Few things in this world are as relaxing as laying back in a soft armchair, listening to the gentle background sound of a waterfall, letting all the tension in your body slowly dissipate, closing your eyes to the dimly-lit environment … and enjoying a facial. When young, most women likely go for the experience more than anything — the novelty of it all, the calming atmosphere and the wonder of newly-rejuvenated skin. But plenty of other women claim to go for the results:
- Less acne.
- Fewer wrinkles.
- Youthful skin.
Are such treatments capable of significantly improving your facial skin health? Or are their calming benefits the extent of their worth?
Best Facials for Skin Rejuvenation
Not all facials are created equal. Some are non-invasive; others are. Some are perfect for delicate skin; others might be too harsh. It is prudent to investigate the options offered at your local spa and talk to the employees to find the best fit.
- Involves: steaming, facial massage, masks, soothing serums, moisturizers.
- Benefits: declogging of pores by extraction and exfoliation; cleans the face; evens skin tone.
- Perfect for: those with dry or sensitive skin.
- Involves: steaming, exfoliation and moisturizer.
- Benefits: opens pores to release oil and toxins, allowing the aesthetician to remove acne, blackheads and dead skin cells.
- Perfect for: anyone wary of harsher chemical treatments.
- Involves: a lymphatic massage (can also be combined with other treatments).
- Benefits: relaxes the facial muscles and encourages drainage of blocked lymph nodes; improves blood circulation; eliminates water retention; removes toxins.
- Perfect for: anyone with tension in the face and neck.
- Involves: facial scrub and mask.
- Benefits: removes impurities; relaxing.
- Perfect for: anyone who wants a simple yet soothing facial or enjoys essential oils.
- Involves: a massage with collagen cream.
- Benefits: restores the skin’s elasticity and texture.
- Perfect for: those looking for a facial with a face-lifting effect.
- Involves: creams and masks;
- Benefits: replenishes vitamins A, C and E for soft and smooth skin.
- Perfect for: older patients who want a gentler facial.
- Involves: different wavelengths of LED light (i.e., red or blue) to treat skin imperfections.
- Red: encourages collagen growth for faster healing; reduces wrinkles and fine lines.
- Blue: remove acne-causing bacteria and prevent further breakouts.
- Perfect for: anyone looking for a stronger yet non-invasive treatment.
The Spa vs. The Dermatologist: How Do They Differ?
The effectiveness of facials is short-term rather than long-term. Dr. Joel Cohen, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado and director of AboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgery near Denver, emphasizes that topicals and serums aren’t likely to do anything long-lasting for your skin since they only penetrate at the surface level. Dr. Adam Friedman, an associate professor of dermatology and director of translational research at George Washington University, says that most facials offered at spas are meant to improve the face in the “here and now.”
Longer-lasting procedures go below the skin’s surface, ensuring that topicals, moisturizers and serums are hidden from the sun’s UV rays and their harmful effects on facial treatments. However, such options are usually offered at dermatologists’ offices rather than spas, at least in their highest-quality form. Friedman and Cohen suggest that patients looking for enduring results look at their local dermatologist rather than their local spa. Dermatologists can medically assess the entire situation and offer the appropriate treatment. Though effective, some of their effective treatments are a bit more invasive.
- Microneedling Facial: it uses tiny needles to puncture the skin in an effort to increase collagen (i.e., the protein that boosts skin elasticity). A microneedling facial can help minimize scars and wrinkles.
- Microdermabrasion Facial: removes the top, dead layer of the dermis, thereby increasing skin turnover for faster-healing, younger-looking skin.
Facial Rejuvenation Recommendations by Age
Basic facial or aromatherapy, the spa or the dermatologist — these options are influenced by preference and age.
- Focus on: creating consistent and healthy skincare habits with cleansers, exfoliants, moisturizers and sunscreen.
- Spa recommendations: Focus on facials that clean skin and draw out impurities, such as deep-cleansing facials with masks of clay or kaolin.
- Focus on: fighting adult hormonal acne by opting for lighter moisturizers and avoiding petroleum-based products and anything with synthetic fragrances. Look for products that are “non-occlusive” — they will not clog your pores.
- Spa recommendations: opt for purifying facials that help unclog pores and calm existing acne.
- Focus on: slowing the signs of aging by reducing spots and wrinkles. Exfoliate often, moisturize well and opt for serums with vitamin A to reverse any existing sun damage.
- Spa recommendations: Facial peels can help cell regeneration by removing the top layer of dead skin. Some facials are crafted to minimize hyperpigmentation — look for the ones that include glycyrrhizinate (i.e., licorice extract), soy proteins or Indian gooseberry.
- Focus on: strengthening your skin by increasing collagen production. Buy moisturizing serums containing evening primrose, sea buckthorn, carrot seed, borage and geranium to replenish vitamins A and C.
- Spa recommendations: Choose firming and hydrating facials, particularly the ones containing seaweed and algae, which help hydrate the skin.
The Word of the Day: Consistency
Pampering yourself with a spa treatment is wonderful, and dermatologists can make excellent recommendations to improve the health and appearance of your face. Much like dental hygiene, nothing beats diligent consistency. Taking good care of your skin by doing things such as taking your makeup off before sleep, cleansing and moisturizing twice a day and wearing sunscreen to prevent sun damage, will do more than any line of spa facials. So, the next time you’re tempted to skip an aspect of your skincare regimen, don’t! Your future self and skin will thank you.