I have always suspected that I am missing one of the girlie-girl genes because hair, makeup and nails have never been my bag. It's become more obvious in recent years because my partner’s daughter often asks if she can paint my nails and my response is usually something like, "Er, OK, but black polish only."
However, I am always open to new opportunities and, recently, I told a friend I had never had a facial and she suggested that I give it a whirl. And so, out of curiosity, my winter-induced "I look like death every day" feelings and for the love of life experience in all of its forms, I did.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to Neroli at Bayshore and had my first facial and makeup consultation. It sounded a little daunting at first – only because I had never done anything like this before – but I felt comfortable almost as soon as I walked in the door thanks to the so-very-well-put-together woman behind the counter who looked like she lived in New York City but gave me a genuine Milwaukee smile.
Neroli has been around since 1993 and currently has five salons offering hair, skin care, nails, massage, body treatments, waxing, make up and yoga for both men and women.
When I got a confirmation via email about my appointment, I was reminded that coming 30 minutes early or staying after for a steam shower was encouraged.
I did not make it quite early enough for a pre-treatment shower – I took one after – but I did enjoy stripping down, slipping into a plushy robe and drinking a cup of Rishi tea in a very ambient, tranquil room before esthetician Brianna Feivor came to get me for the appointment.
"I’m excited to provide your first facial," she said.
Feivor, who has worked for Neroli for eight years and is a trainer for the company, made me feel at ease instantly. She took me into what looked like a massage room, and I sat down on a padded bench and soaked my feet in warm water.
This was just the beginning of my pleasant surprise regarding what exactly constitutes a facial. Prior to my appointment, I conjured visions that were closer to what might happen at a 13-year-old girls’ sleepover than at an upscale salon.
After washing my feet in scented water, Feivor asked me to close my eyes, sniff three different scents and pick my favorite. I chose rose – that's my mother's name – and this was used in my other treatments during the appointment.
She then left the room so I could disrobe and climb under the thick warm blankets on the massage table. She came back into the room, sounded a Tibetan bell and began the 50-minute facial.
Overall, the experience was extremely relaxing – as well as more New Age-y than I anticipated. I enjoyed all of it – the bells, the soothing music, the essential oils. I had imagined a facial being something that involved bright lights, mud masks and grainy apricot scrubs.
At times, it was slightly uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally, like when she was "decongesting" a few blackheads. It’s a strange service to have someone perform and reminded me of being at the dentist and suddenly feeling guilty for not flossing enough.
She did other treatments, too, that included misting my face, putting warm towels on it and washing it with various nice-smelling products. She also massaged my scalp during the process, which was quite possibly my favorite part.
After the facial, I went into the locker room, took a steam shower stocked with Aveda products, and met her downstairs in the makeup salon where she gave me a makeover. We talked about different cosmetics options for me based on my coloring and style.
As kind of a rocker girl, I told her I was terrified of the thought of any pastels on my face, but that I was also interested in something other than black or dark grey. The older I get, the more I realize I don’t have to always look like I’m on my way to meet one of the Sons of Anarchy for lunch.
When she first suggested golds and browns for my eyes, I was skeptical. It sounded a little hippie to me. But I was pleased with the results – her color choices made my hazel eyes really stand out even more.
I bought a couple of items at the end of the session and Brianna wrote some notes for me. She also included a diagram of an eye, showing how and where she applied my eyeliner and shadow.
I even confided in her about a couple of personal hang-ups I had about my face and how they have affected my feeling towards makeup in general. She was such a genuinely compassionate listener and responder that I saw a glimpse of who she was beyond the job. And I liked it.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.