Getting an invitation to a virtual reality facial sounds a little kooky, right? Yes, you would be right. It IS kooky! The sheer logistics of getting facialed while wearing a VR headset is confusing, but the Natura Bisse team at Julien Farel uptown are determined to bring the concept to life. Why? To bring you moments of zen while your face is being massaged by a stranger. Wellness - it's all around us these days, pals. I arrive without any expectation, except knowing that the facial I'll be receiving is all about collagen (perf, I have an event the next day I'll be photographed at). The collagen treatment promises to sculpt and define my facial features while plumping the areas I want plumped, like my lips and cheeks. I'm invited to get cozy in my heated treatment bed (love a heated bed) and my friendly aesthetician Hannah guides me to put on an enormous black VR headset to get started. She tells me the virtual reality portion is only 7 to 8 minutes long and that I'll enjoy a scalp and neck massage during the video and guided mediation that accompanies it.
I'll do anything once, so, I say okay. I sit up to place them on my face properly (not feeling like a facial yet) and she guides me to lay back as I start seeing clouds appear in front of my face. A woman's voice picks up volume in an in-room speaker and she welcomes me to my focused facial.
Let me just stop right here now and tell you that while the idea of a virtual reality facial is indeed a bit kooky, it's also fucking AWESOME. I've never had a VR experience before, so doing so while simultaneously lying on my back, being massaged and listening to a soothing voice the Natura Bisse gals simply call "Her" gives me a feeling of melting away. The images on the screen range from different colors and shapes to ocean creatures floating by and sand dunes and white light and stars and electric, winding shapes. Sort of like the visuals in the Sahara Tent at Coachella but without the deafening base. I'm not high, but I feel like it, and it's kind of lovely. Perhaps it's the physical sensation of being on my back, allowing the VR experience and gravity to take over your senses that creates such an intoxicating experience, but now I totally understand the funny cartoons you see of people glued to their couches, trapped behind a VR headset.
During the VR-time, my mind shifts off of the multitude of "things" floating through my cranial atmosphere and slows down, just to focus on the party lights in front of my eyes. And that's really the point - to allow the person receiving the facial, traditionally not the most relaxing spa experience compared to say, a 90 minute massage, to mellow out. And I do. The world is winding in front of my eyes, allowing me a sensory experience that could, under different circumstances, be classified as illegal.
When the VR moment is over, I'm actually disappointed. Surprisingly so. Had Hannah been able to put collagen goo all over my face while also experiencing VR I'd give this facial 10/10 gold stars. Alas, the goggles are removed and we get into the actual skin treatment with a very gentle glycolic peel that doesn't create redness or actual skin peeling a few days later. It's a little tingly, as to be expected, and I get a nice massage of my pressure points while my face cooks. "Her" is still talking to me this whole time, mind you, reminding me to focus on my breathing and things of that nature.
The collagen creams come next and we finish with a mask that is hooked around your ears and pressed gently down onto the face. I have no idea what was happening during that period of time, but it made me realize that all those cloth masks that are hot right now should totally have ear-hooks attached so they stay planted more firmly on the face. "Her" tells me to take 10 deep breaths, counting them as I go, and after an hour of listening to her soothing voice and being gently massaged and covered in creams, it's time to hop back on the 6 and head downtown, back into my actual reality, the one I attempt to center every day.
Cartoon via CartoonaDay.com