I’ve always been intimidated by the thought of a facial. Spending good money for being prodded in the face, shrouded in God knows what for up to an hour isn't exactly my idea of rejuvenation. I’d rather just lavish the bucks on a good massage. It's probably because while facials have been the most standard go-to spa treatment since forever, how are you supposed to know if it's being done right? After all, it's your skin on the line, and it's in a stranger's hands.
Which is why I phoned Gina Mari for advice; now there are some hands you definitely want to trust your face to. This is the Beverly Hills-based pro facialist who's behind 41-year old Heidi Klum’s 31-year old skin and who also boasts a long list of Hollywood celebrities who swear by her facials. Ahead, she breaks down the facial, and updates us on the skin treatments the stars indulge in to get red carpet-ready!
1/6 The Ultimate Skin Makeover
A facial mainly aims to give your skin a new lease to life. Think of it as a makeover – but for your face.
All facials follow a few key basic steps – “Cleaning it out, taking off the impurities and dead skin, and putting on something to make it nourished and hydrated,” says Gina.
As far as procedure goes, “your face is wiped with a cleanser and cotton pads or a cloth and warm water first. Then, blackheads and whiteheads are extracted under a lighted magnifying glass or lamp and finally, an exfoliation cream or peel is applied or your therapist will perfrom microdermabrasion” – (a non-invasive exfoliation technique) – “to slough off all the dead skin cells. Finally, skin-specific creams, gels, moisturisers and serums are applied to hydrate and plump the skin,” she elaborates. It's basically a procedure that involves cleansing, extraction, exfoliation and hydration, according to Gina, who's an especially big fan of the exfoliation bit. “When you exfoliate your skin,” which is what a facial primarily does, “you’re encouraging what we refer to as cellular turnover. You’re getting rid of stacked up dead skin cells that can make you look like you have deeper lines, and pigmented skin.”
Which brings us to any prep that you might have to do prior to your appointment. “You can come as you are, even with your makeup on. However, if you’re using medication or anything topical like a Retin-A product, it’s a good idea to inform your aesthetician so they don’t do anything too aggressive.” Better yet, bring along your skincare products so they get a good idea of what your skin’s going through.
2/6 How do I know which one to get?
“Usually you can break down facials into two types– for people who are dealing with problem skin, perhaps acne or skin congestion, and for anti-aging. Most people have both issues,” says Mari.
The best facial is one that’s customized specifically for your skin, according to Gina. “It really depends on your lifestyle, your schedule, and what your skin needs. I think a professional should be in charge of selecting a facial for you. If you’re having a facial done for the very first time, I’d recommend you get a consultation first, so you can tell the professional what you think you need and then they can evaluate your skin and decide for you,” she advises.
Tip: If you notice that your facialist has one standard procedure for all, walk away and never look back.
3/6 What are my options?
A facial generally involves a tailormade combination of products, massage techniques and equipment targeting any specific issues you might have.
“Facials are very creative in terms of the technology used,” says Mari. “A lot of them are layered. For example, you've got microcurrent therapy, which increases oxygen flow and helps elimination of toxins and has anti aging benefits; LED light therapy – the hottest on the market – which uses red, blue and infrared light to re-energize aging, acne-prone, or cellulite-ridden skin; and oxygen facials – a hit with celebs getting red carpet ready! – which nourish the skin with essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids and peptides, by propelling pure oxygen deep into the skin,” Gina explains.
4/6 What’s the deal with peels?
“A peel is generally an acid used to exfoliate and resurface skin; it’s usually a relatively fast procedure which takes about 10 minutes," says Gina. It can be done alone or as part of a facial.
“Some popular ones are the glycolic peel, which is basically AHA or alpha hydroxyl acids, commonly known as a fruit peel. It's used for normal to oily skin and helps with pigmentation and hydration. Then there's the lactic peel, which is a milder version of AHA. Finally, you've got the mandelic peel, which is great for acne, rosacea and melisma prone skin, and is the most gentle,” she says.
5/6 Sounds good. When do I start and how often do I go in for one?
Turns out, there’s no particular age to start making spa trips for a facial; it all depends on the state of your skin. For normal, non-problematic skin that only needs an anti-aging boost every now and again, she suggests starting at 25, “once a month.” On the other hand, she recommends teenagers dealing with acne to start immediately.
Follow ups depend on various factors. “Every time you get a facial, when to get the next one depend on the time of year, how your hormones are acting, and your general stress levels,” she says. If you're wondering when to come back for another appointment, just ask your therapist.
6/6 Just out of curiosity, do facials for women and men differ in any way?
“You’d be surprised to know that about 30% of our clients are men!" says Gina. "Facials-wise, there’s no real difference; my belief is that it’s what each individual client needs. But male skin tends to be a teeny bit thicker if they shave. That’s probably the only difference,” she says, signing off, leaving me feeling so much wiser as far as facials go.