Beauty Tips & Tricks

Skin Care

Why You Need to Get A Facial - And When Not To

31 Jul, 2018
By Daniela Massenz
You’ve just had to take out a personal loan to pay the small fortune your newest beauty regime is costing, when your best friend says: But it’s all worthless unless you have regular facials. What? Is this really true?

Well - yes and no. Facials can help you relax, improve your blood circulation and make your skin look amazing - but only for a while. But they can also be a huge help for certain skin conditions…

The ancient Egyptians and Aztecs were known for using clay masks as a beauty aid, and Cleopatra famously wallowed in baths of asses milk (it was the lactic acid in the milk that kept her skin smooth, don’t you know!).

In the 20th century, though, it became a popular notion (well, since about the 1930s, anyway) within the skin-care profession that a facial once a month is essential. If that thought fills your (and your bank manager’s) heart with dread, now may be the time to take a closer look at facials.

Why Once-A-Month Facials?

It takes about a month for your skin cells to move from the dermis to the surface of your skin, where they slough off naturally – exposing fresher skin underneath, or they may need a helping hand, especially from our thirties onwards.

It therefore seems logical that regular monthly facials will ensure these dead cells are removed effectively. The truth is, though, that most of us are effectively exfoliating our skin at home with exfoliators and cleansers as well as toners and serums containing ingredients like salicylic and glycolic acid, which are readily available over the counter.

So if the only reason is to get rid of dead skin, then the answer to the facial vs no facial question is probably no. But is there more to a facial?

What Is A Facial?

One of the first things that springs to mind is relaxation – that picture of an impossibly serene, beautiful woman with cucumbers over her eyes. Having a facial for relaxation, however, is not really what it’s all about.

Your facial should be about skin care – giving your individual skin the best care possible – as well as stress release. For this reason, it’s vital to choose a qualified and experienced practitioner who can do a thorough and accurate analysis of your skin condition.

It’s not a case on one-size fits all. A standard facial usually includes thorough cleansing, exfoliation, steam, manual extraction of blackheads and whiteheads (if necessary or advisable), a mask to add tons of moisture and help restore your skin’s barrier function, massage and a great moisturiser to - for a while anyway - plump your skin and make those wrinkles seem to disappear. In addition, a facial should help to improve skin tone.

What Are the Skin Benefits?

 
  • Number one is a proper skin analysis. You may be born with a skin type, but its condition may change due to the influence of stress, hormones, sun exposure, illness, etc. So its needs can change fairly regularly. There’s no point spending a fortune on products that are completely wrong (or even harmful) for your skin, so an in-depth skin analysis is hugely beneficial.
 
  • If you have particular concerns such as sensitive or reactive skin, brown spots or acne, then facials can be a very helpful part of the solution, and may, in fact, even be a requirement.
 
  • Your facial gets a big tick if it also includes an antioxidant treatment. Antioxidants have repairing qualities, but also help to prevent damage to your skin.

    Depending on the level of sensitivity of your skin, facials may include an anti-ageing treatment with either AHAs (the active ingredient being glycolic or lactic acid), or BHAs (where the active ingredient is salicylic acid), enzymatic exfoliators or microdermabrasion.

    So a facial that includes gentle exfoliation with any of these will really make a difference to skin tone and make your skin look younger.
 
  • Your skin can easily be damaged by the use of products not suited to your individual concerns, so a skilled consultant will share important information about to continue your skin care at home. You should never leave without a home-care routine, including a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen – very important!

    If your consultant gives you a heavy sales pitch at the end of the treatment each time and only suggests products that she sells, it may be time to move (unless of course that particular range has everything you, as an individual, need).

    Read More. The Best Serums Will Help You Reach Your Dream Skin (Yes, Really)

What Does A Facial Not Do?

A facial is not a miracle. It will definitely (if well done) leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and younger than before, but it is not a miracle cure for things like acne or rosacea.

It cannot permanently fade pigmentation, lift sagging skin or get rid of those awful dark circles under your eyes (no matter how many pieces of cucumber they use).

And don’t let anyone tell you that a facial is a ‘detox’. Your body (i.e., your liver and kidneys) do a very efficient job of removing toxins, including from your skin.

Tip: You may expect the odd breakout after a deep-cleansing facial, so if you’re planning a big night out, mention that to your skin therapist, so you skip the extractions and have a radiance-boosting facial instead.

When Should You Be Worried?

 
  • Skin care is all about healing – not harming. The first alarm bell should ring if your practitioner does not ask what you currently use on your face, as well as whether you’re taking any oral medications. Likewise, if she says: what would you like? It’s her job to know. She can, however, ask what your biggest concerns are currently.
 
