Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Gua Sha and Your Skin September 22, 2014

Filed under: Skincare Treatments — askanesthetician @ 7:00 am
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A few months ago I took a wonderful course that was called “Japanese Facial Massage and Acupuncture”.  I had a blast in the course – learning new massage techniques, finding out about new acupressure points on the face, and discovering how to use gua sha and a jade roller to help my clients’ skin.  Some of my readers may have heard of gua sha and/or have seen pictures of red, bruised backs (or other body parts) that were treated with this Traditional Chinese Medicine healing technique and are already wondering just how this relates to the skin and to facials.  It turns out that gua sha is wonderful for stimulating blood flow and lymph drainage in the face.  But before I get into all those details let me first explain what gua sha actually is.

In the article Scrape Away the Pain (found on Dr. Oz’s website) Jamie Starkey explains the principles of gua sha:

Gua sha is an ancient healing technique used by many clinicians of TCM. In this procedure, a lubricating medium, such as massage oil, is applied to the skin of the area to be treated. A smooth-edged instrument is used by the acupuncturist to apply short or long strokes on the skin, typically in the area of pain or on the back parallel to the spine. This stroking motion creates raised redness (petechiae) or bruising (ecchymosis).

Pain, both acute and chronic, is the most common indication for gua sha. In the TCM tradition, pain is oftentimes caused by the stagnation of blood in the local area of discomfort. The guiding principle behind gua sha is that this technique has the ability to break up stagnation, to promote the smooth flow of blood in the area, thereby relieving pain.

While gua sha is most commonly used to treat pain, it can also be utilized by TCM clinicians to address conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, fever, heatstroke, fibromyalgia, strains, sprains, and muscle spasms.

There are several theories that may explain why this ancient technique works: gua sha increases blood flow (microcirculation) in the soft tissue, potentially stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving opioid systems, and it may block the pain response pathways so you feel pain relief.

But how does this work with facials and skincare since you definitely don’t want to bruise the skin or cause long- lasting redness?  When it comes to facials and treating the skin gua sha is modified and the esthetician is much less aggressive when rubbing the skin.  While you still want the skin to get red you don’t want to leave marks that can last for days.  During a facial gua sha actually feels nice as the tools gently glide across your face after the esthetician applies a cream or oil.   Gua sha is used during a facial to increase blood flow to the face and to move lymph. In order to do both of these things there is no need to be aggressive.  I was even taught in the course I took to gently rub wrinkles and lines with the gua sha tools in order to stimulate collagen synthesis in those areas.  Following the gua sha treatment the esthetician can gently roll a jade roller all over the face in order to calm the skin.  Jade helps to soothe the skin.

You don’t need to wait to have a facial in order to benefit from gua sha.  If you have the tools you can do gua sha on your face for about 10 minutes a day if you want in order to enjoy the benefits of this traditional treatment.

Resources and Further Reading:

Image from http://www.buychinaherb.com

 

Facials, Facials, Facials: Extractions, Breakouts, and What to Do Post Facial October 8, 2012

While researching my book review post about Dr. Jeannette Graf’s book Stop Aging, Start Living I discovered the website Well and Good NYC and spent way too much time going through the site instead of writing my book review.  Though the site has a very organic, holistic, and natural slant which isn’t for everyone, and I found myself not agreeing with everything I read on the site, there was still plenty of  information on the site that interested me.  For example the few articles that I read about facials.

I’ve devoted quite a few posts in this blog to facials since they are my bread and butter as an esthetician, and I want people to better understand them since I find that there are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about facials.  Certain questions come up regularly when it comes to facials such as:  do you perform extractions during your facials (if you need them then absolutely yes), why did I break out after my facial?, and can I put on make-up after my facial?

