Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Asian Facial

So I got my 2nd facial in Taiwan last night with a friend and my skin feels great! For NT$500 (about $15 US - not bad!) they do threading to get stray hairs off your face, put on an astringent gel, then put one of those tightening pore-cleaning masks, like Biore nose strips but for your whole face, on you for awhile. Then they go over your face with a vibrating scraper thing to get dead gunk off. Then more gel and a neck and shoulder rub, then a mud mask that burns a bit, then they take that off, get a scary looking tool and pop all your zits, including ones you didn't know you had. Then another gel and some tea-tree oil based zit-clearing goo and you're on your way.

Emily getting a big green facial.

I go to a place in Jingmei Night Market (景美夜市), on the southern end. It's just north of the part of the market that turns into food stands. It's a tiny place, divided half into massage/manicure (I think they do massage anyway) and half into beauty treatments - threading, facials, eyebrow shaping, permed eyelash curling etc.. They have a hilarious sign in English done up by their Indonesian friend with everything they offer. There are three chairs inside and three ladies on plastic benches with little carts. There's a curtain with two beds behind it, as well.

Yesterday's was quite a bit of fun - they threaded my peach fuzz 'stache which is a lot more painful than the usual threading I get on my neck - my friend was trying not to laugh with her peely-off mask still drying as I cried out...several creatively-worded phrases.

The little old lady doing it, of course, had no idea what I was saying and just smiled through the whole thing.

She then got to the sides of my face, where I have quite a bit of fuzz, and with no warning tore out a huge tract of it with the thread.

Her: "Hm. Good!"
First lady: "Foreigners have so much hair. That one always comes in for threading. Her facial hair is amazing."
Second lady: "Oooooh."

(Side note: I am in the middle of laser treatment for chin and neck hairs, because I'm part Armenian and Armenian women get whiskers).

I heard a buzzing sound and looked over at my friend.

From General Area of Friend: Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Lady: "Mmm. So many blackheads. Where do foreigners get these blackheads? So, so many blackheads."

Another woman comes into the shop, which is in a market so we relax to sounds of the arcade games in the next shopfront jangling horrendous Japanese techno, and asks where the two women are.

Third woman: "They're in back, giving facials to these two foreigners."
Customer: "Foreigners? How cute!"

(she pulls back the curtain to see the two traumatized foreigners)

"Oh look! Foreign girls! They're so white! Adorable!"

Another shop lady comes in: "Oh, foreigners! Are they teachers?"

First lady: "This one is. That one is a BRIDE."

Second and third ladies and customer: "OOOOOH!!! A BRIDE!!!!"

Me, weakly: "Well, I work in Taiwan."

Ladies: "BRIDE!!" "Where is the wedding? Is he Taiwanese? When are you having babies?"

Me: "Uhhhh...USA, he's American too, not sure about having ba - bleeheheh"

(as a mud mask gets glommed onto my face)

Second lady: "So I guess they don't need the whitening treatment?"
First lady: "Nah. They're white enough. See?" (she then lifts the shirt of my friend to show off her pale English belly) "Totally white!"
Second lady: "Wow. That's really white."

New customer: "There are white girls in here?"

Friend, to me: "Did she just say I have a fat belly?"
Me: "No, she said you're really white. Like all over."
Friend: "OK, fair enough."

Ladies: "Yes! One of them's a BRIDE!"

Customer, opening curtain: "A BRIDE! Where's the wedding? Is he Taiwanese? When are you having babies? How old are you? Foreigners are so cute!"

Me: "Uhhh"

(second lady comes over with a torture device, like pliers or tweezers but much scarier and starts popping zits)

I have to say I love this country - none of the above is really rude in Taiwanese culture, at least among older women, so I don't feel like I was treated rudely. It's just...what is. We had a good laugh over it, especially the one woman clucking approval as she yanked out huge swaths of facial fuzz. So don't take this as a bitch about anything - it's not!

...and my skin is cleaner than it's ever been, with two facials in three weeks. They do a good job, those sadistic old Asian ladies!

So, female expats and readers - I do recommend that if you want squeaky clean skin and don't mind all the hilarity that you head down to one of these places (they're not a chain or anything but there's usually one in every night market) for a treat. It's not even expensive, plus you'll have a great story to tell your friends. It's especially useful in Taiwan where the humidity, sweat, sun and pollution can do a number on your skin.

*most of the dialogue here was in Chinese or Taiwanese, I put it in English for your benefit


dennis said...

:) fun story, glad u enjoyed ur overall experience

May-Lissa said...

Hi,really funny post! I live around Jingmei, could you tell me how to get to this place?

Jenna said...

Hi May,

You can get there by going to Jingmei Night Market (MRT Exit 2, turn right, cross street and enter where the two fruit sellers are). Keep walking through - you're heading south - until nearly the end, which means you'll cross two cross lanes. It's just north of the covered area with all the food, so if you see a lot of food you've gone too far. It's on the right.

Just_another_overthinker said...

Do you have a link to the facial centre's website? BTW they got rid of all your whiteheads and blackheads?