Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Getting a Facial

POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio
POPSUGAR Photography | Maria del Rio

I'm a huge lover of facials. In fact, I'll admit I'd rather spend my money on a facial than on a night out. Once you start seeing the benefits of facials, you won't be able to stop, but if you've never had one, you may not know who to ask for advice. Facials are like any beauty treatment: you can have pretreatment jitters simply from not knowing what to expect. Although facials are not typically considered painful, it's always nice to know what to expect when you are booked in for your first one. So we reached out to skincare guru Elizabeth Rimmer, founder and director of London Professional Aesthetics, to help answer the questions you may have.

Do facials hurt?

"There are a wide range of facials on the market ranging from oil-based massage style facials to microcurrent and microdermabrasion facials to peel-based facials," said Rimmer. Due to the wide variety of facials, it's difficult to know what may be painful, as it depends on your comfort level, so it's always a good idea to ask your therapist ahead of time what to expect in terms of pain or discomfort. Typically facials do not hurt, but some treatments like microdermabrasion and extraction can cause strange sensations. The noises of the tools used may also be new to you, but the facialist will explain what the sounds are.

What is the downtime (redness)?

"This really depends on what type of facial you are planning," Elizabeth said. Facials such as pore extractions and heavy chemical peels may need more downtime than an oil-based massage facial. Elizabeth suggests that it's wise to "plan a convenient time" to avoid any problems with the skin needing a little downtime. It's best not to get an extraction facial the day of a big event; get it a few days before.

Do I have to change out of my top before my facial?

Some facials also involve a shoulder massage or treatment to the décolleté area, which may require you to remove your top. This may make some people feel initially apprehensive, but much like a massage, your therapist will be very reassuring and provide you with a towel to wear during the treatment. The advice from Elizabeth is to "try to make yourself as comfortable as possible so that you can enjoy the whole experience."

Do I have to wear SPF afterwards?

"Some facials involve some type of exfoliation, which can theoretically increase your risk of sun damage," she said. Treatments such as microdermabrasion and products containing retinol can increase this risk, and therapists will tell you if you should be more wary of SPF application. "Either way, the best way to protect your skin from aging and sun damage is daily use of SPF. I recommend a broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher, preferably oil-free."

Do I have to speak to the aesthetician or can I just relax?

"Your therapist should be in tune with you," Elizabeth said. "If you want to chat, then of course you can, however, if you prefer to close your eyes and drift away, then your therapist will be sensitive to that."

Are followup treatments always required?

"Your therapist will advise you of how to get the best from your skin following your treatment," as some treatments may be for specific skin concerns and others for more relaxation purposes. "You may find that some products are recommended for your use; this should be presented in a non-forceful manner, and you should not feel obliged to make any purchases."

Will my skin break out for a few days following the facial?

This is dependent on both the treatment you choose and your skin type. I personally find that my skin breaks out a little a day or two after the treatment and is at its glowing best following that. If you are concerned about breaking out, choose your treatment with this in mind. Hydrating facials, for example, are ones you can get closer to an important event, but you would not want to get extractions prior to a special day. Elizabeth's advice is to "be fully informed in advance of your facial and then you will find the whole experience less daunting."