Beauty is skin deep? Yes, it is.

I never knew that large pores are due to the skin being very dehydrated and that the pores are open because they’d want to trap in more moisture from the environment. That makes so much sense. I was always told that large pores are due to skin being very oily, which is only less than half the truth.

How did I know this? Well, after 4 loyal years (minus the 1-year plus from my final trimester and the months after) of sticking to one beauty therapist, I had decided to explore new ‘territories’.

I know many of you treat facials as a luxury but for me, ever since I was in uni, facials are a must. It started with once in 3 months sessions and later making it a monthly ritual. I always tell the one (or anyone else for that fact!) that beauty doesn’t always come naturally… women would usually need to work to be beautiful (and I am not talking about the saying, 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder’). Let’s not talk about vanity… this is more of one taking care of one’s appearance. Being vain and being careful about one’s skin’s health are two separate traits.

I had always had a problem skin type. Though it always appear to be smooth, it is usually congested and oily although I hardly get acne or pimples. My body seem to produce too much oil through my facial skin that I’d get milia or bumps around the chin and cheeks.

Throughout the years, I’ve tested so many beauty products out there, starting with those cheap retail products you can find in our local drugstores, to those carrying expensive brands. Therefore, I used to be able to point out the little details of each range of specific brands if you’d want to try them out – those include Shiseido, CD, Biotherm, Clarins, Clinique, Lancome, EA, Origins, Estee Lauder, Aveda and Dermalogica. I said ‘used to be able to’ since that habit of changing skincare was dropped many years ago. Then, I would change my range of skincare as often as 2 months, if I find that the bumps around my face are more than before. Yes, Dermalogica helped to improve the overall health of my skin but they only worked for a good one year and since I only started working then, their facial packages + products created a big hole in my pocket (or rather, a big ditch in my credit card statements). More often than not, I would quickly convert back to cheap over-the-counter products once my skin has improved to condition my skin to use cheap products like L’oreal or Oil of Olay and the likes of those.

I went to many facial therapies but they all had something I didn’t like – either they were too pushy for packages, the experience wasn’t truly relaxing or that the facials didn’t show any marked improvement. Worst of all, my only concern has always been the extraction process… due to the much congestion of my skin, I have always needed to go through extractions in facials – which many beauty parlours either didn’t provide such service, their extraction was too painful or that they didn’t do proper extraction, making the skin area much worse. I didn’t like Leonard Drake as they’d squeeze you to sign up for so much of a package and always end a facial by asking you to sit through Chinese tea while they push for product sales. But what I didn’t like most was that they didn’t provide me a personal service – you’d always need to share a room with another customer, you’d hear other people talking, the cleansing and extraction process were done by a different set of staff and I didn’t like it that they’d always give me students/newly graduated students to prep my face as their techniques were always inconsistent. For the amount you need to fork out, those issues are important to me.

I was also once duped into going to Bella. They advertised a free treatment and wounded up getting pressured to sign up for their exorbitant packages. Vivienne, the marketing manager was so blatant that she even took my credit card to swipe 2 grand worth of facials. I was pretty new in that marketing tactic and didn’t do anything much to stop her. The only thing good about the experience with them was that their Repercharge skincare actually did work on improving my problem skin and I learnt from them the wonders of Azulene mask and clay cleanser on my stressed oily skin. This Azulene ingredient can be found in Aveda's hydrating mask, which is much better than the Dermalogica's hydrating mask that many swears by. I left them soon after I have exhausted all my sessions.

Clarins Insitute was heavenly. But they didn’t do anything much to help my skin since they didn’t believe in extracting the impurities. Therefore, my skin kept getting congested. I only went there a couple of times.

I checked out Estee Lauder’s outlet at Metrojaya’s Mid Valley when they were handing out 50% vouchers for their opening but I wasn’t happy with their highly priced sessions when they didn’t do extractions nor massages.

While working in the finance industry, I met a woman who’s skin was so lovely. She recommended me this beauty therapist who’s based in Atria, Damansara and I was hooked from the start… her facials are only RM150 and she would work on my face even for 4 hours, just so that all the impurities are gone and my skin was prepped really well so that I don’t go out of her salon with red blotches all over. She was so good.

But, me being a woman, I strayed a bit after the skin has improved and found another love in Shiseido the Salon @Sogo (it has closed down due to change of management, as I was told then). Ivy, my beauty therapist wasn’t anything to shout about but she wasn’t bad either. She only extracted what needed to be extracted, put on the double mask every time I visited and their packages were very modest. What’s best, they allow several partial payments not necessarily to be paid at every next session. I guess, that was the longest salon I’ve ever been loyal to… the salon didn’t push any products and I was truly comfortable with Ivy.

When it closed down, I went back to Atria and my skin improved tremendously.

I stopped in my final trimester because I was having so much discomfort from the grueling 3-4 hours of lying on her thin, hard bed and I felt that the extractions could make the baby stressed. Once I stopped going for one session, I kinda broke the habit and I became ignorant of my skin.

After more than a year, I started frequenting her salon again but find that I no longer am game for all those painful extractions. I felt that she worked on my face much more than what’s needed as she would prick on almost every tiny bit of my congested pores although most of them are not very visible and can be extracted later when they are more mature. My visits to her became pretty stressful as I always dread the painful needles and metal prong she’d use on me.

When I got the recent chicken pox from little jj, my skin went berserk from the calamine lotion that I had to slather continuously. I also couldn’t wash my face properly since I was afraid that the pox would burst and give me permanent marks… I went on to put aloe vera gel on my face and although it did make my facial skin softer, I could see that the upper dermis looked truly dehydrated. Hence, I told myself that it is time to take care of my skin again, properly, and that the current skincare product with glycolic acid that I was using might not be suitable anymore due to my fluctuating hormones.

So, seeing how a friend’s face look super clear and gorgeous, I decided to try out SKII. My reasoning for SKII is because it would also target pre-aging treatments and I am going into my mid-30's... therefore, it is high time for me to start an anti-aging ritual. SKII only worked for awhile and I was back to getting bumps on my face. In fact, I got a few acnes as well. Therefore, I think it is still too rich for my oily skin type.

When I met my friend, Nicole and saw how much her face was looking so plumped up and hydrated, I was desperate to try out her new therapist who’s salon is at BSC itself, one of those places I don’t mind going to often. And, since the salon uses Thalgo products which is well known for its marine properties, I thought that this is one brand that I haven’t tried and would wanna try ;)

A few calls to the salon and me not getting any replies, I quickly did some googling on the net and found some rave reviews on Lancome Beauty Institute at Bangsar Village II. Unfortunately, their contact number was nowhere to be found in the net and I had to call up their counter in KLCC to get their number. Since I used Lancome products before and they never gave me any problems, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try them out since I need to get my face treated before Raya comes.

So, with an open mind and the intention of only trying out one treatment as I still wanted to try out the Thalgo salon, I drove over to BVII yesterday morning and headed out to the Lancome Beauty Institute. Oh, what a beautiful experience indeed. For someone who’s been here and there, this experience deserves an entry of its own!

to be continued…