How To Pick Out The Best Facial For You

Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
For something that's supposed to be pampering, the process of booking a facial can be a majorly stressful. Have you ever looked at a spa menu before? Some places boast a dozen different treatments and procedures for your face alone.

It's pretty tough to discern which one is right for you. So, we asked three top pros in the business to translate all that spa jargon and give us a handy road map to picking out your perfect treatment.

Know Your Goal
All three of the pros we interviewed agreed that the first thing you need to do is figure out what you want out of the facial. "You have to decide whether you're going out that night, if you're looking for detoxification, if you want something more relaxing," says Cornelia Zicu, global chief creative officer at the Red Door Spa. "That not only helps you pick the right facial, but helps guide your aesthetician when you actually get your treatment." So ask yourself some questions: Are you unhappy with your pores? Are you looking to glow for a date tonight? Are you prepping your skin for a wedding next month? All of that information is important. The more you tell your aesthetician, the better your experience.

If you're not really sure what you're looking for, feel free to book the most basic facial on the menu, says Dorothy Praska, lead aesthetician at NY's Bliss Spa in Soho. "During the facial, the person can advise us as to what the next steps should be and what can be addressed," says Praska.

Demystify The Jargon
Detoxifying? Purifying? Hydrating? Yeah — there are a ton of facial qualifiers these days —but what do they all mean? Anything hydrating using aromatherapy or vitamin C tends to be on the lighter side. "They're done with lighter hands and they don't typically involve extraction," says Joanna Vargas, an NYC-based celebrity esthetician. Anything labeled "detox" or "purifying" are going to get in good with your pores. "Not every facial involves extraction — that's very '80s style," she says. "A lot of people don't consider it a facial without extraction, but treatments that focus on anti-aging or other angles aren't going to involve it."
Mind Your Meds
With so many advancements in skin products, plenty of men and women are using heavy duty products on their face regularly. But things like retinol and salicylic acid can affect how your skin reacts to certain facials. "People who are using a retinol nightly can't book a facial with a heavy peel or microdermabrasion," Vargas says. Since retinols make your skin more sensitive, that would cause some pretty gnarly repercussions. Zicu echoes this sentiment:"If you're on Accutane, you really need to let your aesthetician know," she explains.

Don't Be Afraid To Speak Up
When people look at a spa menu, they assume they have to stick to the confines of a specific facial. But everyone we interviewed agreed that just wasn't the case. "You can tweak the facial. We listen to the client's needs," Praska says. "Don't be afraid to let them know what you're looking for. We'll also analyze the skin and rework the facial so that its right for you." So, in reality, you don't have to fear when you're booking a specific facial — a good aesthetician will tweak the treatment to meet your needs. And if you're really nervous, give the spa a call ahead of time. They'll help direct you to the treatment and pro who is right for you.
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