You can cleanse and tone and exfoliate at home. You can apply masks. You can put your face over a steaming bowl of herbed water (be careful if you drape the towel over your head, not to get it attached to the bowl and dump the scalding water into your lap when you get up. It can happen. Trust us.) You can even try doing your own extractions (you really shouldn’t). But no matter what you do, you cannot match the deep cleaning and rejuvenation that your skin will receive during a professional treatment.
What will they do to my face?
It’s not all cucumber slices, steam and cream. We’re not going to lie, there will be some uncomfortable moments, but only very slightly uncomfortable. We’ll get to that.
A professional facial will begin with an assessment of your skin issues. This is the time to ask questions, explain your particular issues, mention any allergies and get comfortable with your esthetician.
Next, comes a thorough cleansing. This often involves a brush or other form of mechanical exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and debris, increase microcirculation and encourage lymph drainage. This process is important because, in addition to getting the canvas of your skin clean, it encourages the cell renewal.
Now, it’s time for the steam and more exfoliation. The steam is more than a pleasantry. It helps to drive the performance ingredients absorb more easily into the skin where they can do their best work. The exfoliating agent in this step is often an enzyme that digests protein, i.e. dead skin cells. The steam also helps soften the skin and loosen any impactions for the next step.
Extractions. This is where we get down to the nitty-gritty. Blackheads. Comedones. Impactions. If you’ve got them, your esthetician is going to get them out. The process is done either by hand or with the use of a tool to pinpoint and remove the offenders. It’s usually just a gentle pressure, but sometimes, there’s a stubborn spot and that’s where things can get a smidge squirmy.
From here on, it’s all bliss. The facial massage, while relaxing, is serving an important function. It’s revving up microcirculation, oxygenating skin, and delivering nutrients to the epidermis. It also has a toning effect on facial muscles, which will leave skin looking firmer.
After the massage, your esthetician will likely apply a serum and mask with nourishing, hydrating and conditioning ingredients to soothe and renew skin.
And finally, a little moisturizer may be on the menu depending on your skin type and your particular treatment.
Why am I blotchy and red?
Because your skin just got worked over by a zealous professional. But in a good way. It’s normal to experience some redness and blotchiness immediately following the procedure, but this will calm down in short order. It’s best to leave your skin alone for the rest of the day. Avoid makeup and other products. This is the one time we will say, you don’t need to wash your face before bed. By morning, you’re good to go back to your normal routine including your favorite foundation.
How often do you need a professional facial?
One a month is ideal. If time or budget is an issue, try to get in at least three to four times a year. In between facials, stick to a consistent, targeted home skin care regimen, which includes a mask at least a couple of times a month and regular exfoliation.