Sunday, August 20, 2017

My facial experience at “Mary’s Salon”

When I first move to a new city where I plan to open a skin care office, I like to find out about the top facial salons—the best places to get a facial treatment in that particular area. Sure, I like to know what the competition is like, but more so I want to know what my future clients have had available to them skin care-wise compared to what I offer.

The following is one experience I had when I moved to a new city where I eventually opened a Carolyn Ash Skin Care salon. I offer this information because knowing what to look for—and what to look out for—can be helpful when getting a facial. These are my experiences and my opinions, they may not be yours. Some of the things I don’t like in a facial may be one or more of your personal favorites. For obvious reasons, I am using alternate names for this salon as well as the aesthetician who gave me this facial treatment.

I was introduced to “Mary” and I immediately liked her. She had a pleasant demeanor and was very direct. She had been working in skin care in one form or another for 25 years and seemed to know her stuff. She started out in electrolisis (hair removal), moved on to permanent makeup, then skin care and facials currently. By the way, Mary owned the salon, although she also had a few aestheticians on staff.

I appreciated the time she was taking to greet me and introduce herself. I found out we have similar philosophies about skin care even though she didn’t know I was in her same field. (As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I generally don’t announce I am an aesthetician when getting a facial. Not because I want to spy but because in the past, when I have let aestheticians know, invariably there is a lot of shop talk. Whether I’m getting a facial for pleasure or research, I don’t want to talk about the business. And in this case, I simply wanted to see how Mary's facials were for an average client coming into her salon.)

Mary wore heavy makeup and foundation so I never got to see what her skin really looked like. I understand many people like to cover their so-called facial flaws (or some people simply like to wear makeup), but in this context I think it’s a negative—not being able to see the skin of your skin care consultant. If the aesthetician you’re going to for advice doesn’t have “good” skin, then will she really be able to help if you have issues now or in the future?

First, there was a very long form to fill out with many questions I believe she should answer regarding my capillaries, skin condition, and so on. With over 30 years of clients coming to see me, a very small percentage actually know what a capillary is! I certainly don’t want them answering questions about their skin, capillaries included, that are answers I, the professional, will find out for myself accurately and from experience once I have taken a look at their skin.

After introductions and filling out the long form, there was a 45-minute consultation face-to-face with Mary. She took lots of photos of my face, then, which I liked, she did an ultra violet light test. This shows sun damage on the surface of the skin along with how oily your skin may or may not be. I thought this particular step was a high-value service being offered. Probably every person who sees the results from one of these tests about the amount of sun damage they have acquired will be shocked. Any sun exposure equals some form of damage to the tissue. Whether it’s superficial or deep down damage, ultra violet light causes disturbances to the skin.

Next, I was led into the treatment room. The facial bed was OK on the comfort scale. I’ve been in more comfortable chairs in the past, but at the same time I’ve also had very uncomfortable beds when getting facials. This particular one was just in the middle. The room was kind of blah without much personality. Sometimes this is a plus; I’ve been in facial rooms that were overdone or decorated in a way that wasn’t soothing to me. Still, this room lacked oomph.

One thing I noticed immediately—there was no music. This might be a personal preference, but as an aesthetician I wouldn’t dream of giving a facial without relaxing music playing in the background. Music, if it’s the right kind, can make a huge difference in the comfort and relaxation level of every client. Without music, the client will be focusing on every sound the practitioner makes, including her breathing. The absence of music was a big negative to me.

After cleansing my skin, she introduced a facial scrub. This particular product was way too abrasive for my skin, probably because she used a rotary facial brush as well. As an aesthetician, you really can’t tell how a scrub is affecting a client’s skin sensitivity, and the clean up (removing every single little particle) is next to impossible. Luckily I have Yonka’s Gommage along with other liquid exfoliators available to use in my facials vs. having to suffer through using (and removing) a messy scrub.

She then pointed the steam machine toward my face. I am not a fan of steam at all. I have written several articles about why this is the case (one is listed below), but the bottom line is—I don’t want steam on my face! However, when getting a facial from an unknown aesthetician, I like to just let them do what they do, therefore I did let her steam my face for several minutes. She left the room, so I turned the machine off early, otherwise I would have asked her to remove it from my face.
Next came the endless extractions. In a word: OUCH! Her technique made the extractions so painful, and because she was relentless in her quest, this process made me want to jump out of the chair and get away! Then she started extractions in my ears. Although I actually did appreciate her thoroughness (not many facialists will look in the ears let alone extract them), again—ouch!

Extractions certainly aren’t ever the “fun” part of a facial, but I can only hope that all of my clients could say that the extractions in my facial were less painful than elsewhere. I certainly know they are less painful than from Mary (sorry, Mary)!

Now it was time for the facial massage. Ah, finally some relaxation! Unfortunately, I was not impressed. If the practitioner you go to doesn’t have a good “touch,” the massage stage of a facial loses an important opportunity to thoroughly relax you. Since I was the client here, I was so disappointed to not receive a wonderful massage. I was not only not relaxed, I was left wanting more.

After massaging, she applied a gel-type hydration mask. Hopefully whatever she used was meant to calm down my no-doubt ravaged and inflammed face after all of those extractions. I believe a clay mask is the best thing for the skin bar none. It helps to soothe redenss and takes away inflammation along with other attributes. I have many articles about the benefits of clay masks—for all skin types, not just problem skin. It is my preferred mask almost 100% of the time.

There were more machines used on my skin, then some quiet time when Mary stepped out of the room. This facial (and I imagine all treatments from this salon) utilized so many machines, which I personally find unnerving. As you can read in the article listed below, I am not a fan of using machines nor having them used on me in facials. Mary used high frequency, galvanic, a brush machine, steam, and spray toner. These were things we used and were trained on in skin care school. It was disappointing to see them all used here.

At the end of the facial, I was happy my skin didnfeel oily, which is something that happens all too often. After many facials, I can be found wiping the heavy, oily creams off my face after a treatment. Although my skin wasn’t greasy after this facial, it did look a bit ravaged and red.

My general feeling was the whole facial felt disconnected from me, the client. Mary was just going over the steps of the treatment, but it didn’t have heart. Steps without soul. Oddly our interaction started off with a lot of connection and interaction, so I was surprised the facial left me wanting. I left the salon feeling very confident in what I have to offer and disappointed in the treatment I received. But I didn’t need the ego boost—I was looking to see what potential clients of this city were getting facial-wise.

I was also hoping I would find an excellent treatment that I could get routinely (monthly) as I recommend to my clients. Although I can do most of my facial steps at home, it’s never the same—just like giving yourself a massage. It is oh, so much better when someone else is doing all the work for you.

I will continue to look for a good or dare I say great facial. In the meantime I will continue to relay my experiences to you here so perhaps you can glean something that will help you when it comes time to find a place to get a facial treatment.

For more information, see: