The 3-step facial formula that will stop breakouts in their tracks


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Photo: Stocksy/Leandro Crespi

If there’s one question that my friends ask me, their beauty editor BFF, about the most often, it’s “What type of facial should I get for my breakout?” I get it—when you’re faced with acne, it’s tempting to put your skin in the hands of an esthetician for professional-level help. But, if you’re mid-breakout, not all facial treatments are going to help—so you’re going to want to be sure you’re finding the right one.

“Facials will extract dirt, impurities, dead skin, and product build-up, leaving the skin radiant and visibly clearer after one treatment,” says Vanessa Marc, a New York-based celebrity facialist. The one that best fits the bill for quashing acne? A triple-threat formula that features a chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and light therapy.

“We highly recommend doing a medical grade chemical peel,” says Marc, who explains that these types of treatments kill acne-causing bacteria to help prevent future breakouts. San Fransico-based facialist and founder of Spa Radiance, Angelina Umansky, echoes this sentiment, saying that she “loves doing peels when a client is breaking out.” She’s a particular fan of using salicylic acid for the job because it “kills bacteria much better,” she says.

Next comes microdermabrasion, which acts as a light physical exfoliant. “Microdermabrasion helps to get the chemical peel in a little deeper and helps with blackhead removal,” says Umansky. However, she warns that if it isn’t done correctly it can potentially backfire and spread acne, so you’ll want to make sure you’re leaving your face at the hands of a professional. Finally, it’s best to finish things off  with a blue and red light treatment. Also known as phototherapy, this process gently penetrates the skin to target what’s going on beneath the surface. The blue light kills acne-causing bacteria, then the red light stimulates collagen production and “gets your healthy skin cells working to help with healing,” says Umansky.

Stick with this three-part formula to stop breakouts in their tracks, and be sure to avoid microneedling, hydrating, and microcurrent facials… at least, until your skin clears up. “Too much massage on the face can lead to you breaking out even more,” says Umansky. “If you get too long of a massage, the skin can purge from too much stimulation.” She says that microcurrent is also too much stimulation for breakouts. Microneedling, on the other hand, can make your inflamed skin even angrier. “It can spread impurities, because if there’s acne, the needle goes in and the puss then spreads all over the skin,” she says.

After your skin is bright and glowy again post-facial, Marc recommends doing more regular facials. “These will clear any skin congestion and remove any build-up that could cause acne,” she says. Take it from an esthetician.

Watch what it’s like to get a gemstone-acupuncture-hybrid facial, below: 

Consider copying this French skin-care routine, courtesy of a Parisian facialist. And here’s what getting the most expensive facial treatment out here *really* entails. 

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