Ah, facials. In a world where time and money weren’t a limiting factor, we would get them on the regular. Alas, as is true for most things in life, too much of a good thing can be, well, not good, which got us thinking: How often should we really get facials? What is the ideal timeframe between appointments? Turns out, the sweet spot is anywhere around once every two months.
Conventional wisdom says we should get facials once a month—or roughly every 28 days, as this is the average cycle for skin cell turnover. Any more than that and you can risk irritating your all-important skin barrier. But according to Renee Rouleau, a celebrity esthetician (and go-to for Demi Lovato) this imposed monthly metric is a bit dated.
"The whole idea of getting monthly facials was established way back in the day when exfoliating at home wasn’t really an option. Today, there are many at-home solutions like sonic cleansing brushes, facial scrubs, products with exfoliating acids or enzymes, and, of course, retinol, which isn’t technically an exfoliant, but does increase cell turnover," explains Rouleau. "All of these things can help you maintain healthy, clear skin and allow for more time between professional treatments (so think every eight weeks as opposed to four). Now of course, if you’re barely doing any exfoliation at home, then that’s a different story."
What are the benefits of getting a facial every eight weeks?
"If you consistently struggle with acne, clogged pores, sunspots and discoloration, or simply want to give your skin a renewed radiance and glow, adding regular (or semi-regular) facials to your skincare routine can really help you meet your goals," says Rouleau.
For example, in the case of clogged pores (these appear as little bumps or whiteheads and sit under the skin), "though some topical treatments can help reduce the bumps, they can be really difficult to get rid of at home. For that you’ll likely need a professional extraction," explains Rouleau.
If you have stubborn brown spots or areas of discoloration, Rouleau recommends seeing an esthetician, who can use a series of chemical peels to help brighten and even your overall skin tone over time.
Beyond treating your skin on the outside, there’s the whole massage element of a facial as well, which not only feels nice in the moment, but can also help address a host of other issues many of us deal with like puffiness and dullness. "Our face has circulatory, muscular and lymphatic systems. A bit of facial massage can give a major boost to these systems, and in turn, move any toxins or excess fluids that have built up in our lymphatic system," says Alicia Yoon, an esthetician and founder of Peach & Lily.
What are the different types of facials I can get?
The better question here might be what types of facials can’t you get? From ayurvedic facials to CBD infused treatments, it seems there are new options popping up daily. However, for the sake of simplification here, we’re going to break it down to two categories: the professional or in-office treatment, and the spa treatment that often incorporates a wellness element (like aromatherapy or facial massage).
Chemical peels, extractions, LED facials and HydraFacials fall under the in-office treatment umbrella, while the other treatments that are more focused around, say, lymphatic drainage or facial massage, are typically offered in spas and salons. This is not to say that the latter doesn’t sometimes include elements of the professional grade treatments; for example, it’s not uncommon to see a spa service that folds in extractions and LED therapy with a face massage.
How much do facials cost?
There are many factors that go into the cost of a facial, like where you’re getting it done (ex: a spa or studio vs. a derm’s office) and the person who is administering the facial (an esthetician or a board-certified dermatologist). Most facials typically range between $75 on the lower end of the spectrum, to upwards of $400 (for the type of all-encompassing red-carpet facial celebs are known to get before awards season).
So how do you decide which kind of facial to get? If you don’t have a pressing skin concern and are just looking for a little pampering, you can usually save some money by visiting a national or regional chain (like Massage Envy [LINK]), which offers membership packages with discounted services.
If you’re dealing with stubborn acne or discoloration, you’ll want to seek an in-office treatment (perhaps one that incorporates a professional grade chemical peel and/or LED light therapy) to get the results you’re looking for.
What are some at-home alternatives to getting facials?
In addition to proper cleansing and regular exfoliation at home, Yoon recommends doing a five-to ten- minute facial massage yourself. "Do it as you’re applying your skincare products, so it's a part of your routine. Be sure to use products that glide on skin and don't cause any friction. I love using a serum with good slip for facial massages and use the pads of my fingertips to work the serum onto my forehead, cheeks and mouth," says Yoon. "Just like how we would approach working out our bodies, a bit of consistency with facial massages and skincare can go a long way—even if it’s just for a few minutes a day."