Beauty Top Down: Microdermabrasion

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Your late 30s! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s totally not funny.

I won’t lie, I lucked out in the skin department. My complexion has always been pretty good. Sure, I fell victim to the occasional hormone-related break-out but I never had major acne, I wasn’t greasy or super-dry, and I have just enough freckles to add character but not to make me look like Orphan Annie. My one shortcoming is my skin’s ability to turn lobster red in a very short period of time in the sun.

Ive taken pretty good care of my skin over the years, with some notable exceptions like my many year of horseback riding in open rings with no shade, the seven years of heavy smoking that marked college and the post-graduation period, and all the days this past summer where I would to slap sunscreen on my son who would slip, eel-like, out of my hands as I was greasing him up, leaving me no chance to protect myself before heading out to the playground. You know: the fun stuff. But up until recently people expressed surprise about my actual age which think speaks to the quality of my skin care products.  And my hair dye.

And then my 37th birthday came strolling along and HOLY SHIT! I look 37.

I decided the best way to freshen up my skin was to head t a spa for some microdermabrasion. Chafing a few layers of sad, dull aging skin off couldn’t be bad, right? I was tempted at first by a deal through Living Social but after my disastrous Living Social inspired Brazilian Blowout (that is still rendering my hair lifeless, resistant to styling on one side, and basically flat), I googled the vendor before singing up. They had be cited by the FDA for misleading claims about a treatment OK. Yeah. Lesson learned: always google dermatology service providers. And this was and MDs office! Yikes.

So, I decided to go to Red Door. Mm-hmm.

I arrived there over the weekend and realized that Red Door is much fancier than I am. They have calming music and aromatic oils in the air and flowers and smiling receptionists with soft voices who greet you. I had clogs, a wardrobe straight off the sale rack at Target and I may not have washed my hair that morning. OK, I totally hadn’t washed my hair that morning. They show you to a locker room where you get a cuddly robe and flip flops and then they escort you to a lounge with beverages and low lighting to await your treatment. I sat there in my fancy robe and low-rent skivvies with a cup of coffee and hoped no one would notice that I’m totally not socioeconomically qualified to be there.

A nice lady with a heavy Eastern European accent took me to my treatment room where I lay on a contoured bed and suddenly realized that in all my googling i had neglected to learn when microdermabrasion actually is: is it like sandblasting the side of a building? Is it a scrub? Is it like Fight Club and no one talks about it? And does it hurt?

After asking me a lot of questions about skin allergies and cleansing my skin completely, the nice technician explained that she would be running what looked like a plastic pod over my skin while aluminum oxide crystals were forced through the tubing attaching the pod to the machine. It would do a deep exfoliation that would remove six or seven layers of skin, unlike home exfoliation that removes one layer of skin. I was to let her know if it hurt. And I was not to open my eyes under any circumstances because the crystals could get into my eyes and really injure them. That would be bad. I didn’t want to end up with the skin of my dreams only to be blinded and unable to see it. They write Greek tragedies about stuff like that.

She began the treatment and it didn’t hurt at all. She said most client experience pain on certain parts of the face but I’m apparently not that sensitive. No delicate flower, here nosiree. It took about 20 or 30 minutes for her to do my whole face and neck. Afterward, I felt like I’d just spent several hours at a windy beach on a hot day. She then put a thick chamomile and seaweed mask on my face to calm my skin and left me alone with my thoughts. My thoughts about wanting to look better but not necessarily younger. My thoughts about whether or not I would ever want to do this again My thoughts about wondering where my husband and son were while I was battling the scars life has left on my face.

When she gave me a mirror at the end of the mask, I saw skin that looked nice. My pores are a bit smaller and everything is a bit smoother but it didn’t change the basic complexion of my face. It didn’t erase the years of steering a horse over a jumping course, the late nights smoking outside the stage door in college, the summer days chasing my sun across the playground, or any of the other adventures I’ve racked up in 37 years.

You know: the fun stuff.

And maybe that’s ok. Maybe it’s time to let 37 years shine through.

But I’m still dyeing my hair.

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16 comments for “Beauty Top Down: Microdermabrasion

  1. thenextmartha
    October 19, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I’ve been to a really fancy spa before. Once. It was a surprise from my husband. Did you know a facial can be 12 different steps? yeah. So I”m glad you liked this and seem pleased with results. I haven’t had another but someday…

  2. anthrogrrl
    October 19, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I really like the tone of this post. You go in to try and maybe take back some of your youth, and realize that those “fine lines” are life and experience, and you’re glad they aren’t all gone. Good for you!

  3. October 19, 2010 at 11:12 am

    You know, I’ve always wondered what microdermabrasion was, too! It sounds… abrasive. Good to know it isn’t painful… maybe I should sign up for one?

  4. October 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I watch The Doctors, and the plastic surgeon on the panel is always showing new facials and things. I feel like when the time comes…I will want it ALL done and my face will look like that woman who poured acid on herself.

  5. October 19, 2010 at 11:52 am

    I got a Groupon for a microdermabrasion (reputable place… I Googled) and also never looked up what exactly happens!

    My biggest fear was that it would be one of those procedures that left you looking like John Travolta mid-surgery in Face Off.

    So I’m glad to know it shouldn’t hurt… it’s going to be my 31st birthday present to myself.

  6. KLZ
    October 19, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I’d take a massage over a facial any day.

    Which is bad news because my skin is not as great as yours.

    Which is both why I don’t get facials and why I need them. They hurt. But I worry I’m going to end up looking like Bea Arthur when I’m 40 because of it.

  7. amy
    October 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I like how you worte this. I am 10 yrs older than you and yes I am mistaken for alot younger because I do take care of my face. I had microdermabrasion and do it at home, love facials, haven’t had one in years but I do, moisturize all the time.
    Now if only groupon, savvy ave or living social did one for restalyne, or any line fillers, then I would be a happy camper!! LOL
    Laughter and good face stuff are the keys to younger looking skin.

  8. October 19, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    I would love even a pedicure at this point! Cash-strapped lately and living vicariously through your adventures.

  9. October 19, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Ooh – I’ve always wondered what that was really like, so I’m glad you’re giving us the truth!

  10. FoxyDenMom
    October 19, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Microderma is “nice”–I signed up for a set of sessions b/c I had a cash gift card as a birthday present–but it’s totally not worth the hassle/money. I’d be peeved w/ these results if this whole thing weren’t a gift.

    The upside is that it’s gotten me wearing a *good* sunscreen and it’s a fabulous excuse not to wear make-up. I don’t think the Dr’s aesthetician is that thrilled w/ my results either b/c she’s suggesting a chemical peel. Why is part of me excited and part of me just go *eeyyoouu* at that proposition?

    IMHO? After lots of research? Take your vitamins, 86 the processed foods, drink your weight in water everyday, moisturize and wear lots of sunscreen = great skin. Doesn’t come w/ a fluffy robe, free-thought time or dim lights…but it fits MY budget better…(tee-hee.)

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