I’m just gonna say it. I had a facial by a woman named Smooth, and I’ll never be the same. I don’t know what you’re picturing in your head right now, but whatever it is, it’s not even close. What I experienced was some kind of beautiful, relaxing, life-changing, walk-towards-the-light type of amazing. Smooth changed my face. Let me start at the beginning.
The last and only time I had a facial, I was in high school, and it was all kinds of terrible. I broke out really badly afterward, wondered what exactly I had paid for, and never went back. So, when my acupuncturist, Anna, mentioned that I had to see Smooth, I was conflicted. “I don’t really like facials," I told her, as I flashed back to a horrified 16-year-old me, red and pimply post-facial, thinking my life was over. Anna assured me this was no ordinary facial. “It’s not even a facial,” she said. “It’s like a facial massage.” I’m always down for a massage. This was happening.
I made an appointment with Smooth at Dramatics Salon on lower Fifth Ave. The price was a surprisingly low: $125 for 90 minutes. She came out to fetch me at precisely the time my appointment was scheduled (as my patients know, I’m a stickler for punctuality), and I immediately loved her. A lovely blonde woman from Ukraine, she quietly brought me back to her treatment room. I took off all of my jewelry and my clothes (“I don’t want anything ‘bothering’ you," she said) and I put on a cotton gown. I lay down on the soft cushioned table and Smooth proceeded to drape me in a series of soft blankets. She put a pillow under my knees. Then, the jazz music started. "Smooth, you get me," I thought. The treatment hadn’t even begun.
Smooth brought a light close to my face. “What are you doing to your eyebrows?” she asked. “I don’t know,” I answered. I thought I was good at doing my eyebrows; apparently, I am not. “Stop plucking them. Don’t touch them.” She seemed to have all the answers. “Your face is too heavy on the one side,” she said. “It’s fine. I’ll fix it.” Smooth was going to make me more symmetrical. Okay.
I had one more thing to throw at her: my dark circles. I’ve had them my entire adult life. I’m a concealer pro. If I don’t wear concealer, people ask if I’m “okay," imagining I must have been up all night crying — because why else would it look like I got punched in the eyes? I asked if she could get rid of my dark circles (to me, this was a trick question). “Yes, of course,” she answered. I looked around for the hidden cameras. This was a joke, right? And, if not, then I have to figure out how to break it to Jonah that we’re giving our first-born child to my acupuncturist, to thank her for the referral to this miracle worker.
Smooth sprayed my face and neck with a lavender-scented mist. She then gave me a neck massage. Then she covered my face in some oils with a special twisty-wrist technique. “But I have oily skin," my control-freak inner voice shouted. I told my inner voice to chill out and trust the process. Smooth hummed to the music, and every now and then she whispered something I couldn’t make out. It was probably the secret to endless youth, and I missed it.
She did a series of feather-light massages around my nose, eyes, and masseters. The masseter muscle is at the corner of your jaw on each side. Put your fingers there and clench, and you’ll feel it bulge out. This muscle helps you close your jaw, and it gets over-worked by those stressed-out people who clench their jaws all day and night. Smooth described this area as having a “very high vibration,” and she focused on that area a lot. She also did very gentle pressure-point work all over my face, putting pressure on different areas with her fingers in different combinations. It felt especially nice around my eyes and sinuses. “I’m making your nose smaller,” she informed me. I almost fell off the table in shock. Is she reading my mind? Does she know my deepest desires? She explained that the pressure I had around my sinuses (I did have a lot) was building up, making the bridge of my nose look larger.
She told me there are 150 pressure points in the face, and touching them in certain combinations allows for drainage. She also told me that this drainage is what will get rid of my dark circles. The pressure point combinations are a secret, by the way, passed down by her teacher.
The biggest immediate change I saw was the bridge of my nose being noticeably smaller. Later on, I saw that my dark circles were less prominent. I was told to drink a ton of water that day, and to rest my face for 24 hours. “Only a Mona Lisa smile,” Smooth instructed. Everything can’t be changed completely in one session, which makes sense, so I went back for a second visit five days later.
The day of my second visit, I had a giant pimple forming on my forehead. Unrelated to the first visit, this one was of the hormonal type. I know because I get one in the same spot every month. Smooth took me back, saw the pimple, and nodded. She generously put on a series of different potions, then cleaned them off with lovely warm towels. Oh, and the crystal... Smooth heated up a glassy crystal and swiped it around on your face, and it was the best thing that’s ever touched my skin.
At the end she held up the mirror. “Look,” she said, “You’re even.” I was even. My face, she changed my face! And, my dark circles were nearly gone. What about the pimple? “It’s gone,” she said. This pimple was one of those angry, deep, painful, just-leave-it-alone-it’s-gonna-be-here-for-a-week-or-two pimples. It had only been there for a day, and then after I saw Smooth, it was gone. She didn’t poke at it or try to extract it with a scary tool; she didn’t even touch it. After the second visit, she had established “drainage,” and my pimple didn’t grow and take the path of least resistance out of my forehead. It just went away.
Smooth asked to see me one more time to put the final kibosh on my dark circles. She proved to me that what goes on inside and under the skin is what affects and changes the outside. By gently manipulating the muscles, she’s able to not only fix our face woes, but also work anti-aging magic. In her opinion, it’s all about the muscles that support the skin. (She told me I have the facial muscles of a 22-year-old!) She believes in working the pressure points and that “the muscles have to find their way.”
The thing about Smooth is, even though she fixed my eyebrows, changed my face, shrank my nose, banished my dark circles, and scared my pimple away, that’s not why I love her. I love her because her positive energy just makes you feel straight-up good. She’s like your wise Ukrainian aunt, singing along to jazz music and giving you anti-aging advice. At one point during our session, she whispered, not to me but just out to the universe, “Life is good, life is good,” and I thought, “Yes, Smooth, it certainly is.”
Dramatics Salon, 77 Fifth Avenue (between 15th and 16th Avenues); New York City; 212-243-0068.
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