Sunday, March 15, 2015

One facial experience—not a great one

I wish I could write that I just had a great facial given by a qualified aesthetician who I would go back to because it was that good. And, I can’t say any of that. I’ll give you a blow by blow of my skin care experience. I hope it helps you understand what to look for when you get a facial treatment.

When I go to get facials, I rarely if ever let the aesthetician know I, too, am an aesthetician. Why? I don’t want to talk shop. It’s as simple as that. Also it gives me a more realistic view of how she works with the average client. Would she do things differently if she knew I was in her field? That I don’t know; maybe not. Regardless, for me it just makes things easier if I stay silent about my vocation. I also don’t usually tell her I don’t want something done (like steam on my face) even though as an aesthetician I disagree with its use. I just let her do what she normally does, giving me a good idea of what really goes on in her facials.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this facial, I wanted to share a thought that kept coming up when I was lying on the facial table: What a shame that people will come here, get a facial and perhaps think that this is all there isthat this is what a facial (all facials) is like. That the techniques, level of understanding, and experience with this individual are the standard and what is available. Its a sad thought but could possibly be the case I suppose. Now here is my personal view of this particular facial:
  • She watched me as I filled out the (extensive) paperwork. I looked up at her (she was standing inches away); she just smiled and continued to watch me write down my answers. Read: uncomfortable! As a side note, I do not have my clients fill out their own chartsI fill the paperwork out myself. This way I know the chart is filled out as I need it to be and it gives me a chance to have a conversation about any issues with their skin and their skin care routine.
  • There was no smock for me to change into. This may be a picky complaint—an individual preference—but smocks cost around $20, are easy to find, and as a professional I wouldn’t ever think of asking a client to just get naked and lie in the bed even though sheets and blankets would be covering her. That small, seemingly insignificant step that was skipped meant a whole lot to me.
  • Another seemingly unimportant element in preparing the client that almost every aesthetician I’ve gone to has neglected (and I just don’t understand why): Not taking great care putting the headband on the client’s head! Like so many before her, this facialist didn’t put the band behind my ears. Also, and equally important, it didn’t feel like all my hair was off my face. I hate that feeling, and I’m sure I am not alone! Throughout the facial I had to readjust the headband. If this aesthetician was paying attention—or cared—she would have taken matters into her own hands, not leaving it up to me to continually get things comfortable. When you talk to a client with the headband over her ears, you are sadly creating a barrier between what you are saying and what the client hears. (That photo is in a brochure from The Spa at the Crescentand those are my hands! Even though this was a photoshoot, the headband is how it shouldnt beover the ears.)
  • On a positive note, her hands felt strong and secure on my face, no doubt because she has been a massage therapist for many years. I prefer a strong, sure touch vs. a delicate one that makes me feel like the technician doesn’t really feel comfortable touching me or is unsure about what she is doing.
  • Next came the steam. It ended up staying on my skin for at least 20 minutes, if not more. As I said, when I get a facial I do my best to just let the aesthetician “do her thing,” vs. instructing her as to what I do or don’t want done. Please note: This is from my professional self—I’m always interested in seeing how different facialists work, so I don’t want to interrupt their normal flow. As a client—if there was something I seriously knew wasn’t good for me, I’d definitely speak up—and so should you! 
  • She offered me a different facial than the one I had signed up for. It was basically an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) facial, something I knew wasn’t a good idea for me. The troubling thing—for me as a professional—is that when she analyzed my skin, she made a point to tell me about the redness and broken capillaries at various locations on my face. This (couperose or broken capillaries) is a skin type that should never have AHAs or any kind of strong acids used on it. She was leaning toward that facial, so out of curiosity for her professional choices I followed her lead. If I was a “regular” client, I wouldn’t have known better, trusting her as the professional to give me the best thing(s) for my particular skin and skin type. 
  • After 20+ minutes of steam, she started manual extractions. I will digress and tell you why I don’t and have never (except for my very first job in 1985) used steam in my facials. Even when I worked at a spa that had a steam machine, I didn’t use it. Why? There are several reasons: For me as a professional, steam—yes—softens the skin, but unfortunately only as long as the steam is going. Once the machine is turned off the skin dries out, which makes it very difficult to perform extractions. I also don’t use steam on clients in order to protect them. Steam simply causes too much capillary dilation, which can lead to vessel breakage (dysfunction) aka: couperose.
  • Her extractions hurtreally hurtand I don’t really even need (many if any) extractions. Being extracted, in general, is not a very pleasant feeling. But some aestheticians are more skilled than others at not causing too much undue pain. I basically stopped her after a short while; I wish I had said something sooner—Ouch!
  • This facial was similar to so many others I’ve had where there was no clay mask used—even after extractions. In the literally thousands of facials I’ve given, I can count on one hand how many times I used something other than a clay mask. Clay is such an asset, and the main benefit to me for all skin is its deep cleansing ability. Everyone can use a good, deep pore cleanse. Due to its anti-inflammatory and soothing abilities, clay would have calmed any redness I was experiencing after all the steam, AHAs, and extractions as well. Clay is almost always the appropriate thing to use in a facial as far as I’m concerned. And so many aestheticians don’t ever use one.
  • One of the “benefits” this particular aesthetician touts is that she never leaves the room—not like in other facials, where the facialist leaves the room while masking. I do leave the room. This gives my client a chance to relax without any extraneous sounds or movements other than their own breath. Leaving the client alone is an essential part of a facial. Once in a while I can sense a client doesn’t want me to leave. I’ll ask to see if I’m right then do what is requested—either stay or go during the mask. But staying in the room is rare for me in my practice. I know my clients love to relax alone with the music; its one of their favorite things.
  • During the time the hydrating mask was on, she (I think) inputted my information into her computer. Or she was just writing something on her computer. One odd thing, apparently the music source was in the same cabinet as her laptop because when she opened the cabinet door to work on it, the music got considerably louder. Almost too loud. Then after 10 minutes, time to take the mask off, she closed the cabinet and the music died down to the volume it had been during most of the facial. I thought this lack of sensitivity to what I, the client, was experiencing was really unfortunate.
  • This aesthetician applied hot towels several times throughout the facial to remove product, something that is common especially to remove a clay mask. Hot towels feel wonderful when applied to the face. But the heat from those towels is not great for the capillaries. And these hot towels were really hot! The odd thing to me was that they only stayed on a few secondsjust enough to get the heat, but not enough time to get the comfort of the warm towel on my face. Using really warm towels would be preferable over steaming, hot towels. Once again, the capillaries pay the price for any soothing abilities you feel from hot towels.
How did my skin look? Well, I learned a lesson that isn’t really a lesson because I like to leave the aesthetician alone to do what she normally does. But in my case, because I have some broken capillaries on my chin and up around my nose and cheeks, after the facial (too long with the steam, AHAs, and extractions) I could visibly see a worsening of the capillaries in those areas. Darn it! I knew I should have said “no” to more things than I did. But I didn’t in the spirit of just letting this lady do her normal job.

Some positives: She did analyze my skin correctly. She has a good touch, as I mentioned, probably due to her work as a massage therapist. She didn’t push any products my way (although she did talk about them in a sales-y type way during the treatment), and she wanted me to come in for regular monthly facials, which was a good recommendation, but—obviously—I wasn’t interested.

Weeks after the treatment, my skin—the capillaries specifically—recovered. The redness died down and there probably wasn’t any long-term damage. However, had I gone back—regularly—there is no way I would have escaped more permanent capillary damage and who knows what else.

I wish I could say I had a good experience, but this aesthetician and this facial get a big thumbs down from me. This will not be a person I will go back to for another facial.

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