Woman receiving arm massageEver since my girlfriends and I used to while away hours braiding one another’s hair, I’ve been a sucker for beauty treatments. If anyone would like to spend all day smoothing creamy, fruity, or tingly unguents onto my skin with gentle circular motions, and then wiping them off again with cooling cotton swabs, I’d be quite delighted to let them, even if the ultimate outcome was totally negligible.

However, lacking an income of my own, or hours of child-free time, I only manage to book something like a facial or a massage about once a year, around my birthday. I figure I’d be waiting a long time for my (wonderful) husband to pick up on any hints I might drop, so if I want some pampering, I cut out the middleman and book exactly what I want for myself.

Earlier this month I went to The Still Point in Takoma Park, a beautiful holistic spa where I had a great full-body massage last year. This time I went for the Aqua facial, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Still Point is just that: a place that provides its lucky clients with a still point in a buzzing world, whether they opt for a massage, a facial, acupuncture, or any of the several other services available. Inside, everything is white and serene, and the effect is peaceful and soothing, not at all clinical. The staff are extremely friendly and professional, and because it was my birthday month I had received a 20% discount by e-mail for whichever treatment I liked.

I arrived a little early (when your family members are ready for you to leave the house, you stand not upon the order of your going, but go at once before someone breaks something), and sat outside on the veranda in the breeze, sipping my orange-scented water and filling out a short questionnaire about my skincare habits.

At the appointed moment, Kaitlin, my esthetician, brought me inside and I slipped between the sheets of the table-bed-thingy. I took off my glasses, closed my eyes, and save for a few nods and murmurs of agreement, lost myself to the soothing sensations for an hour. Examining my face under a bright light, Caitlin opened by telling me what lovely skin I had. I imagine that starting with “Yep, looking pretty ravaged there,” is bad for tips, so I suspect this is what they always say, but it  was still nice to hear. She told me about the products she’d be using on my face – rose and geranium cleanser, papaya exfoliator; it all sounded delicious, smelled divine, and felt wonderful.

She used a sonic microdermabrasion machine on my face, especially the pores of my nose and the deeper lines between my eyebrows that are the one thing that really bug me about getting older. (Kaitlin referred to “the lines you experience,” which made them sound so much more transient than any lines I might “have”, as if I can decide not to experience them at any time.) I have no idea how shooting high-pitched bat-squeaks at my nose shifts the gunk in my pores, but since I haven’t used a Biore strip since before I had children, I’m sure it had plenty of scope.

Finally, a cool mask did its thing while Kaitlin gave me a hand and arm massage. I really didn’t want any of it to end, but when everything was taken away and my face spritzed with cool mist, I could feel my skin not quite tingling, but humming in appreciation.

To be honest, I’m not sure what lasting results I have from my facial. I am startlingly unobservant, and even though I peer at my face every evening in the mirror looking for stray eyebrow hairs to pounce on, I’m not sure I would notice if my pores were smaller. The lines I “experience” are still there, but maybe they’re a shade shallower today. I bought a tiny vial of hydrating oil, on Caitlin’s recommendation, and will faithfully use it instead of my drugstore moisturiser, though I doubt I’ll notice much change.

But that’s not the point, as far as I’m concerned. The experience was exactly what I was looking for – to be pampered and ministered unto for an hour of sheer, personal, indulgence. And for that alone, I would send everyone I know to the haven of The Still Point.

Christine blogs as (Not) Maud at Awfully Chipper, where she avoids housework to discuss naps, muffins, boobs, and superheroes; and shakes her head sorrowfully to tell you how things were different back in Th’Auld Country.

This review was not compensated in any way, and Christine paid full price for her facial, less the 20% birthday discount.