Facials are not supposed to be fun. Nor are they supposed to be glamorous. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that a proper facial should be up there with bikini waxing when it comes to the pain and cringe factors. You see, a good facial isn't about how many face masks a therapist can slap on your face in an hour, while simultaneously trying to flog you a lifetime supply of toner; nor is it about luxury or pampering. A good facial is about giving your skin a clean so deep that you could eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner off it, should you so desire (in which case you are probably reading the wrong type of magazine).
"Are you Eritrean?" asks Euginia Huici excitedly, as soon as I walk into the Leonard Drake skin care centre in London. Given that my main objection with facials has always been that beauty therapists have a habit of looking a little alarmed when faced with a black customer, this can only be a good start.
I'm here for a Dermalogica facial (0800 591818), which includes a technique called face mapping - the use of a combination of touch and sight to diagnose the cause of any skin problems. It's ideal for dark skin as problems are often trickier to see. But the spectacularly unglamorous and gut-wrenchingly humiliating bit of this is the extraction.
Extraction is when a therapist squeezes your spots, whiteheads and blackheads alike. It is the extraction that makes a professional facial worthwhile; you can do the rest at home, and while, yes, technically, you can squeeze spots, too, you shouldn't - not unless you want them to scar.
In the US and mainland Europe, it is generally assumed that facials come with extraction, and yet far too few spas and salons here offer the procedure, which I can only assume is because we Brits are too wimpy. Most salons just avoid the issue altogether, or tell you blankly they "don't do extraction", which as far as I am concerned is like your dentist telling you they don't do fillings. No extraction, no point.