Wine, oats, and aloe vera all hobnob with your face to give you a sunny glow

Drink a glass of red wine and you expect to glow with good health. Massage your face with it and it will leave your skin aglow. Logic, huh? After all what can cleanse and benefit from within can do the same to your outsides too.

Naturals, the chain of unisex salons in the city, introduced the wine facial as a seasonal special during Christmas 2010/New Year's 2011. “It has a good detoxifying effect and is rejuvenating also. It promotes new cell generation,” promises Bindu, regional trainer of the salon in preparation for the facial.

Visions of a bottle of wine being opened and poured daintily into a glass, held up to my nose and then dipped into by delicate fingers that will massage my face filled my eyes.

So was I going to be scrubbed with a Cabernet Sauvignon or a Chateau Mouton Rothschild? Bindu explains that Naturals uses in-house red grape wine brewed in their nodal centre in Chennai, aged about four to five months. All natural ingredients like oats and aloe vera juice are mixed with the wine to give skin the required glowing effect, offers Bindu.

With the stage all set for the facial, I'm eased onto the massage table suitably gowned. After the cleansing, I get the first heady whiff of wine, as the masseuse works some cold wine mixed with oats into my face, coaxing all the heat and dust out of pollution-laden skin. The wine is strong enough for the vapourised flavour to seep in through my cheeks and swirl around in my head intoxicatingly. I'm yearning for a glass of it. Instead the masseuse teases my nostrils further — the war against the blackheads has begun.

The face is then steamed out for the pores to open (and I momentarily put up with the blackhead prying till I ask the masseuse to please move on to the next pleasant task at hand). The masseuse then begins with the wine and aloe vera scrub. The instant cooling effect of the aloe vera gives me goosebumps and a thought — isn't drinking wine supposed to warm you up? As she works up my neck and cheeks, I suddenly freeze. Nails! My masseuse's got nails. Then I think I'm perhaps a bit heady with the aromas of wine — no masseuse ever has nails. And my eyes are covered with cotton pads; I can't see and ascertain my guess.

While I'm still debating the nails, the masseuse asks me to be prepared for 20 minutes of lying still with a face mask. She dips gauze in wine-and-something and places it on my face. A bouquet of earthy fragrances envelope me again and I'm swimming in the giddy tides.

The first few of the 20 minutes are occupied by a really quick hand and then foot massage. Before I know it, she's gone. Then there's a bus that rumbles by noisily and I start counting them…two, three. There's the tap-tap of the window blinds, some clanging that sounds like ongoing construction work, and of course the therapist's footsteps as she walks in and out of the room, locking and unlocking it — all very unsettling, because there's no music to distract me.

I'm glad when the 20 minutes are done and she takes the gauze off and does the finishing moves. A last daub of sunscreen signals the end of wine-and-after. I step out looking a bit bleached, probably from all the acidic wine, I tell myself. My face has certainly cleared up. I check the masseuse's hands — she's got pointy purple nails. I'm appalled enough to tell the management, who then sheepishly admit she's their hair therapist! Egad! What was she doing with my face? I try desperately not to think.

But, like any good facial, the promised glow sets in a day or two later. I'm a bulb.

The wine facial is priced Rs. 2011. Naturals can be contacted on 42102201.

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Keywords: wine facial