Not that I think males shouldn’t be going for beauty treatments–it’s just that I have never thought such pampering was necessary for my less-than-glamorous face.
Occupying several lots on the first floor of Wisma UOA II in Jalan Pinang in the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triagle, this studio is the second in the Klang Valley. The first, at Wisma UOA in Damansara Heights, has been around for more than three years, but its men’s facial spa studio was only opened early this year.
With an induced surge of courage, I entered the simple but welcoming studio and was given a preview of what I would be trying out by Lilian Ang, Expressions International regional training manager.
I was going to try their men’s facial spa together with their exclusive Babor range of skincare and cosmetic products, which was launched in Malaysia early this year.
“More men especially the executive-types, are going for facials now. They feel that they should be just as entitled to the benefits of facial treatment as women,” she said reassuringly, as I was sure she read my apprehension like an open book.
Babor’s Calming Sensitive treatment was what she had selected for me. It was especially suitable for men, Ang said, because it helped heal and calm sensitive skin on the face due to years of lack of proper care.
Another treatment Ang said was used for long neglected facial skin for men was Babor’s Perfect Combination, ideal for oily and combination skin.
I was then introduced to Ivie, my esthetician for that hour-or-so, who led me to this room where she assessed the condition of the skin on my face.
I had to stick my head into this huge white metal box through its open side, while Ivie looked through a glass window cum magnifying glass on the opposite site.
She switched on the ultra-violet light, and lo-and-behold, she had her diagnosis: “You have quite a number of black and whiteheads on your nose, cheeks and chin, and some blemishes at the side. Your skin is also quite oily.”
I was then asked to put on a bathrobe (“Err, what exactly do I have to take off?!”), and then told to lie down on a bed in a warm, cosy room complete with relaxing piped-in music interspersed with the sounds of birds chirping and waves breaking on the beach.
Ivie first applied a cleanser to remove the oil and other gunk on my face. After a stress-filled journey to Jalan Pinang, feeling the cool lotion on my skin immediately made me relax. Hmm … I may well like this experience, I thought to myself.
“I see you keep your skin quite clean. I’ve seen some men with skin which needs quite a bit of cleaning,” she said. (For all I know, my face could have been in worse condition than a 10-year-old doormat and she was merely being diplomatic to save me from further embarrassment.)
I was sure with eight years of experience, Ivie would have seen her fair share of poorly-tended faces and did not think anything of them anymore.
After removing the cleanser, she applied another lotion–a kind of enzyme, I was told–to soften the black and whiteheads. And then began the most painful part of the experience. Using some sort of implement (no details of tool available as I had my eyes closed), Ivie proceeded to either peel, press or dig out (I really could not tell the difference, it all felt the same!) the black and whiteheads, and all other “impurities” for my face.
“Please tell me if it is too painful. I have people who yell even before I do anything,” said Ivie. I lied to her, saying that I could stand the pain of 10 cleavers on my face so having my pimples squeezed was nothing (macho-lah)!
Okay, it was not really that painful, kind of like an ant bite. I think “peeling” was an apt enough name for the process.
She then steam-treated my face for a good 10 minutes. I lay down quietly and allowed a jet of steam gently caress my face, growing increasingly comfy and drowsy as the minutes ticked by.The next stage was when the real “treatment” began. The Calming Sensitive ampule fluid was applied and I began to feel its soothing effect almost immediately.
The fluid, Ang later explained, acted like a shield, protecting my skin from damaging elements of the environment.
Dabbing my face with what looked like blotting paper to remove any excess fluid, Ivie then applied generous amounts of massage cream and began a light face massage.
Already totally relaxed, the massage was absolutely heavenly. Generally massaging the whole face, she then applied pressure to specific points on the face, like the side of the cheeks, and the base of the forehead near the eyes and the nose bridge, and even the back of the neck. I wished this part of the treatment could have lasted longer.
She then applied a mask which was supposed to “boost the natural defences of sensitive skin and create a lasting soothing effect.” After 15 minutes, with my skin defences adequately strengthened, Ivie removed the mask and announced in a considerable flourish that I was going to get the Golden Spoon treatment.
She waved a 23-carat spoon in front of my eye just to show me that it was indeed a golden spoon that was being used. The metallic coldness of the spoon was a little startling when the spoon first touched my skin, but I didn’t complain. I think it was the thrill of having so much gold so close to me.
She rubbed the spoon all over the face, spreading the coldness around. “It improves blood circulation,” she explained.
As the treatment until then had warmed up my face, the cool spoon was a welcomed change.
With an extra hard rub on the left cheek, Ivie declared the treatment completed.
After lying comfortably for so long, it took a little while before I could get back on my feet. My face, despite reeling from the feeling of being “handled” more than usual, felt fresh and absolutely smooth. It also felt thoroughly clean.
Apart from a renewed visage, my body and mind were totally relaxed too. In fact, Ang said the relaxing experience was just as much sought after as the beautifying treatment.
“Many who have had a tiring day would doze off during the session,” she added.
The treatment I underwent cost just under RM100. Ang said there were currently various promotional packages with as much as 30% discounts. Other treatments available include body wraps, body buffing, hydrotherapy and also other therapeutic services.
As for Babor products, there is a range of lotions and cleansing liquids which is uniquely oil-based to try, including the High Skin Refiner which targets wisdom lines.
I walked out of the spa sporting a beaming mug, feeling relaxed, refreshed and my face fully fortified against the elements.
I wonder whether I would ever walk through those glass doors again … come to think of it, I think I spotted a few lines near my eyes which need fixing.