Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Manicure (also known as The Alternate Third Level of Hell)

A few weeks ago my awesome husband came home after visiting the parts store and announced that he wanted to take our son to the monster truck rally. I decided this would be a great opportunity for a mother-daughter date as well, so I scheduled for my six-year-old daughter and I to visit the local kids' spa for manicures/pedicures.

Fast forward to yesterday and our big mommy/daughter date. We started off with dinner at Moe's, because, well, we were both in the mood for chain southwestern cuisine.

Then we went to a local salon and spa for kids that some friends had recommended (local friends, contact me if you want the name), which uses organic products. A party of probably eight prepubescent girls was already there for a birthday party, getting the works: manicures, pedicures, facials and up-dos as the birthday girl's mother (very nice lady, I later found out) looked on. We were a little early, so we browsed through the very small retail section of the spa while we waited for our turn. A woman called us back and started us off by getting us to choose nail colors then soaking our hands in cool, soapy water. This was okay. My daughter and I chatted for a few minutes about the nail colors we'd selected as our hands soaked. Then the woman patted our hands dry and applied lotion. She walked away because one of the birthday party attendants was removing her mudmask prematurely. In the interim, my daughter said, "Mommy, my hands itch. Really bad. They won't stop."

I looked at my daughter's hands. Both were red and splotchy. Allergic reaction. To the lotion, I figured. I alerted the staff, who immediately said this was the first time anything like that had happened. The mother of the birthday girl was nearby, and she said it also looked like an allergic reaction to her. The staff led me to a sink, where I washed the lotion off her hands. Then I fished some Aveeno (has oatmeal, excellent for allergic and sensitive skin) out of my purse and slathered her hands well. This soothed them, and she seemed to be fine--a fluke, really, especially since she's never had an allergic reaction before--so we held out our hands, and the employee painted our nails for us.

A moment or two into our nail polish application, the birthday party mom got the attendant's attention. All four of the girls who'd just received mud masks were breaking out in large hives all over their faces.


The birthday mom and I looked at each other, and though we'd never met, we were of the same mind, both wondering if we should bail on this place for health and safety's sake, or press through so as not to disappoint our respective child(ren). The attendants discussed the situation before us. They couldn't figure out what had happened. They'd used an organic facial product. Every ingredient was 100% organic, according to the product information. As the attendant led the hive-inflicted girls to the back of the store to wash their faces, I eyed my daughter, whose hands were starting to turn back to their normal color under the calming balm of the Aveeno. She was enjoying herself despite the skin reaction, so I decided to proceed with caution.

Another attendant finished up our manicures, then passed us back to the first attendant for our pedis. No lotion this time, I said. The attendant agreed. She brought out cool soapy water to soak our feet, and my daughter and I snapped a few pictures of ourselves with my camera phone. Had to capture our girl's night out, right?

The attendant returned after getting all of the party girls settled down with cupcakes and dried our feet, then stepped away with our soaking bowls, and my daughter said, "Mommy, my ankles hurt. Ohh, they really hurt!"

I looked down, and her ankles were swelling!

The birthday mom, who was standing nearby, looked at me and shook her head. The attendants scrambled. One went to a Mexican market a few doors down and bought a sample packet of Benadryl while another carried her to the sink so I could wash her feet. "I didn't use lotion," the attendant said. "It must have been the soap." So we get her feet and ankles washed, and I slather Aveeno on her poor little feet and large, egg-like ankles.

The other attendant returned with a sample packet of Benadryl. My daughter, who has never swallowed a pill before, couldn't get it down. She spit it out after trying unsuccessfully to swallow it. I normally have liquid Benadryl on-hand because of my son's food allergy, but if you'll remember, he was at a monster truck rally with his daddy. So...

I watched her. She was breathing fine. Nothing else was swelling. She didn't want to leave without getting her toenails painted. So I pulled out my camera phone and snapped a few pics of her poor ankles. And we stayed. The swelling was almost completely gone within twenty minutes, and she selected a head band and a stretchy, sparkly bracelet from the little retail kiosks at the front of the salon.

But all the while I wondered if the other mom and I had made the right decision in staying. Either way, I doubt I'll ever return to that salon. I'm not quite sure I feel comfortable paying $60 for two allergic reactions again.

When we left the salon, we went to Walmart, where we bought some more Benadryl and some nail polish. We both decided a home manicure and pedicure would be just as much fun, without all the drama. Plus, I'd get to hold her hand as I painted her nails myself. I can't get much better than that.


  1. I can't believe they actually charged you after your experience! It should have been on the house if they were any kind of business owner.

  2. I know. After calling several times over the next week and trying to hunt down the owner of the spa to let them know what had happened, I was told by an employee that the woman who worked that night and who wrung me up was one of the two co-owners. They eventually gave me a refund, but only after I outright requested one.