Is pampering overrated?
Pure tedium ... is pampering more trouble than it's worth?
Is pampering worth the hassle? Are beauty treatments more of a chore than a treat? And, if so - is it worth it? Take nails. They look great when they're groomed but the manicure process, far from being the glamorous girly undertaking of movie lore, is tedious to the point of delirium. Am I the only one who thinks so?
It's the sitting still I can't abide. The small talk. The faint sense of anxiety as the manicurist picks up the cuticle clippers and files and buffs away. The alternatives are having ugly and neglected nails or doing it myself. I take the latter. The image consultants are correct when they say that groomed nails give a polished finish - and it's one less thing to worry about when nails aren't snagging on random items. And, besides, it's the only excuse I have these days to be left undisturbed in front of the television. ''Would you please get me a cup of tea? I'm doing my nails.'' ''Sorry, I can't come and help - my nails are still wet.'' My mother thinks that ''sorry - my nails are still wet'' has proven my lifelong catchphrase, much as leaving small pools of water in my wake is my trademark gesture (I always assumed it evaporated).
But professional manicures are a standard beauty treatment. They are popular and give bang for the buck. There's got to be a way for a beauty blogger to learn to love them. It is my duty. And in this spirit I have trialled three different types of manicure in an attempt to make the process more tolerable.
Sensory deprivation: Lie back, relax under blanket on giant recliner, with eye mask and ear buds in place as beauty therapist (presumably silently) gets to work. No talking or even emoting required - just a short discussion on the various merits of nail colours then self-absorbed cocooning as the evening lights of Melbourne twinkle somewhere below. Try to zone out in yogaesque way as my hands are lifted and seen to. Almost succeed. Then meditation CD ends prematurely and my senses reactivate.
Where: Aurora Spa Retreat, St Kilda.
Home visit: No driving, parking or smudge-risking travel time required. Nor childminding: therapist is bringing her baby which will theoretically entertain mine in the comfort of my own home. Spend 15 minutes tidying the sitting room and bathroom in preparation and another 40 minutes making orange cake and assembling toys. Toys not required as her baby sleeps and mine loses self on ABC4Kids website (he's very advanced) as my nails are given thorough care. Eating cake would just muss them.
Who: Slinky Pinkies mobile manicurist, eastern Melbourne.
Two for one: Hands and feet done at same time to save time. Apparently this is the regulars' weekly standard at this emporium of the establishment. Drawn, rebelliously, to questionable-in-taste sparkly magenta shade which therapists paint, in sync, on fingernails and toenails after a detailed and attentive manicure/pedicure combo. Chat to both though the feet are obviously the less desirable task - it is the pedicurist she who has to wait her turn for the polish and to locate the cuticle oil.
Where: Hale'O'Nails, Armadale.
The upshot: Professional manicures are all far better and longer lasting than when I do my own nails in front of Bored to Death. Massage would still be my choice from the treatment menu (which these three therapists all offer, dammit) as this I can't do for myself. Waxing is more essential if there has to be a choice - though even less fun. Hate it. The indignity, the fuss with it all. Don't get me started.
What beauty ''treats'' can't you abide? What have you tried or once done and would never do again? Does anyone else think manicures are overrated? Or am I being a beauty curmudgeon instead of being a good and grateful beauty blogger?
Natasha Hughes was the guest of the three therapists.