Facials 411: The Top Treatments Explained

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From extreme weather to nerve-racking elections and everything in between, there have been far too many contributors to our skin freak-outs of late. Our usual prescription for out-of-control skin is to head to a pro, pronto. But, if you’ve visited a spa lately, you already know that the facials menu couldn't be any harder to read if it were in Greek. The differences among skin types are common knowledge — but what do all those different luxurious facial treatments actually do? And who are they for?
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Don’t worry, we’re here to keep you (and your skin) stress-free. So, we headed to two of NYC’s hottest spas to chat with their aestheticians and got the lowdown on the five most popular facials to ensure that no matter how bumpy life gets, your face won't show it. Go ahead, read up, and then take your pick.
Anti-Acne
We kind of figured that this treatment would be best for those of us who have oily skin or are prone to pimples, but Bliss technician and facial specialist Keisha Pittman got us thinking outside the box. “In addition to treating breakouts, it’s also super-soothing and calms irritated skin.” Clarifying facials use a combination of extractions and product application to bust blemishes and, like Bliss’ No ‘Zit’ Sherlock treatment, can tack on light therapy, which zaps zit-causing bacteria at the source.
Anti-Aging
Even if you aren’t starting to sag or worrying about wrinkles, you might still want to consider trying out one of these rejuvenating treatments. According to Alice Villanova, aesthetician at the Guerlain Spa in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, it’s also perfect for anyone heading to a fancy event. “You’re going to see some very dramatic results,” she told us, “and you’ll see the difference in your skin immediately.” A key component of an anti-aging facial is deep massage. This stimulates collagen production, resulting in a lifted, fresh face. “I tell my clients to think of it as gymnastics for the skin,” Villanova says. The Orchidée Impériale Facial incorporates three sets of face, neck, and décolleté massage with application of intensive masks and a concentrated anti-aging serum. The best thing about anti-aging facials? Consistent treatments will lead to legit results.
Brightening
Redness and irritation are common around this time of year, especially for us city dwellers. If your complexion needs a tone reboot, a combo of microdermabrasion and serums will get your glow back ASAP. And if you think that super-scrubbing your skin will only irritate you further, think twice. “Microdermabrasion intensifies treatment results, as it helps active ingredients to easily absorb into your skin,” says Villanova, who recommends that those with hyperpigmentation give brightening facials a try, as well.
Detox
If you’re getting your hot toddy on as often as we are, your liver isn’t the only thing that needs a break. “Detox facials are like a breath of fresh air for your face — literally,” says Pittman. These treatments use hardcore amounts of oxygen to help tired, congested skin get the rehab it needs. Not unlike a juice cleanse, Bliss’ Triple Oxygen Facial gets rid of the grit and gunk with (you guessed it) three different forms of O2, in addition to extractions, cleansing, and masks.
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Hydrating
We’re getting into the thick of the holiday season and while it might be exciting to get our red Starbucks cups back, that change in eating and drinking (not to mention the crunch at work) is less than thrilling, especially for our skin. Heating systems can also wreak havoc on our hydration levels. But dehydrated skin is not dry skin, cautions Villanova. “Dehydrated skin results from a lack of moisture content in the skin,” and anyone suffering from this, regardless of skin type, would benefit from the intensive hydrating ingredients in the moisturizers, masks, and serums that are applied during these type of treatments. Guerlain’s version, the Radiance Facial, is named after the glow skin has when it's balanced and healthy. But, you’re not done yet! “The moisture level needs to be maintained through proper care at home,” warns Villanova. Think of it as homework.
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Photo: Via Blossom Spa Austin
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