Extractions

My philosophy about extractions is that if the client has blackheads and clogged pores the esthetician should try to extract them after properly preparing the skin for extractions.  I do not recommend doing extractions on your own at home since you can easily damage the skin.  Estheticians are trained to prepare the skin properly for extractions, know how much pressure to apply and for how long during extractions, and also know how to calm the skin after extractions are over.  Yet it turns out that not all estheticians agree with this outlook.  According to the article Extraction Wars:  Aestheticians Face Off Over Pore Pressure:

For many facialists, extractions play a starring role in a skin-care treatment, with steaming, cleansing, and exfoliating all playing skin-care backup. For others, extractions are cruel and unusual, banned by the Geneva Convention of Aesthetics.

Nothing makes a New York City facialist get on her soapbox quicker than mention of performing extractions, the act of enticing a pore or pimple to give up its impurities (a plug of dead skin and oil). It’s a topic with two opposing camps—and no middle ground. One person’s pinnacle of cleanliness is another’s trauma to the skin. …

The brass ring is clear skin. But most of us are dotted with blocked pores and bumps that we can’t fully clean ourselves—or we shouldn’t. “I don’t want my clients doing it themselves,” says Wright. “You need to know what to look for, what not to touch, and apply the right pressure. I’m good at it,” says [Jillian] Wright, [owner of Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Care] who admits she finds the task incredibly satisfying, “like a treasure hunt.”

Congestion can be partly managed by skin-care products at home, and you can exfoliate blackheads so they’re less visible, but the contents of pores just don’t come out on their own, says Wright. “They just fill and fester and stretch pores to the size of saucers.”

But what about the estheticians who oppose extractions?  What is the reason behind their refusal to perform this service?   According to the article:

In this camp are skin-care professionals who call extractions a “harsh invasive practice” that can leave the skin looking worse for wear. It’s an idea shared by luxe holistic-leaning spas like Sodashi and many French beauty brands. (You’d be hard pressed, ahem, to find a spa in Paris that does extractions.)

“Respecting the skin” is a cornerstone of Clarins, which frowns upon pore pressure to free the dirt and trapped sebum inside them. “We work with the skin, not against it, says Ewa Wegrzynowska, Clarin’s National Skin Spa Training Manager. “Pulling and pressing the pores weakens them and the skin fibers like collagen and elastin.”

Your skin looks good in short term, concedes Elena Chang, an aesthetician at  Clarins Madison Avenue Skin Spa. “But in long run, you’ve got damaged skin that’s lacking strength and elasticity.” And maybe an extra broken blood vessel or two, they say.

Personally, I see no reason to stop doing extractions.  Even following the proper procedures you help people’s skin not hurt it.  I also do not extractions if I see no blackheads and clogged pores.  Those clients luck out with me – they get a longer facial massage.

For my fellow estheticians – Skin Deep published a very informative article about performing extractions called Essential Extractions.  Well worth reading.

Breakouts After A Facial

Sometimes it happens and it’s a bummer.  A few days after a facial instead of your skin looking fresh, feeling smooth, and being blemish free you get a pimple.  It’s happened to me with various clients (including my boss’ daughter once) and though I know it can happen after a facial, it still bums me out to hear about from a client.  The article Should Facials Cause Breakouts? breaks down the reasons for what could cause breakouts post facial:

If you get a facial and your skin breaks out the next day, it’s easy to blame the facialist for flubbing your just-exfoliated gorgeousness. (And investment.) But it may not be her fault. Just what makes skin breakout after a facial treatment—and who’s to blame?

To find out, I asked leading aestheticians—Caitlin Conn, skin care director of Exhale spas, andElena Rubin, the facialist-founder of Ethos Wellness in Soho—for their take on the most common causes of post-facial breakouts.

1. The Chinese Cure

Elena Rubin says that two things are equally true: The skin should not break out after a facial. Yet it’s normal if it does. The latter she attributes to the “Chinese cure,” a term used in acupuncture, which means sometimes the skin (in this case) gets worse before it gets better. “Skin can take the treatment as a sign to detox. And some people have three years of built-up sebum, dead skin cells, and sunscreen in their pores,” says Rubin.

