a guide to facials

A Pre and Post Treatment Guide to Facials

Facials are one of the most effective ways to achieve a clearer, more youthful-looking complexion; they help to restore elasticity, combat blemishes and rejuvenate your skin. As one of the least invasive treatments, they’re also one of those things that you can book regularly to keep on top of your skincare routine – and why […]

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woman with face mask a guide to facials

Facials are one of the most effective ways to achieve a clearer, more youthful-looking complexion; they help to restore elasticity, combat blemishes and rejuvenate your skin. As one of the least invasive treatments, they’re also one of those things that you can book regularly to keep on top of your skincare routine – and why not? Everyone knows that facial treatments are great mood-boosters too; after all, who doesn’t love feeling pampered?

Having said that, the world of facial treatments is a complicated one. With so many options out there, it can be tricky to discern what you should go for. How can you be sure that you’ve booked the right facial for your skin type? And if you’ve got sensitive or acne-prone skin, how do you know what’s going to work for you – or whether you should get a facial at all?

To clear things up (no pun intended), we’ve come up with a definitive guide to facials.

Different Types of Facial Treatments

Microdermabrasion Facial

If you’re looking for a complete rejuvenation package, consider microdermabrasion. A pressurised jet scours the skin with micronized crystals whilst sucking away dead skin cells. Microdermabrasion is one of the most popular facial treatments, since it’s relatively low-cost and can be performed quickly (that’s why it’s sometimes referred to as the ‘lunchtime facial’). This exfoliating treatment also stimulates collagen production and cellular renewal; it’s a good all-rounder if you want to improve your skin’s overall appearance.


Despite their relative newness, HydraFacials have become one of the most popular on the market; approximately 2 million were performed last year alone! HydraFacials cleanse and exfoliate the skin, then infuse it it with a vitamin-packed serum to enhance that post-treatment glow. Since HydraFacials vacuum out the pores, rather than blasting them, it’s a gentler treatment that’s suitable for most skin types and skin concerns. So, whether you want to tackle blemishes, wrinkles or pigmentation, it’s going to help. It’s recommended that anyone with sunburn, active rashes or rosacea shouldn’t book a HydraFacial. Anyone who’s pregnant should find an alternative treatment too, as some of the ingredients it uses haven’t been tested and proven safe during pregnancy.

LED Facial

An LED facial (or Colour Light Therapy) uses four clinically proven wavelengths of UV-free LED light that’s designed to boost collagen production, treat acne (and acne scars) and generally leave the skin looking healthier. Different coloured LED lights are used to target specific skin concerns; amber boosts collagen, red reduces inflammation and blue destroys acne-causing bacteria – infrared lights are also used to speed up the skin’s recovery. After the LED treatment, technicians finish the process by extracting blackheads and whiteheads from their clients, before applying a cool hydrating mask to soothe the skin. For severe break outs or blemishes, it’s recommended that you book up to 3 sessions to get the best results.

Brightening Facial

Skin feeling a little lacklustre? It might be worth booking a brightening treatment. Designed to tackle dull complexions, brightening facials tend to use masks, enzyme peels and acid treatments to remove any dead skin cells. Brightening facials cleanse, hydrate and lift the skin for a dewier, softer finish. Like microdermabrasion, it’s a great all-rounder, and is especially worthwhile if you’ve got a big event coming up – think of it as the ultimate skin-refresher.

Facial Acupuncture

Thought acupuncture was just for the body? Nope! Acupuncture facials – as you’ve probably guessed – involve pressing needles 1 millimetre into your frown lines, forehead and crow’s feet (aka the wrinkle-prone areas). And whilst it sounds painful, the procedure isn’t as bad as you’d think – some people barely even feel it. After 15 minutes the needles are removed, and you’ll be left with a more youthful-looking glow. Thought to be a safer, non-invasive alternative to surgery or Botox, facial acupuncture can make the skin look younger and smoother. As the tiny punctures stimulate your lymphatic and circulatory systems, more nutrients and oxygen get delivered to your skin cells – promoting a natural glow.

Lymphatic Facial Massage

The benefits of massage are well documented; lymphatic facial massages work in a similar way to rid the body of toxins and improve circulation in the face and décolletage. By kneading targeted points on the face to stimulate the lymphatic glands, lymphatic facial massage reduces water retention and puffiness. It’s especially useful for relieving tension too, so if you’re a jaw-clencher, then this one’s for you!

