Illustration by Pablo Lobato
Illustration: Pablo Lobato

There is nothing so humbling as seeing yourself aged by 50 years, and yet that’s how my appointment at Nūr Skincare begins. The new Ravenswood studio analyzes skin with UV photography and imaging technology ($150) to figure out your problem areas. The resulting “facial assessment report” shows where you fall relative to other people your age — I’m great on texture, not so great on brown spots. But the kicker is a feature that takes my 36-year-old mug and ages it 10 years at a time. The idea is to see what I’ll look like at 46, then 56, up to 86 , if I do no skin care treatments. The result is a train wreck from which I can’t look away. It’s me, but with deeper wrinkles and one seriously droopy eyelid. Anisa Noor, the chemical-engineer-turned-aesthetician who owns Nūr, doesn’t dwell on this part, but I keep asking her for one more peek, until I just record it on my phone to indulge my vanity at home.

The real purpose of my skin analysis is to give Noor a sense of how to tailor the studio’s signature 12-Step Hi-Tech Facial ($225, or $1,080 for six) to my skin. The facial — 60 minutes of exfoliation, extraction, microdermabrasion, vitamin infusion, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, LED light therapy, and more — is not your average steam extraction and lotion treatment. Noor is upfront about the burning I may feel and the “downtime” I’ll experience — a nice way of saying that my skin will look worse before it gets better. She thoughtfully answers my litany of questions, which largely concern how red my face will be (not too), how much I will peel (a lot), and how long it will take to fix my aging skin (six treatments is a good start).

Though Noor studied skin care in New York and L.A. (her first Nūr location is there), she’s a Chicago native. She moved back in 2017 with her 5-year-old daughter and her husband, Suhail, an architect who designed the Real World Chicago loft as well as the scene-y, now-shuttered restaurants Tizi Melloul and Mod. He also created Nūr’s serene Chicago space.

Noor says clients here are different from coastal folks — we’re just coming around to multistep facials, for example, while it’s common to see raw faces wandering L.A. If that’s the case, I must be a true Midwesterner. When I leave, my skin is noticeably softer. Two days later, I am like a shedding snake — flakes are falling onto my shirt with abandon — and I’m plenty self-conscious. When I run into my neighbor, I immediately blurt out, “I had a chemical peel!”

A week later, my peeling subsiding, I think my skin might really look more even and youthful. As I swipe one final flake of my face off my shirt, I start thinking about my next visit. Eighty-six-year-old me needs it.