Seer of ghosts & weaver of stories

(You are very much not forgotten)

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
On Skincare
What got me thinking about this, believe it or not, was the University of York immigration officer who went through my visa-renewal paperwork this past week. As it turns out, our applications were fine except for our photographs. When she told me that if she were to submit them with the photos we'd included, they'd be rejected.

"You're joking," I said. "Why?"

She grimaced. "You're both smiling too much. Believe me, you want to look miserable. As miserable as this lady right here on the guidance sheet!"

Apparently, the Home Office has been rejecting loads of visa renewal applications lately on the grounds that people are smiling too much in their photos, even in cases where the supposed "smile" is little more than a natural or involuntary quirk of the mouth. So, before the applications are submitted in earnest about a week from now, James and I had to go to the photo booth at the train station and get new photos taken. Ones where we're totally deadpan, neutral, and look sort of pissed off. Well, I was.

But the second thing I thought looking at the photos was, wow, I'm gray-pale right now. Sure, I may be generally lucky and not suffer frequent break-outs or spots, but damn, my skin looks dead and dull. Either that or it was the awful lighting. But I swear to you, in those old photos where I was smiling too much? My skin looked healthy. I had something resembling color. Ph.D. stress is apparently bad for the complexion.

By most people's standards, though, I've been told I'm obsessive. It bothers me if I can't wash my face both morning and night, and it's absolutely got to be with a proper facial care product that I know works well with my skin (something from LUSH or Simple is usually on hand). Beyond that, though, I don't use toner and I'm bad about remembering moisturizer. I've been astonished lately to notice some very fine lines forming on my forehead. Not something I obsess over on the basis of looks, but on the grounds of, huh, maybe I do abuse my skin a bit by skipping out on the other steps.

I've only had a few spa facials in my lifetime. In fact, I think I've only had two. The first one was really posh, back in the summer of 2001. I was visiting a friend in Texas, and she took me here. I mean, the facials we got were the expensive ones, and I have to admit, the results were astonishing. My skin looked fantastic for at least 2-3 weeks afterward. The second facial I had was very early this year in York, in the back room of the not-so-posh salon that's in the department store I was working for until February. What can I say: they were giving me a generous discount. It wasn't so much a facial as somebody else doing for me what I could easily have done at home with cleanser and an exfoliator, plus an upper-body massage. It was relaxing, but the result was not revolutionary.

I admit, I'd love to relive the experience I had in Austin. While babysitting last night, I chanced upon the most recent issue of Vogue, in which there's an article by a member of staff that they'd sent to get, I swear, about five or six different fancy facials at places around London. I admit that a few of them sound positively amazing, and actually not so unaffordable as long as one is earning money.

Would you pay £85 for 90 minutes wherein your pores actually get sucked clean by a little vaccuum thingie? It sounds kind of freakishly awesome. Plus all the other cleansing stuff they do after that, plus a massage. Oh, Ms. Immigration Officer, what have you done?

  • 1
Why on earth are they denying visas on the basis of smiling? If you look too happy then you won't fit in with ever-moaning Brits? I hope they have some kind of rationale for it.

Strangely enough, neither the immigration officer, nor the guidance sheet sheds any light on why they prohibit even the ghost of a smile (voluntary or otherwise) in visa/passport photos!

That's very strange. *makes frowny face*

It's not just Britain. You're not allowed to smile in Aus passport photos anymore. Apparently it's to do with face recognition in some way - common mythology says it's that you have to look the same way you will going through customs: miserable and cranky.

You aren't allowed to smile in Australian passport photos. The "explanation" I was given is that then, you look how you will after a twenty hour flight and two hours in a Customs queue. Probably not the official reason, but it makes a degree of sense :)

Dude, go for it. You deserve it :)

By the way, if I may ask, why don't you just apply for citizenship? I always kinda thought you're in the UK, if not for good, then at least for a long while.

I would, except the UK doesn't permit you to apply for citizenship till you've lived here for five years on a non-student visa. We've lived here for four years on various student visas. So, one of us needs to get a work visa and we'll have to live here for five years on that before we can apply for citizenship...

Apparently, the Home Office has been rejecting loads of visa renewal applications lately on the grounds that people are smiling too much in their photos


You can't stay here, you're too happy?

Don't look at me, my skin routine is the pits. I should do better but I've yet to find anything that doesn't make me break out, flare up the eczema, or dry me out to the point of pain. Water dries out my skin, it's so crappily delicate. My best defense is drinking a lot of water (okay, tea).

Yeah, hydration is good. Tea works to a point, but I'm terrible at making myself drink things that aren't hot that aren't juice.

. . . I don't take care of my skin at all -- I wash my face when I shower, with the same soap -- and I would pay that much for the little vacuuming thing. that sounds entirely too cool.

Some soaps/gels that are good for general body-washing are also not too hard on facial skin. Mine's stupidly touchy, though - I've probably got what can be described as sensitive combination skin. If I use hand soap or bar soap, I break out, flake, the whole nine yards.

