"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?