2. Poor Pore Prodding

As a facialist, “you have to be really careful that you finish what you start,” says Caitlin Conn. “A facial stirs up bacteria, and leaving it behind after extractions can absolutely cause a post-treatment breakout.” Conn likes to use anti-bacterial gadgets like light therapy (looks like a Lite-Brite panel or a glowing paddle) and high-frequency wands (sounds like a bug-zapper) immediately afterward. “These technologies are very quick and healing,” says Conn.

3. Over-Reacting Skin

“Some skin reacts to steam, facial massage, new products, or to the very potent drawing power of clay,” says Conn, and it can cause a breakout. “Clay draws out impurities almost too quickly. I’m cautious about using it and may just apply it across the nose in a thin layer, while using a hydrating mask on the cheeks…”

4. Over-Eager Extractions

A good facialist should allow plenty of time preparing skin for extractions—not just with steam, but with exfoliants and pore-opening oils and massage, says Rubin. “It’s about luring out the contents of the pores, not forcing them out,” she explains, a cosmetic courtship with your skin. “Then, maybe I’ll make a second pass over the skin after the oils have helped loosen them.”

5. Skipping the Cool Down

In addition to allowing the skin a 20-minute warm-up for extractions, plenty of time is needed for calming any blotches, inflammation, and irritation from extractions, says Conn. “No one should have welts or bleeding or blotches on their way out the door.” In other words, you should never leave the spa looking like you’ve had a deep cleansing facial, even if you have.

6. It’s Not a Makeover!

A facial isn’t a makeup application. It’s more like a workout at the gym. It doesn’t necessarily make you beautiful the first visit, says Rubin. Unless it’s a red-carpet facial (a treatment intended for immediate radiance or lifting only), “the benefits kick in after a few days, when the skin’s like, ‘Oh, wow. Now I can function better without that dead layer of skin and clogged pores.”

I thought the explanations offered in this article did an excellent job of explaining why you can breakout after a facial.  Personally I usually keep it simple when explaining to a client what happened.  I explain that a facial can bring to the surface a pimple that has been forming beneath the skin (the same is true with chemical peels as well).  Sometimes your skin simply looks worse before it looks better.  It is best to assess the true results of your facial about a week after you had it done, especially if your skin is acne prone.  If your skin is dry you should hopefully reveal radiant and soft skin immediately following your facial.  One last thing to keep in mind, sometimes what you might perceive as a pimple is irritation to your skin instead.  Perhaps a product was used on you that caused your skin to react, perhaps to become red or have small bumps appear.  This too should subside with time, but be sure to mention any post-facial reactions you had to your esthetician before your next facial.  You may even want to call the esthetician you had the facial with so that she can make a note in your chart.  That sort of feedback is actually appreciated by estheticians.

What To Do and What Not To Do After A Facial

I always make sure my facial clients leave me with sunscreen on and a few skincare tips as well.  For instance many times I will tell my client not to do anything to their face until the following morning after a facial simply because I’ve already done enough during their facial.  If  I’ve exfoliated, extracted, massaged, and applied a mask to your skin why would you need to then go home, wash your face, slather your face with AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) or Retin-A?  Sometimes too much of a good thing really is too much.  According to the article What Not To Do After A Facial Treatment you should avoid doing the following post-facial:

1. Don’t visit the steam room or sauna.
Why? You’ve been cleaned and steamed. Heating your face up is just going to strip away your just paid-for glow. Ditto working out. (Not that we like to give you an excuse.)

2. Don’t have a massage.
Why? How does a toilet-seat-shape imprint on your newly poreless complexion sound? Book it before your facial.

3. Don’t wash your face. (Make that, don’t touch your face.)
Why? You’ve just had it washed by a professional who spent 59 minutes more on cleansing your skin than you usually do. You can skip this step in the spa shower and at bedtime.

4. Don’t use at-home peels or Retin A/Renova for at least 72 hours.
Why? Alpha-hydroxy acid peels plus vitamin A is a recipe for redness. Give your skin a two- or three-day break from potent at-home products after a treatment.