And, yes, OMG. A FACE VACCUUM. It's about as cool as those little fish that some spas have on hand to pick clean your feet, you know?

. . . little fish. . .

Clearly, I am missing some cool shit by ignoring all this 'girly' stuff.

What strange and twisted paths you have been led to.
Facial care products is a deeply weird, treacherous, and mysterious jungle I try to avoid. Noxema. Oil of Olay. Yes, my grandma used 'em. So do I. Means I don't have to try and figure anything out or put things on my face that will make me feel as though I've been sandblasted and dunked in lemon juice (An exfoliant I used once did this. Never again.)
However, spa treatments and such - I think you should indulge now and then if you find a place you like that's affordable. Everyone deserves a little pampering now and again.

Any heavy old-style cleanser like cold cream, Noxema, or Oil of Olay means absolute trouble for my skin. Too oily! They've only ever made me break out.

In theory, said facial would take place in London when I'm down there on the 24th/25th.

Understood there. I have the same problem if I use them other than once. I cleanse at night and put on the facial goop and clean off in the morning. Any more goop and oily it is.
Mind you, I know I should do something different, but I no longer care to experiment with my face. I'm a wuss, what can I say?

Ooh, I hope your theoretical facial might turn into a genuine, nifty, experience!

The thing is, though, all faces are different. Maybe what you do is just fine!

</i>Apparently, the Home Office has been rejecting loads of visa renewal applications lately on the grounds that people are smiling too much in their photos, even in cases where the supposed "smile" is little more than a natural or involuntary quirk of the mouth.</i>

How baffling. I don't remember if I was smiling in my visa photo, but they granted it, so I suppose it wasn't too offensive...

I've actually never had a facial, though I have been wanting one for years now (one of those wonderful deep-cleansing ones to clear out those stupid pores on my nose). Mainly it's a matter of expense, but I think I may shell out for one before either my viva or MLA, as a stress-relief thing as much as a looking-my-best thing.

When's your viva going to be? If all goes according to plan, mine ought to be around March-ish. And remind me, you're somewhere down south - Oxford, yes? We haven't ever managed to meet up, have we? I really do need to get back to Oxford; I haven't been since...yikes, maybe 2007.

Mine is on 16 December, so it's coming up (eeeek!). And, about ten days later is the MLA conference.

I've actually left Oxford since I finished my dissertation and my fiancé is in Washington DC, but I'll obviously be back for my viva. And if you're around, I'd love to meet up! If not, I know you're coming to Kalamazoo in May and I'll definitely be there.

Indeed, I'll be at Kalamazoo :)

My roomie found out why they don't want you to smile! They use facial recognition software and any facial distortion makes it harder for the computer to recognize you. Dilemma solved.

That sounds right - my spouse got the same explanation when he had a new driver's license picture taken recently, so his DL has a very somber picture! But this time they let him leave his glasses on.

We definitely can't leave our glasses on in these photos.

It's true... The Home Office wants us all miserable.

They're rejecting applications based on whether people are smiling in their pictures? Why would they want you to look miserable in their country?

Anyway, as for skin care--I'm just as guilty of basically only using a cleanser and toner. I rarely use moisturizer. As long as you have healthy skin, I don't know that it's really vital. ;)
Sunscreen, however, is an absolute must every single day.

But the answer is yes. Facials are a good thing to have done every so often. Cleanse and replenish and all that. :D

My moisturizer has an SPF of 15, but clearly it's not doing me much good, because I forget to use it all the time :-P

LOL, I remember when I was doing my visa, I was told not to smile by the woman at the post office taking the photos. It's (no pun intended) frowned upon in the States to look happy on those things, too.

You should totally moisturize, it's definitely the single most important thing you can do for your skin! When I don't moisturize I feel gross and dry because my skin has (thankfully) stopped getting way oily and lets the nice, non-clogging lotion do its job ^.^

What's the name of the "vaccuum thingie"? I've heard of probably similar things that don't help too much (hell, owned something that was similar at one point). In order for them to work your pores have to be fairly open to begin with, like more than just some hot water will do. I've had pretty good results with microdermabrasion (my fav) and chemical peels, as far as refreshing skin and clearing up blocakge in my pores goes.

Huh. I renewed my passport at the U.S. embassy in London early this year, and I was smiling in my new photos a little, and they renewed my passport!

I would probably pay that much for a supernice facial if I could spare the money. I've had one really nice facial/massage in my life and it was bliss.

I love professional massages most of all.

When I'm able to lie comfortably on my stomach again, I am finding a very very good masseuse and paying whatever it takes to get my back fixed!

It bothers me if I can't wash my face both morning and night, and it's absolutely got to be with a proper facial care product that I know works well with my skin (something from LUSH or Simple is usually on hand).

o.O That's obsessive? What do normal people do?

I'm so pissed that LUSH discontinued Sweet Japanese Girl. I hope they put it up in the Retro part of their site.

Most of my friends just seem to use their body wash or bar soap or whatever's sitting around *shrugs*

I could never use SGG - it was too oily for my skin!

  • 1

Log in

No account? Create an account