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Rejuvenating your face at a snail's pace

THERE was a time when having a facial was simple. The beautician did a quick cleanse of your chops, slapped on a face mask, placed a bit of gauze over your face, turned down the lights, turned up the dippy music and let you relax for 20 minutes.

It was a straightforward exercise — so straightforward the four of us had them done regularly.

Then, as our economy went into overdrive, so too did facials. It was no longer enough to slap on the face mask. Now you had to be ‘revitalised’, ‘rejuvenated’ and ‘detoxified’. Of course, once you started using fancy names you had to charge fancy prices. In the end Josie, Patsy and I started buying our own face masks for less than a fiver. Not so Maggie.

“At our age we need to be looked after by a professional,” she said back then. “If not, you will end up with more wrinkles than a crow's foot and a face like a pot-bellied pig's backside.”

Fast forward to 2010 — economy in tatters and the days of Maggie forking out €80 for an Age Intervention Multivitamin Rejuvenating Power Facial (or whatever they are called) are well and truly gone. Of course, if you are as desperate as she is, there are ways and means.

“Snail’s cream,” she announced, slapping a jar on the table and sitting back waiting for us to admire her business acumen.

We waited for an explanation. “I can't afford a snail gel facial so this is the next best thing,” she explained. “You can actually get a snail gel facial?” asked Josie, taken aback.

“Yeah, I read somewhere that you can but they cost like zillions to have done because they use the secretions of Chilean snails, which are very expensive.”

“That's because it's such a long way for snails to travel just to give you a facial,” Josie said. “You're right and anyway you know how I feel about cruelty to animals,” she replied. We didn't and still don't.

Curiosity got the better of us and we looked in the jar. It was what you would expect snail secretions to look like, gooey and disgusting.

“You have just forked out good money for a jar of snail slime when you could have just gone out to the garden and scraped some off your patio for free,” I said.

Not for the first time she gave me the middle finger . . .