Deconstructing Facials.

My 600-hour adventure in esthetics school. Read about the project or catch up with weeks 1-9.

I think we’re all getting itchy about facials. It feels like we’ve been doing them for 100 weeks (reality: about five) but we have to perform 75 before we graduate, so the empty pages in our blue books (where Miss Jenny signs off on each treatment) seem to mock us as we hurry through yet another cleanse-analyze-exfoliate-extract-massage-mask-tone-moisturize.

And the truth is, I’m extra impatient because I’ve always been sort of dismissive of facials. They just seemed like an absurdly expensive indulgence that didn’t really give you a whole lot of take-home results. I’m still having trouble seeing the much-touted results — after I had Repechage’s Hydra Medic facial last week, everyone raved about how clear my skin became, but as far as I can tell, the three papules and pustules (technical terms, yo) that were there before the facial are still there now.

Even so, I’m kind of giddy when Miss Jenny breaks out the box of Repechage Four Layer Facials. This is because the Four Layer is like the Cadillac of facials. Repechage founder Lydia Sarfati developed it about 30 years ago, and claims that it revolutionized the way we do facials because the four layers of seaweed masks are so much kinder and gentler than so many other facials, which leave you red and raw after as proof that they’re “working,” yet just as (more so? why not?) effective.

Spas pay about $20 per Four Layer in ingredients and charge anywhere from $80 to $150. So you pretty much have to know how to do one because it’s one of the biggest money makers on the spa menu.

Problem there is, they’re wicked hard.

So here’s how it’s supposed to go down: Up above, you can see the Repechage model version of the Four Layer. A seaweed serum, hydrating cream, seaweed mask and mineral mask are all layered on and left to set, and then, in box number five, we have the grand finale, when the mineral mask hardens into a thick shell and you can rock it off your client’s face in one magical piece. The seaweed mask rubberizes underneath, so you peel that off, slap on some more hydrating cream, and show your client their shiny new self.

Here’s how I did:

No, that’s not a pile of vomit. It’s my seaweed (green) and mineral (tan) masks, after I had to break them off Meg’s face. Not so much on the gently rocking and rolling them off. More like, both masks set before I finish applying them, and begin hardening into a lumpy mess all over poor Meg’s face while she focuses on deep breathing so the claustrophobia (that quite naturally ensues when your face is frozen by a granite-like pile of mineral gunk) doesn’t win.

“It’s your first time and this is a very hard facial,” says Miss Jenny sympathetically as she helps me pick pieces of seaweed mask out of Meg’s hair. The senior girls, who are all rocking their mineral masks off in one scary Halloween mask piece, nod. “I’ve broken a lot of mineral masks,” says Sue.”You’ll get it next time.”

And, anyway: “Meg’s skin looks fantastic now!” says Miss Jenny. “Just look how much better.”

I look and look and wish I can see what she sees.



Filed under Beauty Schooled, Facials, In Class

5 responses to “Deconstructing Facials.

  1. KNB

    It is amazing to me that they are, day after day, having you do facials on each other, when the best spas don’t suggest repetitive facial use because it will do just that…DESTROY YOUR SKIN! Your skin needs re-coup time, to rebuild it’s defenses! Hang in there!

  2. kateashford

    You know, I’ve only had a couple of facials in my life, but I’ll continue to get them for one reason, and one reason only: They’re hella-relaxing. At least, the ones I’ve had so far have been awesome. All the massaging and attention to your neck and face… I find it less invasive than a full-body massage but still reap the breathe-deep-and-go-limp benefits. I’ve never really noticed any huge improvement in my skin afterward, though–you’ll have to keep us posted on your final take.

  3. kateashford: Agreed, the breathe-deep-and-go-limp part is the main perk of a facial… and sadly, the part we don’t really get to indulge in at school because we’re too busy listening to instructions, offering feedback to the student working on us (“too much pressure,” or “that product stings” etc). Alas.

    KNB, interesting note: I also thought that most fancy spas tell you not to indulge in repeated facial use so your skin doesn’t get overwrought. That’s semi-true; Miss Jenny warned us that our skin would probably get exhausted from all the practice we do at school. But in the usage instructions for most of the facials we’ve learned so far, it says something like “for maintenance, perform every 3-4 weeks; for best results, every 1-2 weeks.”

    Meaning if you come in with a healthy dose of acne or crow’s feet, the facial manufacturer feels that you would benefit from paying $100-$150 per week until that condition subsides. And at that price, I guess you would start seeing benefits, if only to feel better about the hit your wallet is taking.

  4. I hope I can inspire you all to being good esteticians. It is a rewarding profession and you will experience that facials do work, they are not just for relaxation .
    Some facials are designed to provide solutions for problem skin such as acne or aging skin, others are helping to maintain a clear and healthy complexion. You will really become a true expert after doing facials for 10,000 hours not 75 hours . Continue to learn and you will see the results and “see what she sees” good luck !
    Lydia Sarfati
    President/Founder of Repechage

  5. Pingback: Check Your Own Pretty Price: What’s Your Beauty No-Fly Zone? | Beauty Schooled

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