Like restaurant food, facials are offered as a complete meal or a la carte. Packaged deals are often a better bargain, but they may not offer all the options you need, so understand what you're getting before you buy. A basic facial will usually involve removing dirt and oil, rehydrating your skin and some massage. They're designed for normal skin with few problems. If you want a facial that's relaxing and mildly rejuvenating, a basic treatment will usually do the trick.
A good choice, if it's available, is a customized facial designed to treat all the items on your facial to-do list. If you're dealing with an experienced aesthetician, she'll be able to make the right recommendations, but if you're on a budget, avoid piling on services you didn't put on your wish list because the extras are seldom free.
The categories below will give you a basic idea of different types of frequently offered facials, but the market is always changing, and specialty preparations and procedures designed to tempt skin conscious consumers are being developed all the time:
- The Works -This facial may be listed under a different name, but it's usually a step up from the basic no frills package. It might include the use of hypoallergenic creams, special exfoliants, aromatherapy or be an expanded version of the basic advertised facial lasting from a few minutes to a half an hour longer.
- AHA - A chemical exfoliant, AHA is a mild acid that achieves some of the skin rejuvenating effects of a more caustic acid peel, like removing dead skin and lightening age spots. It works by breaking down the bonds that hold dead skin cells together, making them easier to get rid of.
- Bio Lift - This treatment uses a tiny amount of electricity to help tighten skin and reduce puffiness. It can create favorable short-term results.
- Anti-Oxidants - These facials use vitamins A, E, beta-carotene or other antioxidant compounds to repair the skin in a two or three step process that begins with deep cleaning. It's popular for use on sun and wind damaged skin.
- Acne Cleanse - Designed to deep clean, acne facials use strong ingredients, like glycolic acid and steam to clear clogged pores. This type of facial should be repeated a number of times over a period of weeks to be effective.
There are also many other specialized facial preparations that claim to replace the collagen in aging skin, remove discoloration from sun or age spots, promote even skin tone, tighten sagging skin, remove dark circles and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. If you have the time and the budget, you can explore all the new creams, gels, packs and peels designed to make you look better at any age.
In the next section, take a look at realistic expectations.