09 June 2008

Guest Post: Piliksu's Scaling Adventure

As I mentioned in a previous post about scaling (facials) for men, we dragged, I mean, invited our visiting friend Piliksu to ANACLI. Since Piliksu is a dude and has not been living in an appearance-obsessed city for the past nine months, I thought it'd be interesting to get his take on the experience.

He has a lot to say.

I think we may have scarred him for life (Figuratively speaking, of course). ㅋㅋㅋ


I’d like to say upfront that I’m not really into cosmetic treatments. In fact, I’ve only had a facial one other time and that was also in Korea. Nevertheless, I am intrigued with the whole body/facial enhancement process and why it’s such a phenomenon in Asia; this includes full on plastic surgery. What has surprised me is the number of men who have succumbed to this trend and are willing to shell out their hard earned money with the hope of looking as beautiful as their significant others or some famous actress, although I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have skin as smooth as 林志玲 or 이효리. To be honest, I’ve met quite a few gentlemen in Asia who say they regularly go in for facials, pedicures, and manicures. It’s a little odd to hear them talk about their appointments as if they were meeting up with friends after work to grab a beer. We tough strapping American men normally do not discuss such behavior, much less engage in it. So how was I lured into trying this out for a second time? Well, I was in Korea during a short two day layover and decided to skip out on going to the DMZ and save it for another time. The result was a free day and the two lovely ladies I was with asked me to join them for their regular treatments. I thought, “This is something I never do in the US and it’s unique. Hell, why not? I’m in.”

The dermatology office wasn’t too far from where I was staying. The first thing I noticed entering were several computer consoles in the lobby. JACKPOT! Free internet service, apparently a common perk in Korea. We first met up with the doctor to discuss our “scaling” treatment. As Anna mentioned in her post, scaling is the use of glycolic acid on your face. My understanding is that this acid removes an entire layer of skin. How this can be good for you still baffles me. I have bad skin in general--I blame it on genetics--so removing another layer of it was a little disconcerting. The doctor also concurred that my skin was not exactly up to par. In fact, I believe she was a little offended at its unsightly state, perhaps taking what appeared to be my disregard for skin care as an affront to her profession.

We were lead into a room with multiple beds and were asked to wait…and wait...and wait… and wait… I’m normally a patient person but I think we must’ve been there for over half-an-hour before anyone came in. This made me a little antsy since my time in Korea was very limited and I didn’t want to spend it lying in a dermatology office staring at the ceiling. Eventually several ladies filed in to start the process. I actually don’t remember all the steps in order, but I do recall there was constant application of different types of creams. Some of them smelled kind of funky. This was executed by the clinic’s staff and they tried their best to announce to me, the token non-Korean, each step they were about to perform. Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand what they were saying and couldn’t tell if they were speaking Korean or just heavily accented Konglish. There was also a lot of massaging of the face going on, which felt great, but I found the pressure used to be on the soft side. It was like bad foreplay (note to facial people: stronger pressure is needed to relax those muscles). After much primping by the staff, the doctor came in and began applying the glycolic acid to each of our faces with some sort of cotton or sponge pad. The initial feeling was a wonderful cool minty sensation. This eventually turned into an unpleasant stinging as if someone was tearing at your face with long nails. I’m guessing that was the part where the acid melted away the top layer of my skin. This was the doctor’s only involvement in the whole process which I found a little disappointing. When she finished, the staff shuffled back to continue additional application of random creams and their light facial massages. At one point they began to use some instrument, it could’ve been their fingernails, to squeeze out the oils and blackheads strewn across my face. I found this rather enjoyable since my face felt surprisingly cleaner afterwards.

Next was the mask. For those of you who suffer from taphephobia, I would caution you to be mentally prepared. Not only was my head wrapped like a mummy and covered in some type of green concoction as if being prepared for burial, but I had to lie still for 20 minutes while the mask settled and did its voodoo magic. Anna of course jumped on this opportunity to photograph me in my compromised position (Thanks, Anna... I hope you know payback’s a bitch). With the mask portion complete, I was ready to head out since I thought the treatment was finished. To my surprise, as they were removing the green monstrosity, a laser machine made its way into the room and tanning goggles were placed over my eyes. I was promptly subjugated to several minutes of trance alien lighting. For a moment, I half expected orifice probes to appear courtesy of the staff. Korean friends informed me later that the lasers happen to be the distinguishing piece of the scaling process and the most expensive part. Apparently, it’s the lasers that are the finishing touch in removing the blemishes and wrinkles from your face.

Overall, I found the whole hour long process to be a decent one. My face initially didn’t feel that much different after the scaling treatment. But I did notice the effects a day later. My skin was definitely smoother, but my scars, large pores, etc. were still visible. I heard that to see any real results you have to do a minimum of at least five sessions. So would I do it again? Yeah, probably, just cause the novelty of it hasn’t worn off yet. Would I do it regularly? No, I’m a little leery of regularly applying strange chemicals to any part of my body unless it’s shampoo or soap. Also, I would suggest to other guys to go ahead and try it several times for fun. But unless you’re someone like Takeshi Kaneshiro where looking money is required for your job and the ladies, I’d say go buy a nice car or fancy clothes instead with the $$$ you’d save from routine facials. I would give scaling “three-and-a-half chemical acid masks out of five.” Time to let those dead skin cells gather up and settle in for my next visit to Korea.

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