No matter where you’re having a facial, you choose it based on three things: the brand, the experience and the outcome. What products do you want on your skin? How do you want them applied? And how do you want your skin to look afterwards?
Some people find that a certain brand really suits them and will stick with those products, and the variety of different treatments offered with it.
Some of us go for a facial because it’s a lovely, relaxing and indulgent thing to do. We want something we can’t get at home – so dribble me in essential oils, smother my head in hot towels, hold hot stones to my temples and turn up the whale song!
You want your skin to be clean, glowing, fresh and even. If you’re shopping around for an effective outcome, choosing a facial can get very confusing.
There are so many facials on the market that it can be very hard to work out which one is which. Whether a facial is sold to you on the basis of the brand, the experience, the outcome or all of the above, the language can be very ambiguous. Different spas and brands give different names to the same or similar facials; often you’ll find that the title of facials is very long, but still somehow doesn’t seem to tell you anything!
omewhere along the line they all seem to make promises beginning with “re”: rejuvenating, refreshing, rehydrating, revitalising, rebalancing, relaxing, renewing, relieving, regenerating, restoring. You’ll also find a lot of “detoxify” and “soothe” and “nourish” and even “inspire”.
In addition to this you’ll find words such as “advanced” and “specialist” and “luxury”. Does this refer to the length of the facial, the quality of the product, or the qualifications of the therapist? Or is there something else thrown in free? Does it just cost more?
Decoding Facial Speak…
Before you start, you need to keep in mind that this is a facial – it is intended to improve the tone and health of your skin, make you feel better about how you look and hopefully leave you feeling pampered, relaxed and refreshed. Some facials (especially ones that feature head or acupressure massage, hot stones or towels) can leave you feeling very deeply relaxed. But unless you are really, really shallow, it is not going to satisfy your emotional needs as some of the blurb would have you believe.
All facials should make your skin feel clean, clear, fresh and soft. Whichever facial you choose, you can expect all facials to include the basics of cleansing, toning and moisturising, achieved via creams, masks, serums, spritzers, tonics and oils. The difference between facials is the how and the how much of each you get.
Keep It Simple…
We reckon you go for a facial for one of five things: Your skin is dirty and clogged up and you want to cleanse it.Your skin is sore and sensitive, perhaps tired, sallow or blotchy, maybe you have acne. You want to soothe and balance it for an even skin toneYour skin is dry and you want to moisturise it. Your skin is a bit wrinkly and drained and you feel old! You want to fight the wrinkles, hold back the signs of ageing… you want to look younger, to firm, lift and plumpYou want to prevent problems. You go for a service, to make sure you maintain healthy, glowing skin
What to Expect from A Facial…
The aim of a facial, and the skin type it is suited to, should be described in the spa treatment menu. If you’re in any doubt about which one to book, speak to a therapist at the spa and ask for their advice.
Preparation: The therapist will take off your make-up as part of the treatment, so you can arrive without any special preparation. In a spa you will usually receive your facial lying down on a massage table. Generally speaking you will asked to remove any clothing or swimwear from the top half of your body and lay underneath a duvet or a sheet to protect your modesty. Your therapist will usually cover your hair line with a protective band, too. Products: Your therapist will then apply various skincare products to your skin. Your therapist may use a brush or spatula to apply products such as masks, while she is likely to use her hands to massage on cleansing creams and facial oils. Your therapist will gently remove the skincare products using damp cloths or towels, which are usually warmed up first.
Massage: Most facials feature some form of facial massage, often extending this to your neck and shoulders, your head, and your arms and hands. Facial massage is usually a form of acupressure and/or lymphatic drainage. Acupressure, a light pressure-point massage, can help tone skin by stimulating facial muscles, while lymphatic drainage massage helps to decrease puffiness. Some facials might even include a back massage to begin with too.
Equipment: Some facials rely on more than just potions and lotions and the massage skills of the therapist. For example, microdermabrasion facials use a machine that has a diamond head and targets the outer layers of your skin. Oxygen facials use high-pressure jets to push serums (or oxygen itself) into your skin. Hydradermabrasion or Hydrafacials use a combination of H20 (water) and suction and pump in water to hydrate and cleanse simultaneously.
Duration: A full facial will usually take between 60 and 90 minutes. A taster or express facial usually lasts about 30 minutes, and includes the usual cleanse/exfoliate/tone/treat/moisturise routine, but is unlikely to include any specialist equipment or techniques, unless otherwise stated.
Precautions: If you have any skin allergies or conditions, make sure you tell your therapist about them, not just the receptionist when you book. If you are, or think you might be, pregnant, you should always tell the therapist as well; some products may not be suitable for you.
Different Types of Facials…
A prescription facial is tailored to your skin type and what you are hoping to gain from the facial. The facial should include a consultation before the treatment begins, so the therapist can have a look at your skin, and choose the skincare products that meet your needs.
Deep-cleansing facials and balancing facials are most often recommended for combination, oily or spot-prone skin, as the aim will be to thoroughly clean the skin, unblock pores and balance over-oily patches.
A nourishing or hydrating facial will be great for dry skin, but can also be recommended if your skin is temporarily dehydrated.
A brightening facial is usually recommended for dull skin, or skin with uneven pigmentation. This type of facial will usually include a thorough exfoliation to buff away dead skin, and an application of a specialist serum or cream that aims to boost skin radiance and even out skin tone.
Anti-ageing facials aim to improve the look and feel of skin that has visible signs of ageing. Depending on the brand, these facials may include specialist equipment or massage techniques to help stimulate the facial muscles, to help lift and firm skin. They may also include a gentle peel or deep exfoliation followed by hydrating serums and creams, to help the skin look plumper and smoother.
A facial for sensitive skin will include gentle, calming skincare products. If your skin is very reactive, your therapist should be able to give you a patch test to check your skin doesn’t react to the skincare products. Facials for sensitive skin are unlikely to include abrasive exfoliators or harsh chemicals.
Some facial treatments do come with conditions…
For example, facials that include a gentle skin peel will make your skin more sensitive immediately after the treatment. If you have had a peel, your therapist is likely to advise you not to use any heat facilities afterwards, and to use sunscreen.
A good facial might leave you feeling radiant, but you might also look a bit unkempt (for one thing, your fringe will be sticking up having been swept back during the treatment).
Enjoy that confidence in your appearance, but do have a quick check in the mirror before you leave!
If you would like to find out more about Hamilton Skin Clinic’s range of skincare, facials or cosmetic treatments, our medical team is available for complimentary 15 minute consultations in Hamilton.