It was sometime after the first rum cocktail, but definitely before the first bourbon, that I knew my morning was going to be unpleasant.
So unpleasant, in fact, that two Advil and a greasy breakfast weren’t going to get the job done. I was going to need some expert help.
Which is why I found myself reclining on a salvaged vinyl barber’s chair at Freeman’s Sporting Club in San Francisco, where the buzzing of hair clippers and the slightly wobbly vintage fan overhead weren’t doing my damaged equilibrium any favors. But as my barber Rebecca swaddled my face with a warm towel and a cool jet of eucalyptus shot up my nose into my frontal lobes, I began to understand the genius of the F.S.C. Barber Hangover Treatment.
The key, Rebecca explained, replacing the warm towel with a cool one before massaging the pressure points on the back of my head, is circulation. The principle of alternating heat and cold to fortify the body and immune system is a classic folk remedy in the colder climes of Northern Europe, shocking the system into peak performance. At F.S.C. it’s a decidedly more mellow approach than a vodka-fortified sprint from sauna to icy pond and back. Here, they alternate applications of warm and cool towels infused with eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oils to the face and chest. This brings blood to the skin, and leaches toxins, opening up the pores and reduce swelling. These towels (they use enough of ‘em that at least $5 of the $25 hangover treatment price tag must be dedicated to the laundry bill), along with some strategic acupressure of the head and shoulders, work to stimulate the blood flow.
In Rebecca’s Swiss accent it seemed scientific enough, even before she dropped the name of Dr. Kneipp (Doctor! Science!), a Bavarian monk who built a homeopathic health movement around the idea after apparently curing himself of tuberculosis with a few dips in the freezing Danube.
I’ve read enough 19th century literature to know that literally everyone died of consumption in those days, so I can’t vouch for the veracity of that story, but Dr. Kneipp was clearly on to something. Rebecca waved each one above me like a matador’s cape, letting the eucalyptus and lavender oils open my sinuses before pulling each towel around my face. The antiseptic tea tree oil made my skin tingle slightly.
By the time Rebecca applied a (MALIN+GOETZ) Detox Facemask and began rubbing down my hands and arms with practiced force, I was…well, I was actually enjoying this hangover. Another pair of towels—hot and cold, of course—and a layer of Vitamin E cream later and I was out the door, swearing to a life of temperance and clean living from here on out.
But just in case, it’s nice to know Rebecca starts at 10AM on weekends.