I had a facial this week. It was delightful: a relaxing and nourishing Kerstin Florian facial at Aurora spa in Melbourne. My skin looked glowy for the second round of Amazing Face app how-to videos I shot yesterday and I'm very happy.
A makeup blogger from Singapore, Juli (AKA Bun Bun) however, didn't fare so well after her facial this week. In fact, she fared about as well as a kilo of electric spinach at Denpasar.
She had what was a fairly innocuous facial at a regular salon, no needles, no peels, no fancy machines. But over the next few days, rather than plump, radiant skin, she has been through a nightmare of epic skin proportions.
She went from this...
It looks like severe cystic acne, but in fact is an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients used in the facial, most likely a plant extract. Yes, it can happen, and no, it's not easy to know if you're allergic until, well, you're allergic.
The second doctor she saw (the first was, rather the like the clinic who gave her the facial and then erroneously popped all of the pus bumps as a cure, therefore making it far worse and making her liable to scarring - top work guys, take five!) advised that this can sometimes happen and although it will settle, she will have hyperpigmentation for many months.
And a morbid and nightmarish fear of facials forevermore, I expect.
Poor poor girl. Read the full post on her terrible and rapid reaction here (but maybe skip it if you are the queasy type).
I feel for her because her face is her trade, but also because this kind of enormous, swift and unsightly descent into angry all-over pustules would be a fucking huge blow, not to mention incredibly scary, except for the bit where I did mention it, because that's exactly what it would have been.
I had my own allergic reaction in a skinclinic back in 2010 which I've never written about MOSTLY DUE TO EXTREME ANGER AND AN INABILITY TO WRITE ABOUT IT WITHOUT SWEARING and not wanting to take down said skin clinic in flames, even though they deserve it. Can't say something nice, rah rah rah.
In a nutshell (probably a highly allergic one, like a peanut) my face blew up to Will Smith in Hitch proportions within about three minutes after some anaesthesia was applied. The nurse took one look at me, a bad, scary look, and then left the room. She returned with the Doctor a few minutes later (I'm in full panic mode by now) and without a word, he quickly administered Phenergan (and anti-histamine) intravenously, then made me take two 25mg Phenergan orally. "Are you allergic to anything?" he asked.
"I didn't think I was..." I said, touching my face which was easy since it was about a km further out that it normally was. (They refused to give me a mirror.) (Really.)
Now, I don't know if you've ever had Phenergan, but one 10mg tablet sends me straight to sleep. So you can imagine how cool and together and alert I was at that stage, having never had it before, and with no concept of its T-Rex tranquiliser effect on my body.
After 15 minutes, they let me DRIVE HOME, (!!!!) looking like a child's inflatable toy, terrified, and sleepy as a bear. They gave me no phone number for after hour care and told me it would be fine.
Next day, worse. I waited til 9am then called in a panic and was told to take more Phenergan and it would go down. Also, ice it.
No apologies, no call us if you're worried, sweet fuck all.
Five days I had that swollen face. Couldn't go outside, felt like a monster, couldn't write my book I was on deadline for because I was so doped up. Skipped several events and spoke to my solicitor who advised unless I was seeking damages (i.e.: loss of income, so, say, if I'd been booked to host an event and couldn't do it because of my face) the costs of legal chasing would cost more than we could hope to earn. I was so stinkin' angry. The aftercare was a farce, and the fact they let me drive home high as a kite was disgusting; I could've had 10 car accidents and to this day am thrilled, shocked and grateful I didn't. I was also embarrassed. I'd tried to make a good, young face "better" and this was my result.
I don't know exactly what my point is, except that I guess I thought if a beauty editor with the power of the media behind her can't get decent treatment and is sent away when her face looks like a beach ball, then what hope do the general public have for good care and intelligent proceedings when a freakish allergic outcome occurs? Poor Bun Bun suffered a deluge of terrible advice and knee-jerk reactions with hers, and it absolutely made everything worse.
One of the comments under Bun Bun's post was "don't fix what is broke," which is a hard pill to swallow when your job is to review facials and have good skin, but it was the exact same thing my then boyfriend/now husband said to me after my mess, and the reason I won't touch lasers and so on now.
(On the plus side, I learned what Phenergan was that day, and now try to procure them to take on 14 hour flights.)
Have you had a horrible, terrifying facial experience? I feel like today might be the day we all share them...