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  • Writer's pictureNicole Salter

Ow! Does beauty always have to hurt?

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

When i used to be married and actually cared about such things, I remember laying on the table at the wax bar every six weeks, wincing in anticipation of the attendant about to pull the wax strip rapidly across my nether regions. "Deep breath in," she would say, as if she herself were gearing up for the hair removal agony to come. I always obeyed, holding my breath until the stinging pain had somewhat subsided. The scene certainly didn't look as elegant as this.

Leg waxing

Pain in the name of beauty

As I would lay there thinking about the hundreds of dollars I was paying for the privilege of a head-to-toe tune up, I thought about all the things I personally do to try and improve my appearance - and the things we all (mostly us women) do in the pursuit of youth and cultural beauty standards. We pay top dollar to be plucked, threaded, waxed, injected (Juvederm), cut, layered, snipped, dyed, permed, relaxed, frozen (CoolSculpting), paralyzed (Botox), bleached, tattooed, glued, filled, peeled, poked and prodded...all in the name of looking better and feeling better about ourselves. And for the most part, that just describes what we pay professionals to do for us. That's not even touching the shaving, depilating, dyeing, curling, blow-drying, tweezing, etc. we do as part of our home maintenance routine. Is anyone else stretching out that pedi with a safety blade?

Painful Botox injection

When I look at all the things I do to look better that hurt like hell or are extremely expensive, or both, I'm not saying I have regrets. I'm not blessed with the kind of natural, roll-out-of-bed-and-go look that I want, so I am willing to go out and pay for it, both in money and the kind of pain Cinderella's sisters probably felt trying to squish into that tiny shoe. What I do wonder, though, is this: Does beauty always have to hurt?

As in, isn't it possible to look and feel better without pain, but with pleasure? Sure, the other stuff may not entirely be going away, but can't I feel better inside and out with really simple pleasurable body experiences? I am talking about pampering here. This is the short list, girls, of what we can do when we just can't face another pamphlet on genital lightening or eyelash extensions or cheek implants guaranteed to take 20 years off our faces.

5 ways to look and feel better without the pain

Here are my personal favourite ways to achieve that salon-fresh feeling without a bit of pain or depleting the kids' college fund.

Tomoko Murashita Shiatsu

  1. Massage. Okay, so there is a bit of pain involved in a deep tissue or shiatsu massage - sometimes more than a bit - but it's good pain for a good reason! Try someone who knows exactly what they are doing rather than an aesthetician working at a salon, whose touch may be soothing, but may not generate long-lasting healing effects. My personal fave? Tomoko Murashita, 181 Harbord St., Toronto. The only place in Toronto I have ever fallen asleep in the midst of a deep tissue treatment.

  2. Ayurveda. These ancient Indian rituals are thousands of years old for a reason! Combining fragrant oils with everything from health assessments to scalp massage and chakra therapy, an Ayurvedic treatment will leave you feeling more connected and alive than you have in a while. Try: Ayurveda Rituals at Bloor & Bathurst. I went there on a Groupon and absolutely fell in love.

  3. Makeover. Not just for Jerry Springer and teenage girls, a good old-fashioned makeover has the power to refresh your day - and it doesn't have to cost a penny. I used to like going to the makeup counter at The Bay and letting the girls use me as a guinea pig for their new products. It's always hard to match my skin tone in a way that feels natural to me, but even if I am not happy enough with the end result to buy the product, it feels wonderful to let someone work on your face... and shows you what you could look like if you wanted to.

  4. Exfoliate. Have you noticed that fancy spas charge the big bucks for an all-over body polishing treatment? That's because few treatments produce such radical results in such a short time, with so little effort. Exfoliating does more than take off dead skin and unclog pores, revealing the fresh, radiant skin beneath; the action of rubbing an exfoliant over your body also stimulates the lymphatic system to release even more toxins through the skin - the kind of toxins that can lead to problems like acne and cellulite. My personal favourite is our vanilla grapefruit No Scrubs body polish. It smells incredible, and unlike sugar scrubs, it really, really works.

  5. Bath. You knew I'd say that, right? But long before I founded SaltZ&Co, I looked to my bathtub as a place of solace from the daily grind. There's nothing like sinking into a hot tub filled with wonderful bath goodies (be they salt, bubbles, herbs, bath fizzes etc.) and then upping the ante with a mud mask, hair treatment and nice soaps, all at once. The cumulative effect is more than the sum of its parts: expect to emerge like a whole new woman.

So while some forms of beauty might always can recharge, renew and recover with something on this list! What is your favourite beauty hack that causes no pain?

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