Facial experience can lead to being comfortable in one’s own skin
I walked into the salon eight minutes after my appointment was set to begin, which, according to my standards for time, was very late. After a hurried but heartfelt apology to the front desk, I followed my esthetician down a brightly lit hallway where the dense, cream-colored carpet muffled the sounds of our steps. She led me into a dimly lit room with a fully-reclined massage table covered in a soft, gray blanket. Behind the table was a full array of skin care tools, bottles of products, shelves of towels and a bright and professional-looking magnifying light.
As I positioned myself on the table, my toes pointing towards the ceiling, she draped a towel around my neck and put a headband around my ears and hairline to get my hair out of my face. I again apologized for being late and additionally for arriving with a shiny face full of makeup.
The anticipatory feeling of dread I had on the onset of my first facial was similar to that feeling of going to the dentist knowing full well you are going to get reprimanded for not flossing after being told at every dentist appointment to do it every day. In skincare, failing to properly care for your skin is literally written all over your face, and my face had a lot to say.
To not throw myself completely under the bus, it’s not that I do not care for my skin at all; it’s just that I am not a professional and I can only do so much with the time and money I have available to me. Additionally, I cannot seem to get a handle on my skin. I cannot control it or predict what mysterious afflictions will be waiting to surprise me when I get up and look into the mirror the next morning. Most days, it is far easier to throw my hands in the air, exclaim I have done everything I am capable of, throw makeup on and run from the mirror.
There is no running when you are laying prone and as every region of your bare skin is being scrutinized under a magnifying lens. As someone who never goes into public without makeup on, except for on two occasions when I had to make visits to the emergency room, having someone else take off all of my makeup and so thoroughly cleanse my face was a sobering experience. When I take my makeup off alone in my bathroom at home, no one else knows what I look like without it all on.
During my facial, however, I was letting this stranger in on my “secret.” It did not help that while I was feeling slightly ashamed for exposing my secret skin, I was learning that I was using all of the wrong skincare and makeup … perfect.
I have to continually remind myself that the status of my skin does not determine who I am as a person and that not having “perfect” skin does not mean I have to hide my face. I know this and am sometimes jealous of those who go out into the world with their bare skin. I admire them, but I still cannot seem to emulate their actions.
My first facial experience was, on the whole, really pleasant. Once I got over my initial inhibitions of being truly and fully seen as I actually am, I began to appreciate the smells of the products she carefully smoothed over my face, the slight tingle of the hydration mask that was applied to my skin and the reassuring weight and feel of a hot, thick towel draped over my skin.
My skin felt so very clean and so naked. It was a liberating feeling.
The whole facial process took an hour, and upon sitting back up off the table I felt that same kind of blurry sensation you get after accidentally taking too long of a nap. I followed her out of the dark room to the lobby flooded in bright light, and after paying for my session, I strode out into the sunshine making no moves to cover my face.
Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.