Facials: The Right Way to Get Them
You hear about people going to "get a facial" and it sounds so luxurious and relaxing! Perhaps you've even gotten one yourself. With so many product choices, service options and spa facilities out there, how do you choose the right one for your skin? What should you know going in?
Facials aren't just a modern day trend. Ancient Greeks and Romans practiced pampering bathing rituals for centuries and the Chinese utilized herbal remedies. According to Dr. Quentin Chen, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) facial rejuvenation treatment dated back as early as 2,500 years ago. Among their favorites: rosehip oil, sulfur, and ginkgo, which are great ingredients for effective skin care. Throughout the years, these different civilizations' practices have merged to give us the inspiration for many of our modern facial techniques.
What Exactly Is a Facial?
Facials come in a wide variety of options typically available through a beauty salon or spa, and can be used as part of a comprehensive beauty regimen or treatment in combatting a specific problem or skin condition such as adult acne or rosacea. Facials may utilize one or more of a number of modalities including massage, lotions or creams, masks, exfoliation, peels, and extraction.
Where Do I Start?
Typically, an aesthetician will work out of a dermatology office, skincare studio or spa. Word-of-mouth referrals are a great place to start if you're starting from scratch. You can also check google reviews and yelp listings if you're new to your area.
Check your calendar! You'll want to schedule your treatment a few days prior to any special events- not the day of! Your face may be blotchy and red and you'll probably be leaving the spa looking a little disheveled. You'll want an appointment later on in the day, especially if you'll be getting a deep cleansing or acne treatment. Ideally, you shouldn't be out worshipping the sun the week prior to your procedure. Sun can dehydrate your skin and make it more sensitive. After a long day soaking up the rays, your skin can be more reactive to active ingredients found in acne-clearing or anti-aging treatments.
You should also avoid waxing or shaving the day before and the day after. Before can lead to discomfort in the form of tingling or stinging and after can cause a breakout or tearing of the skin.
In order to decide which facial treatment is right for you, you first need to assess what you're looking to accomplish. Do you have dry skin? Acne? Rosacea? Are you looking for a little lift? What bothers you about your skin? Your aesthetician should consult with you about what products you use at home and what allergies you may have. They'll also want to know about any medications you take. Many can commonly affect how your skin will react to a facial, making it extra sensitive. They'll use this information to help you choose the best modalities for you.
You'll also be put under close scrutiny. Your face will be examined under magnification to determine your true skin type and look for any abnormalities or areas of concern. Proper lighting is a MUST for a thorough dermatological skin examination. Soft lighting may take you to your happy place, but your aesthetician can't do a proper, thorough job in dim lighting. Before scheduling your appointment, it's a good idea to ask to see the treatment rooms to scope for good lighting sources.
Some Key Elements to a Complete Facial
It's not just about the products. Every facial follows a series of steps called a protocol. This usually starts with a meticulous cleansing that will remove any makeup, oil, and dirt that have collected through the day. What follows will be customized for you based on the type of facial you've selected, or what your aesthetician believes will best treat your skin condition. Most facials will also include a massage, extraction, and at least one form of a facial mask.
The relaxing massage you receive is designed to help stimulate the lymph system and drain toxins. Since this system can become overloaded from poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and an inefficient skin care regimen, the massage is the cornerstone of an effective facial. A good, methodical massage can actually make a difference in the efficacy of the products that are used through the procedure.
Extraction (Ew! Zit-popping!) is one of the best parts of having a facial. However, if any small trace of the compactions (aka: pimples) are left behind, they can become irritated and flare back up again. A thorough steaming element prior to the extraction procedure is essential to opening up pores to prepare them. When your aesthetician is finished with this procedure, a good antibacterial element will help to kill any bacteria left behind.
A facial mask will usually be applied. Your aesthetician will choose one for you based on your skin type. If your skin is oily, she may choose something designed to draw out excessive sebum like a clay-based mask. If your skin is dry and dehydrated, she'll choose one designed to replace moisture.
A facial won't magically change your life and wow you with revolutionary results overnight. Just as regular trips to the gym will benefit your body far better than the occasional workout, your face will respond best with regular care. It's usually recommended to see your aesthetician every four to six weeks, unless otherwise advised.
You also need to do your homework by practicing proper skin care habits at home. Drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet, and utilizing good quality products designed for your skin type can really go a long way. Make sure that you follow recommendations for the best skin care products and the most thorough home skin care regimen between your facial appointments.