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We love a good excuse to pamper yourself, and a spa pricey facial sure seems like the ultimate indulgence. In fact, just reading “pamper yourself” might conjure images of time spent at a spa, head wrapped in a towel, cucumber slices covering our eyes. The dream, right?
While there’s no denying that a spa is a great place to relax, it’s not the place to seek long-term improvements for your skin.
The truth is, most facials offered in a spa aren’t worth the hype—no matter what you see on Instagram. They won’t improve your skin over the long term, and simply can’t take the place of a strong regular skincare routine.
That doesn’t mean all facials are a waste. In this post, we’ll point out some of our favorite, research-backed facial treatments and reveal why others aren’t worth it.
And the best spa facial treatments are...
Our main beef with facials lies in their lack of efficacy. No matter what you’ve heard, a lot of the facial treatments you’ll get at a spa just create some swelling, increase blood flow, and hydrate your skin. Those effects might make your skin glow for a minute but won’t create lasting change.
So when a spa promises a life-changing facial, how do you separate fact from fiction? Skip the spa and talk to your dermatologist first. That way, you can ensure you’re getting a personalized treatment that takes your specific skin conditions into account—rather than a really expensive moisture bath (see 3 key questions for your dermatologist and ask away, while you’re at it!).
That’s not to say that facials are always a waste of time. In fact, a handful of treatments, many of which you can undergo at your dermatologist’s office, are worth your hard-earned dollars.
Chemical peels - essentially an intense exfoliation, a chemical peel involves a chemical solution applied to the skin. The chemical causes the skin cells to turn over and die, eventually peeling off and revealing new skin cells. Ew, but also really effective.
Microdermabrasion - another exfoliation procedure (because it’s kind of important to turn those skin cells over!), this process involves a small tool that sloughs off the outer layer of skin. It can result in an improved tone, texture, wrinkles, and more.
Laser resurfacing - sounds sci-fi, delivers some serious results for tone and texture. During a laser treatment, short pulses of light are directed at areas that are wrinkled, discolored, or scarred. And while these treatments can be expensive, they are amongst the best studied for lasting skincare benefits.
Micro-needling - micro needling facials use a tool to make tiny punctures in the top layer of skin. This process increases blood flow, stimulates collagen production, and can reduce the look of fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration, acne scars, and more. Another example of “too good to be true,” at-home solutions like derma-rollers probably aren’t sanitary or as effective as an in-office procedure.
PRP (plasma-rich protein) - Thanks to Kim Kardashian, we know this as the “vampire facial.” It follows up the micro needling process with an injection of the patient’s own plasma. Emerging research indicates that, if you can take the drama, the “vampire facial” could yield improvements for vitiligo, scars, and probably wrinkles and discoloration, too.
What about everything else?
Here’s where we ask the question “if it isn’t backed by science, is it bad?”
Steaming, moisturizing, and gently exfoliating with a spa facial might actually give you the glow you want for a few days. And we won’t deny that relaxing while someone massages your face is downright delightful.
No matter how you choose to pamper yourself, take the first step by doing your research. First, if you’re outside a doctor’s office, make sure you seek out a licensed aesthetician. Then, ask whether the facial you’re receiving is backed by research. If you’re dropping cash on this treatment, you deserve the facts.
Finally, consider that this is a great self-care practice and not a stellar skincare strategy. Over the long term, nothing (not even a quality facial!) can take the place of solid, regular skincare.
We know that’s easier said than done, which is why we created a two-step gummy system to help you boost healthy #skinfromwithin. Check it out here.