December 14, 2022
By:Ariel Wodarcyk | skincare.com by L'Oréal
You may have tried a variety of DIY facial techniques at home, from multi-masking to facial steaming — but if you’re really looking to pamper yourself and give your skin an extra deep clean, a professional facial is the way to go. “An esthetician will be able to provide a much deeper cleanse than you can achieve at home,” says esthetician Shani Darden, founder of Shani Darden Skin Care. “The perfect facial is one that is non-invasive, yet still very effective, leaving you glowing when you walk out of the treatment room.”
To find out about the different types of facials skincare experts offer, the best treatments for your skin type and how often you should get a facial, we spoke to Darden and Erica Marie Gatt, an esthetician and founder of EM Skin. Keep reading for Gatt and Darden’s tips for making the most of your facial experience.
What Is a Facial?
A facial is a professional way to cleanse, exfoliate to get rid of dead skin cells and moisturize. A great facial will start with a skin analysis in which your esthetician will observe your skin and ask questions to find out what your top skin concerns are. “All of my clients get my Signature Facial which is custom tailored to what each client’s skin needs, helping to address multiple concerns such as anti-aging, dry or dull skin, breakouts, etc.,” says Darden. Darden’s facials can involve extractions of clogged pores and breakouts, a peel, an oxygen treatment, vibration therapy, LED light therapy and/or cryotherapy. Some facials also incorporate microdermabrasion.
The Benefits of Getting a Facial
Benefit #1: Facials Remove Dead Skin Cells
“You have to remove your dead skin cells, so new cells can come to the surface and shine!” says Gatt. Dead skin cells can start to build up as a result of a lack of exfoliation and proper cleansing, excessive sun exposure and even with age — because as we get older, our cellular turnover starts to slow down. A buildup of dead skin cells can result in dry and dull-looking skin as well as clogged pores and breakouts. It can also make skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots from UV exposure look more noticeable, adds Gatt.
Benefit #2: Facials Boost Your Skin’s Hydration
According to Gatt, one benefit of getting a facial is that it helps hydrate all skin types (not just those that are dry). A well-hydrated complexion will appear smoother, bouncier and more luminous — plus, it can make wrinkles look less pronounced.
Benefit #3: Facials Help Smooth Texture
Treatments like peels and microdermabrasion exfoliate the skin to leave it looking and feeling smoother and more radiant.
Benefit #4: Facials Help Address Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Treatments like peels and microdermabrasion exfoliate the skin’s surface to leave it looking and feeling smoother and more radiant. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), a chemical peel will leave your skin looking brighter, smoother and more even, with less prominent fine lines and wrinkles.
Benefit #5: Facials Can Help Fight Breakouts and Post-Blemish Marks
If you have oily or acne-prone skin, your facialist may opt to perform extractions on your skin. “A facial extraction is when you clear a clogged pore or comedone from the skin,” Dr. Rita Linker, a board-certified dermatologist, previously told Skincare.com. “Comedone extractors are used with precision to open up congestion in a way that is delicate and leaves no evidence of scarring.” Your facialist may also perform a peel before doing the extractions. Unlike popping a pimple at home, a professional extraction is a clean and exact way to minimize breakouts without causing future irritation or scarring.
If you have post-blemish marks, either from popped pimples or deep-set acne, facial add-ons like peels and microdermabrasion can help fade their appearance, according to the AAD.
Benefit #6: Facials Can Help Fade Dark Spots
If you’re concerned about age spots or sun spots from excessive UV exposure, your facialist may also include a chemical peel or microdermabrasion in your treatment. These treatments can fade dark spots from the sun as well as dark spots left behind by acne, per the AAD.
Benefit #7: Facials Can Make Your Pores Look Smaller
“Clogged pores can cause your pores to look bigger in general due the stretching and dilation of the pores,” says Dr. Lauren Penzi, a board-certified dermatologist. Chemical exfoliation and extractions can help remove the buildup inside your pores, which will make them appear smaller. Dr. Penzi previously told Skincare.com that facial extractions are “a great option if your skin is very clogged and in need of a reset or a jumping point to start fresh from.”
