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Do Facials Promise Too Much?

Do you get regular facials? According to the International Spa Association, they are the third most popular spa service. However, some estheticians feel that dermatologists often downplay the effectiveness of their services, the New York Times reports. On the flip side, some dermatologists feel that facials create unrealistic expectations and are just not worth the cost. Fight!

"Getting a facial is a great cost to cut," Dr. Leslie Baumann, a dermatology professor at University of Miami, told the newspaper. "It’s not doing anything preventative or anything long term for your skin." (Baumann does acknowledge that estheticians offer great advice sunscreen and home-care regimens.)

Dermatologists also worry that facials are too one size fits all, although many estheticians now pick the service for the patient, as opposed to having the patient pick the service themselves. "At the end of the day whether you’re spending $40 or $400," said Celeste Hilling, the founder of Skin Authority, "if that facial doesn’t have active ingredients for what you want, it’s not worth it."

Personally, I enjoy facials, but go to the dermatologist when I need serious skin care. Do you think facials help your skin, or are they just a fun spa treatment?


Join The Conversation
RoSsB RoSsB 8 years
I treat myself to a facial every once in a while. I actually can't imagine life without it seriously. It's my way of pampering myself and caring for my skin.
chicagogal2009 chicagogal2009 8 years
I actually believe that Dermatogolists are more guilty of the "One-size fits all" method than esteticians. I've been to many dermatologists who prescribe me one harsh lotion after another which are not suitable for my skin. I'm 32, and I've been prescribed Retin-A and Glycolic acid. These are very strong harsh products. I don't think they are necessary unless you have severe acne issues. For me they just caused more problems and made my skin worse. If I go back to the doctor they just prescribe me something else, or try to sell me their in-office skincare line (which is usually really expensive) I've gotten facials and they make a huge difference in my skin. I have combination, sensivitive skin (oily t-zone, esepcially chin area) and regular/dry on cheeks. A good facial will really help to exfoiliate and hydrate your skin while at the same time pull out oil, blackheads and all that crap that causes you to break out. Plus for me, they really help decongest my face. I get puffy eyes, especially during allergy season and this helps tremendously. Yes they are costly - but trust me, you will probably spend just as much on the Rxs and products that your dermatologists push on you while you're at their office. For major acne or other skin problems like eczema psoriasis, moles, dark spots - yes, that is what a dermatologist is for. But for everyday less severe breakouts - facials (from a good estetician who knows your skin) will make a big difference. Also - make sure you are using appropriate skincare products. Products that are too heavy or too harsh only make skin worse. Anyway, I think facials are worth it if you find a very good estetician.
melanieilona melanieilona 8 years
one particular facial that i get a few times a year is fruit acid-based and can really only be done in the winter months when there is little sun as it may make your skin super sensitive to sunlight. either way, i have dry/combination skin with occasional breakouts from unbalanced hormones and it literally heals my skin despite me also having sensitive skin. similar to exfoliation which is also involved, it takes off the superficial layer of skin we would normally shed anyways. when it gets done sooner, the skin improves over a 28-day cycle, the natural shedding process. the benefits are instant and last several weeks until the skin naturally dulls and that's when i just exfoliate regularly again. for me, it's the aromatherapy of it all and the expensive products that come from paris! it's an hour and half of healing, for me. don't skimp on quality though by looking for a cheap facial. in this case, spending more combined with a good sense of your skin's needs will enable you to make the best choice.
YourFirstTime YourFirstTime 8 years
The thing with facials is that they're not a one-time-deal. You have to do it regularly to see any real result.
Liesl333 Liesl333 8 years
I have been getting facials at an Aveda salon for a couple of years now. I enjoy the relaxation and pampering and the results for my skin. I really like the Aveda products and my complexion has improved since I switched from Mary Kay and drugstore brands. I really can't afford to go as often for facials due to the bad economy though! I did try a Med Spa for micro and chemical peels which helped too.
lovelie lovelie 8 years
