fill your SUV up with six gallons of premium gas or just treat yourself. The thought of a stranger touching your skin might make you feel highly uncomfortable and not instill the feeling of relaxation you may have been seeking with either a facial or a full-body massage. You may not like being judged because you have adult acne or flaky, dry skin. Or do you think getting professional skin care is a waste of money? 

While I was growing up, my grandmother's daily skincare regime consisted of Pond's Cold Cream and a small glass bottle of Oil of Olay. She grew up during the Great Depression and collected bits of coal on train tracks so her family could have heat in the Winter. Later in life, she continued to eat day-old bread dipped in plain yogurt for breakfast because it would have been wasteful to throw stale food away. She never understood driving for an ice cream cone on a sweltering day when she had a square carton of Neapolitan ice cream in the icebox from Ralph's supermarket. She would have been appalled at paying someone to wash her face for an hour.  

I like to think like L'Oreal and tell myself I'm Worth It. I deserve pampering from time to time and having a facial always seems to wash away my past skin sins. When it's over, and I'm back sitting in my car, I can't stop touching my hydrated face and looking at my skin in the visor's lighted mirror. I'll marvel at my skin's softness and lack of oily shine. It's there in the car that I make several promises to myself that will never be kept for more than a week:  I won't wash my face twice a day, I'll leave on my mascara as my head hits the pillow, I'll drink eight glasses of water a day and won't wear 100 SPF sunscreen like a goddamned adult. 

Do me a favor, won't you?

If you happen to see my grandmother grocery shopping at Ralphs, please don't tell her exactly how much her granddaughter spent on a little tube of glippity glop after her wasteful facial. She wouldn't understand, but between you and I...that shit is SO worth it!

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