One could take their pick really. It might be Michael Clarke’s fourth double century of the season or the latest release group sets from Campagnolo. It could be which horse jockey Damien Oliver will punt on in his next race (tip: not his) through to a vigorous debate over who is the most undeserving Brownlow winner of all time (Shane Woewodin over Brad Hardie….just). It could be one, or more likely all these topics that usually take up my Saturday mornings, as friends and I either ride Beach Rd or labour up Anderson Street hill as we circle the Tan. True that when it comes to cycling at least, we may be wearing lycra that’s often too tight and definitely too revealing. But we at least make up for this with manly conversions on sport or how much we drank the night before.
So appreciate my position when, on a recent Saturday morning, I found myself surrounded not by mates covered in sweat and dirt, but by soft, peach coloured cushions, lavender scented oil burners and pan flute music… Add to this I was completely sober. Surely waking up on Mars would feel no different.
But this was my reality. I had, I’d like to think under extreme pressure, agreed some months earlier to write an article for Couturing. But rather than write about things I know, such as Le Tour, Barcelona FC or the latest Demons recruiting disaster, I’d instead agreed to write on something much removed from my comfort zone: men’s facials. Now for the record, I’ve never had a problem with guys getting the occasional wax or whatever else goes on in those dens they call “salons”. However, like watching the latest Ricky Martin DVD, it just hasn’t been for me. I get up, shower, shave, done. Skin’s all good, so what more could I honestly need? Well, plenty it would seem…
Walking through the door of Rebecca C’s, one immediately notices a change. Gone are the sounds and smells of the bustling street, replaced instead with scents of lavender and sandalwood. Hard asphalt and grime become spotless walls of white and soft pastels, inter mixed with wooden screens that further detach you from the reality that sits just outside. This is all part of the experience of course, as Rebecca knows her customers come not just to improve their complexions, but also to relax and remove themselves, if only for a little while, from the stress that for many, modern life has become.
Sitting you down, Rebecca begins the transfer from frazzled to chilled with a quick overview of the treatment you’ll be receiving. For first timers like myself, much of this will make no sense (why would I know what a Green Tea Aloe Hydrant Gel is?). Rest assured though that it’ll all come together soon and after completing required paper work (“no, I don’t have a preferred moisturiser”), you head upstairs, past the obligatory spray tanning tent, to a private room where your treatment takes place.
Like the reception area, this room exudes relaxation with dressing robes on the door, blankets, towels piled high on a padded massage table. As Rebecca politely steps out, allowing you to remove your upper garments in private, I find myself slightly apprehensive, wondering could I have objected harder when they asked me to do this. Lying down though, with the sound of lyrebirds and babbling brooks again in the background, Rebecca takes position behind you, tools of trade arrayed on a bench beside her. Announcing the start of your session with a spray of scented water that falls lightly across your face, she then gets to work on turning you from rough skinned non believer, to glowing acolyte.
Offering multiple treatment options for men and women, it is the Moroccan Men’s facial that has been selected for me today. This exotic sounding name is, it turns out, a much employed theme by the skin care industry. From Balinese inspired Body Palming to a Tahitian Organic facial, think tropical paradise and there’ll no doubt be a related skin care program. Just be careful when Googling either name though.
An eight step process and applying only Uspa (a Melbourne based company that has the Aveda Hair care range in its genes) natural based products, we start with a scented Sandalwood Cleanser and Rose Hydrosol Toner. Now, although I firmly reside in a dim, dark cave when it comes to skin care, even I know what a cleanser is and this one feels much as expected, foamy and scented. Gently massaging it into my skin though, the worries of the world start to disappear and already this feels much better than anything home-brand soap has done for me before.
Clearing away these first layers, we move next to the two step exfoliation, which consisted of a micro whip mask and Bamboo polish scrub. Here, small bamboo grounds have been delicately spun to create smooth rounded beads, that when applied as a lather, efficiently exfoliate (aka: remove) what they call in the trade, “build up”. Now “build up” is apparently where dead skin cells have grouped together on ones face, leaving your complexion duller in appearance. Sounds disgusting to me, but as it felt great and I was now one step closer to snoring unconsciousness, was in no mood to object.
Moving on, we had a Moroccan massage and Detox mud therapy that is designed to “detoxify and assist in bringing dull, conjested skin alive”. The only disappoint here was the lack of cucumbers for my eyes and the knowledge that Hollywood had again lied to me.
A revitalising eye gel was next. Seemingly a key weapon in the men’s arsenal against premature aging, this one is made from Rosehip and Camellia Oils, which act to awaken tired eyes, reduce puffiness and soothe redness. As someone accustomed to long nights and early mornings, this was music to my ears.
Quickly following our eye tune up though, Rebecca then applies a sensitive hydrating treatment mask. Warm and tingly to the skin, the mask turbo charges hydration while also drawing out impurities, an act that can lead to some punters to finding one or two pimples down the track. Not ideal, especially if date night is scheduled in, but a small price to pay for a cutting edge complexion.
Finally, we finish off with an Aloe hydrant gel that contains, of course, green tea extract (is there nothing green tea can’t do?) Infusing the skin with “humectants” (which according to my friend Google, is a fancy way of saying it helps you to maintain moisture in the skin), this last treatment is a perfect way to finish the experience, leaving your skin feeling clean and dare I say it, fresh.
So the experience is over. 45 minutes felt like five and after passing on my thanks to Rebecca for being a great host, I again am on the bustling street, surrounded harried parents, rushing kids to their next Violin lesson or introductory French class. Walking towards my car I do wonder though, is it worth it? The Moroccan Men’s facial costs $83 after all which, in times of high mortgages and seemingly endless children expenses, isn’t a small amount of money.
But to answer this question fairly, one needs points of comparison. For instance I’ll regularly head out with friends, spending twice this amount on eye watering alcohol prices. T-shirts, that may get two or three wears before their below average cotton thread count condemns them to bottom of the drawer, often cost more than this. And don’t even get me started on gate prices to the G… So in fact, the more I think about this, the more convinced I become. That not only is an hour’s pampering at the hands of an expert like Rebecca worth $83, there was actually a sense of injustice. That women (and lovers of Ricky Martin) had been keeping this affordable luxury to themselves for so long, felt wrong!
Well no more I say.
The word is out and it’s official.
Facials are the new black for men, and we should get around them.
Rebecca C’s is located at:
(add) 1129 Toorak rd, Camberwell
(p) (03) 9889 9286
Multiple treatments including massage, waxing, tanning etc are offered for both women and men.
Uspa products are sold through selected distributors only, or found online here:
Products used during the treatment include:
A foaming cleanser for the face and body. Sandalwood helps soothe the skin, relieves inflammation and its astringent action balances oily skin conditions.
Revitalises weary, dull skin. Bamboo grounds are spun to create small, round beads for effectively removing build up. Blended with anti-oxidants of Ginseng and Gingko, and infused with Lavender to calm and soothe
Revital Eyes Eyelift Gel (30ml)
Eye contour gel awakens tired eyes and reduces puffiness. Feather-light, it has maximum penetration of the delicate skin around your eyes. Aloe vera and eye bright ‘lift’ your eyes while reducing dark circles.
Triple action hydrant gel with aloe vera that helps firm and nourishe. Green tea provides antioxidants to help skin fight the signs of ageing. This soothing formula also reduces redness and irritation and is an after-sun essential.
Moroccan Argun Oil, which is one of the rarest golden colored oils in the world, has the benefit of accelerating the healing process while balancing the skin. Has a high percentage of antioxidants which benefits the anti-aging process.