Giving someone a facial is one of the more intimate jobs out there: leaning over someone else’s face, treating it, massaging it.
“To be totally honest, a lot’s going to have to happen for me to feel comfortable giving facials in person,” says Hawaii-based facialist Nicole Burke Stephenson. “I’m questioning whether or not I’ll ever use a steamer again because it blows people’s breath into my face.”
Like many people whose jobs involve personal interaction — jobs you can’t simply move to the Internet — Stephenson had to get creative to keep making money while social distancing in a pandemic. She began offering video classes, teaching a face massage technique that comes from Chinese medicine, called gua sha.
Smiling over FaceTime or Zoom, she shows how to glide a special flat, curvy jade stone over the face and neck, using oils people might buy from her website.
Stephenson is not making a lot of money — “not much more than zero,” she says with a laugh — charging a lot less than her normal price for the luxurious treatment of a facial. But she feels like she’s helping people self-care, a hot commodity during the homebound pandemic life. In fact, she says she might keep the video-class offering permanently.
“I don’t feel like it’s taking my job away from myself [long-term],” Stephenson says. “There’s still going to be a deeper level of cleansing that happens in a facial. And just the experience of human touch from one to another — I live alone, so I can definitely say it’s irreplaceable.”