A facial is a multistep treatment, usually performed in a salon or spa, that deep-cleanses, removes dead skin cells and provides intense moisturization. Facials are best performed by licensed estheticians who have received special training in how best to identify skin issues and treat them. Depending on the provider and the complexity of the facial, the procedure can last from about 20 minutes to several hours and cost anywhere from $25 to several hundred dollars.
Basic Steps in a Facial
Evaluation and Consultation
A good facialist will take the time to sit down with you before the procedure to discuss your skin and your daily skin-care routine. Let her know if you're using products that can make the skin fragile, like retinoids (such as Retin-A or Accutane) or if you're being treated for acne. She'll evaluate your skin for sun damage, blemishes and dryness (don't be surprised if she pulls out a magnifying glass!) and recommend a course of treatment best suited to your skin type.
The facial starts with a thorough cleansing, which will remove any makeup you're wearing and prepare your face for exfoliation.
Depending on your skin type, the facialist will use a chemical (acid) or physical (scrub) preparation to remove the top layer of dead skin cells from your face.
If you have blackheads or blemishes, the facialist may perform extraction, which is a fancy name for zit removal. She'll often use a small metal tool to extract the blemishes from your face. Sometimes, your face will be prepared for extraction with a steam bath, which softens the debris in your pores for easier removal.
If your skin is very sensitive, or if you have cystic acne, a good facialist probably won't recommend extraction.
After exfoliation and extraction, a mask appropriate for your skin type will be applied for several minutes or longer. Take this time to close your eyes and soak in the pampering experience!
The facialist will rinse off the mask and apply a moisturizing cream formulated for your skin type. She'll usually massage it into your face to help make your skin more radiant.
Facial Tips and Tricks
- If you are having a facial for the first time, you may experience some redness and irritation after the procedure. This is especially likely if you have never rigorously exfoliated your skin before or if the esthetician has performed several extractions.
- For the above reason, it's never a good idea to get a facial immediately before a big event; rather, give your skin a day or so to rest.
- As with waxing, irritation from a facial usually subsides after a few treatments as your skin becomes adjusted to the procedure.
- A good rule of thumb is to have a facial treatment every four to six weeks, which is roughly the amount of time that the top layer of skin takes to regenerate. But beware of too much of a good thing: If you're going for a facial more often than every four weeks, you can risk damaging your skin.
- If your face is still red and irritated a few days after your treatment, consult your facialist. She may have been too aggressive with your skin or used products that weren't suitable to your skin type.