Facials And Lost-cause Complex

As hot and cold can make for an exhilarating experience, so do these facial tools and a soothing, exotic ambience | Jane Esaki photo

As hot and cold can make for an exhilarating experience, so do these facial tools and a soothing, exotic ambience | Jane Esaki photo

I have an amazing complexion, except for the blackheads, age spots and wrinkles. That makes totally good sense since I have already relegated those imperfections to the lost-cause department.

So one day I receive a facial as a gift, and all I could think was, “It won’t do me any good, but at least I’ll get my face cleaned.”

For me, getting a facial falls into the category of “extremely frivolous preoccupation for prima donnas,” as my Depression-era ancestors would have me think of it. I never have considered such pampering. In fact, I have yet to get the manicure or pedicure that many people today actually consider integral to their well-being.

I soon learn that to achieve this “clean face” is going to take a whole hour. I’m instructed to lie face up on a massage table and bare my shoulders. The cozy Asian-inspired room is underlit, with calming music, but like in a dentist’s office, a humongous lighted swiveling magnifying glass awaits. The technician introduces a stainless steel appliance with tiny holes at each tip for extractions, explaining how it is used and how it will feel. Had I not known that this is a facial, I would have been ready to say, “Ahhh.”

Before the blackhead extractions, she cleans my face and then prepares to open skin pores with a steam wand. This facial sauna contrasts with the cool air conditioning, immediately an invigorating juxtaposition. The extractions are pain-free and all of the gentle cleansing, toning, moisturizing and micro-massages wash away any vestige of dirt, grease, dryness and tension. Throughout the procedure, no coddling time is squandered; even while the masks are drying, nary a second goes by without being spoiled with calming hand and foot massages.

Just when I think the session’s over, the technician walks into the next room and returns with a surprise. My eyes still covered with damp cotton, she waves her hands over my face. At first, I detect nothing, then I get a whiff of the most delicate fragrance possible on earth — she dabs on my face the purest, most absolute essence of jasmine, my all-time favorite!

How do I measure the success of this facial? What I see in the mirror is shocking — it is obviously more than a “clean face.” My face is aglow, a beacon of light in this dimly lit room. No redness from the extractions are visible, my skin feels incredibly supple and relaxed and even my wrinkles seem less apparent.

But the triumph of today’s facial lies not just skin deep. The heavenly aural ambience, the tender pampering and the floral-scented offering are reminders to honor my body as I would honor the holy image of a divine entity. Of course, I’m not claiming to be Buddha — no mud-slinging necessary. I’m done with the masks, thank you. This facial ultimately represents the honoring of one’s life, a sacred gift that is never a lost cause.

So, go ahead, call me a prima donna. Manicure and pedicure, coming right up!