5. Stay out of the sun.
Why? Even incidental sun exposure can cause sun damage and skin cancer. And since 100 percent of facials involve a scrub or a peel (anti-aging facials often include both), you’ve got a new batch of vulnerable skin cells on the surface that can easily burn.

6. Don’t pick.
Why? If a facialist leaves pimples behind, it’s usually because they’re not close enough to the surface yet. Leave your pimple for a day—a deep-cleansing facial can make a few naturally surface within 24 hours. Or call your facialist about a follow-up extraction visit, the facial equivalent of a bang trim.

7. Don’t apply makeup.
Why? Okay, you can apply makeup. But why not use your skin-perfecting facial as an opportunity to go au naturel? And if you’re skin isn’t at its best afterward, it’s time for a new facialist.

Personally I think the advice not to use Retin-A for 72 hours is a bit much.  I usually recommend to clients that they can return to their normal skincare routine the day after a facial.  Applying high quality, non-pore clogging make-up such as mineral make-up post facial is fine, in my opinion.  Sometimes people go back to work or out to dinner or run errands after a facial and feel more comfortable with make-up.  Having a mineral make-up on hand to apply following a facial can be an asset to your esthetics business not a detriment.

My Related Posts:

Image from globalfashionreport.com

 

Facials 101 March 15, 2012

Every once in a while I come across a great post on another blog that I feel I need to share immediately with my readers.  The latest one comes from one of my favorite beauty blogs Gouldylox Reviews which is a wonderful resource for anyone since it is filled accessible beauty information and make-up ideas.

Recently Gouldylox Reviews published a fantastic post called What to Expect at Your First Facial.  Truthfully, I couldn’t have said anything better myself!  The post goes step by step through the facial process – from arriving at the spa to entering the treatment room, and even includes really on target tips about how to tell if you are being treated by a good esthetician or not.  I always get a little nervous when I see that people are writing about spas and estheticians since, unfairly and unfortunately, estheticians can get a lot of bad press.  So I very pleased when I read through this post.

Here are some of the things, according to Gouldylox Reviews, that set a good spa and esthetician apart from a so-so one:

Since not all spas are created equally, here are my guidelines for what I look for. I’m picky, so if certain things don’t bother you, then carry on.

1. The esthetician must take time to ask you how you are hoping to benefit from the appointment (unless you are a regular client and they know you really well).

2. If they glower at you when you mention you use drugstore skincare, I would not return again. Nothing irks me more than snobby estheticians who try to profit by making you feel less, looking down on because of how much you spend on your products. Skincare can be very expensive. Many drugstore brands work beautifully and many very expensive brands do not. It’s a personal decision and anyone that makes you feel less than for not using expensive products is missing the point. They should be concerned with what is best for you. It could be that a Kate Somerville product may be perfect for you. But if you can’t afford the price tag, it should not affect the quality of care you receive.

3. The treatment rooms should be quiet and clean. Your esthetician should not smell of smoke, including her hands, or chew gum. Call me picky, but these two things make me insane and feel dirtier, not more clean.

4. They should always observe your modesty.

5. They should be knowledgeable about all products they use or recommend. Skincare is changing at lightning speed, and like any professional, it’s important to stay on top of what’s available and how it works. This includes products as well as treatments like lasers, peels and other medi-spa options.

Finally, if you are happy with the service, you should tip 20%. If you were uncomfortable or unhappy with your service, you should politely tell them why, so they can change and suit your needs better. A good spa will want to know how to improve your experience. While it’s great if you can financially swing a facial each month, it does your skin good even if you can only go quarterly.

Fabulous advice!  I agree wholeheartedly that estheticians should not be trashing a client’s home care regime – no matter where her products come from.  If someone asks me what I think about a specific product I’ll give them my honest opinion, but only if they ask.  Having said that there are some estheticians out there whose whole shtick (aka personal gimmick, attitude, ploy, or persona) is to have a “I know better than you” attitude.  Some people actually like this and don’t mind when the esthetician trashes their skin, their home care routine, and choice of skincare products.  I guess they think that the esthetician is an expert so she knows what is best for them.  Or perhaps they like being around forceful personalities.  Who knows?  Personally I don’t like when people treat me in a condescending way so I try to avoid doing this with my clients at all costs.  Plus I want my clients to come back and see me (and refer me their friends) so I want to make sure that they feel good about their experience.  In my book putting someone down doesn’t equal a positive spa experience.

