This $350 Facial Made My Entire Face Scab Over (but Now I'm Glowing)
I made my way over to Christine Chin's Lower East Side spa with visions of glowing post-facial grandeur. It was almost 4 p.m. (the time I was instructed to arrive, as I was warned that they are sticklers for punctuality), and I figured I'd be in, out, and home early. That's because I had no idea what I was in for.
Chin is a veteran in the industry, working with models like Gisele Bündchen, Erin Wasson, and Karolína Kurková for decades. But her facials are not for the faint of heart—Chin's spa is one of the few that centers its treatments around hard, old-school extractions and a "no pain, no gain" mentality.
I was brought into a treatment room, and one of Chin's estheticians began prepping my skin for the facial. After a cleanse, steam, and comfortable glycolic peel, Chin walked into the room and introduced herself. She was sweet and talkative—a far cry from the "Mean Christine" moniker she's earned from her cult following. She told me I had nice skin, "like a 21-year-old," she complimented. I was understandably proud (practically beaming) as someone with a few vices and an added seven years. She began microdermabrasion, a familiar procedure that removes the outer layer of dead skin cells on your face. Instead of just a quick once-over, Chin took her time, swiping and sucking the dirt and debris from every last pore, as she continued applying her glycolic peel. "This is a very important part of the facial," Chin says. "It leaves your skin looking radiant with a more even tone. See, dead skin cells often trap dirt and debris in pores, so removing them will definitely make your skin healthier." She did just the right side of my face and held up a mirror to show me the difference. My skin was a bit red but certainly radiant. "Awesome," I said excitedly.
Then, after a long steam, the extractions began. "We steam the face before extracting anything," Chin says. "This ensures the pores are open, and it's easier to remove impurities." At first, each one felt like any other extraction, not exactly comfortable but certainly sustainable. Chin moved her way down my nose and chin, the two places I often find congestion. "This is to remove dirt, oil, and debris from your pores so they can properly heal and shrink," she explains. "Do not try to do this on your own—a professional should remove each one as a part of your facial."
It was then that I felt something unfamiliar—the prick of a needle—alongside my hairline. "What's that?" I asked timidly. I don't usually say much during a facial, as I trust the professional to do their thing. But, as a self-proclaimed wimp and one who is especially squeamish when it comes to needles, I got nervous.
"It's a doughnut," she told me, "can you hear me getting it out?" Thankfully, I couldn't. "Basically with a doughnut, there's excess production of the sebaceous oil glands," Chin told Goop. "So, when people have a lot of buildup and oil from their glands, and they get a pimple or rash, they can develop doughnuts when it's not professionally cleaned out. If it's left alone, or not fully removed and scabs over, it will stay in your skin. Those oil glands are still producing, and so it will get bigger and bigger." She adds, "To make it go away, it must be opened up and completely dug out, including the back of the pimple. If it is done right, it will heal without a trace in four to seven days." She continued to prick, dig, and squeeze all over my cheeks, forehead, and jawline, cleaning each and every pore on my face with quick and intricate precision.
She continued to prick, dig, and squeeze all over my cheeks, forehead, and jawline, cleaning each and every pore on my face with quick and intricate precision.
Chin got about halfway through before she showed me the mirror again. Up until then, I had been fine, in a little bit of pain, but nothing I couldn't handle. I looked in the hand-held mirror expecting to see glowy, rosy skin. Usually, that's why facialists have mirrors on hand. I opened my eyes and couldn't believe what I saw—blood, redness, and the end of Chin's needle of choice. Again, as I mentioned earlier, I'm a wimp. I shut my eyes as tightly as I possibly could and tried to forget what I saw. "I like to show my patients what I'm doing so they know the pain is worth it," she explains. Immediately, I felt a rush of dizziness and had to take a quick break. Christine and the two women assisting her couldn't have made me feel more comfortable—providing a cold water bottle, kind conversation, and space so I could get some air. To be honest, it seemed like I wasn't the first person to need a time-out from under the light.
Ten minutes and two water bottles later, I was ready to get back on the table. Chin worked quickly to finish up the other side of my face (there was less to do on the left side, as I hold my phone on my right, she reminded me). After everything was properly cleared out, Chin sprayed my face down with a healthy dose of her Hydrating Toner (she was disappointed when I admitted I didn't use one) and applied her signature green tea mask. It was invigorating and really cold, which was to help with swelling, so Chin left me to marinate for 20 minutes.
Christine Chin Hydrating Toner ($28)
After one of Chin's estheticians cleansed, hydrated, and applied SPF to my tender skin, I got up to get dressed. I looked at the clock, and it had been over two hours—I couldn't believe it. "I guess being meticulous takes time," I thought, as I peered into the mirror. My face had what looked like a ton of open wounds. I freaked out. Chin told me to use her Herbal Blemish Gel ($35) to help heal and protect my skin. "It forms an invisible film to seal blemish openings from pollutants and makeup," she said.
I carefully washed my face before bed that night, and I'm not going to lie, it looked bad. I was worried I'd scar. I woke up in the morning covered in scabs and began researching Yelp reviews. There are hundreds of reviews for Chin's spa, and each one says the same thing: "It hurt, I left covered in scabs, and now my skin is healed and more glowy than ever before." That's comforting, I thought. I spent seven days convinced I was going to live with scabs and scars forever. Christine told me to give it a week and resume using my vitamin C serum after three days. That was the longest week of my life.
Christine Chin Herbal Blemish Gel ($35)
I woke up on the morning of the seventh day with shockingly glowy skin. My scabs had healed and disappeared (not a single red mark or scar left behind), and in their place was truly radiant skin. It's been a week since then, and my skin keeps getting better. I've been getting compliments everywhere I go on my unprecedented glow.
After all was said and done, this facial was amazing. Was I worried for seven days straight that my skin would never be clear again? Yes. And, like I said, this facial is not for the faint of heart. But if you're looking for genuinely clean skin, an even tone, and brightening like you wouldn't believe—I recommend it, no questions asked. No pain, no gain right?