My Korean Facial

I have gotten a facial in Korea once before. It was my first year here and since I was used to getting facials every month back home I immediately booked myself an appointment once I discovered a skin care boutique. Well, the woman who gave me the facial must have done something wrong because the very next day a gi-normous crater burst out of my chin that seemed to be stemming from the very dark depths of my being. It was un-poppable and unstoppable. It stayed on my face…like a beacon in the night for about 3 months. Yeppers. No joke. So, after that experience I was convinced that another facial in Korea would give me another huge-ass pimple.

Take Two: I’m now living in the middle of a construction zone and my skin looks the worst its looked in my whole life. I’ve even started breaking out with tiny bumps (blocked pores) on my forehead. Every night I will stand in front of the mirror with my flashlight and magnifying glass to get out all of the gunk (dirt, grit, grime, etc) After a long night out a couple weeks ago, I noticed 2 zits getting ready to rise and shine on my face. First of all, they are in really ODD places for me to have a breakout. My breakouts have always been on my chin and/or around my mouth. One of my recent breakouts is on my left cheek and the other zit is next to the left side of my nose. Hmmmm. What’s this all about? Dunno. So, the zits have been around for a week or so and they have been sooooo stubborn and not caving under the pressure of my fingernails. !!!  Grrrrrr….this means: WAR!

So, I put my old fear of getting a facial in Korea behind me. After all, I already have zits…how much worse could my situation get? haha. Ha ha. Ha ha haaaaaa…

I booked myself an appointment at the pricey Lohas Club for Women. It’s the same place where I used to take my Hot Yoga classes. It’s located super close to my work (same building ^^) so I scheduled a 1:00pm appointment thinking I could head straight down to work after my appointment. I paid 70,000 won  ($58 with today’s exchange rate) for the (oh garsh, I forgot the name of the facial) mid-price range. The cheapest was 50,000 won and the highest was 100,000 won for some facial that included only Lord-knows-what in addition to the straightforward:  Cleansing, Mask, Yadda Yadda, Yadda Yadda. I went to Lohas because I’d heard about it from my Korean co-workers and everyone said it was a good place. (((insert horror movie music)))  Just-uh joking!

When I went to Lohas the prior day  to book my appointment I was reading the menu with the woman who works there. She was helping me with some of the words because most of them are actually in Konglish. For example, 그렌징 (cleansing) means, CLEANSING!!!  hahaha  So, if you can READ Korean, you will understand *most* of the features of the facials. There must have been some features of the massage that were left out because well…well…you’ll see. >-<  doh*!

The day of my appointment:  Lemme break it down for you!!

1) I walked in and was shooed into the changing room, given a pink (of course p!nk!!!) smock to change into…instructed —two times— to take “EVERYTHING OFF.” (The gal must’ve studied that phrase in her English-Korean book)   The second time the girl told me that I said, “YES, YES!!! I KNOW!”  (((insert glare here)))

2) I went into the treatment room. It was different than I had imagined. Of course. Duh. It was a large room with 6 tables (?I think?) in it. The tables were set-up 2×2. In between each set of 2 tables was a beaded curtain. But the bead strands were each hung individually and about 3 inches apart from one another. So, basically the entire room was open.

3) I got on the massage table and lay down. Closed my eyes and hoped for the best. (((fingers crossed)))

4) I had my eyes closed when a woman walked up behind the table, sat down and immediately started aggressively massaging my scalp. It felt so good. Niiiiiiice. I opened my eyes to see her but all I could make out were her nostrils. 😉  Thus, I closed my eyes again and she started washing my face with a creamy cleanser. While she was wiping it off, she put some damp cotton squares over my eyelids and started re-applying the cleanser for a second application.

Yes, this was me at the beginning of my massage. Before the surprise came along…

They always tend to glob the masks on so close to my eyeballs…nothing like in this picture. The masks always feel as  though they’re right near the corners of my eyes and I’m afraid to open them lest I get mask in them—oooh, and it burns!

