Facials 101

Have you  had the chance to experience a facial and always wanted to try one, but didn't know what to expect? Let me show you the way to glowing skin!

First let's talk about the general steps of all facials. Where ever you get a facial they are usually all based off the same steps. Certain speciality steps are added to achieve specific results depending on your skin care concerns or the type of facial you sign up for. This may include the use of electronic devices, light therapy or a speciality mask.

General steps of a facial
The first thing your esthetician should do is take a look at your skin and have a consultation with you about your concerns. She should also ask what types of products/makeup you are using on your skin and if you have any allergies or sensitivities. This way the types of products that are used can be tailored to your skin's specific needs. This is the time to spill your guts and we promise we aren't judging you!

1. Cleanse - Two cleanses are performed, the first to remove any excess make up and the second to really cleanse the skin. A Clarisonic Brush may be used
2. Steam - To soften sebum and dead skin cells in the pores
3. Exfoliation - This is to remove dead skin cells. It may be a scrub, microdermabrasion, an acid peel or fruit enzyme
4. Extractions - The process of gently removing blackheads, clogged pores or whiteheads from the skin.
5. Massage - Not only does a neck, shoulder and facial massage feel amazing, it also stimulates blood flow and oxygen to the skin.
6. Mask - A mask specifically for your skin's needs will be applied for 5-15 mins and may be a creamy mask for hydration or a clay mask to detoxify for oily skin.
7. The finish - Serum, moisturizer, eye cream and sunscreen are applied and tailored to your skin.

Do I need a facial and what are the benefits?
I hear this question often and my answer is everyone can benefit from a facial! Even if you feel you don't have issues or have really great skin, we would like keep it that way!  Estheticians see things in the skin that you may not, so we can alleviate issues before they even start or get worse. Plus, maintaining and preventing issues is best. It is much harder to fix things after the damage is already done. Regular facials will give you proper hydration for your skin type, a glowing complexion, fewer breakouts, brighter and smoother skin. They will also help slow the aging process and relieve stress.

Some tips for your facial
1. Remove your makeup. - If you wear makeup it is best to remove it before the facial so your esthetician doesn't have to spend your precious facial time removing layers and layers of pesky mascara or foundation.
2. Not just the face - Most facials include the neck and décolletage (chest area) so its best to remove anything that would be in the way. This includes tank tops, bras and necklaces. Also, many include a hand and arm massage so remove rings and bracelets too. Don't worry, you won't be naked! You will either be tucked under a nice warm blanket or given a terry cloth wrap to wear.
3. Scheduling - If you are making a day of it and going to a spa with amenities such as a steam room, sauna etc. I would highly recommend going at least an hour or two before you appointment time. This way you can spend some time in the steam room or relaxing in a cozy robe having a cup of tea. I don't recommend steaming after a facial because you will just sweat out all the good stuff we just did to your skin, you will then have sweat on your skin and steam can actually be a bit dehydrating. Steam before! And if you plan to have a massage that day too, schedule your massage first and facial second. You don't want lay face down on a massage table smooshing your post facial glow!
4. Medications - You may not think its important to tell your esthetician about medications you are taking, but certain medications very much affect the skin. Hormonal birth control, antihistamines, diabetic and cardiac medications can actually make the skin sensitive or even thinner. Even taking an antibiotic for a short time for cold you had last week can dry out the skin and make also make it sensitive for a short time.
5. Allergies - No, we don't need to know if you are allergic to cats! However, in skin care there can be plenty of fruit extracts, nuts oils, seaweed and even sulfa. So definitely let your esthetician know about allergies. She will know what ingredients are used in the products and avoid using them on you.

Facials are not just about "applying creams"
Lack of sleep, not drinking enough water and poor nutrition can cause puffiness to the face and eye area. The massage portion included in your face will help to drain excess fluid in the sinuses and lymphatic system. Plus, since massage stimulates blood flow it also increases oxygen to the area. Light therapies used on the skin kill bacteria on the skin helping to heal acne faster. And professional exfoliation treatments fade old acne scars, lighten pigmentation, remove clogged pores and even stimulate collagen production.

How often should I get a facial?
The frequency in receiving a facial really depends on your skin type and concerns. If you tend to have pretty balanced skin and not a lot of concerns I would recommend every season. This is great way to alleviate any issues in the skin due to seasonal changes. This means four times a year, every three months. However, if you have acne/clogged pores or specific issues that you trying to treat I would recommend every 4-6 weeks. This way professional exfoliation and extractions can be performed. Dry skin tends to be more dry in the winter and oily skin tends to be more oily in the summer. This means it's important to pay attention to your skin's needs and be more diligent during these seasons.

Will I break out after a facial?
This is the #1 concern I hear from first time facial goers. During a facial your skin will be externally detoxifying. Which means yes, you may break out after a facial. And when I say break out I mean purge. However, this is not always the case with everyone. Any product that increase cell turn over such as alpha hydroxy products, clay masks or even a Clarisonic Brush may make the skin purge. If you are already using these types of products at home your skin is acclimated to such you may not purge at all. If you are new to advanced skin care ingredients and these type of products are introduced during a facial, sure your skin may purge.  I guarantee after the detoxifying phase you will have luminous skin! It is very much a "look worse before better" type of thing. But it will be very much worth it if you put in the time.

Some things to keep in mind with extractions
One of the biggest reasons people love facials is because of the extraction process. The correct way extractions should be performed is only after properly preparing the skin. This is by steaming, exfoliation or a process called disincrustation. (Disincrustation is a process of using a fluid with electric frequency to break down dead skin cells and oil.) Then, extractions can take place. My technique is wrapping my fingers in cotton gauze and gently pressing out debris. Some estheticians use metal extractions tools, personally I am not a fan. I think they can be painful, cause unnecessary redness and can break capillaries. Plus, if the skin is dehydrated the pore will hold on to what is clogging the pore, it simply is not ready and extractions shouldn't be forced. During your facial, you can absolutely request no extractions or even tell your esthetician you prefer no metal tools.

Make your results last
You wouldn't go to the dentist and get a cleaning then only brush your teeth once a week right? So you can't expect your results to last if you sleep with makeup and never moisturize at home. The work must be done between facials! Proper cleansing, moisturizing and wearing of sunscreen is the best way to make your results last and get your money's worth!

Don't forget to Relax!
There are many skin care benefits to receiving a facial, but one of the best is the relaxation aspect of it. I have found that many people have a hard time taking an hour or two for themselves. Proper self care is important for the emotional mind, so schedule yourself in! Please don't feel that you need to talk to your esthetician during your facial. After the initial consultation we have our information to give you the best facial. If you are quiet we know you are trying to relax and if you are chatty, we will be too. It's your time and we understand that. So close your eyes, take a deep breath and let it all out! And if you fall asleep we take it as we did our job right!