What are the Best Facials for My Skin Type?
Facials are an easy way to boost your regular routine and support the look of healthy, glowing skin. To define it for you, facials are a series of steps — typically performed by a licensed esthetician and far beyond daily face wash — that intensely cleanse, exfoliate, nourish, hydrate, and moisturize your skin. How often should you get facials? That depends on several factors including your budget, schedule, and specific skin concerns. We’ll drill down into the details below, but know that whether you schedule an appointment at the fanciest spa or pamper yourself right at home, the fundamentals for facials never change. Read on for expert advice about how frequently you should get facials, how to get the most out of your facials, and how the right tools and products can help you create the luxury of a professional facial right at home — for a fraction of the cost.
Do I Really Need a Facial if I Already Have a Skin Care Routine?
Absolutely everyone can benefit from a facial. According to physician assistant Lindsey Harders, not only can everyone benefit from facials, everyone needs facials. “There isn’t one person in the world who has the perfect skin and has the ability to maintain it through the decades without routine facials. Either you need to correct your skin imperfections now or work to maintain your skin.” Dermatologist Dr. Cheryl Rosen agrees: “Everyone needs a facial! Facial treatments are a necessary part of a good skincare regimen. They remove dead skin cells, dirt and sebum from the pores, and help to improve circulation which results in brighter, healthier looking skin. Plus, facials are a great way to relax and de-stress.”
Everyday washing and moisturizing is the best thing for your skin. Facials don’t replace that, they add to it. Think of facials as a deep clean or elevated moisturizing treatment. They are not for every day, but routine facials can help delay the visible signs of aging, keep skin feeling supple and soft, and combat many skin concerns. Not to mention, facials are soothing! Take the time to relax and slow down, and you’ll get the added benefit of feeling less stressed — that alone will show on your skin. Long story, short: if your everyday routine is a regular wash, a facial is like a power wash.
How Often Should I Get Facials?
“I recommend [if you] want glowing, vibrant skin, have a facial every 4 to 6 weeks,” says dermatologist Cynthia Bailey. “The reason I recommend a facial every 4 to 6 weeks is that the dead skin cell layer, called the stratum corneum, and the living layer underneath it, called the epidermis, take a full 4 weeks to entirely regenerate. Sebaceous filaments in pores (retained debris in pores) take about 30 days to return after extractions and deep pore cleansing. By 6 weeks, the benefits of the previous facial are worn off and it’s time to deep clean and treat the skin again if you want your skin to look its best.” Licensed esthetician Vicky Larsen agrees: “If the goal is skin health, then once a month is ideal, but if budget is a factor, I often suggest getting a facial when the seasons change so you can re-adjust your skincare if needed. If you are targeting more specific reasons such as skin hyperpigmentation or toning, then a series may be in order before maintenance can be established.” The consensus among dermatologists, estheticians, and other skin care professionals is that once a month is a good rule of thumb. The exception is if you have a specific skin concern — hyperpigmentation, acne, dark spot, scars, etc. — that could benefit from a more targeted and aggressive treatment. If you think you need a specialized treatment for your particular skin concern, read on to see some of your options:
What Are Different Kinds of Facials?
“There are many types of facials, from lymph drainage to deep cleaning to resurfacing,” says Vicky Larsen. Plenty of facial treatments offer specific benefits based on your skin concern. However, it’s important to know the ones listed below should only be performed by licensed professionals — and make sure you consult your dermatologist before trying any of them.
- Microdermabrasion Facials: A machine buffs the top layer of skin, helping exfoliate and resurface skin cells. This is helpful if you have dull skin or are hoping to help reduce the appearance of brown spots or pigmentation.
- LED Facials: This treatment uses LED light therapy to visibly soothe red, irritated skin and to help lessen the appearance of breakouts.
- Brightening Facials: These rely on a combination of chemical peels and acid treatments to help break down dead skin cells and support cell turnover, helping reveal more vibrant-looking skin.
