What is a Facial - Everything You Need to Know About Facials - The Dermatology Review

What is a Facial – Everything You Need to Know About Facials



Beauty treatments and cosmetics have been around for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians bathed in milk to soften the skin and used kohl as eyeliner, while egg whites were used to lighten skin during the Middle Ages. Facials have a shorter history and while it’s impossible to pin their invention on one person, two women credited with pioneering the concept are Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden during the early 1900s. Today there are a staggering variety of facials, from oxygen facials to anti-aging ones and even “vampire” facials. If you’re confused by all the options available, we’ve broken down the various types of facials, their benefits and who they are best suited for.

What is a Facial?

In the most basic terms, the main purpose of a facial is to help clean and purify the skin, and leave it looking better and feeling smoother. A facial can be tailored for specific needs, such as acne or anti-aging.

What Does a Facial Do?

A facial is designed to clean the skin and extract dirt from clogged pores, in order to leave skin looking healthy and glowing. A basic facial usually includes some extraction, which is done with a small tool or by hand and can be mildly uncomfortable. Exfoliation helps get rid of dead skin cells which can clog the pores and make the complexion look dull. This can be done with a textured scrub or a chemical peel containing an alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acid.

One of the most enjoyable parts of a facial is the massage. It helps increase blood flow and leaves skin looking glowing. By the end of a massage, the face should feel soft and look smooth and plumped up.

What Are the Benefits of a Facial?

A facial helps to clean and improve the look of the skin. A facial that includes a hydrating mask and a massage leaves the skin looking temporarily plumped up and smooth. Specific facials, such as one designed for acne prone skin, can help calm and soothe the face and eliminate blackheads.

How Much is a Facial?

Prices for facials vary depending on the type of treatment, length of treatment and any additional services added such as microdermabrasion but a general guideline would be around $100 per treatment.

How Often Should I Get a Facial?

One rule of thumb is that a facial should be done once a month as the skin cycle lasts 28 days. If you have too many facials, it can irritate the skin. Anyone with acne can get more frequent facials, such as every two to three weeks.

Can Facials Help With Anti-Aging?

An anti-aging facial is designed to minimize the look of fine lines and also make the skin look brighter and rejuvenated. This can be done with a chemical peel to exfoliate the skin, a hydrating mask, light therapy as well as microneedling and microdermabrasion. Facial massage also temporarily plumps up the skin, making it look more youthful.

Can Men Get Facials?

Absolutely, and more men are getting facials and pampering themselves – and they can also benefit from extraction and chemical peels to help clean and unclog pores. Men should shave before a facial and if they happen to have a beard or other type of facial hair, the esthetician will just work around it.

What Are Different Types of Facials?

There are dozens of facials available and each type addresses a specific skincare issues. Here’s a breakdown.

Hydrafacial – The HydraFacial used a handheld device that essentially vacuums out impurities from pores while dispensing good-for-you skincare ingredients. Add-ons (or boosters) can be added to target things like brown spots or fine lines.

Vampire facial – Less ominous than it sounds, the vampire facial is also known as the PRP (platelet rich plasma) facial. It involves extracting the client’s blood, and then spinning it. The client undergoes microneedling or microdermabrasion just before the PRP is reinjected into the face.

Oxygen facial – These facials are designed to tackle the signs of aging. It sprays pressurized oxygen right onto the skin to hydrate and calm it. Madonna is credited with popularizing this treatment.

Dermalinfusion Facial – This treatment entails a pen-like tool that exfoliates the skin by sucking out grime while simultaneously delivering serums straight to the skin. Customers can choose from hydrating hyaluronic acid serum or salicylic acid to tackle acne.

IPL Photofacial – The Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Photofacial is a laser treatment that targets skin issues such as brown spots, red spots and sun damage. It essentially works by breaking up pigment, and can be used on the face as well as just about anywhere on the body.

Thread Face Lift – This procedure involves inserting small “cones” into the skin using a large needle to help give the face a temporary lifting and tightening effect. It is less invasive than a traditional face lift.

Gua Sha facial – The Gua Sha facial originates from Asia, and is designed to help sculpt the face and neck. In this treatment, a smooth, credit card sized flat board is scraped along the skin. The concept is that the light pressure helps release muscle tension as well as get rid of lymphatic fluid.

Heyday Facial – Heyday is a mini facial chain available in LA and New York, and the concept is customized facials that can be booked quickly and easily. Thirty, 50 and 75 minute facials are offered, and add -ons include microdermabrasion, peels and beard therapy for men.

