The Pumice Stone

Like half the women in Chicagoland this weekend, I got a pedicure this morning.  I only mention it because because the nail tech gave me some advice that I thought, for better or for worse, I should pass on.  Guys, you might want to move along now…

Anyway.  She asked if I used a “razor” on my feet.  It was confused for a second, then realized she was asking if I used a callus remover on the soles of my feet.  You know, to remove dead skin.  I confirmed that I do.  It’s just faster than exfoliating, ok?

She said she thinks that it just exacerbates the build up of dead skin, and it is much better to use a pumice stone or salt scrub. (Do you believe that Amazon sells these?  I am never going to have to take a product picture again.)  I can’t imagine why this would be true, unless it is that if you remove the dead skin without moisturizing, the new layer of skin is just going to dry out faster.  Anyway, I think I might have to try this, since the last nail tech wasn’t crazy.

Update on this Crazy Experiment

I was talking about the nail technician who told me to take care of my dry cuticles by rubbing baby oil into them and covering them with latex gloves.  So I tried it.  Knock on something, but it seems to have been working.

I don’t do it every day, and can’t stand wearing the gloves for a full hour, but I would make an honest effort when it was convenient to do so.  While my hands still don’t look great, my nails appear to be done peeling.

The other thing I learned is that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by wearing nail polish all the time.  While I thought using the strengthener and whatever was…strengthening them…it was also keeping the moisturizers from getting through. 

So maybe it is all less crazy than I thought.

Crazy as 10 Plastic Surgeries

As much as I enjoy the spa, I have always loathed paying money for a manicure.  Two reasons:

  1. I can mostly do it myself.  I even have a bloody paraffin bath!
  2. I will never have really nice nails again, so why the heck would I spend money to have them groomed?

However, now that I am old and my skin is dry…

For the last couple of years, my fingernails have been peeling.  Not breaking, not splitting.  Peeling off in layers.  I have tried many products and nothing is helping.  It is definitely worse in the winter.  I have been told by the professionals, over and over, that if I would get regular manicures, it would get better.  That has always sounded like a sales job to me.

However, you may have noticed that there are deals everywhere on the mani-pedis.  (I hate that term.)  Apparently the reasonable people have determined that if we are all going to try to save more money, blahblahblah.  So I went in.

The nail technician (as I believe they prefer to be called) told me that the issue is taking care of the cuticles.  Makes sense.  How?  Rub baby oil into them every day.

Baby oil?  I can’t run around my house with baby oil on my hands!  How would I even touch the computer?!

Gloves, she says.

Well, I only have one pair of moisturizing gloves, I would have to wash them much more regularly than I do and anyway, I don’t think they would hold up to actual baby oil.

Wear latex gloves, she says.  It sounds weird, but you get used to them.

Would you believe I actually went to CVS and bought a box?

I will not be doing this every day.

Woodhouse Spa

The first thing I discovered when I went to discover Franklin Tennessee was that the entire state is closed on Sunday. Except the day spas.

The first one I went to only had massage therapists working that day. However, Woodhouse Spa was open from 1pm – 6pm and could give me the 2pm slot for a facial. I went with the signature treatment – an 8o minute appointment called the Minkyti Facial. I have no idea what that means.

I walked in at about 1:20, but the staff invited me right in to use the “relaxation room”. It had a fireplace and really comfortable chairs. There was almost nothing to read. A magazine, like, “Nashville Interiors” or something. Which was fine because I had a book. As if I could read Killer Angels in the damn spa.

I changed into a robe and the nice lady brought me peppermint tea and an aromatherapy neck wrap. I filled out the standard questionnaire, put down my pen and closed my eyes.

Seriously. I was loving this place. Then, two women walked in and sat down. They started yammering and ruined the whole experience. They were finished with their appointments and were just hanging around.  I actually got up and left the room when one started telling the other about the botched Botox treatment of a mutual acquaintance. Imagine please, the words, “And she was such a pretty girl” in a Southern accent. My eyes were rolling into the back of my head as I headed back to the locker room. Luckily, that was just about when they called my name for the treatment. I told the aesthetician that I had been breaking out; I presumed because my skincare routine hadn’t caught up with the change in seasons.

That standard facial is 60 minutes. The basic steps are cleanse, steam, exfoliate, extract, masque. The extra 20 minutes, in this case, were “A combination of acupressure points and connective tissue massage techniques lift and tone the skin, allowing for maximum absorption of our nutrient-rich products.”

It was a good facial. When it was over, the aesthetician told me that my skin was fine, but that I should step up the exfoliation a bit. She did not try to sell me anything.  However. It was also..literally..the most expensive facial I have ever had in my entire life. It wasn’t that good.

The particularly good news is that this experience reinforced my theory that a good facial costs $80, give or take a few bucks. Less than that is ok, but it feels a bit more like a doctor’s appointment less like a retreat. More than that is just pampering.

Which is fine.  I was on vacation.

