The European Facial

My 600-hour adventure in esthetics school. Read about the project or catch up with Weeks 1-6.

This is not the European Facial, but it is ridiculous, so enjoy.

We get down to business with the European Facial tonight, with everyone paired up on the spa beds while Miss Jenny perches in a director chair between us to critique our work.

The European facial is the most basic facial, so if you’ve ever been to a spa, you’ve probably had some version of it. There are six steps:

1) Cleanse.

2) Exfoliate for ten minutes under steam.

3) Facial massage for at least ten minutes.

4) Mask for ten minutes while you do a hand massage.

5) Tone.

6) Moisturize.

(It’s entirely possibly that I’ve forgotten something or mixed up the order. Learning here!) But every esthetician adds her own tweaks — Miss Lisa likes to do a foot massage as well as a hand massage, Miss Jenny worries it’s unsanitary to move from someone’s feet to their face. Her signature move is using hot towels to take off every layer of product.

“You should always be touching your client,” says Miss Jenny. “Never let them just lie there, wondering where you went.”

That means while the exfoliator is working, you massage their neck and “décolleté” (spa speak for your collar bone and the top of your breasts). While the mask is working, you work up and down both arms and hands, massaging until even their pinkies relax.

So I’m getting the hang of the massage because it’s pretty satisfying when you actually feel a tense muscle release. And I love applying masks — like frosting a cake — and peeling them off in one rubberized piece.

But my issue is that I take too much product.

In order to keep things sanitary, we use little plastic spatulas to scoop every product (cleanser, exfoliant, mask, and so on) out of their big containers and into tiny plastic bowls. I help myself to at least a quarter cup of cleanser and follow that up with several healthy tablespoons of exfoliant. Miss Jenny is on me like white on rice. “You could get three or four facials out of that serving,” she says. “Scoop about an eighth of it onto your hand and put the rest back.”

This is because product equals profit. The more facials you can get out of an $18 bottle of cleanser, the more profit you derive from every $75 treatment. “These are high quality, professional ingredients,” Miss Jenny reminds us. “You only need a little bit to get the job done.”

But we all like to use a lot of product. This is because it’s a lot less weird to rub your hands all over someone’s face, neck and décolleté if there’s some kind of substance between their skin and yours.

When I run out of oil during the massage, I’m acutely aware that I’ve more or less gotten to second base on Blanche. And I just don’t know her well enough for that.

[Photo: O’Grady Images]


1 Comment

Filed under Facials, In Class, products, week 7

One response to “The European Facial

  1. Yeah, it’s disconcerting to have a virtual stranger’s fingers that close to my ta-tas. Why do they encourage decollete massage in the first place? I’d much rather have the esthetician spend more time on a hand (or even better, a scalp) massage.

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