Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Best Facial Ever

Like every other incoming college freshman, I was scared to death that I'd be thrown in a 10x12' room with some anti-social weirdo with separation issues, or perhaps worse, a gorgeous, super smart, popular girl who was too cool to be my friend. Luckily, things didn't turn out that way, and I ended up hitting it off with my Jess, and we ended up spending two years as roommates and became best friends.

If that wasn't cool enough, Jess has an awesome family, who were nice enough to invite me to stay at their bed and breakfast two weekends ago. Yes, they are innkeepers, and they run a 19th century inn nestled in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachussetts. Talk about hitting the roommate jackpot! We spent the weekend hiking through the mountains, eating locally grown food in family-owned cafes, going outlet and boutique shopping and getting pedicures, chatting and catching up on gossip the whole time. Her mother (who formerly worked as a chef in a number of French restaurants before buying in the inn) even cooked us a huge lobster dinner, complete with multiple courses and finished with homemade coconut almond cheese cake (yum!). Each nigh I turned on a fire and crawled into the four poster bed in my luxurious suite, reading a page-turner until I fell asleep. In short, I was in heaven.

One of the reasons I came up that weekend was because Jess was preparing to go on a two week trip to Israel to visit with her hot Israeli soldier boyfriend, and I wanted to help see her off. A few days before she had called me and told me that she was nervous about going because her skin was really acting up and she was afraid her dramatic airport entrance would be ruined by a red, peeling face covered with breakouts. Her dermatologist wasn't going to be open, so she had made an appointment with a local facialist who was running a post-holiday special, and was crossing her fingers that her face would clear up in time for the trip. I told her that was probably a good idea, but was worried that the facial could actually make things worse.

See, I'm very skeptical about the effectiveness of facials. In my experience, I've always enjoyed getting the facial, from the massage to the masks, exfoliation and extractions (something very satisfying about this), but I always walked out with my skin looking a lot worse. Facialists will tell you that this is supposed to happen, which is why you should always get one at least a few days before a big event. But a couple days later, it didn't get much better, and at best I'd look as good as I did before I got the facial, never any better. Pretty frustrating for something so expensive.

But back to Jess. When I finally reached Great Barrington, MA, after a 10 hour drive from Detroit (raining the whole time, no less), I was pretty shocked to see her. When she walked out to help bring my things into the inn, she looked incredible. I knew she was happy to see me, but her face was actually glowing, her skin tone even and perfectly smooth. Her skin wasn't perfect, but it was pretty close.

"Didn't you tell me on Wednesday that you thought your face was falling off? What happened?" I asked. "Oh man," she said, "You wouldn't believe how bad I looked yesterday. But this morning I had that facial, and it was amazing."

She wasn't lying. My skin hadn't been looking to hot either, between my allergies acting up (the Anthelios incident certainly didn't help matters) and the lack of humidity in my parents' house, not to mention the holiday stress. When Jess told me that the spa was having a special where you got an hour long facial, followed by a full Jane Iredale makeup application for $45, I was in. I still harbored some doubts about how much the facial could do for my skin (especially because I'm so sensitive), if Jess's had really improved such a huge amount, I had to try it for myself.

We went to Sebastian's Salon (the best link I could find- it has their address) in Sheffield, MA and I met Christine Kirchner, the facialist. I always love talking with estheticians, since they're usually beauty product lovers and have tried or been trained in a lot of different lines. Interestingly, Christine got her B.A. from Williams College before becoming a licensed esthetician. After graduating from beauty school, she was disappointed by the training she received and decided to get certified to give Dr. Hauschka treatments, which use different techniques and have a more natural, organic philosophy about how to treat the skin.

The Dr. Hauschka facial is great for those with sensitive, acne-prone skin (like mine) because the products contain only all-natural, non-comedogenic and non-irritating ingredients. They don't do a facial massage (because it requires using oil on the face) and the head massage is applied with a powder, so that your hair isn't greasy when you leave the salon. Also, because all Dr. Hauschka estheticians undergo the same intense training, you can be sure that you'll get the same treatment everywhere, at the same high quality. She described many of the other differences between Dr. Hauschka treatments and traditional spa treatments, but I was so relaxed that I spaced out and can't remember what she said.

After the facial was over, she applied Jane Iredale makeup (which I'd never tried before, but LOVED) and my skin seriously looked better than it ever had. After I explained that the Jane Iredale and Dr. Hauschka products were a little out of my price range (okay, a lot), she sent me home with a generous bag of samples, which was especially nice of her.

The reason I didn't write this post earlier (it's been almost two and a half weeks now) is because I'd been waiting to see how long my skin would look perfect. And I mean literally perfect.... for two full weeks I didn't breakout once, had no problems with dryness and my skin tone was really even. It was a post-Christmas miracle. Even now my skin is still far better than usual, though I'm getting the occasional flare up.

I sound like a new convert, but next time you want to treat yourself to a facial, I highly recommend that you try a Dr. Hauschka treatment. And if you're vacationing in the Berkshires, stay at the Windflower Inn in Great Barrington, and tell them that Meg sent you.

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