I'm really the last person who should have ended up with such a gift certificate. I've never been one of those women who regularly haunts the cosmetic counters, dabbing free samples onto my skin and peppering the cosmeticians with questions regarding the effectiveness of this skin treatment versus that one. Okay, I'll admit that once or twice a year I get unhappy with my appearance and go to the cosmetic counter for a little advice, but I'm such a sucker for a good sales pitch that I inevitably end up getting sent home with a totally unnecessary $28 foundation or $35 skin cream, which I always regret in the cold light of my bathroom, and hide from my husband. This always seems to happen on Mondays, for some reason, when I'm having a slow day at work and wander into the shops at lunchtime feeling vaguely dissatisfied with life. They probably see me coming a mile off.
I have also been trained by certain friends and family members, who, unlike me, are very interested in the subject of skin care, to just go to London Drugs or Shoppers Drug Mart and buy them moderately expensive skin creams on occasions when gifts are called for. Without even being prompted to, I always ask for a gift receipt so that the recipients can feel free to exchange my potentially lame choice for something that they really want. We all have faults and flaws that we don't know about, but at least I can say with confidence that I KNOW I suck at buying gifts. And everyone who knows me well has found various ways of working around that.
So back to the chemical peel.
I was scared, I admit it. Was I going to moult like a toad, or (Heaven forfend) shed my entire skin like a snake? And if so, could I time this so that it happened over a weekend, and therefore ensure that the only person who would be horrified would be my faithful and not-easily-shocked husband? Would I be unfit for human company on (OMG) work days?
Well, the staff at the clinic were very reassuring. They downplayed the moulting. They were ultimately completely wrong about the time frame regarding the days when it would have been better for me to stay home so as not to repel clients and co-workers. And no one mentioned the pain! More on that later. I believed their reassurances and platitudes. Maybe I wanted to, or maybe I just had no choice. After all, the damn gift certificate was set to expire in a matter of days.
So, feeling that I had discussed my fears in detail, I reported on the set day. I had chosen a Wednesday so that if facial skin was due to come off me in festoons a few days hence, it would presumably all be over by Sunday. I settled myself as directed into the comfortable reclining chair and calmly allowed the young and rather severe technician to paint my face with chemicals. Approximately one minute later, a horrible burning sensation started! Ow! Silly me, I thought I could handle it. My tech-girl was trying to distract me with questions about my existing skin care routine, so I was attempting to explain that I get lots of moisture in the form of rain driven into my skin at high speeds due to my all-season cycling habits, when the burning feeling reached a level that robbed me of speech. Fortunately, I am not particularly stoic on those rare occasions in life when I find myself experiencing high levels of excruciating pain, so after a short, shocked silence where I processed the new sensory information, which went something like this: YAAAGGGHHH! Get that shit off my FAAAAACE!, I realized that this situation could not be allowed to continue. Of course the aforementioned primal screaming was not what actually issued from my lips. Instead I drew upon levels of self-control and decorum that I never dreamed would have activated so well under duress and very politely asked my torturer to remove the chemical peel substance from my skin ASAP. She asked me if I was sure, and I assured her that I really, really was, GOD DAMMIT (!!!!!), so she swabbed me down with a neutralizing substance, and after about a minute, my panicky desire to leap up and start clawing at my burning face subsided. Whew! I studied my face anxiously in the mirror, and apart from a little redness, I was relieved to find that I still looked like a normal human being and not like Freddy Krueger after the flames. Tech-lady insisted that I must not get any water or other moisture on my face for the next 24 hours, or the chemicals would act up all over again. That meant no cycling in the rain and no sweating at the gym. I didn't want a repeat of the earlier 'fire-ants-are-eating-my-face' feeling, so I was careful to comply.
Everything was more or less fine until the following Thursday, which was, I regret to report, wall-to-wall appointments for me at work. Can you perhaps guess what happened? My entire forehead decided that it was time to flake off in a most distressingly conspicuous way, and what's more, it kept it up for all of the hours of the work day. I was devastated! This was supposed to have happened on the weekend, dammit! I had just begun to relax, assuming it wasn't going to happen at all. Jeez. I brushed my bangs down over my forehead, tried to sit with the window behind me, and did my best to pretend it wasn't really happening. That was when the skin on my left cheek decided to join the general exodus. I couldn't wait for the day to end.
I guess chemical peels are best for people who either don't work, or don't work with the public.
Here we are two weeks later. The result? So far, two people have told me how great my skin looks. One person knew I had had a chemical peel and was probably just being sweetly supportive. The other was a male and didn't know. Hmmm. I don't know what to think. I personally think I look just the same. Maybe I need my sister's opinion. I can be sure she'll be brutally honest with me.