Welcome to my second blog post. In my first blog post, I revealed my secret desire to be a doll or mannequin. At the end of my previous blog post, I resolved that I would see if indulging these thoughts even in small ways would somehow help to put the desire to rest. I took the first step in that direction recently by having my first ever professional facial.
I know that many of you may not think of this as anything unusual but for me, it most definitely was not a run of the mill activity. In fact, I usually considered such things as a waste of money, which is why I never went for one. I would much rather spend that money eating out at a nice restaurant or going to see a movie. However there I was at a beauty salon specializing in skin treatments sitting in the waiting area with the little voice in the back of my mind going “Dolls have beautiful, blemish free skin!”
I could not stop the long sigh that I let out, but quickly glanced around to see if anyone had heard it. Thankfully there was nobody within earshot. My skin was a rather far cry from blemish free, having to constantly deal with giant gaping pores, black heads and even nasty break outs, you know, the kind you only expect to see on a teenager. I don’t even know why they happen, it isn’t like I wear makeup so that couldn’t be a trigger and I do wash my face and use toner and moisturizer and all that stuff.
I was starting to wonder if it isn’t just my skin and that nothing will help it anyway. This is going to be an even bigger waste of money than it would be for ‘normal’ people.I was considering backing out when a skin consultant approached me politely saying “I am ready for you now.” with a friendly smile. With her greeting any chance of sneaking out evaporated. “Facials are supposed to be a relaxing indulgence,” I told myself as I entered the small room she directed me to but it somehow did not settle my nerves at all.
The room had an almost medical looking bed in the center with a couple of cupboards and drawers off to each side. There were also machines, whose purpose I could not determine, just by glancing at them by the drawers. The skin consultant asked me to remove my top and replace it with a towel wrap around top. Initially, I was confused as to why this would be needed but I would later find out that it is to prevent any potential spillage of products on clothing and to allow access to apply a shoulder massage.
I was asked to lay down on the bed and close my eyes which I promptly did. There was some comfort in not being able to see my current surroundings, not unlike an ostrich sticking its head into sand to ‘hide from danger’. I could feel the consultant examining my skin after switching on some light and placing it right over my face. I was, of course, picturing every little flaw and problem there must be and how glaringly obvious it all would be under such close examination. But what the skin consultant said next caught me off guard.
“Your protective barrier is practically non-existent.” She stated in a matter of fact tone. “My what now?!” I asked in a slight panic, opening my eyes but laying still. She proceeded to briefly explain to me that the outer layer of my skin was not doing its job and as a result of this, my skin had become extremely dehydrated. This was also the cause of my extremely enlarged pores and excess oil being produced as my skin attempted to fight the dehydration. She suggested I do some research on the skin’s barrier function to better understand it when I got home.
The skin consultant then told me that she thought a deep cleansing would be the best option for me at the moment to help kick start my skin’s regeneration and detoxification. She pulled one of the previously unidentifiable machines closer and told me to close my eyes again. Once I had she began applying and removing various products. Then the machine came into play, as I felt warm steam start to blast across my face. The steam was applied for several minutes, how long exactly I cannot say, but long enough for me to notice the song playing through the speaker near the ceiling was on repeat.
Once the skin consultant put off the steam, she proceeded to apologize for any discomfort to come. I did not get to ask any questions before she began squeezing and pulling at my skin. “I know it isn’t pleasant but it is best for me to get as much of the dirt and build up out as possible.” she explained, “You may get some breakouts after this session, but that is normal, it is just your skin trying to get rid of the dirt and oil build up.”
Once she was done pulling and pushing at my face, more products were applied and removed, before the final product was put on and left in place. The skin consultant then told me the session was over, and I could re-dress once she had left the room. She also invited me to examine my skin in the supplied mirror and told me that any redness was normal and would subside before the end of the day.
After dressing I took up her invitation and was examining my face with extreme scrutiny, taking note of any changes. My skin overall looked much fresher and seemed almost to have a slight glow about it. The bothersome enlarged pores definitely looked much smaller and clearer. I had to start wondering if there was something to this but ended up telling myself that this result would likely only last a few hours or a day or two at best before reverting.
The skin consultant provided me with three products; a night time cream and some serum which I was to apply ever night and a chemical exfoliation liquid which I was to use every second night. I proceeded to the counter to pay the bill. When I heard the amount I just about chocked on my own breath. It was far more than I anticipated and I admit I was downright angry at myself for spending such a shocking amount on something that is a luxury and by no means a basic necessity.
I went home angry and full of regret and spent the next few hours running to the mirror to see if my skin had reverted back to its usual appearance yet. My skin, however, was looking better than it ever had, as the redness subsided. I, however, was still rather upset at having spent that amount of money. I was convinced that the following morning my face would look the same as it had before the facial, but secretly holding onto a hope that it would not.
The next morning I took a deep breath and faced the mirror. An expression of surprise stared back at me as I examined my skin. Not only did it not revert to pre-facial appearance, but it was looking better than it ever had before. Maybe there was something to having a qualified professional assess and treat your skin after all.
I followed the skin consultant’s suggestion and began doing some research specifically on the protective barrier of the skin. The protective barrier of the skin is called the Stratum corneum and is the outer most layer of your skin. It is composed of dead dry skin cells which will eventually be shed and they are held together by lipids.
One of the functions the Stratum corneum is to keep the skin hydrated by preventing water evaporation. When there are gaps in this layer, skin becomes susceptible to dehydration due to moisture escaping. This is known as Trans Epidermal Moisture Loss if you want the technical term. The Stratum corneum‘s barrier function works both ways, though, not only just to keep water in. Its other important function is to keep microbes and allergens out. When there are gaps in this protective barrier, microbes and allergens have a pathway to the living cells beneath. Well, I guess that would be a contribution to the breakouts I have been experiencing.
The International Dermal Institute has an article which explains in easy to understand terms the barrier function of the skin. It covers some causes for the breakdown of this barrier, as well as some advice on how to boost your skin’s barrier function. I had to admit that stress had been playing a huge role in my life, as mentioned in the previous post. I had been drinking far too much coffee. Both factors that can contribute to the breakdown of the skin’s protective barrier. Thankfully it appears the skin consultant was a well trained professional and not only pointed out the problem but supplied the needed products to help overcome it. Maybe the price was worth it after all?
Though my skin is far from being flawless like that of a doll’s there is already a definite improvement and I look forward to seeing if it can be improved even more over the long term.