My Self-Care Resolution for 2019 = Ultimate Fail
My New Years Resolution is to invest more in self-care. This has been my resolution for several years so this time I made sure it would happen- I booked a facial every month for the first three months of 2019.
I was called to see if I wanted a cancellation in December, I booked it, well why not start now?
There were several facials to choose from, I had no idea what any of them meant. I am generally of the opinion that they all do roughly the same thing and the complicated menu of options is merely a marketing ploy to attract clientele from different niches. The beautician told me when I booked the appointment that the most appropriate facial will be determined at my appointment as each beautician is trained in all of the offered services. Perfect.
My first resurfacing facial experience
I laid down a week later to relaxing music, on a bed with a warming electric blanket on its base and was covered with thick, soft blankets. Ideal. I informed the beautician, that I had psoriasis and she did not seem phased- so far so good.
She then outlined what she was going to do to my face (there was no consultation- apparently everyone who starts a series of facials always has the face hack…I mean resurfacing facial). Resurfacing to me is what happens to roads when the tarmac is no longer sufficiently flat. It is an unnatural aggressive process of drilling out the old tarmac with, well, drills. It is not something I really want for my face. I am British though, and my skin is a little winter dry so I dare not say anything and thought I would see what happens, for the sake of curiosity and the ability to tell you about it now in case this ever happens to you.
Fearing the exfoliation
The first part of the treatment was described as a machine exfoliating ‘using tiny blades’ to remove the top layer of dead skin. Slightly alarmed, I asked how serious this was, I was told the top layer of dead skin is cut away. As someone who suffers from the koebner phenomenon (where psoriasis appears in areas of damaged skin), I was afraid. I requested to see the tool- it looked like a flat-ended spatula- I couldn’t see any blades. The therapist told me the blades are so small you can’t see them, I clarify whether the blades cut hair from my face and am told they are too blunt for that which is a relief.
Hot and cold treatments
Onto treatment two- a menthol mask. This was a lovely cooling mask, it was very thick and felt really nice to have smeared all over my face. While it set the beautician rubbed warm oil into my neck and shoulders. This is what I thought a facial was (when did they introduce machines?). This part of the facial did not last long enough in my opinion- but then I don’t think I have ever tired of anyone rubbing hot oil into my neck and shoulders.
Another exfoliating mask?
Treatment three- another mask is applied. It stings, and I ask what it is, an exfoliating mask. Why!? I exclaim- breaking the traditional confines of British societal norms. I am informed that this is to make sure all of the dead skin cells have been removed. I am then told that the skin sheds every day, which of course I already know all too well. Infrared light is then used to kill bacteria in my skin. I am not sure about this for several reasons.
- I want all the bacteria on my skin that cause spots to die.
- Good bacteria on the skin can help prevent spots because bacteria grow in a monolayer- which means they grow in a layer one cell thick. If there’s no gap- spot causing bacteria cant get in there and grow. I want good bacteria all over my face and am now worried…should I go and pick up my toddler earlier and inoculate my face with hers? She has perfect skin. I feel that might be a weird thing to do. Plus she is a toddler- god only knows what is on her face really.
Worrying about the post-facial flare
I feel like I am getting slightly hysterical so I ask questions to calm myself. I ask what the difference between the facials are and am told that in one oxygen is blown into the skin. To my science brain, this seems ridiculous. Oxygen is blown into my skin every time I open the car window. This oxygen is 98% pure though…so maybe that’s better. I think maybe blowing was the wrong word.
I was right to be worried. We usually are, though aren’t we? The next day I woke up with red, sore patches across the bottom of my face and applying moisturizer stings. As the day progresses, my skin looks increasingly hydrated, and all efforts to rehydrate it are painful and make little difference. I now have more lines around my mouth that a 20 a day smoker. Things are not going to plan.
Five days after the treatment my lower face starts peeling. I am surprised there is enough spare skin for this but as with the flakiness of psoriasis plaques: the body can just keep on making more! Vaseline is the only thing that is keeping moisture in.
It took 8 days for me to get my face back.
Lessons I learned from my spa day
I learned three key lessons from this experience:
- Trust your gut. There were several times before and during the facial where I ignored my natural intuition. The first was the mention of the tiny blades and there were several other times throughout the facial I over-rode the decision to ask her to stop. Mild panic should have been enough- if you find yourself calming hysteria with banal questions you have a problem.
- Don’t expect other people to know what’s best. It is annoying that we have to add more to our list of *all the things* but it is better than your face peeling for a week during the Christmas party season. I looked up the procedure immediately after leaving the salon. The website explains how the spatula tool works. There are no dull blades- ultrasound is used to open the pores, and the spatula literally is a metal flat ended stick (like the end of a ruler) that manually scrapes the dead skin from the face. The website also clearly states that the procedure was not suitable for people with psoriasis.1 If I had known this- I could have more comfortably challenged the therapist.
- Sometimes you know more than the qualified person you are talking to. Don’t be afraid to speak up- when I was explaining to the therapist that I had psoriasis, I was content with stating the name of my condition and her continuing as if acknowledging that she knew exactly what that was and it was totally fine. If I had explained to her in detail what that meant for our time together, then this would not have happened. I should have clarified that my skin is more sensitive than what she might be used to, that areas of abrasion and friction will react badly. No one knows your skin as you do- so even though you are a little afraid of being thrown out or refused treatment (I was) – don’t hold back on talking about the behavior of your skin, what it does and does not like.
Have you had a bad experience at a beauty salon? I would love to hear about what happened and what you learned. Tell me in the comments.
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- Cosmetology Info (2018) Ultrasonic peel http://cosmetology-info.com/23/Ultrasonic-peel/accessed 21/12/2018