A facial is a restorative cosmetic treatment for the skin on your face. Facials can be performed by a licensed cosmetician, esthetician, dermatologist or other qualified provider. Spas, medi-spas and other skin care centers offer facials. Most offer different types of facials that address the most pressing skin care needs such aging, dryness, sagging, pigmentation, etc.
The national average cost for a facial is $60-$80. More complex facials, such as microdermabrasion or chemical peel, will cost more, as will services provided by a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. The products used can also affect the cost of your facial; high-end creams and serums will likely result in a higher cost. For most non-medical facials, the practitioner will perform a skin assessment, determining your skin type and learning about your lifestyle, diet and skin care concerns. Then the facialist will cleanse and exfoliate the skin, extract any blackheads and clear clogged pores, give a facial massage, apply a treatment mask and then apply moisturizers. Typically facials are relaxing and restorative, leaving your skin clear and dewy.
There are many types of facials you can receive based on your skincare goals. Pricing for facials will vary based on the skin care provider you see and your geographic location. Facials provided in a medi-spa by a medical doctor or nurse, or at an upscale day spa, will typically have higher average prices, as will facials in more expensive parts of the country.
- European facial: Typically lasts 60-90 minutes. Includes steaming (often with warmed towels), cleansing and examination of the skin, exfoliation, extraction of blackheads and clearing clogged pores, application of masks specific to the skin’s need (anti-aging, etc.), application of serums and moisturizers, and massage.
- Microdermabrasion: 30-90 minutes. Microdermabrasion sloughs off the dead skin on the surface level, revealing brighter skin underneath. The practitioner uses a small, motorized tool that polishes your skin with a diamond tip or stream of very fine crystals. Usually the treatment is preceded by a thorough cleansing. After the microdermabrasion, the practitioner cleans away any remaining dead skin, and then applies a hydrating mask or moisturizers.
- Back facial: About 60 minutes. Includes a thorough cleansing, exfoliation, extraction of blackheads and clearing of clogged pores, an acne-fighting mask, and mini-massage to keep the skin on the back clear and acne-free.
- Gentleman’s facial: 50-75 minutes. Treats areas that most affect men. Includes cleansing, assessment of skin type, exfoliation and extraction to address razor burn or ingrown facial hairs, a hydrating mask, and a facial massage followed with moisturizer.
- Jessner’s peel: 30 minutes. This is a light chemical peel that removes the surface layer of the skin to create a smoother look and feel.
- More powerful peels are also available, typically at a higher cost.
A mini facial treatment is an abbreviated version of a classic European facial treatment. Typically provided in 30 minutes, it’s short enough to complete during a lunch break but long enough to feel luxurious. Before any treatment begins, most providers will do an assessment of your skin to determine the appropriate products to use, such as anti-acne or anti-aging. During a mini facial treatment, the licensed esthetician or cosmetologist will prepare your face by gently wrapping it in warm, moist towels. The heat of the warm towels loosens the pores of your skin, readying it for cleansing and treatment. After steaming, the skin care provider will cleanse your skin, then apply an exfoliant, often a fruit enzyme exfoliant. Next, the provider will apply the appropriate serums and moisturizers for your skin type, and often give a small massage. Mini facial treatments are more cost-effective than traditional facials, which typically last 60-90 minutes. They’re the perfect splurge when you need an affordable pampering session.
A facial mask is used for therapeutic cosmetic purposes. A facial mask can be applied at home or by professionals during a facial at a spa or medi-spa. There are many different types of facial masks, all with different ingredients and applications to help you achieve your skin care goals. The active ingredients can help guide your choice. If you want to reduce oil and clear your pores, a clay mask with bentonite or French green clay may suit your purposes. For deep hydration, a mask with a humectant like hyaluronic acid will keep skin dewy and fresh.
There are many ways to apply facial masks. Always start by thoroughly washing your face before applying a mask. Pre-made sheet masks are draped loosely over your face to allow your skin to absorb the ingredients while you relax. The sheet mask can usually be removed within 15-30 minutes. Clay masks are applied wet by hand, carefully avoiding the eyes. After the clay works its extractive magic and dries, you wash it off to reveal clear skin underneath. Moisturizing masks that are applied by hand are often only wiped off, leaving a rich layer of moisturizer to continue to nourish the skin.
The wide variety of names, methods, techniques and technologies for facials can be confusing. The best facial for you depends on your skin care needs. If you’re aging and want to address wrinkles and sun spots, you may want a chemical peel, while for acne you may want a deep pore cleansing treatment. Consulting with a licensed esthetician, cosmetologist or dermatologist will help guide your choice. Skin care professionals specialize in assessing your skin and determining which course of treatment will help you achieve your goals. Here is a basic overview of the best facials for different outcomes:
- Reduce wrinkles: A chemical peel can help stimulate skin cell turnover, creating a fresh new layer thanks to the salicylic or glycolic acids. It’s important to work with an experienced professional when getting a chemical peel so you choose the right level for your skin type.
- Prevent acne: Enzyme facials or LED facials help battle acne breakouts.
- Smooth skin tone: Microdermabrasion facials are done using a small tool that polishes off your dead skin cells to reveal a fresh layer of skin underneath.
- Relax and rejuvenate: A traditional European facial often features warm steamed towels, a facial massage, deep skin cleansing and exfoliation, extractions (as desired), face masks, and applications of serums and moisturizers to leave your skin refreshed and you feeling great.