What It's Really Like To Give People "Butt Facials"

illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Molly Lamb is an aesthetician and the owner of Skin by Molly Facial Studio in Brooklyn. She's worked in the beauty industry for nearly seven years and helped create the Shiny Hiney treatment, also known as the butt facial. The following story was told to Kelsey Castañon and edited for length and clarity.
I always struggled with my own skin. I had acne, but I like to think of it as a blessing in disguise because that's what really got me into this field. I loved researching skin care and reading blogs, and I just realised, Wow, I am a total nerd about this stuff. I should do this for a living. So I did: I went to school at the Aveda Institute in New York, got my aesthetician license, worked at another spa, and then opened my own studio a year later — and I've never looked back.
I did my first butt facial four or five years ago. A client of mine came to me and said, "Not to be weird, but I get breakouts on my backside and I don't know what to do about it." And I thought, That's not weird! I'm an aesthetician. If you've got skin, I can treat it. I'm not here to judge you. So I said to her, "Let's just try a facial on your butt."
After that, I polled some people on Facebook about maybe offering it as a service. The feedback, for the most part, was pretty positive. Obviously there were some people who said it was crazy, but I also got a lot of comments saying, "That's amazing!" or "I get a lot breakouts on my butt, too," or even, "I don't, but I would totally do that before the beach." It's not the most popular treatment by any means — it tends to be more seasonal — but I've done somewhere around 100 butt facials.
The Rubdown
When a client comes in, we give them a disposable thong to change into and then have them lay face down, like you would for a regular massage. Then, it goes a lot like a normal facial: We start with a salicylic acid cleanser to exfoliate the skin, then we'll do a gentle glycolic and lactic acid peel. After that, we apply a sulphur treatment that sits for two to three minutes — it acts like a little magnet to pull stuff right out.
But the real power player is the Body Enzyme Mask from DMK: It offers a really powerful lymphatic drainage. This isn't your basic everyday mask — it works deeper. It heats up the skin to help pump oxygen and blood to the area, which helps with blood flow and circulation. The enzymes are encased in albumin, which is like egg white, and that causes the mask to get really, really tight — it dries almost like a cast on the body. You can feel the butt pulsate as it hardens. We leave that on for 45 minutes, and then customise any finishing products depending on what your skin needs.
The main concern I see is acne, but a very close second would be the people who just want their skin to feel smooth. We get those bumps on the backs of our thighs and butts called keratosis pilaris — otherwise known as chicken skin.
We don't do extractions, even if people have acne on the area. The butt just doesn't extract quite like the face — it's not the same. So if someone has a lot of breakouts, I'll do a round of high frequency either before the mask or at the very end. That purifies the skin and kills bacteria.
Is It Awkward?
When I launched the Shiny Hiney treatment, I was like, Oh god, is this going to attract every weird person in New York? But it's just been people who are curious or excited to try it. It's like going to get a bikini wax — most of the time, you feel embarrassed or awkward at first. But skin is skin! We try to make everyone feel really comfortable. Like I said, no one is going to judge you. That's not our job. Our job is to help you get smoother skin.
Bringing It Home
It's easy to do a mini treatment yourself, too. Anything you'd use for your face, you can put on your butt. A clay mask is great, but anything that exfoliates works. The skin on your body is generally thicker than on your face, so it can handle a little more exfoliation. Obviously, pay attention to your skin: If you notice any irritation, lay off until your skin rebounds.
I like to start with a physical scrub like the Love Scrub — it's a mesh exfoliating tool that doesn’t collect any bacteria like a loofah would. Then use a medicated body wash that's a little stronger than what you might use regularly. Neutrogena makes a great acne body wash that's really affordable. Follow that with an at-home peel or mask. Usually I'll let the DMK Micro Peel sit on my thighs for five or six minutes after a shower and then wipe it off with a wet towel. Dry brushing will remove the dead skin cells and help with circulation like a massage would.
When you really break it down, a butt facial is just another form of self-care. Whenever you have the time to spend that extra 40 minutes on yourself — well, it makes all the difference.

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