I was way overdue for a facial. In between working full time, buying a house, preparing for the launch of a creative project and being a single mom, my self-care had basically slid to the bottom of the pile. Maybe it even went as far as under the couch cushions, with the broken crayons, random pennies and crumbs of long-forgotten snacks. I realize the full irony of this, as it’s my job to write about beauty, health and wellness.
So when I had an opportunity to do a HydraFacial at OrangeTwist in Westlake Village, CA, I took it with a wholehearted “heck yeah.” I walked into the lobby, which smells like—and I don’t know why I was surprised by this—freshly peeled oranges (they have this signature scent wafting in the air throughout the day). After filling out paperwork, I was shown the treatment room, painted in calming grey tones. A monitor played a series of soothing nature photos set to calming spa music. I wrapped up in a soft charcoal-grey towel and waited a moment for Deidre, my HydraFacialist.
Now, when you’re tired, when you’re embarrassed you haven’t had a facial all summer, when you’re 50 and your vanity takes a hundred little hits every day, Deidre is the person you want to see. She’s the perfect combination of professionalism and empathy, an artist and a scientist. She’s also got 10 years of experience and can pinpoint exactly what your skin needs.
Setting the Stage
I stretched out on the treatment table, a bolster under my knees, a warm blanket on top of me. Even without the facial, this moment of peace would have been worth the trip.
Deidre explained the process, showing me a wand that’s roughly the size and shape of a large Sharpie, connected by vacuum tubes to a console containing a cleanser, hydrator and moisturizer, like if a mad scientist were going to use her powers of alchemy for good. “There are various tips I’ll switch out during the facial,” she said, snapping on a blue exfoliator to the end of the wand. She explained that she’d make decisions on which serums she’d use at which intensity, based on my skin’s needs. Then she got to work.
In With the Good, Out With the Bad
For the first step, Deidre turned on the steamer to open my pores, which is pretty standard for the start of any facial. But that’s where the similarity ends. She then administered a mild acid peel that helped with the removal of dead skin cells, which basically felt like she was putting cool water on my skin. I started to slip into what felt like the beginning of a deep sleep, but I was determined to stay awake to ask questions.
Next, she fired up the suction function of the wand to essentially vacuum dirt and oil from my pores while simultaneously plying my skin with concentrated moisturizer. You can also opt for a “boost” depending on what your skin needs—Deidre gave me the “Growth Factor” shot to minimize those fine lines that have cropped up, as well as the “Brightalive” boost to correct some discoloration. There are also combinations for rosacea, acne, dark spots, enlarged pores and oily skin.
To seal the deal, Deidre added peptides and antioxidants to my skin, which was primed to receive them. She finished off with a thin layer of Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Sunscreen (SPF 36), reminding me to wear sunscreen every day.
And then, a just about an hour after I entered the sanctuary, I emerged.
“Look, look,” Dedidre urged, pointing to a mirror just outside the treatment room. My skin was bright and dewy. “Nice, but it’s also very good lighting in here,” I thought.
But then on the way back, I checked myself out in my car’s rearview mirror—the true test. My skin was still looking slightly cherubic, and I noticed that I could no longer see the small expression line over my left eyebrow that’s been nagging me for a year or two. I’d scheduled a quick meeting after, and skipped putting on makeup. I felt that good.
That night, as my 7-year-old daughter and I went through our evening routine, I took one last look at my skin. It still looked fresh and tight, as if I’d taken some time to cherish it. “Yep,” I thought, “It’s worth it.”
But what I didn’t realize is that nearly a week later, my face would look even better as the days went on. I don’t know how this is possible. It has a softer—dare I say—buttery quality to it, a rosiness. Makeup and moisturizer glide right on, as if I were applying them to a baby’s skin. I’m glowing for no good reason. But then again, do I need an actual reason to glow? Nope. I don’t.