*THIS*  is completely commonplace!! THIS is what goes on during a NORMAL facial!!! (Just put cotton squares over the eyes)

5) My facial girl wasn’t really talking to me but she would tell me what she was doing when she was doing it, which I liked. And she soon started talking with another girl. So, I knew her voice. Well, the voice got up and walked away after she’d put some  toner on me. I was laying there for a few minutes…just chilling. Then, another person (2nd voice) came over to me and asked the first voice what the next step for me was. I want to say that the 1st voice said, “mask” or 마스크. 😛  So, this new woman (2nd voice), who had a significantly larger presence than the first girl (energetically-speaking) and bigger hands  😀    started moisturizing my face…or putting some other cream on it. Then she stopped. Then…

6) 2nd voice inched down my smock (you know, like facialists usually do when they’re gonna treat your neckline area)…and as she was inching down my smock I thought, “Whoa there lady, any farther and I’ll be exposed!”  Well, yah. Nevermind any worries I had about her inching it down too far. She went from gradually inching the smock down to lifting it UP AND OVER my breasts and setting the elastic band resting on my waist. !!!  LORD HAVE MERCY, PEOPLE!! I need to be warned about things like this! I wondered, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? IS THIS PART OF THE DEAL? HEY!?!?  DO YOU DO THIS TO EVERYONE???” Sighhhhh. But before I could even object, she was vigorously massaging “the girls.”  Oy vey.

7) So…I was laying there. Still. Trying to comprehend where and how my massage had gone awry. How did I miss the bit about a 5 minute breast massage in the menu? Why didn’t the lady act out in a bout of charades the fact that a boob massage was part of the deal? Then I could have politely declined the service and said, “Ummm, thanks but I’ll skip that part.”  But nooooo. I’m the waygookin. Who’s gonna tell me? Who’s gonna give ME the heads up?!?!?!?  Uh-huh. That’s right. NOBODY!  La la la la laaaaaa. Oh, and I DID mention that she had rubbed some sort of moisturizer all over my face right before she stripped me down, right??? Yes, I did. So, I couldn’t open my eyes because I was afraid I’d get product in them (ouchie…) so I was temporarily blinded, couldn’t see what was going on around me and I had some lady whose voice I’d hardly heard…whose face I’d never seen (not even nostrils) now massaging my chest.

8) I couldn’t help but smile. I almost started laughing but then I stopped myself because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself…there were at least 6 other people in the room and I was praying to God they were all involved in either cleaning bowls and brushes (the workers) or blinded by cotton squares laying on their own tables (the clients). I thought, “Sure, they do this to everyone, right?  Riiiight???” But I’ll be damned if I could really say YES to that question. I’m just not so sure. =/   There was a woman on the table next to me (right next to me –part of the 2×2 set) and I’m gonna say I never heard the whisking massaging sound coming from her table…

Be forewarned ladies of Dongtan. Be forewarned. You’re LUCKY you have ME to report on these things. You should be down on your knees graciously presenting me with fine wines and cheese sets, in my humble opinion. Or, maybe after reading this you’ll run over and book yourself an appointment for every day of the week. Hey, whatever floats your boats!  😛

I actually think both of these quotes are apropos for this blog. 😀  Enjoy!

“Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable.” —Jane Austen

“The secret to humor is surprise.”  —Aristotle


June 23, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Korea 2010, Reviews of Stuff!, Uncategorized.


  1. Lissa replied:

    OMG!!! Like I said, Celeste… You have the craziest stories!!!! Especially in Korea!!! I love you babe!!

  2. Becky Dresselhaus replied:

    I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my cheeks, remembering my first (and last) facial in Korea a few years ago. You are a marvelous writer. Thanks for sharing.

  3. sanikki replied:

    OMG! This is so funny. I think I laughed until I had stitches in my side and tears running down my face…oh Lord this is too much. I almost can’t believe this. hahahahaaaaa

    • grasshoppergrrl replied:

      😉 Oh, it was real. A Dongtan Hot Yoga/Facial studio in the Winnerstar Building…if they’re still there. I am glad you enjoyed it!

  4. ruralkorealiving replied:

    Hello. Here I am reading your story because I’m looking to have a facial done in Korea here soon, as I’m a worn out teacher of middle school boys who wants to have a spa day for the first time in my life. Now I know what I’ll be in for if I go. Or, I can look up how to say “no massage below shoulders.” Cause damn my face needs a facial.

    • grasshoppergrrl replied:

      Haha! Best wishes and I hope you have a lovely spa day!! If you want to be 100% sure no chest action happens, keep your bra on under the smock they give you and point to your chest saying,”아니요!!!” Lol 😉

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