I used to get facials every now and then, and microderms as well. However, I started to realize that after seeing my esthetician, my skin would sometimes become very reactive. She would put products on my very sensitive skin that weren't always very helpful. I stopped going last year and bought a clarisonic instead, and it is like getting a facial everyday.
lovevolved lovevolved 8 years
Facials are awesome! In order to see the true benefit of them, you would have to go on a monthly basis, have an esthetician who truly understands your skin and needs - and in my opinion take care of your skin when not being serviced (no one can make miracles except for surgeons! :). I have been going to the same esthetician for 8 years and I am 29 now. My complexion is awesome and I always glow afterward AND the results are lasting. When I fall off my monthly appointments I always notice the difference~
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 8 years
I use a specialized mask occasionally when I get bad acne. It clears it right up! Otherwise I don't bother.
Swangeese Swangeese 8 years
For minor problems like a breakout or to cleanse the pores, facials can help. Plus I always feel great after having one. However if I had acne or anything like that, I'd go to a derm.
Carmencitaliana Carmencitaliana 8 years
Great if you can afford it. I would have liked to have had a facial/body massage the day before my wedding. Later my husband gave me a $200.00 gift certificate for X-mas, which I never used...feel bad about that.
Tech Tech 8 years
I always feel like my dermatologist pooh-poohs my esthetician, but I see one for one purpose and one for the other. I don't expect too much from my esthetician (but she is the one who told me I had milia when my derm never even mentioned it), just to look refreshed when my skin is dull and blah.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i have a pretty good routine that i do at home, but from time to time i think that it's ok to get a facial, since they will do more deep pore cleaning than i usually do. it's good to go and have them really exfoliate, and use stronger products - kind of like getting your hair redone at the salon when you could do it yourself. you just want someone to be more thorough than you usually are - not such a bad thing necessarily though :)
hlj504 hlj504 8 years
I get facials occasionally - but not because it's necessarily going to have any huge impact on my skin, but rather I find them relaxing (like a massage...for your face!). I do enjoy the exfoliation and always am grateful for extractions to be performed, though. I pick at my skin too much as it is, and if I can at least have someone "trained" pack at my skin instead, it helps me keep my paws off my face. :)
ckeller825 ckeller825 8 years
My mom always told me that facials were a complete waste of money, and that if I want great skin, it can be done at home with simple products. I do believe her, though, because she's 56 and has the brightest and smoothest skin I've ever seen. Barely has any wrinkles. Plus...aren't facials expensive?
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 8 years
I get 3-4 Dermalogica facials around Christmas time whenever I visit Hong Kong, where my aesthetician (sp) is based. They really do make a difference and I don't go for relaxing as I find extraction quite painful but more for making my skin glow for weeks afterwards. It's like necessary maintenance for me and unfortunately, I don't feel like it's any different than going to a doctor's appointment.
Steph84 Steph84 8 years
I think facials totally help! But I actually get mine through the dermatologists office. So, in the end my derm customizes it....
Pop-Champagne Pop-Champagne 8 years
I do at home facials. They're cheap. And I feel like I'm doing something to help my skin. Even if they're not doing much, I can at least say I'm trying to maintain healthy skin.
cmd0610 cmd0610 8 years
I'm getting one the week before my wedding (which is in one month from yesterday!) at my sister's spa in SLC because she gets them occasionally and it makes skin super soft and unclogas some pores . . .I don't plan to get one again get one after that but I figured it's my wedding and I can indulge, especially for the relaxation benefits!
1955nurse 1955nurse 8 years
I just wish there was somewhere close to where I live where I could even GET a facial -- all of you who live close to some of these fabulous places Like Eliz. Arden, Marie Badesco, etc. don't know how good you have it!!! And don't even MENTION "SPA" to me!!!!! (I'd be in heaven if I could go somewhere like that!) :( :(
stoopeed stoopeed 8 years
They're good for de-stressing. That's about all I can say for them.
Magdeline Magdeline 8 years
The only thing I think it's worth it for is extractions. MAYBE exfoliation- MAYBE. I would rather go to the dermatologist for great products and extractions than go to a spa (no matter how luxurious) any day. I'll save the spa for massages and waxings.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I've had one here and there but to be honest never noticed a HUGE difference. I'd rather go see my derm for a micro.
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