Hello, friends. Today’s post is about the concept of “maintenance” vs. “self-care,” a topic I was thinking about recently.
Obviously, all sorts of things can qualify as self-care – for me, cooking, baking and daily walks are self-care. Reading and listening to the radio is self-care. But I’m interested in the broad category of beauty/wellness services we buy/do for ourselves, and how our individual views shape whether we think of them as tasks to be dealt with vs. activities we look forward to and enjoy.
I treated myself to a spa facial last week, the first since I moved here. The weather’s been terrible and on a whim I called a place down the street the day after an icy snow, betting they might have some cancellations. They did, and off I went, desperate for a bit of soothing self-care in the hands of a lovely, knowledgeable facialist who did not disappoint. I used to get regular facials in D.C., at a spa that worked sort of like a gym membership, you paid a monthly fee. Other than a several-month break during COVID I went regularly for whatever their flavor-of-the-month treatment was. I loved it – clean, spare, some New Age music playing quietly while she blooped, say, hibiscus foam on my face, neck and décolletage with a fan brush, and I dozed under warm blankets. Absolute bliss.
I’d hate to have to choose, but I’ll go out on a limb and say I enjoy getting a facial maybe even more than a massage. Massage is … trickier. I love a massage but don’t have them often, and they can be disappointing in various odd ways. I’ve never walked out of a spa after a facial thinking damn, that was a waste of time and money.
I was having this conversation recently with a couple of friends though, and it interested me how different our ideas can be about what’s a self-care “treat” you enjoy, vs. stuff that feels like “maintenance.” One of these friends gets regular facials because she likes the results, but she does not enjoy them at all – she just wants to be finished and leave, to her it’s maintenance, like getting a bikini wax. But she loves going to her salon for haircuts, they make her feel pampered and refreshed. Refreshed!?! I never loved getting my hair cut and colored, even in the nicest places with the cucumber water and Vogue; all I wanted was to be done and gone. To me, my fancy cut-and-color was maintenance, not self-care.
Mani-pedis I’ve had done and view as maintenance – I like the end result, don’t particularly enjoy the process, but I know for a lot of people they’re a treat. Haircuts: I’d just as soon go to the dentist. On the other hand, my several months of appointments last year with the acupuncturist were medical treatments, my insurance paid for them; but to me they were the best kind of self-care. I felt seen and fussed over and tended to for each 45-minute appointment. I loved the serene space I was in, the smell of burning moxa Cinnamon mentioned in her post yesterday, the gentle touch, the quiet calm I felt afterwards.
I’m assuming people who get their brows plucked or their nether bits waxed view that as strictly maintenance, but I’ve never done either (I’m laughably hairless.) There are probably people out there who love their wax sessions. I mean, I took nothing but pleasure in a facial that included some long-overdue extractions, so who am I to judge?
I do my own facials weekly, but I don’t really … look forward to them? They’re maintenance, like flossing my teeth. I 100% know though that some of you really lean into those moments as a treat – a face-mask, some music, your favorite bathrobe etc. And I used to feel that way about painting my nails, but somehow I lost interest in the pandemic and it never returned.
Okay, your turn! What treatments do you buy (or do yourself) that are self-care you look forward to? And which are things you do, possibly grudgingly, as maintenance?