If a Hollywood actor inhabited the real world, it would cost them in the vicinity of $60,000 to prepare for an awards ceremony. Fortunately for them, they don't – their studios usually pick up the bill for stylists, hairdressers and travel expenses, while dresses and jewellery are invariably on loan from designers.
When you're walking the Red Carpet, however, you cannot afford to have a hair out of place or a furrow on your brow. Being plumped and preened with a flawless complexion is paramount; after all, the eyes of the world are upon you, ever critical, ever bitchy.
No one is watching me, however, and the only carpet I'll sashay tonight is my hotel corridor, but I'm curious to see if West Hollywood's Kinara Skin Care Clinic and Spa can deliver that award-winning glow to a mere mortal such as myself.
Formulated by skin care expert and esthetician Olga Lorencin-Northrup, Kinara's Red Carpet Facial is touted as the "must-have treatment" for Oscar-goers. In fact, Oscar nominees and presenters receive a free day at the spa just before the big event – Lorencin-Northrup's gesture of thanks to an industry that has helped her business thrive.
The list of celebrities who swear by the Red Carpet Facial is a who's who in the Pantheon of Perfection – Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Sophia Vergara and Johnny Depp, for starters.
And then there's me – quite possibly the least glamorous person to grace the hallowed treatment rooms on Robertson Boulevard, with a complexion resembling a cracked vinyl dashboard, thanks to an intercontinental flight, too many late nights and copious amounts of alcohol.
But my therapist Terri is ever-optimistic, patting my face gently as she reassures me I have "pretty skin". "Don't worry, we'll have you Red Carpet ready in no time!" she tells me brightly.
Terri has 50 minutes to work miracles; and as she begins the process of extracting blackheads from my pores, I begin to wonder if beauty is, indeed, pain. But the worst, I fear, is yet to come.
"I'm about to give you an exfoliating peel," Terri whispers in my ear. "It's a combination of lactic and amino-acid, and I warn you, it does burn. Some people say on a scale of 1-10, it's an 11 – but the heat only lasts a few seconds before the neutraliser kicks in. Are you ready?"
I gulp my agreement, visualising hellfire and unsightly third-degree blisters; and as Terri gently applies the gooey mixture, I feel a tingling buzz shoot across my face, subsiding with a whimper under the aloe-based neutraliser.
Phew, no worse than rapid Bandaid removal. Exhale. Now at last the relaxation part of the treatment can begin, as Terri's skilled hands firmly massage my neck and shoulders. I'm so blissed out, I almost forget to probe Terri about the antics of the rich and famous; but like all good therapists, she's a vault, tactfully shutting me down with a vague, "I do have celebrity clients – but they're pretty normal."
The final stage of the treatment is a hydrating Polishing Mask, said to plump and oxygenate the skin with – there's that magic hyphenated word – "anti-ageing" ingredients, including kaolin, sea algae and green tea. This is the part I've been looking forward to – could this be the fountain of eternal youth?
The proof is in the mirror. At the end of the treatment, I am truly shocked to see that the lines etched into my face have indeed diminished; my jowls have lifted, my brow has been unfolded and even my lips seem to have that Kylie Jenner pout.
It's like looking at a Photoshopped version of myself, the effects of wear and tear airbrushed into oblivion.
Now, who am I wearing?
Virgin Australia fly daily from Sydney and Melbourne to LA; see virginaustralia.com
Kinara's signature 50-minute Red Carpet Facial costs $US180 ($239); a take-home kit is also available for $US145 ($192); see olgalorencinskincare.com
The celebrity theme continues at the infamous Sunset Marquis, where rooms range from $US300 ($398) to $US10,000 for the presidential suite; see sunsetmarquis.com
Julie Miller was a guest of Visit West Hollywood.