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Lessons In Facials: Does Pain Actually Equal Beauty?

So, a perk of my job is to receive beauty treatments. It's very nice, and I feel very lucky, and yet, like many New York City-based women, I have no. Time. Whatsoever. Carving out the time to get a 90-minute facial can be so difficult and stressful that it kind of negates the whole "relaxation" benefits of receiving a spa treatment. Regardless, when I got the opportunity to try out French skin care brand Sisley's luxe new facial, I knew I had to make it work — hey, it's in the name of journalism, right?
When I arrived at the Sense Spa at the Carlyle Hotel, I was flustered, stressed, and, frankly, sweaty — not a great way to begin a "zen" hour. And, when I met my facialist, Claudia, I was downright intimidated. Claudia was somewhat serious, stern, and pretty old-school. After cleansing my skin, she pretty promptly stuck a bright light over my face to evaluate my pores. "Do you always have breakouts like this?" she asked, rather pointedly. "No," I stammered. "I just finished covering Fashion Week. I only really break out when I'm stressed."
"Hm," huffed Claudia. "Just remember that pain is beauty."
If this sounds terrifying, it's because it was. I mumbled in agreement with Claudia that she'd perform some extractions on my stressed-out, congested face. I was very, very afraid, as I had once had a terrible experience with extractions that had left me with chicken-pox-like red dots all over my face. And, once Claudia started in on my pores, my fears were only heightened. She used a lance (which is literally a needle that's used to open up a clogged pore) to prick at my skin, and then she extracted each pore aggressively — as in, made-my-eyes-water aggresively. I put up with it, because I am a beauty editor and a strong woman and I refused to be intimidated by a measly spa treatment...but I was convinced as she finished up the facial and gently massaged Sisley's new Sisley Paris Supremÿa Night Serum and matching Eye Serum onto my face, that I would be left with ravaged skin for days. Oh well, I sighed. Life (and concealer) will go on.
Well, readers, this is when I eat my words. When I saw my skin shortly after my facial, I was amazed that it was hardly irritated at all — in fact, it was glowing. Despite being poked and prodded and squeezed to the point where my face was downright throbbing, I was not inflamed, and I did not look like I had chicken pox. Whether this is the result of Claudia's skilled hands or the power of the super-luxe serums, I will never know (my guess is that it was the combination of the two) — but what I do know is that my skin looks so much better now that I might actually be a convert, both to painful facials and actually making the time to pamper myself once in a while. Oh, and also, if your facialist seems like a total know-it-all badass, it's probably because she is. Trust her, and leave your ego at the door — it just might be worth it.
Sisley Supremÿa Anti-Aging Experience, $650, available at The Sense Spa at the Carlyle Hotel.