Though I also agree that an esthetician should be up to date on the latest skincare, make-up, and treatment options available I think you need to evaluate this criteria from a very personal perspective.  If you know more than your esthetician about the latest innovations in skincare and the newest and greatest thing in the beauty industry is important to you than perhaps you should think about finding someone else to go.  But if you just want to relax for an hour and don’t care if your esthetician knows all about the developments in laser technology than you can asess your esthetician on different criteria.  That is a truly personal choice.  But as pointed out above since the whole skincare industry changes at lightening speed, if your esthetician hasn’t heard of something but is open to finding out about new things take that as a positive not a negative.

And if you are a beauty junkie or novice I suggest subscribing to Gouldylox Reviews for on-target beauty tips.

Further Reading:

My Related Posts:

Image from www.facefactsclinic.co.uk

 

How to Get the Most Out of Your Facial December 28, 2010

This post was prompted by an article I read in Spa magazine entitled Your Therapist Needs to Know … .  (Unfortunately at the moment I cannot find the article online)  The article outlines what information you should be sure to share with your massage therapist or esthetician before and during a treatment.  Of course I’ll focus on issues that have to do with estheticians and facials. 

Before you have a facial your esthetician will have you fill a questionnaire that will ask about your general health and about your skin’s health.  You’ll also probably be asked what skincare products you currently use, what skincare issues you are concerned about, and what you would like to improve about your skin.  If the questionnaire doesn’t ask you those questions, hopefully your esthetician will ask you a variation on those questions either before or during your treatment.

If you suffer from cold sores, especially if you are currently experiencing an outbreak, be sure to tell your esthetician.  Steam can make a cold sore worse or even spread to another part of your face.  You can still have a facial if you have an active cold sore, but your esthetician just needs to be extra cautious when treating that area.  And by that I mean, the area with the cold sore shouldn’t be treated at all.  If you have sensitive or irritated areas on your face, neck, or chest be sure to point that out to your esthetician.  If you have ever had a negative or allergic reaction to a skincare product tell your esthetician.  Hopefully the questionnaire you have filled out will have a place to check if you suffer from rosacea or eczema, but even if they do be sure your esthetician has made a note of that before beginning your treatment.  Mention if you have had precancerous or cancerous lesions removed from the areas that will be treated during the facial.  If you have just spent a lot of time in the sun or are sunburned mention that too.  Some of these conditions might be completely obvious to your skincare therapist, but it never hurts to gently point them out before beginning treatment.

Also please tell you esthetician if you have an infectious disease, especially one that could be transferred through bodily fluids.  Though esthetician follow universal precautions, which means we have to assume that everyone has an infectious disease, it would be best to alert your esthetician about such a situation.  If you are pregnant, but it isn’t obvious yet, or if you are nursing be sure to tell your esthetician since many skincare ingredients are off limits for pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Hopefully your esthetician will ask you what your expectations are for your treatment – relaxation, intense exfoliation, treatment of acne, anti-aging, etc. – but if she or he doesn’t be sure to let them know if you have any specific expectations from your treatment.  Of course, keep those expectations in check.  A facial won’t make you look 24 if you are really 50 (go to a plastic surgeon if you want that kind of change).  If you are interested in hearing about new skincare products or want to hear the esthetician’s opinion about certain skincare lines – ask.  Personally I love to share what I know about skincare products and most other esthetician do as well.  On the other hand, if you are happy with the products you are using you can politely tell your esthetician that.  Part of our job as an esthetician is to recommend the skincare products that our spas or offices sell.  If you don’t want to hear about other skincare products just politely let your esthetician know that.

