By Leah Fletcher
A facial is considered one of the best ways to care for your skin, especially when it is given by an experienced and knowledgeable esthetician. While most women hear the term “facial” bandied about and they have often thought about getting a professional facial, many don’t know where to begin. So…
Just what is a facial? “A facial cleans, exfoliates and nourishes the skin, promoting a clear, well-hydrated complexion, and can help your skin look younger” is the definition offered by Rochelle A. Harris, a licensed esthetician, specializing in skin care, at Salon Allure in Gibbsboro, NJ.
A facial is the most popular spa treatment after a massage, according to Harris, a seven-year industry veteran. “A facial works best when it is part of an on going skin care program,” opined Harris, who advises women to explore the option of having a facial and not being intimidated by the process.
Harris demystifies the process opening the window on the procedure she undertakes.
The basic steps of a facial
• Consultation: A facial should begin with a consultation, explained Harris. “An esthetician might have you fill out a form that has questions about your skin concerns, your diet, how much and what you drink, the drugs and supplements you take and the products you are currently using,” Harris said. “This can affect your skin and what kind of treatments ultimately recommended,” she added.
• Cleansing: After wrapping your hair with a towel or headband, the esthetician begins a facial with a thorough cleaning, using cotton pads, esthetician wipes or sponges.
• Skin analysis: The esthetician examines your skin through a brightly lit magnifying lamp to determine your basic skin type (dry, oily, combination, sensitive or normal) and skin condition (acne, blackheads, whiteheads, aging, sun-damage, dehydration, etc.). The esthetician then chooses the appropriate products and treatments, and offers her/his findings and recommendations.
• Steam: Most facials involve the use of a machine that directs a thin vapor of warm steam to your face. Harris noted that this step is relaxing and helps soften any blackheads and whiteheads to be extracted. If you have very sensitive skin, the esthetician may not use steam.
• Exfoliation: What are called mechanical or chemical exfoliates are used. Mechanical exfoliates have gritty textures that rubs away the surface dead skin cells. This type 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 a facial.
• Extractions: This involves the removal of blackheads or whiteheads if you want it or need it. People have different tolerances for extractions, said Harris. “They can be uncomfortable, especially is the skin is thin or ruddy,” she continued. You should be mindful that extractions can cause broken capillaries and discolorations if done improperly.
• Facial massage: Using classic stokes, like effleurage, the esthetician seeks to relax and stimulate your skin and facial muscles.
• Facial mask: The mask is targeted to your skin type, which may be dry, oily, combination, sensitive, or mature, and condition. During the facial, Harris explains that many estheticians remain in the room and provide, as she does, a scalp massage or some other service. If they leave the room, she advised that you consider another service provider.
Advice on home skin care
Harris recommends that you consider a regimen, as well as products. Some are clients she noted are uncomfortable with product recommendations, but it is part of the job to suggest them. Harris held that clients aren’t obligated to purchase anything and a professional should not pressure clients or make them feel uncomfortable.
Who gives a facial?
A professional facial should be given by a licensed esthetician with special training in skin care. They are sometimes also called aestheticians or facialists. A cosmetologist is legally allowed to give facials, but their primary training is in hair. Harris offers that you want to find an esthetician who is knowledgeable, fastidious, and passionate about her/his craft.
How much does a facial cost?
A facial can start around $50 to $75 in smaller day spas or salons. Prices will be higher at destination spas, resort and hotel spas. Special masks and serums also contribute to higher costs.
How often should I get a facial?
Harris recommends getting a facial every four to six weeks because that’s how long it generally takes for skin to regenerate. Your finances may dictate the frequency of the service. If so she suggests that you try to have facial at least four times a year, as the seasons change. You may need one more frequently if you are trying to clear up a case of acne at the start of the process. In any event, be careful not to overdo it, especially if you have dry skin.