Types of Facials
Oxygen facials may vary based on your facialist and the spa you go to, but most of the time, your facialist will use a machine to spray a highly pressurized form of oxygen directly onto your skin. Your facialist will also apply a hydrating product, such as a hyaluronic acid serum, either at the same time or after they apply the oxygen. “Oxygen treatments are an amazing way to hydrate your skin,” says Gatt. “Your cells need oxygen to stay healthy and nourished, which will give you that nice plump, hydrated glow you want.” In addition to making your skin glow, she notes that oxygen facials can calm redness, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, hydrate the skin and soften skin texture.
In its most basic form, the HydraFacial is a three-step, patented treatment that cleanses, exfoliates and hydrates the skin. It can be personalized with a variety of different products to target different areas of the body, from your scalp to your hands, as well as different skin concerns. Based on the serums your facialist applies during the treatment, the HydraFacial can be used to hydrate and plump dry skin, make fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable, decongest pores, fade redness and dark spots and even out the skin. Plus, treatments like the HydraFacial Perk Lip and Perk Eye can exfoliate the lips for a full, pouty look and de-puff and brighten the under-eye area. Our editor shared her experience with the HydraFacial here.
Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive treatment that uses a handheld tool, which Gatt describes as “a little vacuum for the face,” to remove dead skin cells. Microdermabrasion “softens fine lines and wrinkles, fades pigmentation, helps prevent acne and scarring, minimizes pore size [and] smooths and improves texture of skin,” she says.
A chemical peel is a form of exfoliation that dissolves dead skin cells and can cause your skin to literally peel, revealing a fresh layer of skin underneath. “After a peel you immediately feel like your skin is breathing again,” Dr. Michael Kaminer, a board-certified dermatologist, previously told Skincare.com. “We tend to forget how much buildup accumulates on the skin's surface day by day, through environmental pollution, products, makeup contouring and just natural oils sitting on our skin. The biggest benefit, above all, is the brightening benefit.”
Despite its benefits, a peel can also lead to flaking and irritation, which is why it’s important to book your facial with a licensed esthetician and to follow the aftercare instructions your pro gives you once you leave your appointment.
How Often Should You Get a Facial?
Darden suggests getting a facial every four to six weeks, depending on your skin concerns. Those with acne-prone or congested skin may find that more frequent facials are beneficial. “If you have skin concerns or goals like acne, extreme dryness, lifting, tightening, etc., you should get a facial once a week, to every other week,” Gatt adds.
In between facials, it’s key to maintain a skincare routine that’s tailored to your skin’s needs. Your basic skincare routine should always include a cleanser, moisturizer and an SPF of at least 30. Once you’ve got the essentials down, you can start incorporating more products targeted to specific skin concerns — such as a hyaluronic acid serum for hydration, a vitamin C serum for fighting free radicals and evening out the skin or a retinol for targeting breakouts and signs of aging.
What Kind of Facial Is Best for Your Skin Type?
Ahead, we asked the pros what types of facials are best for different skin types. However, during your initial consultation, your facialist will ask you about your skincare concerns, skin history and skin type. Your answers will help your facialist determine the best treatment lineup for you.
“For a client with dry skin, I would focus on deeply hydrating treatments along with a light peel that allows for product penetration,” says Darden. A peel will help smooth skin texture and clear dead skin cells, which will give skin a more radiant appearance. Plus, as Darden mentioned, it will help the products you layer on top absorb better into your skin.
Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
When working with clients with oily and acne-prone skin, Darden says she typically uses a salicylic acid peel and focuses on extractions to unclog pores and lessen breakouts.
“For sensitive skin types, if their skin can tolerate it, I usually will do a quick, light lactic acid peel,” says Darden. She calls this method a “flash peel,” in which she only leaves it on the skin for a short amount of time. This helps to dissolve dead cells on the surface of the skin without irritating sensitive skin types, she explains.
How Much Does a Facial Cost?
The cost of your facial will vary based on the type of facial you book, the area you live in, the establishment you visit and the experience level of your facialist. Some salons offer facials for as low as $30 — but when that’s the case, expect a very no-frills treatment. Most professional facials with more comprehensive treatments and high-quality products will range anywhere from $90 to $250.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn