Everything would be perfect, Melinda Wright thought, if she could just massage people’s faces instead of their bodies.
Wright is a slip of a woman, barely over five feet, but still powerful in her practice as a healer. She’s strong, but no matter her strength, most of her masseuse clients were just bigger than her. A former dancer with an instinct for the way the body’s systems play into one another, the physicality of full-body massage, particularly for larger clients, was difficult for her to execute. So she left the practice for several years, working with herbs and other modalities, and trying to figure out where she fit into the new wellness systems that were emerging and developing around her, particularly in Los Angeles.
When the Eastern rituals of facial massage like Gua Sha from Chinese medicine began to pick up steam in America, Wright returned to her massage practice, incorporating her Western masseuse background with knowledge of the Eastern traditions, and infusing it all with herbal and sonic therapies that made her practice a thing unto itself.
Even knowing all this, there was still nothing that could prepare me for the Slow Skin facial.
As yesterday’s post about Heyday clearly reveals, my desire to embrace skincare greatly eclipses my knowledge of how it can and should function in my life. And after highlighting the presence of a corporate facial practice in Los Angeles, it feels more than fitting to spotlight an independent practitioner, particularly one who practices out of her own home.
Melinda’s partner introduced me to her practice, and for the purpose of this review, she graciously offered to give me a complimentary facial. But the impact of her facial was so apparent and so intense, I plan to go back and get another as soon as I can scrape together the means. A Slow Skin facial lasts for about 75 minutes, and Melinda charges $150 per session. But as someone who frets almost daily about the appearance of my “double chin,” the session removed the hanging fold of skin below my chin for the next seven to ten days, something I didn’t even think was possible.
For those who might be worried about a Montecito Heights apartment as a skincare space, Wright’s home is one of the most beautiful and cleanest spaces I’ve ever had the privilege of being in. It was more than on par with a treatment room on the scale of say, somewhere like Heyday, and knowing it was a residence actually gave the treatment a sense of intimacy that was welcome.
Beginning with a shot of herbal tincture called Loved One, a homemade formula that Melinda and her partner, Andrew, are working on perfecting for a 2020 release, the heart opening formula of damiana and rose is designed to put you in a more receptive state. From there, I washed my hands and face, and mentally prepared to be lying down for the next hour or so.
Tucking into a massage table-style bed, Melinda began the treatment with some Rosemary oil as aromatherapy, a scent that functions as an oil of protection, and promotes warming, clarifying, and uplifting feelings. Throughout the practice, she uses sound therapy focusing around the 417 Hz Solfeggio frequency, an ancient, 11th century scale that has remarkable impact on the physiological systems of those who incorporate it into their daily life.
Like most facial practices, Wright begins with a deep cleanse, then moves into her initial facial massage with her hands, and a gentle exfoliation. From there, she uses a handmade rose hydrosol for moisturizing, and a hand-blended facial oil featuring Frankincense, works as a powerful astringent, fighting wrinkles and aging.
After that comes her incorporation of the Gua Sha tools, which some may recognize as reminiscent of the Rose Quartz and Jade Rollers that have made their way into popular skincare vernacular. Instead of simply rolling the tools over the face, Wright is a skilled practitioner, using each of the three pieces to massage and assist with lymphatic drainage in different areas of the face, including the cheeks and chin/lower neck (goodbye double chin!), and the forehead and eye area.
This was the part of the facial that, above all else, was completely incomparable with anything else I’ve experienced. When she used her tools on my face, I felt a sense of peace and renewal, like a stagnant pond being stirred until the film on the surface mixed into the deep below. After the massage with her tools, Melinda applied a homemade mask composed of crushed Bulgarian rose petals, rosewater, yogurt and Manuka Honey, then a final moisturizer to seal everything in.
After finishing the massage portion, Melinda offered me a draught of another herbal brew she’d handmade, a cold infusion of lemon balm, spearmint, and nettle, all sourced from her favorite local herb shop, Wild Terra. The final herbal drink just hammered home how many of the products and tools Wright used during her practice were homemade remedies, herbal tinctures that she concocted on her own, using her own knowledge of herbs and healing.
As someone who grew up in a community where the healing properties of plants were always to be trusted over the more acerbic solutions of Western medicine, this homeopathic quality to the facial was irreplaceable. And, the idea that my body deserves or needs massage, but my face doesn’t, was put thoroughly to bed by Wright’s expert practice. When it comes time to give myself — or yes, a loved one — a special moment of self-care, the Slow Skin facial will be my first choice as a gift. Not only is Melinda a therapist who incorporates knowledge from all over the world to inform her own healing facial practice, she also manages to ground her work most singularly in Los Angeles, giving a local feel to an ancient, cosmic treatment.
In short, the Slow Skin facial was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, combining modalities of facial massage, cleansing and exfoliating, sound therapy, homemade oils, hydrosol treatments, and herbal tinctures, teas and infusions, to create a holistic, homeopathic experience that embodies local healing work at its finest and most tender-hearted expression. Taking this much time and space to pamper our faces is a work of healing, yes, but it’s also an act of honoring the self that speaks volumes, and had an impact for days to come.
To learn more about the Slow Skin facials go here.