Face Off A busy 40-something mom remembers how good the right skin care can feel.


FACE-WASHING’S MY FIX—after a long day of work or school or travel. It’s how I’ve always calmed down—come down—dusted myself off and started again. I’ve indulged in just about every facial scrub and moisturizer known to womankind (high and low brands alike: Kiehl’s, Dermalogica, Murad, Cetaphil, Oil of Olay and Neutrogena, to name a few). But at 42, nothing I apply seems to make me feel moisturized or properly hydrated—not lately, anyway. In part because I’ve (gasp) over-washed, according to my friend and aesthetician, Arika Casebolt, who sees me in her chic Roland Park townhouse studio for a deluxe facial.

THE ETHOS: Casebolt is a former indie rock drummer turned brainy makeup rep turned home-based aesthetician/beauty scholar—I trust her when she tells me off the bat to stop using scrubs cold turkey. Done. As she asks her thoughtful preliminary questions, I’m surprised to report it’s been several years since I’ve had time for a facial—at an airport in Tampa. I’m not surprised she makes me feel so pampered two minutes in.

THE SPACE: A cozy single room designed for relaxation. “Get undressed and snuggle down—basically, I’m putting you to bed,” Casebolt says, gesturing toward a massage table decked with soft blankets.

THE PROCESS: First, Casebolt warms and moistens my skin, cleansing “with a gentle but effective AHA/BHA [alpha and beta hydroxy] enzyme cleanser three times”—twice using her hands, “your best tools,” once with a facial cleansing brush.

“I find it to be the best way to gently, but really deeply, clean the skin,” Casebolt says. “I’m not crazy about scrubs [for anyone], as they can be too harsh and exfoliate unevenly.”

Next, she mixes desincrustation fluid with Mario Badescu Silver Powder—this is “a magical cocktail of deeper exfoliation for drier skin,” she says. She brushes it on my face and décolleté. Then she massages my feet and legs, hands and arms.

“I feel that circulation and lymphatic drainage are absolutely key to a good facial,” Casebolt says. “Plus, it feels good.”

Yes, it does—I can’t remember my next appointment, it feels so good.

After about 10 minutes, she removes the mask and inspects my skin, then applies an exfoliating sugar-based lip scrub. Cue the moment when Casebolt makes a few quick “extractions,” using her nimble fingers, which reminds me of my beauty-savvy older sister working on one of my clogged pores in eighth grade.

Just when I think the session is almost over—when I come to and remember my interview at 4 and toddler twins waiting at home—Casebolt gives me the most luxurious massage of my shoulders, décolleté, face and ears. Meanwhile, I’m already noticing that my face feels supple—soft.

As she mists an aloe-and-lavender hydrating spray over my face, then pats a rich but weightless eye cream around my eyes and lids, I exhale audibly. Finally, she presses a vitamin C serum into my face and uses a skin-tightening sonic device “to tighten up and close the pores and preserve the effects of the facial.”

THE VERDICT: When Casebolt presents me with her mirror of truth, I like what I see. Note to self: Life is short; facialize more.

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