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What is a Facial?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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Facial is a very general term for skin treatments usually performed by a licensed aesthetician. As the name implies, it is skin treatment for the face, though you may be lucky and get some neck or shoulder massage (and sometimes even a foot massage) too. There are a variety of types of facials, different types of products used, and there can be some variation in length. The typical extensive facial generally lasts about an hour or even longer, and other treatments called “mini-facials” may only take about 15-30 minutes.

The basic goals of facials are the same regardless of treatment, and you can expect the following things to occur when you have one:

  • The skin will be thoroughly cleansed and dead skin cells will be exfoliated.
  • The aesthetician will likely evaluate your skin type and find treatments that will best tone and moisturizer that type.
  • You may have extraction of blackheads.
  • You will likely have a skin mask treatment. You may have some degree of facial massage with applications of various creams and moisturizers.

You might also spend some time with hot cloths or your face, and the aesthetician may devote a little time to finding the products that best work with your skin. Usually you will get quite a bit of advice from the person giving the facial on exactly what products she/he thinks are best suited to you for daily skin care, but if you already use things you like, you don’t necessarily have to spend several hundred of dollars more buying all new products. Retail of these products can be a vital part of an aesthetician’s business.

Many parts of a facial can be very comfortable and soothing, but some people have trouble with blackhead extraction. Poor technique can result in broken capillaries or more breakouts and the extraction itself can be painful. You can opt not to have this extraction if you prefer or if in the past it has yielded poor results.

Will your skin look absolutely terrific right after a facial? Actually it may be a little irritated and red especially if you had extraction. You shouldn’t plan to have a facial within a few days of major events where you want to look your best. For instance don’t get a facial the day of or the day before your wedding, class reunion or prom. Some people also have sensitive skin and may have prolonged reactions to facials or the products used during one. If you have known sensitivities or skin allergies you should discuss this with the aesthetician prior to booking an appointment.

Facials can be pricey, frequently at least $60 US Dollars (USD) and often significantly more than that. You can save quite a bit of money by performing most of this skincare at home, though many aestheticians claim you should have a minimum of four facials a year. However, there are many people who swear by their own home skin treatments or by prepared treatments that can be easily purchased and improve the look and health of skin.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon1002452 — On Nov 23, 2019

If you chose to have extractions these can be uncomfortable and painful. Otherwise it should be an enjoyable experience. Someone else pampering you relieves stress. Home treatments don't really compare to a professional facial. There is a skin analysis by the esthetician, and other products besides a mask and special tools used. On a budget I suggest going to a school. Enjoy!

By anon132387 — On Dec 06, 2010

i am getting a facial. is is going to hurt?

By CellMania — On Jul 21, 2010

Those are some great ideas for facial care. I also make my own toner. It creates a base coat for your moisturizer. I use one part witch hazel with two parts rose water or orange-blossom water. Witch hazel has antiseptic properties that help fight blemishes without drying out the skin. The rose water helps with circulation and orange-blossom helps to balance the skin’s natural pH.

Use a cotton pad and apply the solution across the face and neck. Include the jaw line because it tends to be prone for break-outs.

By Crispety — On Jul 21, 2010

Moldova- You can also try a facial peel that you can buy at most pharmacies. I prefer those with salicylic acid because they offer better exfoliation.

By Moldova — On Jul 21, 2010

Icecream17- Good idea. I just wanted to add that another refreshing tip is to place a jar of Moisture Surge by Clinique or any other hydrating cream in the refrigerator.

When you get to the point in the facial that you want to apply the moisturizer, you simply pull it out of the refrigerator and place some of the contents on your face. There is nothing more refreshing than.

By icecream17 — On Jul 21, 2010

Grumpyguppy- I just want to say that there are many things you can do to exfoliate your skin at home and provide yourself a facial.

For example, you can start by getting into a steamy bath and close your bathroom door to fully get the effects of the steam. The steam will then open up your pores and at that point you can apply a facial mask to your face.

Clinique has a great mask called the Turnaround 15 minute facial mask. You apply small amounts to your face and move your fingers in a clockwise direction.

Next use a warm cloth and wipe off the product and pat for face dry with a towel gently. You can apply a moisturizing cream on top of your face and gently blend it until it is absorbed. Your skin should look and feel amazing.

By GrumpyGuppy — On Jul 21, 2010

Can I do facials at home? If so, what do I need?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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