In my opinion there are two other essential parts to getting the most out of your facial – ask lots of questions and speak up.  I always tell my clients “let me know if something doesn’t feel good, and I’ll fix it.”  Of course, extractions never feel good, but the rest of the treatment should be pleasant and even wonderful (the massage).  Personally, I’m a talker so I love clients that like to chit-chat about life or just about skincare products.  I am more than happy to share my knowledge, but if you just want to close your eyes and drift off to sleep during your facial tell your esthetician that at the beginning of the treatment.  You’ll enjoy your facial so much more if you speak up about something that might be bothering you during your treatment.  Instead of complaining afterwards to a manager tell your esthetician at that moment so they can correct what is bothering you.  Spas are driven by customer service so we are there to please you – the paying client.

And above all, relax and enjoy!

 

Further Reading –   11 Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your Spa Experience – Spa Magazine

 

The Healing Touch November 10, 2010

Quite some time ago I wrote a post called Why You Should Get a Facial ASAP.  In the post I mentioned how important the massage part of the facial was for both your skin and your physical and mental wellbeing.  Recently I was reading my copy of Skin Inc. magazine and came across a piece written by Jane Wurwand called Healing the Industry, the World and Ourselves about the power of skincare and how “professional skin care is a healing force, in more than one sense.”  Personally I read Skin Inc. in order to stay informed about the latest trends, treatments, and innovations in the esthetic world and normally don’t find much personal inspiration in the pages of the magazine.  So I was pleasantly surprised to read Wurwand’s piece.

Before I go into greater detail about the article I’ll briefly explain who Wurwand is.  Jane Wurwand is the founder and owner of the skincare brand Dermalogica which if it isn’t already is on its way to becoming a household name.  Not only does Wurwand develop products for Dermalogica she also oversees the training of skin therapists in 28 countries through the International Dermal Institute which is a center for post-graduate esthetics education.  She has extensive experience both as an esthetician, educator, and leader in the esthetics field so I certainly take what she has to say seriously.

I found quite a few inspirational things in Wurwand’s article:

Through this skin care profession that we love, we can change the world, one person at a time; maybe even save the world, one skin at a time.

No thinking person will deny the fact that the world is in need of healing. But, where to begin? The question and the task are more than merely daunting. The skin, far more so than the eyes, is the window to the soul, or certainly, to the being of a person. Genetics, environment, nutrition, hormonal activity; every aspect of health, every nuance of experience and mood present themselves in the living epidermis.

So my suggestion is that, rather than starting world-healing on the macro level, the micro level needs to be taken care of first. Begin with the skin. My experience of the past three decades suggests that professional skin care is a healing force, in more than one sense.

A client’s skin tells the spa professional a great deal about her world. Consider how the relationship between the spa professional and the client begins; they lay their living skin upon the client’s naked skin—naked hands upon the naked face. This sort of social touching is essential to civilization, in my opinion. It is nonsexual and nonthreatening, but today, is virtually illegal in the industrialized world. For example, any workplace attorney will tell you that a casual touch on the job can land you in court. The most essential component of humanity—touching—has been all but eradicated from a person’s daily identity.

When the skin is touched, the brain responds. Presuming that the touch is favorable, a cascade of feel-good chemicals rushes through the neurons. Endorphins, dopamine and serotonin flood the brain, balancing out cortisol levels—that twitchy, nasty stress hormone. Most powerful in this outpouring is the soothing, grounding brain chemical called oxytocin, the antithesis of cortisol.

Considering that the spa profession is mainly made up of women—female therapists caring for female clients—triggering oxytocin may be much of the reason that women continue to seek out beauty services, regardless of the economy or other circumstances. This is evident in Afghanistan, Rwanda and other places where salons and beauty schools fearlessly spring up out of the rubble of war. Women need, want and demand the reassurance of touch from other women, and this touch is the beginning of the rebuilding of community.

Health and beauty services are some of the few contexts in which touching between strangers is still socially acceptable. Some in the spa community believe that, for hygienic reasons, skin care treatments should be given wearing disposable latex gloves, as though one were working at a chicken-processing factory. This would nearly defeat the purpose.