There also are all kinds of trendy facials that come and go. Some more shocking than the last:
- Vampire Facial: It is called a vampire facial because it draws blood. That’s right, they take blood from your veins and inject it back into your face! Your platelets are separated and injected like a filler, while the rest of your blood is rubbed into your skin after a microneedling treatment. This is a severe facial that should only be done under the care and consideration of a doctor. If they offer to draw your blood at your neighborhood salon, run.
- Laser Facial: This is another treatment that should only be done by a licensed dermatologist, though many salons are starting to offer the service. These lasers burn off the thin outer layer of skin and as it heals, the skin is said to come back smoother and tighter. However, it can cause injury and potentially leave scars and permanent damage on your skin if not done correctly.
- Bee Venom Facial: Providers of this facial claim that bee venom ‘gently’ stings the skin and stimulates blood flow. It is said to noticeably reduce the depth of wrinkles, but that could just be because their skin is swollen from the bee venom. Obviously, if you have a bee sting allergy, this is a trendy facial to avoid.
There are always going to be new ideas and different ways to incorporate technology into a facial, but the fundamentals never change. And the fundamentals, you can do at home!
How Can I Give Myself Facials at Home?
All the best facials (at-home or with the pros) start with the same step: cleanse. But not just your face! When you go to a spa, everything is pristine and sterilized — so follow suit at home. Cleanse your hands, towels, washcloths, brushes, and any tools you want to use. Once everything is clean, follow the steps below:
Start with an oil-based cleanser to remove any makeup, sunscreen, residue, and grime. Gently massage your face while washing. Not only does this set the mood, it helps loosen up anything sitting on your skin or in your pores and encourages drainage. Follow up with a foam or gel cleanser to clean deep into your pores without stripping your skin. If you don’t have two different cleansers, don’t worry! Wash your face twice with the same cleanser. Be gentle. This at-home facial should be a soothing experience.
Steam helps “open” your pores and allows the products to sink deeper into your skin for maximum benefits. Fill a bowl with hot water, hold your face at least a foot above the water, and place a towel over your head to trap the steam. Feel free to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. (I personally like eucalyptus because it makes you feel like you’re in your own personal spa.) Be careful, steam burns are no joke! Make sure the water isn’t too hot, and take a break from under the towel when you need to.
Now that you’ve cleansed and steamed, your pores are softened and your skin is incredibly sensitive. Scrubs are way too harsh and can create micro-tears on your skin. A chemical exfoliant is best. It will help gently slough off dead skin cells without leaving any tears on your delicate skin.
You cleansed your skin, now it’s time to treat it. Grab your favorite face mask and apply a thin, even layer — if you want the full spa experience, apply with a silicone spatula instead of your fingers. Leave the mask on your skin for up to 20 minutes, and then gently remove with a warm washcloth. Or if you’d like to skip the mess, but keep the benefits, try a bio-cellulose sheet mask. After 20 minutes, remove the sheet and rub any remaining serum into your skin.
The most important part of a facial is this final step. You have just cleansed your face, “opened” your pores, and removed all oil and buildup. Now you need to replenish your skin’s moisture barrier. Apply a serum to your clean face. Serums are packed with nutrients your skin will be craving right about now. Let that fully absorb into your skin and follow up with an oil. The oil will hydrate deep into the skin’s layers. While it absorbs, pay special attention to your eyes and gently dab on some eye cream. Finally, apply moisturizer, to lock in all that hydration.
Can Too Many Facials Damage My Skin?
A facial does not need to include any damaging or dangerous treatments to be effective. In fact, most don’t. But some salon facials include strong chemical peels, extractions, and other intimidating steps listed above. If you are interested in those, go to a licensed esthetician or dermatologist. Those are extreme treatments that should not be done more than once a month and definitely should not be done at home.
Make Facials Your Monthly Goal
It may sound like a lot, but facials do not have to be a huge time commitment at a pricey spa. Esthetician Vicky Larsen wants to remind you: “most skin goals can be achieved at home.” Everyone deserves good skin. You have the power to pamper yourself! Share this blog with an “accountability buddy.” Can you both commit to monthly facials together? Before long, your skin will look younger, brighter, and glowier — all thanks to regular facials.