Facials for Acne – Anyone with acne prone skin can benefit from a facial, as it will extract blackheads and leave the skin feeling smoother and softer. It is important to keep in mind that one facial cannot “fix” acne, and a facial designed for acne prone skin should be supported by the right at-home products.

Blackhead Extraction Facials – Most facials include some kind of extraction, which means removing the dirt and debris that is clogging pores. The first step is to steam the face to open the pores and loosen the debris, which is then extracted manually or with a special tool.

Laser Facials – There are two basic types of lasers – ablative and non-ablative. An ablative laser facial removes layers of skin while a non-ablative one stimulates collagen production and tightens the skin. Both can be done at a medical spa or at a dermatologist’s office.

Chemical Face Peel – A chemical peel involves using an acid (such as an alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy) to remove a layer of skin. The peels vary in their intensity and how deeply they penetrate, as well as their results. A mild glycolic peel offers a gentle exfoliation while a deep peel, using trichloroacetic acid, can help fade scars and freckles.

Anti-Aging Facial – An anti-aging facial is designed to help temporarily reduce the signs of fine lines, and rejuvenate the skin. This can be done with microdermabrasion, light therapy, massage or chemical peels.

High Frequency Facial – A high frequency facial tool produces argon gas and gives off a mild electrical current which helps kill bacteria and reduce inflammation, making it ideal for acne prone skin. It may also help boost collagen production.

Microneedling Facial – This type of facial involves a controlled injury to the skin to kickstart the healing process. During the procedure, a device covered in tiny needles is rolled over the face. The tiny punctures trigger the body’s repair mode, which can help boost collagen production.

European Facial – Although not a specific term, a European facial tends to mean a classic facial treatment that includes a cleanse, steam and exfoliation followed with a massage and an application of a serum and moisturizer.

Cryotherapy Facial – This facial involves blasting the skin with frigid air to give it a good exfoliation. Cryotherapy may also help stimulate collagen production and the frosty air leaves skin looking glowing.

Do Facials Work?

A facial is certainly a pampering experience – after all, who doesn’t like to be wrapped up in fluffy blankets, close their eyes and relax in a dimly lit room with soothing music? Although facials are a way to treat yourself, the right facial for your skin types can do more than just help you unwind. At its most basic function, a facial is designed to deep clean the face. The massage that comes along with a facial also gives the skin a temporary glow as it boosts blood circulation. Add-ons such as microdermabrasion and a chemical peel can offer a deeper exfoliation than what you can give yourself at home.

But facials are certainly expensive, and not everyone has the time and money to commit to having one done at the recommended once a month interval. It is also important to note that many of the effects of a facial, such as glowing skin, are temporary and due to massage and heavy doses of moisturizer.

A facial can be part of a skincare regimen and supplement it, but it cannot replace the day to day benefits of having a daily skin routine that includes cleansing, sunscreen and moisturizer. If you think of a facial as being the gym for your face, going to the gym once a month doesn’t erase days or weeks of bad eating. It’s the day to day activities that do more in the end.

I Don’t Like Facials. What Are My Other Skincare Options?

Facials aren’t for everyone, perhaps due to the cost and time commitment. Some people don’t like to be touched by strangers, while others may not like subtle pressure to buy products from their esthetician. If you’re not ready or willing to commit to facials, remember that what you do at home every single day to take care of your skin will yield the most results, rather than an occasional treatment.

One brand to consider is Formulyst, whose philosophy is long-term and effective skincare. The brand wants to help its customers achieve their best looking skin, rather than covering it up with makeup. A few products to add to your daily routine include Formulyst’s Pro-Collagen Serum , which contains a highly concentrated mix of peptides and proteins, as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid formulated for aging skin. Apply a few drops of this hydrating serum to help skin look smoother and younger.

The holy grail of a cleanser is one that gives skin a deep clean and whisks away dirt and makeup without leaving it too dry. Formulyst’s AHA Foaming Cleanser is designed to give a skin a gentle but effective cleanse. The formula contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) derived from citrus and botanical extracts. These acids work by dissolving dead skin cells and drawing out impurities from the pores to reveal smooth, refreshed skin.




The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Many of the Formulyst’s products harness the power of plant and citrus extracts as well as gold-standard workhorses such as retinol. Read More

Advanced Dermatology

The Advanced Dermatology skin care regimen addresses the most pressing aging concerns. It can be used by men and women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. This award-winning system can help diminish wrinkle appearance, reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation, fade away redness, even out skin tone and improve the appearance of eye bags and dark circles. Some of the standout products in this line include the Super Youth Serum, Complete Age Defense and Anti-Wrinkle Firming Night Treatment. Read More

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