 

Is it naive to think that facials and haircuts can change the world?  I don’t think so at all and that is why I liked the fact that Wurwand pointed out that both a positive, soothing touch and interactions between two human beings can help change the world on a micro level.  By being empathetic and caring estheticians can help provide their clients with a sanctuary from the real world even if it is only for an hour.  Such positive interactions can only benefit all those involved and yes, that might just help heal the world a little bit.

 

Why You Should Get A Facial ASAP May 12, 2010

This post follows up on some subjects I already mentioned in this blog, (like Why Visit An Esthetician and Quit Bashing Estheticians) but here I’ll focus on why you should get a professional facial.  I dislike the fact that many, many dermatologists and so-called beauty experts (and here I especially mean fashion magazine beauty editors) continually tell people that facials are both a waste of their time and money.  Obviously in my opinion nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Why You Should Get A Facial

 

Facials are great for rejuvenation and relaxation.  Facials will help improve the health and appearance of your skin especially if you get facials on a regular basis; you can’t expect big changes to your skin if you get facials once a year.  After a facial your skin will look brighter and healthier.  Additionally your skin will feel softer after the facial. 

The relaxation portion of the facial does nothing but benefit your skin and your overall mental and physical health.  The stress of our hectic daily lives shows up in our skin so taking an hour to relax and be pampered will help you out both physically and emotionally.  Massage is a big part of a professional facial.  Massage will help you to relax and will also reduce the stress hormone cortisol  in your body.  If cortisol is left to run amuck in the body it will only hurt you over time, and additionally massage releases oxytocin which is one of the body’s feel good hormones.  (For more information about stress and your skin see my previous post – Stress and Your Skin)

I’ve written before about the fact that esthetician have available to them a wide variety of skincare products that are  professional only products and how estheticians know how to use these products properly.  Finding the right skincare products is terribly confusing and expensive.  Getting a professional facial cuts down on that mystery.  After cleansing your face the esthetician will analyze your skin and then customize the products she or he uses during the facial according to what they have seen while analyzing your skin.  Without the training and knowledge of a licensed esthetician finding the right products for your skin can just be a downright futile endeavor.  Your esthetician not only will use great products on your skin during the facial, they will also recommend the right products for your skin type for home use helping to eliminate any confusion.  I consider a discussion home care regimes with my clients a HUGE  and important part of my job.   If you don’t maintain a proper home care skincare regime the positive effects of your facial are pretty much for nothing (except for the relaxation part).

 

What Is A Professional Facial?

 

A professional facial will include the following steps (or a variation on these steps): a thorough cleansing of the skin, a skin analysis, professional exfoliation (with or without steam), extractions of blackheads, clogged pores, and pimples if necessary, a facial massage, a treatment mask, and the application of serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens.  Sometimes the facial includes a hand and arm massage and an additional neck and shoulder massage.

A typical professional facial takes about an hour (give or take) to perform.  Consider that time a vacation from the “real world” – relax and destress.  Yes, you can do a variation of a facial at home, but can you really give yourself a massage on your own?

 

And for all those people who say “Facials Make Me Breakout”

 

Not only do I often hear from people that they think facials are unnecessary and a waste of money I also hear “facials just make me break-out”.  If you do break-out right after a facial that isn’t an actual pimple since “real” pimples take about four to six weeks to form under the skin before you see them on the surface of the skin.  What you are seeing after a facial is irritation or a reaction to a product used during the facial.  If you find that you are sensitive or allergic to certain skincare ingredients be sure to speak up at the beginning of your facials so that your esthetician can avoid using those ingredients on your skin.  If anything hurts or burns during your facial speak up again so that the product can be removed immediately and not cause you any harm. 

 

 

Bottom Line

 

So go get a professional facial in order to relax, rejuvenate, to have your skin thoroughly cleaned and exfoliated, to receive expert advice about what is happening with your skin, and in order to receive home care product recommendations.  Yes, for many people facials are definitely a luxury because of the money and time spent receiving them, but think about the importance of that “me” time.   Never under-estimate the power of a little rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.

