What Is A Facial? And What To Expect During Your First Visit

February 02, 2024
Skincare.com by L'Oréal
By: Skincare.com by L'Oréal | skincare.com by L'Oréal
Getting Your First Facial? Here’s What to Expect

A longstanding tradition in the beauty world, facials provide various advantages for the skin, such as increased moisture and a more radiant appearance. While the idea of receiving a facial may be thrilling for those new to skincare, it is common to have some reservations and wonder about the process. Should you do your skincare routine before going to your facial? What happens during a facial? 

And the more obvious: What type of facial should you get? 

Think of us as a helpful guide to help you in learning the basics of facials. In the following sections, experienced dermatologists and Skincare.com advisors Dr. Michael Kaminer and Dr. Dendy Engelman will share tips on how to get ready for your facial session, what you will experience during and after, and some recommended facial treatments to consider.

What Is a Facial? 

Even though it's not necessary for everyone, facials can greatly enhance the appearance and texture of your skin, particularly if it's clogged. "The typical facial is designed to exfoliate, hydrate and, in some cases, open blocked pores," Dr. Kaminer says. 

Most facials involve a comprehensive cleansing and steaming process, followed by extractions administered by a certified expert. However, there are other types of facials available that offer more than just the standard cleansing, steaming, and extraction. These include chemical peels, laser facials, and light facials. For those trying a facial for the first time, it is advised to stick to the fundamental procedures to observe how your skin responds. 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.

Who Is the Right Candidate for a Facial?

Contrary to popular belief, facials cater to far more than just those struggling with acne or signs of aging. Every individual, regardless of age, complexion, or skin tone, should prioritize the removal of pore-clogging impurities from their skin. However, it is highly advised to seek counsel from a qualified dermatologist before undergoing a facial, to determine the most suitable and effective treatment for one's unique skin requirements.

How Often Should I Get a Facial?

Typically, receiving a rejuvenating facial monthly is considered optimal, however, we strongly urge you to consult with your physician beforehand for a tailored and individualized response.

How Can I Prepare for a Facial?

You don't have to do a lot to get ready for a facial, but there are some products that you may want to put aside until after your consultation with the 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." Before getting a facial, it is advised to temporarily stop using retinol or products containing acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. This will minimize potential sensitivity and make the facial experience more pleasant.

What Should I Do After a Facial?

Once you have experienced your initial facial, there are certain guidelines to adhere to. First and foremost is to give your skin the opportunity to absorb any products used during the treatment and allow it to breathe. It is recommended to refrain from using makeup for a minimum of 24 hours after your facial. If you notice any signs of irritation, a refreshing facial mist such as the La Roche Posay Therma Spring Water Face Mist can help soothe and cool your skin.

La Roche Posay Therma Spring Water Face Mist

After receiving a facial, it is crucial to avoid direct sunlight and instead apply broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat before going outside. This is because facials can increase your skin's sensitivity to sunlight, and the last thing you want is to harm your skin after improving its appearance.

After covering the fundamentals, continue reading to learn about various facials that target specific skin issues.

Chemical Peels

"A chemical peel is a form of exfoliation where we can break down the surface skin, allowing products to work better, oxygen to flow thoroughly through pores and address aging and/or pigment concerns," Dr. Kaminer says. Consider the amount of grime, toxins, and contaminants that your skin encounters on a daily basis. If left unaddressed, these harmful elements can cause significant damage to your skin. This is where a chemical peel can be beneficial. "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 the 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 some drawbacks. "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."

Microcurrent Facials

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."

This method uses portable gadgets that release minute electric pulses and systematically glide over the skin's outer layer. By focusing on specific areas, these devices send targeted "zaps" to the problem zones, usually found around the mouth, neck, and forehead where noticeable wrinkles tend to appear.

Vampire Facials

If you are seeking to rejuvenate your face, you should consider adding this popular facial treatment to your list. Called the vampire facial or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) facial, it involves drawing and then reapplying blood from the skin onto the face, along with microneedling or microdermabrasion.

Although the process can be messy, the advantages are numerous. The growth factors found in your platelet-rich plasma can encourage the production of collagen and rejuvenate skin cells, resulting in a more improved appearance. "People like it because it's more natural, using only self-proteins to help correct the skin," Dr. Engelman says.


Looking for a treatment that doesn't involve surgery or invasive methods? Look into the SkinCeuticals HydraFacial, a 50-minute treatment that includes exfoliation, a peel, and extractions using SkinCeuticals products. This process can effectively address common skin issues like fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, and congestion, providing noticeable improvement.

Here's how it works: The treatment begins with the skin being cleansed with the SkinCeuticals Gentle Cleanser, which removes makeup, before deep cleansing with the SkinCeuticals Simply Clean. Following the 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 (available for professional use only), 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. To find a practitioner who administers the SkinCeuticals Hydrafacial, you can use the locator on their website.

Read more

Back to top