A facial is one of the best ways to take care of your skin, especially when it’s given by an experienced, knowledgeableesthetician. A facial cleans, exfoliates and nourishes the skin, promoting a clear, well-hydrated complexion, and can help your skin look younger.
The Basic Steps of a Facial
- A facial should begin with a consultation. The esthetician might have you fill out a form that has questions about your skin concerns, your diet, how much water you drink, drugs and supplements you take, and products you are currently using. This can affect your skin and what kind of treatments she recommends.
- After wrapping your hair with a towel or headband, the esthetician begins a facial with a thorough cleansing, using cotton pads, esthetician wipes or sponges.
- Skin Analysis. The esthetician covers your eyes and looks at your skin through a brightly lit magnifying lamp. He or she is determining your basic skin type (dry, oily, combination, sensitive or normal) and skin conditions (acne, blackheads, whiteheads, aging, sun-damage, dehydration, etc.) The esthetician then chooses the appropriate products and treatments, and consults with you about what he or she sees and recommends.
- Steam. Most facials use a machine that directs a thin vapor of warm steam to your face. This is relaxing and helps softens up any blackheads and whiteheads to be extracted. If you have very sensitive skin, the esthetician may not use steam.
- Exfoliation using a mechanical or chemical exfoliant. Mechanical exfoliants have a gritty texture that rubs away the surface dead skin cells. This type of exfoliation usually happens during the steam. Chemical exfoliation uses enzymes and acids to loosen the bond between skin cells. A gentle enzyme treatment can be done during the steam. Stronger chemical peels, which vary in intensity, can be a stand-alone treatment or part of the facial. It is not generally an “upgrade” and done in a series. It is not done with steam.
- Extractions. This is the removal of blackheads or whiteheads if you want it and need it. People have different pain tolerance for extractions. They can be uncomfortable, especially on thin or ruddy skin. Extractions can cause broken capillaries and discoloration if done improperly. Watch a video of extractions being performed.
- Facial massage using classic strokes like effleurage to both relax you and stimulate your skin and facial muscles.
- Facial mask targeted to your skin type (dry, oily, combination, sensitive, mature) and condition. During the facial, the esthetician should stay in the room and give you a scalp massage or some other service. If they leave the room to let you “relax,” don’t go back.
- Final application of toner, serums, moisturizer and sunscreen if it’s daytime.
- Advice on home skin care. The esthetician will tell you how she thinks you can take better care of your skin and recommend products. Some people feel uncomfortable with this step because it involve product recommendations, but it is part of her job. You aren’t obligated to buy anything, and he or she shouldn’t be too pushy or make you feel bad about your skin.