  • Over-zealous steaming or aggressive extractions should also make you uneasy. If she suggests that you continue the extraction process at home – that’s also not a good sign. Extractions are definitely best left to the professionals, because permanent scarring can be the result.
 
  • If she uses essential oils, question which they are as they could cause awful irritation.
 
  • If you have sensitive skin, rosacea, dilated capillaries (aka broken veins), the therapist should not use steam or massage in your facial. This can aggravate the situation.
 
  • If your skin can tolerate massage, but the therapist is heavyhanded and it involves a lot of pulling at your skin, it’s time to ask her to stop. Massage should always be very gentle.
 
  • If your skin therapist tells you to come back for a facial again next week – question her motive! Is it necessary? It may be if you have a case of severe acne and the therapist is doing other treatments, such as light therapies to reduce breakouts and eliminate bacteria, inbetween), or is she trying to make more money?

What About Gadgets?

Your aesthetician may suggest microdermabrasion or some sort of peeling device or weird sounding things like negative ion pore-cleaning therapy, LED, lymphatic drainage, acupuncture, diamond file – there are a lot of words (and options) out there.

These devices can be extremely useful, but the foundation beneath it all must be thorough knowledge of skin care and a skilled pair of hands.

Read More. The Best Cosmetic Procedures - How to Improve Your Face and Body Without Surgery

Health Benefits – Are There Any?

The answer is, quite simply, yes.
 
  • The first obvious health benefit is that a facial is relaxation. Arrive full of the stresses of the day, and leave feeling refreshed and relaxed.

    If you routinely experience stress, your skin will take a beating. Stress has also been shown to be a factor in conditions such as acne, dermatitis, rosacea and eczema. A number of international studies have shown that ‘facial massages significantly reduce anxiety and negative moods’.
 
  • Poor blood circulation affects your skin negatively. A facial which includes massage will help to improve blood circulation, making you look more healthy.
 
  • A facial can help your skin to ‘accept’ your skin-care products more easily, making them more effective. A facial can be an effective kick-start – with all the dead skin gone and skin rejuvenated, those expensive products may actually be worth the money!
 

Are There Any Special Reasons to Have A Regular Facial?

There may be, but you won’t know until you’ve asked a trusted professional for advice. It’s a bit like caring for your teeth. While we all brush and floss regularly, a visit to the dentist is also extremely important, because that’s the only way you’ll ever find out what’s really going on.
 
  • Certain skin conditions such as acne and rosacea may benefit from laser treatment, and this is definitely not something you can DIY. There are other treatments (read more here) which are only available in certain skin-care clinics, and these may be hugely helpful, depending on your skin condition.
 
  • One of the most important reasons to have a regular facial is that the facial you had when you were 18 just won’t cut it now that you’ve hit 40. Your skin is in a constant state of change. You’ve probably moved from mild acne to extreme dehydration without any significant change to your beauty regime, except that, for some reason, ‘things don’t seem to work as well as they used to’.
 
  • If you don’t have a skin condition which requires regular facial treatment, skin care specialists recommend you should get a facial at the change of each season as a general rule of thumb. But with all the other health benefits you get, you may choose to have more regular facials - it’s totally up to you.
 
Sadly, if you approach someone at a beauty counter with whatever is troubling you, they may be well informed, but they may just as easily attempt to sell you whatever they learnt about on their most recent training course.

This may even be the case with some beauty practitioners. But if you find someone whose aim is to educate you, you’ve hit the jackpot. You should always leave knowing more than you did when you arrived and, consequently, feeling not only more radiant (thanks to the facial) but also more confident.

Oh – and by the way – there’s no point lying to your beauty therapist about whether or not you smoke or which products you use or how much water you drink. Just as lying to your doctor is always going to be counter-productive, your beauty therapist needs to know the truth about your lifestyle.

Read More. These Powerful Ingredients Are the Secret to A Better Skin

Don’t Forget to Follow Up...

Often women expect to look dramatically different after a facial – after all, it feels as if you’ve had the entire cosmetics counter added to your face.

The reality is that you’ll possibly look worse than you did when you arrived – probably a little red in the face. Once this calms down though, you should notice the difference, with skin definitely smoother and softer. We like this useful feature on what not to do straight after your facial.

If you don’t intend to commit to follow through with a proper daily skin regime, sorry to say, a facial really is a waste of time. Just as you won’t lose weight if you only eat properly once a month, so neglecting your skin on an on-going basis and expecting miracles once a month is a little impossible. Commit to good daily skin habits, and your skin will reward you in years to come.

Read More. Confused About Derma Rolling? Here's Everything You Need to Know
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