Pre-procedure prep for facials: One of the benefits of a facial is that the procedure can be tailored to fit your skin's needs, so take the time to determine whether your skin is oily or dry, whether you plan(or need) to have pore extraction, and whether you have any known allergies to the ingredients in the products being used. If you're pregnant, there may be certain chemicals that are unsafe - like salicylic acid and beta-hydroxy peels.
What To Expect
Facials last between 15 minutes and two hours. The goal of a facial is to remove dirt, oil, and dead skin cells that cause dull, oily, and uneven skin.
Basic facials can be completed at home - just slather on a store-bought mud mask and place cucumber slices over your eyes. But professional facials, which are administered in a spa setting by a licensed aesthetician, are better for treating specific skin concerns, like a greasy forehead or a blackhead-prone "T" zone.
During a professional facial, you'll be seated comfortably in a reclining chair or laying on padded surface much like a massage table. Long or full hair should be pulled back.
Facials typically involve exfoliation, extraction, a facial mask, and nutrient-rich oils, creams, gels, and serums. Besides filling the air with a pleasant odor, these topical creams contain ingredients like vitamin C and kojic acid to boost antioxidants and collagen growth. The fare may also include a light chemical peel, using a mild AHA peeling agent like glycolic acid or fruit acid, to slough away a superficial layer of skin. Less conventional (but nevertheless available) facials may boast herbal seaweed or mild electrical currents.
If you have moderate acne or overactive oil glands, you may be better off speaking with a cosmetic dermatologist who offers medical facials. This is slightly more aggressive and may involve a mild to moderate chemical peel or microdermabrasion.
Exfoliation is an essential part of all facials. Exfoliation is a process whereby old skin cells (the ones that cause your skin to appear dry and dull) are removed.
First, your pores are opened up using a steam machine that delivers a steady stream of warm air onto your skin. Another way your pores may be opened up is by placing warm towels directly on your face.
Your aesthetician can then chemically or mechanically exfoliate the surface of your skin. Chemical exfoliation uses a topical facial scrub containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or fruit acid - the same ingredients used in a light chemical peel. When chemical exfoliants are used in low concentrations, they can help ease away dead skin cells. In mechanical exfoliation, skin is scrubbed, physically stripping dead cells from the surface.
Extraction is a technique in which oil and dirt that cause blackheads and whiteheads is manually withdrawn from your pores. Extraction can be completed with the use of a thin metal device about the size of a tweezer called an extractor. The extractor forces trapped oils to rise to the surface of your skin, where they can be wiped away. Extraction can also be accomplished using a vacuum-like device that suctions unwanted dirt and oils from pores. Extraction feels a lot like your skin is being pinched. Extraction is optional, uncomfortable and only useful if you have acne or very oily skin. If you have sensitive skin, extraction can cause broken capillaries.
Facial masks are topical creams that are applied onto skin that has been thoroughly cleansed. A facial mask can be made from minerals, vitamins, and fruit extracts. They are typically left on the face for 10 to 20 minutes.
Oily skin is best treated with facial masks derived from mud or clay, which help to absorb unwanted oils and may shrink enlarged pores.
Dry skin is better treated with facial masks made from aloe vera, glycerin, or honey oil. Glycerin is water-soluble and moistens the skin. These gel-based facial masks can also contain glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and fruit-derived acid, all of which are gentle peeling agents that help to remove the top layer of skin cells.