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So, you’ve decided to treat yourself and book a professional facial. Good for you—you deserve it! After all, no matter how diligent you are with your regular skin care routine, a professional treatment might be just what you need to kick things into the next gear. Whether you’re looking to improve dry skin, skin texture, or dark spots, a good facial can help. But how do you go about choosing what type of facial treatment is best for you? From peels to lasers to microneedling to cryofacials, there are certainly plenty of options to choose from. However, when it comes to the standard multi-step facial treatment, there are generally a few things you can always expect, from the initial consultation to exfoliation and a face mask. Read on to learn more about what you can expect when getting a facial, plus our best tips on what to discuss with your aesthetician before the treatment.
While there are lots of facial trends that come and go, generally, a professional facial treatment involves a few standard skin care steps. According to the National Institute for Biotechnology Information, those steps are as follows: cleansing, steaming, exfoliation, extractions, mask, massage, and facial moisturizer. Basically, a facial is a one-stop-shop for bettering your complexion—whatever that may mean for you.
When booking a facial appointment, it’s important to first consult with your chosen aesthetician and discuss your skin type and skin care concerns, as well as what you want he or she to address during your treatment. For example, do you want your aesthetician to focus on improving acne, such as extracting blackheads? Or, do you want them to use products and techniques that promote anti-aging? Whatever you decide, a good aesthetician will be able to go over everything with you before beginning the treatment and recommend any steps or treatment options you may have missed. This is why it’s always important to do your own research by reading online reviews and researching the aesthetician’s training before choosing where to book your appointment. Besides, most facials are not cheap, so doing your research and going in prepared will also help you get the most bang for your buck.
Again, a good aesthetician will tailor your facial treatment to your individual skin care concerns and needs, but in general, a standard multi-step facial will include the following steps.
As we mentioned before, before they begin, your aesthetician should speak with you briefly about what you’re looking to get out of your treatment. Do you have acne scars you’re hoping to clear up? Are fine lines and wrinkles your biggest skin concern? Maybe you’re just looking to clean the slate as part of welcoming a new season. Whatever your reason for booking a facial treatment, the professional performing it should go over everything with you before they begin. During the initial consultation, be sure to tell your aesthetician about any skin issues you have, such as overly sensitive skin, as well as any prescription skin care products you regularly use, like a retinoid cream, as these things can affect what he or she may choose to include in your treatment.
Of course, the first step in just about any skin care routine, including a professional facial, is cleansing the skin. If you can help it, don’t show up to your facial appointment wearing any makeup. But makeup or not, your aesthetician will still begin the treatment by cleansing your complexion to start things off with a clean canvas.
Any good facial treatment will almost always involve exfoliation of some sort. Exfoliation will help shed dead skin cells and allow skin care products to be better absorbed later on in the treatment. Depending on the treatment you’ve chosen and what you’ve discussed beforehand with your aesthetician, exfoliation could mean a face scrub, use of a washcloth, or a chemical exfoliant.
Editor’s note: Don’t forget to regularly exfoliate at home, either! Use a gentle face scrub, like the L'Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Smooth & Glow Grapeseed Scrub or the L'Oréal Paris Pure-Sugar Purify & Unclog Kiwi Scrub, three times a week.
This is probably the only part of the facial that will actually hurt. Extractions, according to the AAD, involve using sterile instruments to get rid of blackheads and whiteheads. Again, depending on your skin and treatment type, extractions may not be included in your facial at all. If they are, though, you can expect some redness and discomfort after the facial is over—this is normal and can be expected to fade. One important thing to note: Extractions are a skin treatment that should only be done by a professional, so don’t try to replicate this part of your facial at home!
Next, your aesthetician will typically apply a customized face mask—maybe a peel-off mask, a clay mask, or even a hydrating serum treatment.
Finally, almost all facial treatments will end with a moisturizer that is massaged over the skin. A gentle facial massage feels good and provides skin benefits, which according to the NCBI, include keeping skin supple and offering a feeling of rejuvenation.
Don’t have the time or the funds for a professional facial? Here are 7 Steps for a DIY Facial.