I have a bit of a Shoppers Drug Mart problem. You know how the sirens would sing to sailors, tempting them to their watery deaths in the depths below? That’s me with Shoppers. Every. Day. “Leah … spend all your money … spend it here. Don’t you need tampons?... You probably would like some tiny cinnamon buns…. What about a flu shot? Okay, Presto card! You know you can’t walk by without entering. Come, sweet angel. Come. Come. COME. ”
So when I hear that Shoppers is adding non-surgical cosmetic treatments like fillers and Botox — and giving PC Optimum points, which you can also spend at Loblaws — to its offerings, I don’t even think it’s worth fighting them anymore. Also I quite like the idea of popping in, sitting in a chair across from the nasal sprays, and getting my lips plumped or my crow’s feet softened. Serious multitasking! Pass the tampons!
It turns out that The Beauty Clinic, the name of Shoppers’ latest attempt at total world domination, isn’t quite that low frills. For one thing, it’s not actually in Shoppers stores (*sad trombone*). I’m invited to the opening of the first location in Oakville, Ontario — the second will be in Toronto's Shops at Don Mills — and while it’s in a plaza with a Shoppers, it’s a totally separate unit. Available services include fillers, IPL (intense pulsed laser), and prescriptions for lash-growth serum Latisse. I sign up for a PicoSure laser treatment (a procedure that blasts brown spots into small particles, which are then eliminated by the body), but not before nervously grilling them on the staff’s qualifications. Lasers in the wrong hands can be dangerous, and I wouldn’t want just anyone jabbing at my face with syringes, either.
While doctors helped develop Beauty Clinic, there are none on site. Rather nurse practitioners, who are sort of Super Nurses with extra qualifications, run the show. The NPs also do all the injectables, and they all have at least 10 years experience in medical aesthetics. They work with medical aestheticians who can perform the other services, like chemical peels and laser treatments. The Clinic sends me a detailed intake form — consultation appointments are complimentary, and all the prices are posted online, which is unusually transparent for a medi-spa (I’m not sure why, but the price is often some Homeland-level secret until you have your consult). The costs are roughly on par with what I’ve seen at places run by docs, and in some cases ($10 per unit of Botox versus the more typical $12–$15) a little less. Appeased, I settle in for my long Uber ride to Oakville.
The stylish little spa — there are only three treatment rooms — is all wood, billowy flowers and white leather seating. My aesthetician spreads numbing cream on my face and goes over the intake form, quizzing me on things that could potentially disqualify me for the treatment, like having used retinoids within the previous week or Accutane ever. The PicoSure itself is zappy but not intolerable (thank you, sweet, sweet numbing cream!) and only lasts about 20 minutes. Overall it’s pretty similar to what I’ve experienced at established medi-spas. And if I’d paid — which, because it was a media preview, I didn’t — I would have emerged with a whole lot of PC Optimum points to boot, which are basically my favourite thing of life. So while my dream of drive-by beauty in the Shoppers aisles didn’t come to pass, there’s still always Loblaws, right?