Gordon Salon and Spa

Friday, after I dropped my mother off at work, I went to get my allergy shot. The office is in Highland Park and I arrived before the office opened, so I took a walk around the block. The Gordon Salon and Spa was open, so I went in to take a look. A nice man asked if he could help me and I asked for a menu of the services. He handed it to me and said the Express Facial was 50% off.

I have only had Express Facials twice before. The idea, I think, is to clear the palette of your skin with none of the fancy stuff.

How convenient. I was just thinking that I had about..nevermind how many break outs that I can’t seem to get under control. My skin has been making me crazy this summer. The aesthetician said she could take me in an hour, so I made the appointment.

Gordon Salon & Spa is much more salon than spa. I think I only saw two treatment rooms, but they looked fine to me. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the bathroom, though.

Sitting in the allergist’s office, I read the list of services. The Express Facial is regularly $50, which is pretty darned expensive. The standard one is $80, which is comparable to Mario Tricoci.

At the appointed time, I arrived and the aesthetician was ready for me. She had me fill out the information form, which may be intended to get to know you better, and may be to have in writing what you had disclosed. Whatever. I told her about the mold and how I couldn’t seem to find a moisturizer with any SPF that my skin doesn’t hate. She looked at my skin and said that it was really very healthy, and suggested that my skin might be pissed at me because I keep changing up the products.

Hmm. I’ll have to think about that one.

She did everything right. The appointment was 45 minutes, which explains why it is more expensive. Also, they are with Aveda, which means the aromatherapy is a big deal. Would you believe that my blind pick for a scent was sandalwood? (The other choices involved cloves and tea tree oil, so perhaps not.) Nothing felt rushed and there was no hard sell on the products, which I appreciate. And three days later, my skin is much better. That’s what it’s all about, Charlie Brown.

I could go back.

Scruples Salon and Spa

On that same trip to Hallmark, I walked by the Scruples Salon and Spa in Glenview. There was a big sign on the door that said they were running a special this month – 60 minute facial or massage for $39.95. That is called, “Worth the experiment”. I walked in to see if they could get me in any time before the end of the month. Lady in front said that she just that minute had a guy call to cancel and she could take me right then. Fate or total scam? You be the judge.

The truth is that I had been there before, but for my hair, not for the spa. The stylist did an ok job, but I wasn’t thrilled with the color and there is nothing at all to cutting my hair so I never bothered to go back.

The aesthetician, as I think they are called, showed me the room and waited for me to change. When she came back, she asked all of the right questions and made a couple of good observations. Namely that I don’t wear enough SPF and it is starting to show in real, grown up damage to my skin. (Sigh.)

The table was squeaky, which was distracting. She also had to move it, with me already lying down, more than once because the room was so small and not everything was in her reach. But the most distracting thing? She wore plastic gloves the entire time. So if the “relaxing” is important to you, this is not the place to go.

On the plus side, it seemed a very functional facial (although the jury is out for a good week until I know nothing caused another break out), and no one tried to sell me anything. In fact, the aesthetician actually said that if I don’t want to pay for a fancy exfoliator, I should use sugar and olive oil.

The regular price of the treatment I had is $65, which is pretty standard for a no-frills, clear-your-skin facial. I wouldn’t recommend it for “spa day”. But for $39.95? Get in there before the end of the month!

At the Spa – Mario Tricoci

My first ever facial was at Mario Tricoci. I had won a raffle or something. I remember it as a great experience, where I learned a whole lot about taking care of my skin. I have had something like three facials a year since then. My “regular” place is down the street. Less expensive, more functional than la di da pampering yourself. And sometimes I get them when I am on vacation.

Mario Tricoci is a chain and not the gold standard spa experience, in my opinion. But it is a really good baseline. The standard European Facial is $78, which is reasonable enough. But they don’t do paraffin treatment/massage your feet or any of that stuff that come from the places that charge $100 and up. The best news is that they take appointments online.

I had a certificate to Mario, and I was due for a facial so I went today. The technician was competent, asking all of the right questions and hitting on the fact that my purpose was to not about the “relaxing” or the mini-massage, but to take care of my skin already. Then she started talking and I remembered why I don’t like it here:

She was trying to get me to upgrade the service. I told her I would rather spend the extra dollars on product. So she got started. It was a good treatment and at the end she left me with the usual product recommendations, including a vitamin C serum that I had heard about before. Then she sent me upstairs for the “free make up application”. I remembered that as going to get your eyes done before walking out the door.

No. This is where we get more serious about the selling of the products. The makeup chick walked through all of the recommended products to buy before putting on my damn eye shadow. Then she wanted my phone number so she could, “follow up next week”. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I never answer the phone.

I took the vitamin C serum downstairs and went to the register to pay my bill. The total was a good $100 more than I planned. I asked for a breakdown. That vitamin C serum was $135. I handed it back over the counter.

Verdict: Mario Tricoci does a good basic facial. I can’t comment on the “upgrades” because I refuse to pay for them. But when you get to the “make up application”, plead another appointment and get out.