Magazine topic: 

Spa day drama in China

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The horrors of Halloween are nothing compared to the horrors of blocked pores. Everyday life takes its toll on our delicate feminine features. Moisturisers, facial products and make-up weigh heavily on our skin, making it oily, greasy and unhealthy.

So every few weeks, a girl needs to retake cosmetic control and chase out her make-up monsters and everyday demons. That's right, it’s spa day!

In England, it is easy to get hold of basic cleansers and spa-style treatments to unblock pores, cleanse oily skin and reenergise oneself facially. In China, however, buying cosmetics is a risky and dangerous process for a westerner. Not only is everything in written in Chinese, there is also the added peril of whitening creams and bleach, which can be found in almost every cosmetic product in China. Coming from a western country where tanned skin is considered attractive and pale skin is an indication of illness, it came as quite a shock to me when I discovered China’s obsession with whitening.

A new spa has opened in my area, and to celebrate they are offering great discounts on spa treatments. For only Y98, I was given a two-hour aromatherapy massage and a two-hour facial! Incredible, I know!

There were two girls looking after me on my spa visit, and neither of them spoke any English. At first they were shy and quiet, but after a little encouragement they soon started talking. Within about ten minutes we had exhausted their limited English, but I was intent on teaching them, and learning some Chinese in the process! Starting with basic body parts, and the use of “good” and “bad”, we managed to negotiate the complexities of the full body massage. The girls’ favourite phrase being: “Your back, feel good?”

Next it was time for my facial!

Using the same technique of “good”, “bad” and body parts, we managed to verbally navigate my face! All was going well until one of the girls, who had been removing my make-up, suddenly gasped in horror, pointed at my eyebrows and started shouting in Chinese.

With a little difficulty, and a lot of embarrassment, I managed to explain to the frightened girl that, being blonde, I have invisible eyebrows and that, without make-up, they simply disappear. Talk about culture shock!

Once they eyebrow crisis was over, our language-exchange spa facial continued smoothly, and I have been left with a completely relaxed back, perfectly soft skin and no eyebrows. Small loss, I’d say, and a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

Language level: 

Have you ever been to a spa? Did you enjoy it?


Monisa's picture
Monisa 21 October, 2014 - 08:39

I have never been to a spa. I wish I could get rid of the horrible spots on my face, but only naturally. I don't any chemicals to be added into my face.

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Lavender's picture
Lavender 5 November, 2013 - 17:19

It is a surprise to know that the Western who have pale skin consider tanned skin is attractive. In my country where has a lot of sunshine people like white skin, they think white skin is beautiful. So the girls are obsessed with whitening products. I have white skin but with the sun shine all the year my arms and my kegs are tanned, but I prefer tanned skin, eps boys, I think it proves that you are not the one staying home a lot, you like outdoor activities. But sadly people just want to have the skin as white as Kpop stars.

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Monisa's picture
Monisa 21 October, 2014 - 08:43

That's also present in my country. However, girls are not obsessed with whitening products (since most of them contain chemicals), but they like taking care of their body with natural "products".

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 6 November, 2013 - 02:27

Hi Lavender! In Britain, if you have tanned skin it is a sign that you might have been on holiday to a sunnier country recently, so it's considered desirable and like Abby said, pale skin might be an indication of illness. It's interesting to find out what is considered beautiful in different countries. 
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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MALINE's picture
MALINE 2 November, 2013 - 14:16

just once and I didn´t enjoy it maybe because it was an aromateraphy and all those aromas made me feel sick next time i´ll try anouther kind of teraphy.

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Harabeli Supersweet's picture
Harabeli Supersweet 1 November, 2013 - 17:18

I have never been to a spa. I have a healthy skin, because I eat healthy food and I don't use cosmetic products. They're all chemicals that can harm our skin. Natural is always more healthy for us.

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AbbeyH's picture
AbbeyH 3 December, 2013 - 10:41

I agree! It is always best to have a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle! If you don't, then going to the spa is pointless and a waste of time and money! 

It is also very important to be careful of products with many chemicals in. I have very sensitive skin, so I must ask at the spa for only natural products with no perfumes. 

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 28 October, 2013 - 21:36

I've never been to a spa, and I don't need it. my sister and my mother regularly visit spa, and they like massage and stuff like that, but for me, it's wasting of time. I prefer sport, healthy diet and nature. What to wish more? ;-)

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