In the world of Chinese superstition — that of astrology and zodiac signs — there’s also face reading, an ancient practice built on the belief that a person’s present and future is directly reflected in his face. It is widely performed in Hong Kong, where many of these fortune tellers hold court in temporary street stalls in the city’s dingier neighborhoods. It’s not the kind of service you’d expect to find in the glossy confines of Asia’s top spas and beauty shops. Until now.
In early March, the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong brought face reader Eric Standop — from Germany, not from Hong Kong’s Temple Street — to read people’s fortunes for a week. The price: 1,500 Hong Kong dollars (about US$190). “The spa and wellness world has often found exotic cultures alluring and a treasure trove for new ideas,” says Cathy Chon, founder of life and style consultancy CatchOn in Hong Kong. There was a time, she adds, when Chinese medicine treatments such as acupuncture and cupping were viewed by many as hokey. These days, such services are common in spas, and celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow are fans. Other spas around the region are touting some version of face-reading treatments. Come summer, the Karma Kandara resort spa in Bali will welcome Japan-born face reader Fumi Yamamoto. And at the day spa Browhaus in Shanghai, eyebrow specialists will shape your brows according to face-reading traits that traditionally represent good relationships and smooth career paths.
But in the spa translation of face reading, specialists also provide remedies to improve your face, and ostensibly your fortune. For instance, Ms. Yamamoto claims she can make your face look decades younger in a single treatment that goes for US$200, by performing a series of light tapping with her fingertips – “like acupuncture without the needles,” she says. It sounds like hocus-pocus, but faithful client Sarah Kate Tammer, a make-up artist, says that post-treatment, she found “more contour on the cheekbones, eyes lifted, the texture of the skin is finer, no more dark circles or saggy jaws.”