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We all love the blissful relaxation and pampering that comes with a spa appointment, but did you ever wonder what behind-the-scenes action you’re not privy to as you sip cucumber water from the comfort of your plush pedicure chair? I asked my trusted esthetician Polina for some insight into secrets at the spa.
Spa secret 1: “We aren’t being polite, we really don’t care.”
Do you ever get that nervous or anxious feeling before a spa appointment when you realize you’ve been booked for a pedicure and have forgotten to shave your legs (don’t lie, we’ve all been there)?
As someone who frequently suffers from a beauty shame-spiral, I asked Polina how disgusted she gets from unkempt clients.
“If you were already perfect, you wouldn’t need to come to that spa,” Polina says, explains that as an esthetician her greatest thrills is having someone come into the spa in “bad shape” and leave polished, buffed and beautiful.
She does admit that estheticians may share their more memorable transformations with colleague in the lunchroom. “It is not about embarrassing the client,” Polina assures me when she sees my horrified expression. “We are human, we like to show off things we do well. My professional accomplishments just may be found on someone’s face.”
For more spa secrets, read onto the next page...
Spa secret 2: “We’re like kindergarten children, we don’t like to share”
It had been a hectic few weeks and my eyebrows were beginning to look like Frida Kahlo. I called my spa to schedule an emergency brow wax but Polina was fully scheduled. “Nika is free,” the receptionist told me. I had gone to Nika a few times during my spa career and knew she could be trusted. I booked the appointment.
Two months later when I scheduled another wax (this time with Polina) she clucked at me disapprovingly. “Do you just decide to go to a different dentist or doctor when you need an appointment?” she chirped me. I conceded that I did not, and made a mental note not to stray from Polina again.
It wasn’t that Nika had done a poor job but the playground mentality was obvious; “sharing” is not a word in an esthetician’s vocabulary.
Spa secret 3: “Post facial breakouts are not a good sign.”
Days before my friends’ wedding Polina suggested I get a facial to guarantee a luminous glow. When I told my girlfriend (who was bordering on a “bridezilla”) she nearly gave herself a stroke worrying that one of her bridesmaids would have a zit-filled face as my skin “got rid of the toxins”.
Fact: A good facial will not cause you to breakout. Polina explains that your skin has no physiological mechanism to purge itself of toxins and a post facial breakout is really caused by inflammation or irritation to either the methods or products used in the treatment.
The key to assessing a good facial? Make sure your esthetician softens the area of skin before performing an extraction and combines the procedure with a desincrustant product. Also, make note of whether your esthetician uses a soothing serum post extractions to help calm your skin. While you may love the scent of Fragonard’s Rose de Mai, a highly fragranced product can cause irritation and should also be avoided.