I am in Las Vegas for work. And it should be noted that I have only recently returned to traveling for work as I have been working part-time for years as I am raising 6 kids and recently my youngest went to school—opening the door for more work opportunities. I have been to Vegas before either with friends or family and those trips I focused on tourist things. This time is different, I have a work meeting on Monday and decided that I would stay the weekend before the meeting. My idea with the extra days was that I would take advantage of the amenities that I never get to do when I am home or traveling with kids. First on my list during my free time here was to go get a real, full hour long facial. How Vegas of me? A facial.
Facials are something I was never exposed to. I am the only girl in my family and my mom is not into anything of the sort. My mom is also blessed with amazingly clear skin (she’s 70 and easily looks 10 years younger). This past year, my skin has been unbearable. Lots of blackheads. Some cysts. Extra oil. I have racked my brain with what have I changed…nothing notable. Of course I have some stress, but not a particularly increased amount of stress recently. When is it not hectic taking care of six kids? Never. There are new unexpected bumps, hiccups, tears, emotions, and chaos daily. I have come to accept the chaos and to conquer it I eat relatively well, I imbibe a lot of water, limit my sugar, limit my caffeine, and exercise a little. I sound like the cover of O magazine—only I don’t look close to making the cover of any magazine. The only conclusion I could come up for my recent cyst/acne skin is the curse of now being in my 40s. And if I am right, frankly, that sucks.
Back to Vegas…so today I scheduled an hour long facial. As the spa virgin, I was not at all at home. They had to walk me through everything. They showed me to the beautiful locker area and explained that I needed to take off all my clothes and put on a robe – for a facial??
Ok…I thought. You can do this. So I shyly went to the bathroom because I was not at all used to shared female spaces. In the Midwest, you pretty much hide from each other so I went and hid and put on my robe (kept my panties on to be a bit anti-Vegas style). I got some water and was escorted to the special coed waiting room.
In the waiting room the music was pleasant, there were 8 comfortable chairs, healthy cookies, healthy drinks, healthy lighting, healthy from ceiling to floor. There was one guy in the room with a few tattoos that I could see exposed on his upper very fit chest. Soon his girlfriend/wife/acquaintance appeared and they sat very far from me. They looked comfortable and going for a couple’s massage. At least, that’s what I was guessing. They were called in first. They already looked comfortable. I still had a ways to go to even begin to get comfortable.
I didn’t have to wait too long to go to my room and a petite, east Indian woman appeared and took me to my room. I noticed that she had flawless skin as she talked to me so I was feeling trust build: if her skin looks like that, maybe mine can. I was to disrobe and get under a warm comforter on the bed. Ok. She left. I disrobed and climbed into the super comfortable bed. I have had massages once or twice in the midwest, but this bed was extremely plush and warm and comfortable.
She had me choose from different scents and thank god she did this because a couple of the scents were not of my liking at all. She added my chosen scent to a warm moisture vapor that was continuously steaming onto my face. She rubbed and cleaned my face as the steam poured out of the quiet machine. Her cleansing massage was gentle and I really tried to relax (something I am not used to and certainly do not have practice at).
After the cleansing activities, she looked at my face under the light/magnifier.
“You say this is your first facial,” she asked.
“Yes,” I said.
“You have a lot of blackheads!”
“It’s been a tough year,” I responded thinking “more like a tough past ten years” and “hopefully, better late than never to start taking care of me.”
“Lots and lots of blackheads. Do you exfoliate?” she asked as she exfoliated my face.
“Sometimes.” I responded. I am sure she knew by taking one look at me that I certainly did not exfoliate enough.
I was totally unprepared for what happened next. I had not read up about facials prior because I thought that facials were calming, relaxing, and soothing. Holy crap. I was wrong. I felt like she had begun to jab my face with a mini sword—an ice pick. I envisioned all kinds of medieval weapons that my have been used as design platforms for this tool: the Horseman’s pick, a glaive, halberds—weapons that haven’t crossed my mind since I went through the Ripley’s Believe It or Not creepy torture device exhibit at Niagara Falls. I curled my toes. I pushed my thumbnails hard against my fingers and none of it helped much. She really focused on my nose which has to be one of the most tender areas of the body. I had a few small breaks (moments where she wiped either tears or snot away) and then she was right back at it. She was dedicated to the task of conquering every blackhead on my face: chin, forehead, sides of cheeks, nose – no blackhead escaped.
I was sitting there thinking about all the births (six vaginal deliveries) I went through and were any of them like this? Yes and NO because the babies didn’t come out my nose. God, it was crazy pain. She would say, “Sorry.” Especially when she found a really deep blackhead to extract. There are very few times in my life that I have been at a breaking point due to pain (miscarriages, broken bones, a wire lodged in my leg, and burns to name a few), and I found the extraction point of the facial to be close to those breaking points. Tears streamed out my eyes. In fact, writing this is bringing a few remembrance tears back. Snot continued to fill my nose, but I wanted those suckers gone as much as her. This was blackhead battle. I was in it for the long haul…well, not more than the hour I paid for, but still…
Then, she quietly and calmly said, “Extraction done.”
I took a big breath of steam in and out.
“Ok?” she asked.
“Hell no,” I thought but just went, “Uh-huh.”
Then she proceeded with the most wonderful face massage that I have ever had. Sometimes at the the hair salon they will give you neck massages or small facial massages, but this lady’s hands were the perfect pressure. There was a long time of massage and lotions and oils and masks/peels and all of it wonderful. She massaged my shoulder and my neck as well and the rest of my hour was so soothing.
At the end of the spa session she reassured me that my future extractions would not be as deep if I exfoliate more. I thought to myself, “Didn’t someone tell me that childbirth gets easier after the first AND that was a complete lie!” We’ll see because just like childbirth, I am sure I will be back. She gave me a sheet with lots of information I could have used, say, 20 years ago.
As I write this it has been six hours since my facial and my face is still tender, my nose is a bit red, and it’s still a bit soon to forget about torture chamber feeling of the extraction, but my face has a bit of a glow to it. You know the saying of the like that sometimes you have to rage to move on. I kind of feel like this facial was a rage moment for me. I didn’t have something that I had to settle with anyone. I didn’t have a breakup…I had a breakout. I am really hoping that the ice pick rage on my face today really does help it move on. I am hoping that it opens up those pores and gives me a chance to feel a little more comfortable in my own skin.