22 July 2010

because French women are inspiring.

{i think my skin is clearing up just from looking @ this picture}

My skin and I have had a tenuous relationship at best. It turned on me around the tender age of 12 with my first zit (on my chin; I remember it exactly). My dad said that it was a good thing - that way I could have clear skin by high school. At the age of 25, I have the pimples to prove that my dad is a liar (sorry, Pops). My skin tends to be red, a bit splotchy, I have pores you could drive a car through... at least you could, if they weren't so clogged. I reached a point in late high school when I just kind of gave up on the 'miracle' fix-it, and decided to try and accept myself, you know, flaws and all.

Fuck that shit. Self-Accepting, my ass. It's time for self-improvement.

{i really, really was hoping that they did something like this to my face. because that would increase my spa street cred by a billion percent. people would say 'oh, have you heard about the seaweed hydrating epidermius wrap? i hear it's so popular in Japan.' to which i could say, 'done it, bitches. and it is awesome.'}

I recently read an article in the New York times on how well French women age (appropriately named Frenchwomen's Secrets to Aging Well) and it was inspiring. How could it not be? Take a read:
She clearly loves being herself. And she makes me think that in France, women might forget everything else as they age — but never their sense of style...
 And even the average Frenchwoman — say, shopping along the Rue du Faubourg St.-Honoré or enjoying a leisurely lunch on the Left Bank, or strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens — seems to defy the notion that, as one grows older, you either have to disguise that process with Botox, eye-lifts, lip plumpers and all sorts of procedures that convey a desperate “youthful” look, or else just give up altogether and let the ravages of time take their toll...
But while American women, like me at least, approach personal care with practical efficiency, the Frenchwomen I know regard the pampering of the skin, hair and body as an enjoyable, gratifying ritual. 
As for makeup, Frenchwomen of almost every age (except those teenagers) regard less as best. Heavy foundation has a tendency to emphasize wrinkles and pores, and most women avoid it in favor of a bit of blush. Those who do use foundation make sure that it blends with the skin, often by applying it just after moisturizing. The idea is to look as natural as possible: a little color on the eyelids, mascara, maybe a bit of eyeliner and lip gloss.  

Of course, it’s easy to look natural if your skin is great. And that may be where the French secrets really are. According to a 2008 Mintel report, Frenchwomen spend about $2.2 billion a year on facial skin care — as much as Spanish, German and British women put together. If you happen to use the bathroom in a French home — something that is not considered polite, by the way — you might see a line of skin care products rivaling a shelf at Duane Reade.

There will be day creams (with sunscreen), night creams (without it), re-pulping creams, serums, moisturizers, cleansers, toners and salves for anything from orange-peel skin to varicose veins. But you might not find much soap. Ms. Caron says she doesn’t use it on her face or her body (except for “certain places”). Madame Figaro magazine recently quoted the French actress and TV presenter Léa Drucker as saying, “The day I stopped using soap, my life changed.” Post-transformation, she uses a hydrating cream.
{i was kidding about the photo above... this is what i want i hope they do at my facial}
Okay, so I pretty much copied and pasted the entire article, but you get why I've been thinking about this for days... a long time to hold a thought in my little head. I called the Avenda Institute and made myself an appointment for a facial. (Sidenote: Amos kept giggling when I mentioned a facial. Apparently, it means something dirty in a double entendre that went -zip!- straight over my head)

I haven't had a facial since my acne prone high school days, and it rather bruised my sensitive soul at the time (I took it quite personally that the esthetician had to do so many extractions.) But I'm an older woman now. Wiser. A bit hardened. Bring on the extractions, baby. I'm ready.

I confidently told the woman to add on the acne treatment because, why yes!, I'd be happy to pay $15 extra for my problem skin. Within a week of reading said article, I was in the salon, lying on a bed, with a very earnest and likeable esthetician-to-be asking me questions. She was good. She picked up my T-Zone is oily and my cheeks dry. That I run warm. That I flinch involuntary whenever someone reaches for my face. To recap my reactions during the process:

-- I am dehydrated - you can tell that from looking at my skin?! 
-- No, not really sunburned, my skin is always this red...
-- The broken capillary on my nose? Yes, it's been there ever since I got a cold sore last winter. I know, runs in my family - my mom wanted to ask if we could get on the family plan for the laser removal! Ha Ha. Oh, you see another broken capillary on my cheek? Well... shoot.
-- Yes, it has been a long time since my facial (said while she is going to town taking out blackheads on my nose)... why I'm glad I came in too!

Thank goodness my self-esteem isn't that of my 17-year old self. I would have dissolved on the floor in a puddle of awkward, self-conscience tears. Instead, I took it in stride, all in the name of aging like those across the pond. I appreciated the hydrating masks and cold stone treatments. I breathed in the aromatherapy. I lied and said the extractions weren't too painful. In the end, when I looked in the mirror, I could tell a difference.

{look at her. look at how confident she is! the spa doesn't make her cry and it's not going to make me cry either!}

Because I don't do things half-ass, I suggested my esthetician-to-be show me a couple of products to buy. For the sake of my aging process. I am now the proud owner of a gentle cleanser and lotion with acne fighting salicylic acid.

And that, ladies and gents, is how I left the salon much poorer, but with significantly nicer skin then when I came in. My face is radiant, and, for the first time that I can remember, I cannot wait to wash said face. It's going to be glorious. As will my next facial, in 3 weeks, and as will the other 2 products I'll be purchasing (my self-pampering does have a budget, people. I need to spread the costs over a couple months, for practicalities sake. What good are fewer wrinkles if your 401k is shit?) 

 {i better look like this while i'm washing my face. i certainly hope i feel it after i spent $40 on lotion.}

Okay, enough of this blogging nonsense. Time to wash my face (YEA!!) and hit the hay. 

Talk Soon,

I'm not sure when this turned into a letter/journal entry, but we're going with it tonight, ok?

PS - Mom, I cussed a lot in this post. Sorry. But I'm 25 and it's a blog, so it's okay.


  1. Anonymous23 July, 2010

    AHHHH ok, this is good, I've now confirmed that we're pretty much one in the same. I had beautiful skin until late highschool and still have problems (though I mostly attribute it to not washing my face regularly and picking and prodding). And I've never gotten a facial before. So I need you to update me regularly about your progress, because I've been considering it, though slightly skeptical and very much not wanting to blow money.
    In other words, be my pawn.

  2. I read the same article and was equally inspired!! I plan on getting a facial soon... I'm thinking we need to chat so I can get reccamendations. It's time to get french!

  3. It's been eight whole days! I'm dying for another post. No pressure. ;)


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