What to Expect During Your First Facial
Gearing up for your first facial? It’s normal to feel a bit nervous. Even though a facial may seem daunting, the process doesn’t have to be! We spoke with board certified dermatologists, and Skincare.com consultants, for a few facial basics—plus, what a facial first-timer can expect at his/her appointment.
For many beauty aficionados, the time will eventually come for their very first facial. Exciting, right? Well, yes but you’d be surprised how many people are terrified of taking the plunge. We get it: All “firsts” come with the fear of the unknown, but with the right information in tow, you can calm your nerves, sit back and truly enjoy the experience. After all, facials are a time-honored beauty ritual that can offer a slew of skin benefits including a hydrated, brighter-looking complexion. What’s so scary about that?
To get you started, and hopefully make you feel more confident walking into your first facial, we asked two skincare professionals to share everything you need to know. Ahead, board-certified dermatologists and Skincare.com consultants, Dr. Michael Kaminer and Dr. Dendy Engelman, dish on a few facial treatments, how to prepare for your facial appointment, and what you can expect both during and afterward.
WHAT’S THE POINT OF A FACIAL, ANYWAY?
We all have that one lucky friend who, having never had a facial in her life, has flawless-looking skin. And while facials are not a mandatory skin care ritual for everyone, they can certainly help improve the look and feel of your skin, especially if it’s congested. “The typical facial is designed to exfoliate, hydrate, and in some cases open blocked pores,” Dr. Kaminer says.
Most facials typically start with thorough cleansing and steaming, and end with extractions performed by a licensed professional. There are additional facial procedures out there that go beyond the routine cleansing, steaming, and extractions. These include chemical peels, laser facials, light facials, and more. If this is your first facial rodeo, we recommend sticking to the basics to see how your skin reacts. That said, “if you want some extra therapy for skin improvement, then things like peels or lasers can be done,” Dr. Kaminer says. Talk to your dermatologist or esthetician about what service is right for you and your skin.
WHAT IS A CHEMICAL PEEL?
So, you want to take the plunge beyond a routine facial and give a chemical peel a try. Once you get the green light from your dermatologist or esthetician, you’re ready to get started. If you’re feeling apprehensive, that’s normal. After all, just the words “chemical peel” sound intense. But you’d be happy to discover that the process is not as extreme as you may imagine. Let’s break it down, starting with why it’s called “chemical” to begin with.
According to Dr. Kaminer, we categorize the different ways to exfoliate skin as either physical or chemical. “Physical exfoliation is when we use a tool to remove build-up, while chemical exfoliation is a way for us to dissolve the buildup,” he says. Think of your beady scrubs and grains as your physical exfoliators, and your skin acids as your chemical exfoliators. “A chemical peel is a form of exfoliation where we can breakdown the surface skin allowing products to work better, oxygen to flow thoroughly through pores, and address aging and/or pigment concerns,” Kaminer continues.
Now, let’s talk benefits. Think about all the dirt, pollution, and impurities your skin comes into contact with daily. If not properly addressed, these aggressors can eventually wreak havoc on your skin. That’s where a chemical peel comes in. “After a peel you immediately feel like your skin is breathing again,” Dr. Kaminer says. “We tend to forget how much build-up accumulates on skin’s surface day by day, through environmental pollution, products, makeup contouring, and just natural oils sitting on our skin. The biggest benefit, above all, is the brightening benefit.”
Of course, when we’re dealing with skin and acids, there are always drawbacks to the matter. “I like to over-inform people on the negatives a peel can bring and sometimes that terminology can be scary,” Dr. Kaminer says. “It is very important to follow all instructions post-peel even when you think it is not working anymore. The acid can stay on our skin and some people have reactions post-peel if you’re not careful. Sometimes the problem you are trying to fix can appear to be worse before it gets better.”
WHAT IS A MICROCURRENT FACIAL?
