Explain facials
February 16, 2019 11:28 AM   Subscribe

I have a gift certificate for a "hydrating facial". I have no idea what a facial is. Insight and advice is solicited. I'm old; do no skin care or makeup. Before I make a call to them (not any website available for review) how do I navigate this unknown world?
posted by mightshould to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Facials can be treated as a relaxation treat similar to a massage. Typically, your esthetician will examine your skin under a strong light and make dubious pronouncements about collagen or fine lines or whatnot. Just ignore this. Tell him/her you want something moisturizing. He/she will gently clean your face with delightful smelling soaps and toners, and apply various lotion masks to supposedly add vitamins or whatever. This feels good! As the masks dry, you may receive a hand massage or a scalp massage, sometimes a foot massage. The only uncomfortable part of a facial is extractions, where your esthetician will remove blackheads. You can totally opt out of this. Just say at the beginning, “no extractions, I’m here for relaxation.” Or, if Dr. Pimple popper has got you curious, let she/he go to town! It ends with super rich moisturizer applied to your very very clean skin. This feels great! Afterwards, your esthetician will try to sell you products. “I’ll think about it,” is your response. Do not buy when you are feeling glowy and relaxed!
posted by Malla at 11:59 AM on February 16, 2019 [15 favorites]

I just got my first facial last weekend! It's fantastic.

Depending on how fancy the place is, they may have a locker / shower room for you to change in, or you'll bring your things into the treatment room. if it's a fancier spa, they'll have very nice robes and slippers for you to wear. They might have saunas or hot tubs available as well. Most places will have water and/or tea for you. You'll want to take your clothes off (as you're comfortable doing), leaving underwear on is fine. You'll get on a table with very nice soft sheets and blankets, so you'll be covered up the whole time.

The esthetician will come in, ask you some questions, and might ask if you want extractions (professional zit-popping/blackhead clearing, essentially). They will wrap your hair with a towel to keep it out of the way .Then they'll take a very bright light/magnifier thing and take a look at your skin (I had a piece of gauze over my eyes for most of this). Then, they will wash your face, involving lots of warm towels. Then maybe exfoliate, then they might use steam to open your pores up. It's a little wand that puts out steam right on your face. If you have sensitive skin, they might just use hot towels for this. After that is the extractions, then generally a mask (probably definitely for a moisturizing facial).

During the mask, they may do a shoulder / neck / scalp/ arm/hand/lower leg and/or foot massage, depending on the place. Then, they'll take off the mask (again with nice warm towels), put on serums / moisturizer, and might do a face massage with that. It also might include your neck /decolletage.

After that, they'll step out of the room so you can get dressed, and then you can take some time to relax before going on with your day. They might suggest products, or meet you up front to show you what they used. Then you pay (and tip!) and leave.

Doing internet research and reading reviews of the place you are going to will help you know what to expect as well, as far as amenities. Also, don't be afraid to call and ask any questions too, everyone there wants you to be as relaxed as possible and enjoy your pampering.
posted by Fig at 12:00 PM on February 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

A facial is basically a face massage using a variety of products. I’ve only had a couple but have had other beauty salon type treatments. Here is the kind of thing you might expect.

You may be asked to sign a consent form and declare any allergies or medical issues.
You might have a chat about your skin concerns and current routines.
You will be in a reclining chair, and the therapist will put on a towelling headband to keep your hair back, and maybe drape a towel around your neckline.
Dolphin sounds and/or panpipes will be playing. Lights will be lowish.
Variety of creams and lotions will be applied to your face, massaged in, and possibly removed with other lotions before others are applied.
You might be left for a brief period of time, possibly with an eye mask on, to let a mask “sink in” (for a hydrating facial they’d normally use a rich creamy mask rather than something like a clay mask so it won’t be the kind to harden)
You will be applied a finishing layer of something and then may be asked if you want to purchase any products. Your get-out sentence - unless you want to buy something - is “I’d like to wait a day to see how my skin reacts.”
If you have touch-sensitive skin like me you will leave feeling relaxed and looking like a tomato, but ymmv here. Other people just leave looking glowy and radiant.

Basically it can feel wonderfully calming and soothing, it’s a nice bit of time for mindful relaxation, and don’t feel at all hesitant to speak up if you’re not enjoying something or you feel any discomfort at all. It’s also not for everyone so if you find it hateful that’s ok too. But hope you enjoy it!
posted by billiebee at 12:06 PM on February 16, 2019 [7 favorites]

I agree with others that a facial is essentially a face massage with fancy products and possibly some spot treatments like extractions (optional). A hydrating facial will be really soothing and your skin will feel (maybe even look) plump afterwards. That's all there really is to it!

You should tell the esthetician if you think you have any skin sensitivities or just tell them to go gentle since it's your first time. Generally I have found estheticians will start pretty gently/simply if it's their first time seeing you because they don't want to scare you away.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:44 PM on February 16, 2019

There are so many different facial treatments you can get, so it really depends on the spa. They should list the included facial treatment steps on their website, or you can call and ask. Usually its an exam, extractions if you want them, a steam with a warm towel, a mild chemical peel to exfoliate, then at least one moisturizing treatment with a massage and usually some kind of cooling thing, like a jade roller or a frozen glass ball they gently massage your face with to refresh your skin.

Some facials will have more elaborate exfoliating steps, with different chemicals to really get in deep. Some include a high power red LED lamp treatment (weird, I know) or physical skin resurfacing using special tools.

I think they can be really nice and relaxing, and the results usually last from a few weeks to a month depending on what you have done.
posted by ananci at 1:49 PM on February 16, 2019

So, it is supposed to be relaxing.... kinda hard to do when a stranger is doing things and my *make sure the other person is reassured that all is perfect* mode kicks in.

I will remind myself that it is only a small part of my day and I can get through it. And, I like the easy out of the "see how my skin reacts" answer. Very good.
posted by mightshould at 2:44 PM on February 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

kinda hard to do when a stranger is doing things and my *make sure the other person is reassured that all is perfect* mode kicks in.

Oh! This is me. Big time. I was surprised gifted a facial once, and I had never had one and had no idea what to expect either. Most places that offer facials have a waiting area that's cozy and plush with teas and water. Arrive for your appt early and soak in the vibe. The esthetician will ask your skin concerns, and while you can say things like dullness or redness or fine lines, you can also simply say you're there to refresh and relax.

Ease your "stranger, I do not want to put you out in any way" anxiety by placing control firmly into the esthetician's hands. LOTS of clients know a ton about skin care and have a whole process they're following. You're not. You're an easy appointment! Your esthetician will suggest a lineup of products and all you have to do is go SOUNDS GREAT. I mean, what's the honest difference between Goop A and Goop B? You're trusting their skills and letting them do their thing. The esthetician will rub various serums and creams into your face after exfoliating your skin. The website should have a rundown of the steps involved, and if any don't sound OK just nix 'em. NO stress.

I do not like massages in part due to this reassurance anxiety but I (unexpectedly) LOVED getting a facial. My skin looked BONKERS good afterwards and I realized why rich people look so different. I hope you like yours!
posted by missmary6 at 4:46 PM on February 16, 2019 [9 favorites]

What every one else says, and adding: if they suggest treatments ask if it is included or an add-on, add-ons cost extra. I just had an amazing facial and had sticker shock when I went to check out, the esthetician had used a bunch of extras without asking. They waved the extra charges when I told them it hadn't been discussed, but my heart skipped a few beats for a moment.
posted by cestmoi15 at 1:03 PM on February 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

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