 

Quit Bashing Estheticians! March 26, 2010

I’ve mentioned before in this blog how Dr. Leslie Baumann, a very well-known Miami based dermatologist who writes a blog I like a lot (The Skin Guru on Yahoo! Health) continually bashes estheticians.  And certainly Paula Begoun, the Cosmetics Cop who I wrote about in a previous blog entry, has little love for estheticians as well.  So yesterday when I received my weekly email newsletter from Paula Begoun’s website I immediately paid attention since the main part of the newsletter was devoted to the following topic:  “Why You Should (and Shouldn’t) Get a Facial“.  I’ll excerpt the relevant part of the newsletter here:

Whether or not you get a facial depends on many factors but primarily it is all about the aesthetician and the claims made about the procedures they offer. Often facials are nothing more than a series of masks and fancy machines that provide no benefit for skin other than feeling relaxing and knowing you’re being pampered. Claims of getting rid of wrinkles, de-stressing, healing, oxygenating, detoxifying, and curing acne abound, yet almost without exception those services are a waste of time and money. However, there are services a well-trained aesthetician can provide that make facials a helpful adjunct to your at-home skin-care routine. Here’s what you need to know.

5 Reasons to Get a Facial

  • A well-trained, licensed aesthetician can introduce you to a sensible skin-care routine (hint: it should NEVER be an expensive routine and to be 100% sure you’re getting the best products you need to check The Cosmetics Cop Team’s review on www.Beautypedia.com or you will be guaranteed to hurt your skin and budget).
  • If you have blackheads or blemishes, especially stubborn ones, an aesthetician can extract them for instant relief
  • In medically-supervised spas, an aesthetician can perform a chemical peel for improved skin tone, coloration, and texture
  • A well-trained aesthetician can perform calibrated microdermabrasion that bests the type of manual exfoliation possible at home
  • Facials can be a welcome respite from the stresses of daily life, provided the products being used are appropriate for your skin type and concerns

5 Reasons to Avoid Facials

  • If you have acne facials can make them worse if the esthetician doesn’t know what they are doing. Facials can make matters worse due to such treatments as steaming and over-aggressive squeezing that encourage inflammation and redness. And almost all spa brands for acne are poorly formulated.
  • If you have a skin disorder such as rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis. A typical facial cannot address these conditions and will almost always make them worse.
  • If you’re overly susceptible to hype and too-good-to-be-true claims, which run rampant in most spas don’t get a facial. Applying a series of masks isn’t going to purify or detoxify your skin or get rid of your wrinkles or pores.  
  • If the aesthetician doesn’t seem highly trained (ask some basic skin care questions to help determine this) or the spa doesn’t appear scrupulously clean.

If you expect galvanic or microcurrent devices are going to work miracles for your skin. They don’t work in this manner, and there’s no published research to the contrary. 

Much to my great surprise I actually agree with most of what Paula Begoun wrote about facials.  As much as I hate to admit it there are a few bad estheticians out there, but I will temper that statement by also saying that poorly trained estheticians are definitely the exception and not the rule.  The other estheticians that I know are dedicated and educated and really care about providing their clients with great service and advice.   Yes, many spas do make slightly outrageous claims about both their products and services.  Personally I believe in under promising and over delivering.  I want my clients to be happy with the service they received and the results.  Otherwise, why would they come see me again?

As for the final statement about galvanic and microcurrent devices not working I think there is a lot more room for debate on that issue than Begoun hints at.  There is a reason those machines have been used for as long as they have.  The issue is not as black and white as she makes it out to be.

I think one of the main components of getting a facial is enjoying the atmosphere of the spa you are at and having a positive interaction with your esthetician.  Those two components are subjective to say the least and guidelines just won’t help determine how you feel.  Above all, when getting a facial you need to feel relaxed, comfortable, and well taken care of.

 

 
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