So what’s it like for me, an esthetician with 25 years of hands-on experience, to have a facial from someone else? Well, on my most recent visit, I had a facial at a renowned skin institute. I have read about this place for years as giving one of the top facials in Paris so I was excited to go and experience it for myself. One of the things I had heard about their technique is a massage they do inside your mouth. They claim that by working on all joints of the face (inside and out), the lifting effect of a facelift is given.
When I emailed to inquire about an appointment, I was surprised at the price of the treatments. An appointment with the owner is the price is 1300 euros (about $1700 USD). With her first assistant, it’s 690 euros (about $900 USD) and with the second assistant, the cost is 490 euros (about $640 USD). I’ve had many facials in France but never at this high price. I decided that $640 was more than plenty to pay for a facial so I scheduled with the second esthetician. At that price my expectations were very high. After all, I charge $400 for a skin treatment when I take clients in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York and that’s considered high by U.S. standards. My estheticians are significantly lower. One nice part about this Paris facial salon is that no matter who you have your appointment with, it’s a two hour facial, which is longer than most.
Whenever I have a facial with someone else, I usually never tell them that I’m an esthetician. Not because it’s a big secret, estheticians get facials from other estheticians all the time, but simply because I want to truly be just a regular client and not get into a conversation about work.
The facial massage was long and thorough–about 30 minutes. French estheticians really believe in performing a long and extensive massage to increase blood flow to bring new nutrients to the skin. Many French men and women smoke and even if they don’t, they are exposed to tremendous amounts of second-hand smoke, so increasing circulation through massage is helpful to get the skin glowing. She massaged my lips a lot which was different, but nice. I never received the massage inside my mouth which they are known for. When I filled out the intake form, they had asked if I had dental surgery and I wrote that I recently had a root canal so I’m assuming this is why she didn’t do it, although I wouldn’t think this would matter. I never asked her why she didn’t do it and truthfully, I’m not sure if I really missed out on anything miraculous but who knows.The facial concluded with a cream-based mask that was brushed on my face and neck and a tingly lip mask was applied. I loved the idea of applying a lip mask as that is part of the face. I might just incorporate that into our facials! After 15 minutes, everything was removed with a hot towel and moisturizer was applied. She told me to get changed and to meet her out front.
When I was changing, I observed my skin in the mirror and it looked pretty and glowy and felt nice. However, she did break one of my capillaries under my eye. I guess she got too close to the skin under my eye when she did extractions, but thankfully it disappeared a few days later. I never, and teach my estheticians the same, to not extract in that thin eye area.
I went out front and she proceeded to talk to me about products to use at home. I had told her that I use an acid serum (BHA Clarifying Serum) twice a week and on alternate nights I use a product with retinol (Advanced Resurfacing Serum). She told me that those were too harsh for my skin and to completely stop using them. (Wait, she said I looked ten years younger for my age, so isn’t what I’m doing working?) The French believe in minimal exfoliation and it’s usually with traditional facial scrubs so this is the philosophy she promotes. She told me “Americans can be excessive with their skin care routine” and that I should be gentler and keep it simple.
Sunscreen was never recommended. No surprise here. Wearing sunscreen daily is something I have never heard French estheticians promote as they don’t practice it themselves. Sunscreen is reserved for visits to the beach. One esthetician told me years back “You Americans are into that sunscreen thing.”So all in all, my facial was average. Truthfully, it’s hard to dazzle me as I have so much experience but I try to keep open-minded. But there just wasn’t much to it. It was a traditional facial (and a very expensive one) with no bells and whistles but my skin did look good and needed the attention after a nine hour airplane flight, so I was pleased about that.
I have talked a lot about French skin care on my blog and when I’m in the hands of a French esthetician, I’m reminded of how the American approach to skin care is better, at least in my opinion. I do believe however, that how they live and how they eat is so much better than in the U.S. and it may be one of the reasons why I rarely see French teens or adults with acne. I talk about it more on this video here.
Every esthetician, no matter where they live, has their own personal beliefs about how the skin should be cared for and all estheticians are sincere in their quest to help others have beautiful and healthy-looking skin. It’s usually the reason they got into the skin care profession in the first place.
If you’re an esthetician, I highly encourage you to schedule a facial elsewhere. Put yourself in the shoes of being a client as there is always something to learn, and learning means growing.
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