In general, I made an effort to take pretty good care of my skin. Aside from eating tons of nutrient-dense fruits and veggies to stay nourished from the inside out, I use gentle cleansers and exfoliate a few times a week. But I’m still acne-prone—and the single best thing I’ve done for my complexion is getting monthly facials.
There’s deep cleansing, exfoliation, and hydration involved, which feels great, and leaves you with an all-over glow every time. But to reap long-term benefits, especially for acneic skin, you have to keep up the treatments. I now think of it as routine maintenance—without the upkeep, the results just don’t last. I’ve been getting monthly facials for about two years now, and my skin has never looked better. It’s smoother, softer, and breaks out much less often. So I’ve become a big advocate for regular, professional facials. Here are four reasons why. Try it if you haven’t—you won’t regret it!
Getting a facial every month doesn’t have to drain your bank account. Many salons and spas offer shorter, less expensive versions of regular facials that skip the frills like scalp massages—but still are just as effective at keeping up your glow. I get 20-minute facials from my esthetician (Tracey at Luminere in Chicago)—the service includes a deep cleanse, exfoliation, steam, extractions, and microdermabrasion, and costs just $20 ($24 with tip). No facial is the same, and different skin types have different needs. I’ve found that for me (again, acne-prone), treatments that include exfoliation, steam, and extractions give the best results. Consult with a spa professional to figure out the best routine for you.
Getting rid of blackheads is really difficult, and at-home treatments often just aren’t up for the challenge. For me, pore-cleansing strips don’t even come close to removing all of them, and blackhead-eliminating cleansers just dry out my skin, leading to even more blackheads! Extractions are the most effective way to get rid of blackheads for good. Typically, estheticians steam open pores and then unclog them using their hands or a special skin care tool under a bright light. Do extractions hurt? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. Just don’t try this at home: estheticians use special methods and tools that keep redness down and prevent dirt and oil from re-clogging pores. And about downtime: you’ve probably heard it’s best to schedule facials a couple of days in advance of a big event—and I’d agree. Following extraction, my skin tends to be a little red and puffy for the rest of the day, but after that, it looks and feels amazing. Downtime might last a little longer for a first timer—and just be patient. About a day after the treatment, your skin will look brighter, smoother, clearer and feel so soft. Trust me! And once you start getting regular facials, there’s less to extract, so the downtime should diminish.
No amount of face scrub is going to equal the exfoliating power of microdermabrasion. I know this because my chicken pox and acne scars, which survived decades of exfoliation, are all but gone after just two years of microdermabrasion. There are two types: crystal microdermabrasion, which exfoliates skin with a fine spray of crystals, and diamond-tip microdermabrasion, which involves a sloughing wand to scrub away dull, outer layers of skin. Diamond-tip microdermabrasion is the gentler of the two and best for sensitive skin, like mine. Tracey uses the lowest setting and it exfoliates really deeply without scratching or irritating (it doesn’t hurt, and feels almost like a “vacuuming” type of sensation). And keep in mind that other spa tools, like the steam generators that pros use to loosen up clogged pores, are more powerful than at-home versions, too. And spa-quality skin care products are made with higher concentrations of active ingredients that penetrate deeper and work better than anything you can buy over the counter.
They do this for a living. So they know how to diagnose and treat the root causes of skin problems. Once you find an esthetician you like, stay loyal. He or she will get to know you and your skin, making it much easier to treat your specific skin care concerns as they arise over time (and you’ll feel much more comfortable talking about any problems that come up). Your facialist can also recommend products and treatments to do at home. When Tracey noticed my skin was looking particularly dry this winter, she recommended I start using Spa Technologies Tea Tree and Thyme Blemish Oil, and my skin looks and feels great! I wouldn’t have found the product on my own.