Not only had I never had a "facial" until last month; I didn't even know what a "facial" was. A lot of men will be more familiar with its second meaning (a pornographic act) than its first (a non-pornographic skin treatment). Let me reassure you that this short article is about the skin treatment, not the pornographic act. I have not indulged in the latter and, if I had, then the pages of The Independent are not where I would choose to share it.
Last Christmas, my housemates gave me a voucher for a day spa in east London. Just before the voucher expired, I booked myself in for what the glossy brochure called an "MOT For Him". The car-based imagery is presumably intended to help an average Top Gear-watching bloke feel at home on a massage table. "I may be having a face-peel applied," this man can say to himself, as ambient music tinkles from the iPod speakers and a scented candle flickers nearby, "But really, it's just like changing the oil."
There's one major problem in reporting my recollections of the experience, which is that my eyes were closed the whole time, and covered with cucumber slices – or, at least, cucumber slice-shaped bits of cotton wool. The friendly spa lady, who had already given me a massage (again, the non-porno sort), rubbed foamy stuff into my face, then minty fresh stuff.
She applied the aforementioned peel, daubing it like warm wax across my manly brow. And, as it cooled, she performed the promised head massage, accompanied by "Return to Innocence" by Enigma and, yes, a scented candle (jasmine, I believe). It was almost exactly like doing car maintenance.