*With the holidays coming up, a trip to the spa may be what you need to de-stress. You might even get a trip as a gift! With that in mind, here is a little story about what happened to me in March…
I’m a bit of a facial novice. I’ve gotten two in my life and yesterday I got my third. I decided to go to Ole Henriksen because I read in Glamour that this is where all the supermodels trust their million-dollar faces. It was a shameless write up that got me hook, line and sinker. So I called and made an appointment and the very helpful receptionist told me I could arrive 20 minutes early and enjoy a complimentary steam. I thanked her but knew I wasn’t going to do that. I’ve never "steamed" before and I really didn’t know what it was about. But then as I was getting ready to go yesterday I was looking up the actual address of the spa and I came across a Citysearch article saying to "not miss the complimentary eucalyptus steam" and to bring a bikini because it’s co-ed. So at the very last minute I decided to arrive early. I threw my bikini top in my bag, I put my bikini bottoms on as my underwear and off I went.
I got there about fifteen minutes early and let them know I was interested in the steam and I was given a locker and a robe and shoes. The steam room was down the hall and they started it for me while I changed. So I got out of my clothes, put on the bikini top, robed up, walked down, took a towel, de-robed and opened the steam room door. The steam was so thick that it was like an impenetrable wall. I couldn’t see a damn thing. If there was anyone else in the room, I wouldn’t know it. Here is what went through my mind: Ok, how am I going to find where to sit? Should I leave the door open and try to let some of the steam escape? But what if someone else is in here, relaxing? Wouldn’t they be upset about the loss of steam? Well, they would probably be more upset about me sitting on them due to my steam blindness. So I walked out of the room, contemplating my choices. I decided I would try to find the wall to the left of the door and from there try to find a seat. And then I thought, are you supposed to stand in a steam room? This was clearly more stressful than relaxing for me. I opened the door, became blind again and felt along until I found a seat. And then I decided I was alone in the room, which made me feel better. But still a little tense from the whole blindness thing. I tried to relax and close my eyes - they said they would come get me when my facialist was ready. So I could relax, right? Wrong. There was no relaxing for me. It was unbearably hot and condensation was running down my body. I’m not sure if it was my sweat or just the steam clinging to me. I hoped it was sweat because I think that’s the point of the steam room. I think I made it about five minutes before the claustrophobia of the steam blinding and the heat overwhelmed me and I had to leave. There was a shower right outside of the room, so I jumped in there, to wash off the hopeful sweat and went back to change.
But when I got to the locker room I realized I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to change back or if I was supposed to stay in my robe. The girl had mentioned something about a private waiting room after my steam, but….I wasn’t sure, so I decided to change. Which is when I realized I didn’t have any underwear to put on. That wasn’t part of my planning and now I had a wet bikini bottom. I actually had an entire wet bikini and a small bag that really shouldn’t get wet. So I got dressed (going commando) and looked around the locker room for some sort of plastic bag. Surely other people have wet bikinis? There was nothing. So in another desperate move, I took a small plastic cup, stuffed my bikini in it, covered the open part with a papertowel, carefully placed the cup in my bag and went back to the front to let them know I was "done steaming."
Ok. So this whole fifteen minutes was full of learning lessons and self-induced humilation.
1. Bring a plastic baggie for your wet bikini.
2. If the steam room isn’t "on" before you go in, maybe ask to wait to put it on until you’re ready so you can maybe not be scared from blindness.
3. It’s a spa - hang out in your robe! But bring an extra pair of undies for post-steam…but just put on your robe and go to the private waiting area. For facials you take everything off from the waist up any way…
1. Take your pick
The actual facial though was pretty amazing. It lasted an hour and fifteen minutes and I felt completely pampered. At Ole Henriksen (pronounced O-la), they do an "eight-step" facial that is tailored to your specific skin needs. So while Maka (my facialist) was smoothing on some sort of soothing cream, we were talking about what face products I use, what my skin problems are, etc., so she could figure out the best plan of action for me. And from there we went. I can’t tell you all the steps she took because I was practically rendered comatose by the relaxation of it all. There’s a lovely facial and shoulder massage that starts things off, which I’m a sucker for. Plus, there was an aromatic steam that was being blown in my face during most of the hour and I’m pretty sure it may have had a narcotic effect on me. What can I say? I’m easy. The neat parts that I do remember though involve the high-tech instruments she used on me. There was this vibrating, suction-y thing that was used for "Lympho-Energetic" drainage - you know…to drain my lymph. Whatever it did, I liked it. And there was the "sound-wave therapy" that was used to kill the bacteria after the "gentle extraction" of my blackheads. That Maka found black heads I never knew existed on my face. That was intense - but I loved it. It made me feel very clean - like she was removing any sort of nastiness that was hidden within my pores. And then there was the "thermodyn calming/anti-swelling cold therapy" which was another wand-like device that reduced any swelling from the extraction and is supposed to reduce the size of your pores. By the time Maka put on my face mask, I was down for the count. I could hear her say from a far away place, "I’ll be back in a few minutes," but I was already drifting off to sleep. I have no idea how long I was luxuriating with the mask on, but when I woke up I was in a bit of a panic. How long had I been sleeping? Did she say she’d be back in a few minutes or was I supposed to be done and getting dressed? That would be embarrassing if I had fallen asleep when I was really supposed to be done and paying. I smiled a bit at my crazy thoughts and that was when I realized that I did, in fact, have a mask on - my skin was tight with it. Phew. Deep breath, I could relax until she got back to remove it and finish me up.
My skin felt shiny and new after the treatment and it was a wonderful way to treat myself. I was a little light-headed when I stood up to get dressed again, but in a pleasant way. You know the feeling when you’ve been sitting, drinking a glass of wine with friends and only when you stand up is when you realize that it is having an effect? Ahhh - that feeling. I’m already looking into other spa treatments there because to be honest, despite my naivete and self-induced humiliation, I liked getting pampered. And I want to become a spa expert instead of a spa novice. I want to steam with confidence instead of paranoia. A girl’s gotta have goals….