Struggling with fine lines and wrinkles? Try a microcurrent facial. “Microcurrent facials are [aesthetic] treatments that use a low-level electrical current to trigger the body’s natural skin enhancement chemicals,” says Dr. Engelman. “They give skin therapists an effective tool against the signs of skin aging.”
The process involves the use of small hand-held devices that emit tiny electrical currents that strategically move across the skin’s surface. Depending on the area you’re targeting, these devices “zap” the zones of concern—typically around the mouth, neck and forehead where visible lines usually occur.
WHAT IS A VAMPIRE FACIAL?
If facial rejuvenation is your end goal, you may want to put this highly sought-after facial on your radar. Formally known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) facial, the vampire facial involves blood being drawn from the skin and then re-applied back onto the face, coupled with microneedling or microdermabrasion.
The process is indeed bloody, but the benefits are aplenty. Turns out, your platelet-rich plasma contains growth factors that can stimulate the growth of collagen and healthy skin cells, which help improve the look of the skin. “People like it because it’s more natural, using only self-proteins to help correct the skin,” Dr. Engelman says.
WHAT IS THE SKINCEUTICALS HYDRAFACIAL?
Prefer a non-invasive and non-surgical treatment? Consider the new SkinCeuticals HydraFacial. This 50-minute protocol treatment incorporates exfoliation, a peel and extraction using key SkinCeuticals products. In terms of benefits, you’ll be happy to hear that the process helps improve the look of some of the most common skin concerns, such as fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration and congestion.
Here’s how it works: The treatment begins with the skin being cleansed with SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser, which removes makeup, before deep cleansing with SkinCeuticals Simply Clean. Following cleanser, you’ll then experience the HydraFacial signature treatment. After the signature treatment comes a 5 to 10-minute dual tightening and soothing mask using the brand’s Vitamin C Firming Masque, Equalizing Toner, and PhytoCorrective Gel. As the last step of the treatment, C E Ferulic is layered underneath Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 and Physical Fusion SPF 50 is applied all over the face, neck, and chest. If you wish, you can opt for further customization with a HydraFacial booster.
Here’s what it looks like in motion:
For a recap of how our editor enjoyed the SkinCeuticals HydraFacial, read her review here!
HOW DO I PREPARE FOR A FACIAL?
You’ve just scheduled your first facial— now what? There’s not much you need to do to prepare for a facial, but there are a few products you should consider setting aside until after you meet with your esthetician. “Don’t use retinol or any other product that dries out your skin,” Dr. Kaminer says. “These products can make your skin more sensitive to facials.” If you’re using a retinol or a product formulated with acne-fighting ingredients—think: salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide—take a break from them in your routine as your facial approaches. This can help reduce any unwanted sensitivity and ensure your facial is as comfortable as possible.
WHO IS THE RIGHT CANDIDATE FOR A FACIAL?
Contrary to popular belief, facials aren’t exclusive to acne-prone or mature skin types. Everyone should take the time to remove pore-clogging skin impurities, regardless of age, skin type and color. Just be sure to talk to your dermatologist first to see what’s right for you.
WHAT DO I DO AFTER A FACIAL?
After your first facial, there are a few do’s and don’ts to follow. First things first, allow your skin to breathe and soak in any products applied during the service. Avoid wearing makeup for at least one day after your facial. If your skin appears irritated, cool it down with a hydrating face mist.
Another important post-facial step is to stay out of direct sunlight and reach for broad-spectrum sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat before heading outdoors. Whether you received a chemical peel or not, facials can make your skin sensitive to sunlight. The last thing you want after your skin-enhancing facial is to cause damage. With this in mind, we recommend planning accordingly when scheduling a facial.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I GET A FACIAL?
Typically, getting a facial once a month is ideal, but we encourage you to talk to your doctor first for a more personalized answer.
CONSIDER A SKIN CARE MEMBERSHIP
Want to explore the world of facials at your fingertips? You can find great deals on skin care memberships at a slew of salons— especially if you anticipate getting facials a few times a year. For more information on your best options, skim this quick-read about the top skin care memberships.
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