Let’s Talk About…: Facials and Our Expectations vs. Reality

I want you to close your eyes for a moment and ruminate on a single word: facial.

I’d like to think that this particular word resonates positively with most people. Visions of creamy, sweet-smelling balms and lotions, well-trained hands massaging the tightness out of neglected cheeks and the comforting, empowering knowledge that you’re pampering yourself for you and you alone.

This vision is a lie.

Oh yes, my friends, you heard me correctly – a lie.

For years, I dreamed of the day when I might lay on a massage table, relaxing music (probably a Enya/Dido playlist accompanied by ambient rain sounds) floating through the air, warm steam opening my abused pores and a rehabilitating facial massage releasing the tension of the last few months and freeing my skin of a lifetime of gunk all in 60 glorious, life-changing minutes.

Yesterday, I finally made my dream a reality and watched (and felt) as all my hopes came crashing down around my ears. Reality was forced upon me thanks to one, painful word –


Now, for any of you that don’t know, extration is the process of removing blackheads and other pore buildup from the skin. Sounds easy, right?


You see, to empty a pore of the sebum/oil/dead skin cells that have built up within it, the cosmetologist performing the facial uses a special tool. Seeing as I purchased one of these tools for very occasional home use, I thought I had an idea as to what it was I was in for. But no manner of poking and prodding at my own face could have prepared me for the hour-long hell it went through. I couldn’t believe I made it through the entire session without tearing up!

The chin was definitely the worst. Because the majority of my acne is hormonal, I have a lot of deep, cystic blemishes around my jaw, where the tool meets bone – ouch. Another particularly bad spot was the sensitive skin around my nose, where she proceeded to literally scrape the tool across the skin whilst applying possibly inhuman amounts of pressure to my already inflamed, irritated epidermis.

And would you like to know the worst part? I didn’t get any of the “fluffy stuff” (her words, not mine). The nice, soothing creams, meant to relax you with aromatherapy and promote happy, new skin cell growth? Skipped over! Because, “Your extractions took longer than I thought they would and we don’t have time for anything else. I have another client waiting.”

I’m sorry, but what?! If I’m paying $80 to be stabbed in the face, I BETTER get the fluffy stuff, too! That’s what makes the pain worth it – the spoonful of sugar WITH the medicine.

Needless to say, I will not be attempting facials from that establishment again. And if I ever decide to give facials from elsewhere an attempt, I’ll most assuredly be leaving extraction off of the menu.

I’d love to hear any stories or experiences you might have regarding facials, good or bad.

Mars, signing off. ◇

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