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A smiling woman gets a facial.

Hoping to maintain optimal skin health and keep your complexion clear, radiant, and resilient despite daily exposure to environmental aggressors? Consider getting regular facials. They're like a reset for your skin, providing a deep clean, ample hydration, and nutrients that help repair skin and keep it strong.

If you've never had a facial before, the idea of getting one may be a little daunting. You might have questions like: What's the process? Do facials hurt? That's where PCA SKIN comes in. Here's what to expect from a facial, including the most common types, how to prep for one, and how to care for your skin afterward.


How to Prep for a Facial

You don't need to do much to prep for a facial. It can be helpful to arrive without any makeup on so your Esthetician can easily examine your bare skin. But if you're coming straight from work or simply don't feel comfortable not wearing makeup, it won't be an issue. When in doubt, call and ask what they prefer.

You can skip your morning skin care routine (except for sunscreen, of course) or use your usual cleanser and moisturizer—as long as you've established they don't irritate your skin. Avoid exfoliating the day of your facial or even a few days before. Most facials include exfoliating products, so you don't want to risk overdoing it. Spas and clinics often provide you with a headband to keep your hair off your face, but it's never a bad idea to bring a hairband or arrive with your hair back just in case.


Beautician Applying Face Mask On Woman’s Face


Common Types of Facials

You can get many types of facials—including fully customizable ones—but some common types include hydrating facials, anti-aging facials, microdermabrasion facials, and acne facials. Base your selection on your skin type and needs. If you're super dry, try a hydrating facial. If you struggle with chronic breakouts, you may benefit from an acne-focused treatment.

Additionally, most places offer add-ons, such as microcurrent, LED therapy, professional peels, or microneedling. To optimize your results, ask your Esthetician to customize your treatment based on your skin type and concerns, whether it be fading fine lines and wrinkles, smoothing skin texture, or fading acne or discoloration.


What to Expect from a Facial

Facials vary from place to place, but here's what the process typically looks like from start to finish.


Step 1: Consult

Before starting your service, you'll sit down with your Esthetician for a consultation to discuss your skin type and goals. Ask as many questions as you want (e.g., Is there any downtime? Do facials hurt?), and tell them about your skin history and any ingredients you may be allergic to. Your Esthetician can then tailor the experience to best suit your needs. For instance, if you have sensitive or reactive skin, they may decide to skip extractions or only do a light exfoliation to avoid irritation.


Step 2: Cleanse

Your Esthetician will start by cleansing your skin with a gentle face wash designed for your skin type. This will soften the skin, open up pores, and get rid of any impurities sitting on the skin's surface, like dirt, sebum, and debris.


Step 3: Exfoliate

Most facials include an exfoliation step to reveal fresh, healthy skin. This may come in the form of a gentle face scrub or a chemical exfoliant that stays on your skin for a few minutes to help dissolve dead skin cells. Your Esthetician will customize your level of exfoliation based on your skin type and what you can tolerate.


Step 4: Steam

If your facial includes extractions, your Esthetician will likely steam your skin first to open up pores and make the process easier. Steaming usually takes anywhere from five to 15 minutes.


Step 5: Extractions

Not all facials include extractions, but many of them do. Extractions help deep clean the skin by removing stubborn whiteheads and blackheads. As long as you're getting treated by a skilled and experienced Esthetician, extractions shouldn't hurt. They should only ever be mildly uncomfortable.


Step 6: Moisturize

The last step of a facial is all about hydration. Your Esthetician may use a hydrating mask, a blend of customized serums, or a specific moisturizer for your skin type. It will vary depending on where you go and what your skin needs are, but all facials end with some form of rehydration. You should leave looking smooth, glowy, and noticeably refreshed.


How to Care for Your Skin after a Facial

Now that you know what to expect from a facial, it's time to talk about aftercare. Before leaving, chat with your Esthetician about what they recommend for post-care. Generally speaking, keep your routine simple and use gentle products in the days after a facial to avoid overwhelming your skin. This means sticking to the basics (cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen) and steering clear of actives like Retinols and acids.

Most Estheticians recommend that you avoid foundation or any heavy face products for at least a few hours after your treatment to let your skin breathe. They may also recommend some products to help keep your glow going. Not sure how often you should get facials? Ask your Esthetician what they suggest—and, as always, listen to your skin.


Kaleigh Fasanella
Kaleigh Fasanella is a New Jersey-based beauty and wellness reporter with over a decade of experience writing for both digital outlets and brands. She previously worked at magazines like Allure and Teen Vogue before going freelance to write for a variety of publications. While she loves all aspects of beauty, she's especially passionate about skin care and helping others learn about and care for their skin.