Classic Facial

A classic (or spa) facial combines deep-cleansing, steaming (to open the pores), exfoliation, extraction and massage to restore the skin’s vitality and improve its appearance. Essentially, it covers all bases – it’s the one that everyone thinks of when they hear the word ‘facial.’ This type of treatment can be tweaked to suit your skin type, though it’ll always use the same basic steps. It’s likely to involve the application of a mask or two, as well as a toner and moisturiser. This is one of the more pampering facial treatments; it’s aim is to leave you feeling relaxed, as well as benefitting your skin.

Anti-Ageing Facial

An anti-ageing facial does just what it says on the tin; by cleansing, resurfacing, brightening and hydrating the skin, it’s designed to give mature complexions a little boost. Anti-ageing facials usually follow the same steps as a classic facial, but these use active ingredients like collagen to promote firmness and elasticity.

How Often Should You Get a Facial?

Generally speaking, experts recommend that you book a facial about once a month, though you may benefit from fewer or more treatments depending on your skin type.

It takes 5-6 weeks for your skin to complete one full skin cycle. This is the process whereby new skin cells are formed at the deepest layer of the epidermis and work their way up towards the surface of the skin, before maturing and shedding. Ageing slows down our skin cycle, which is why our skin sags and wrinkles as we get older. Getting a facial more regularly helps this process along, so that you’re left with a glowing complexion.

What Should You do Before Getting a Facial?

Although facials are a standard beauty procedure, there are a few things to remember before getting one:

  • Know your at-home products. Your esthetician is likely to ask you about your daily skincare routine. If you’re concerned about your skin, they can give you better-informed advice about what you should be using to tackle the issue; it may be that one or more of your products isn’t the best for your skin type, so it’s worth having a mental checklist of what you use every day.
  • Don’t wax or shave (up to 48 hours) before a facial. Hair removal can make your skin feel more sensitive, so you’re likely to experience discomfort (like tingling or stinging) during the treatment if you’ve waxed or shaved beforehand.
  • Think about what you’ve got planned. The fact is that your skin may be a little red immediately following any facial treatment – this is totally normal and to be expected. Any redness will clear up within a day, but you might want to pass on date night if you’ve spent all afternoon at the beauty salon!
  • Are you taking any medication? If you’re using an oral medication that’s known to thin the skin (such as Roaccutane), it’s recommended that you discontinue use up to 3 months before getting a facial treatment.
  • Avoid sun bathing and tanning beds at least one week before your treatment. If you’ve got sunburn, facials are the last thing your skin wants (or needs!). Let any sun damage properly heal before booking a treatment. After a facial, your newly-exfoliated skin will be more sensitive to the sun’s harmful rays too, so stay out of it for a few days. And remember: you should always apply sunscreen (yes, even to your face!) before heading out into the sun.
  • Don’t over-exfoliate in the two or three days leading up to it. Since most facials include an exfoliating treatment anyway, it’s important not to let your skin become too sensitive before its properly buffed clean.

What Should You Do Afterwards?

To get the most out of your facial, there are a few key things to remember:

  • Don’t pick your skin! Ideally, you shouldn’t do this anyway, but you really need to avoid picking at your skin after getting a facial. It’ll be especially sensitive after all the scrubbing, extractions and pore-opening treatments; messing with it some more can cause irritation – and even scarring.
  • Avoid using heavy makeup. After a deep cleanse, your pores will be more open, leaving them more susceptible to bacteria. Whilst it may be tempting to load on your full-coverage foundation if your face is looking a little red, you should allow your skin to settle. Stave off makeup until the following day, and make sure you’ve cleaned your brushes and applicators thoroughly when you do apply it again.
  • Sack of the gym (and the sauna!). Whilst it’s always good to work up a sweat, you should reschedule your gym session following a facial; sweat can irritate freshly exfoliated skin. Similarly, saunas are a no-go post-treatment. You’ve already been cleaned and steamed; heating your face up and steaming it some more is likely to irritate your skin or lead to broken capillaries.

One of the key things to remember about any treatment, is that there’s no quick fix. Facials – like any other beauty treatment – should be thought of as one part of a wider regimen. If you haven’t got your daily skincare routine down, one facial won’t be that transformative.

It’s also unlikely that you’ll be leaving the salon with perfectly poreless skin. In fact, you may experience a break out in the days following a treatment. This is because facials pull the impurities deep within your pores to the surface; for some people, the skin gets worse before it gets better. Ultimately though, facials detox the skin; they can remove years of built-up sebum and dead skin cells from the pores, leaving your face feeling squeaky-clean