How often should you get a facial?
The frequency of facials can vary depending on the type of facial, products used, and individual skin needs. Generally, a good guideline is “to have four to 12 facials a year, ranging from quarterly to monthly,” says board-certified dermatologist Blair Murphy Rose, MD, FAAD. Facials can come in a wide range of types, and a standard facial often involves cleansing the skin, massaging the skin, application of a chemical peel (in some cases), extractions, and a hydrating mask. The consistency of facials should be determined by the active ingredients used and their effects on the skin.
If a facial includes a moderate strength peel, Dr. Rose typically recommends having it no more than once a month. Although, a facial without a peel or with a very gentle cosmetic strength peel could potentially be done more often, meaning weekly facials are an option in that case. That said, getting a facial that frequently can potentially lead to skin irritation, especially if the facial incorporates exfoliation or uses products with certain essential oils or fragrances, which is why dermatologist Azadeh Shirazi, MD advises against overdoing facials, particularly for those with sensitive skin.
Potential effects of weekly facials
The effects of weekly facials can vary depending on the type of facial and your overall skin-care routine. Dr. Shirazi explains that, “If it's a gentle facial with a light mask treatment, your skin should handle it well. But if the facial involves exfoliation, and you already use exfoliants and retinol in your skin-care regimen, it may compromise your skin barrier.”
On the other hand, if a weekly facial mainly focuses on facial cleansing, massaging, and moisturizing, it may not pose significant issues. These activities are generally well-tolerated by the skin. Still, it's important to consider the cost and time investment associated with weekly facials and assess if they are worth it for you. On average, a basic facial can range from $50 to $150 or more. However, keep in mind that this is a general estimate, and prices can vary significantly.
What happened when I got weekly facials for a month
I want to preface this by mentioning that I consider myself fortunate to have generally good skin. Of course, I'm not immune to hormonal breakouts around my chin and occasional breakouts due to poor lifestyle choices (try living a "balanced" life in New York City!). My skin-care routine is ever-changing, but I aim to keep it simple with fewer than five products throughout the day. Initially, I felt apprehensive about this facial experiment because I spend a lot of time socializing, and the last thing I wanted was to show up to an event with red, peeling, or irritated skin. But my curiosity led me to give it a try.
I began my facial journey at Augustinus Bader's Skin Lab, where facials start at $250 for 40 minutes. With celebrities known to frequent the place, I felt a mix of excitement and intimidation—what if I ran into Lana Condor in my bathrobe? I was particularly jazzed about this facial, known as The Method, as my skin was super dehydrated from recent travel. What appealed to me about it is its completely bespoke nature. Instead of following a predetermined routine, my esthetician carefully assessed my skin and determined the combination of tools and instruments that would best address my specific needs.
Given the nature of my experiment, we decided to steer clear of harsh chemical peels or invasive treatments and focused solely on hydration. After indulging in a luxurious hour disconnected from my phone (which, in my opinion, is one of the true benefits of a facial), I left the spa feeling radiant, refreshed, and ready to conquer the work week.
For my second facial, I had the pleasure of visiting the Essentia Wellness Spa at Nobu Hotel Miami Beach, which had recently introduced its innovative "tasting menu" that includes facials starting at $190. It was a truly unique experience that added a playful twist to the traditional facial journey. The concept was akin to savoring an “appetizer” in the steam room, followed by the facial treatment, and concluding with a delightful “dessert” enhancement, such as a scalp massage or collagen hand treatment. Keeping in mind the advice from dermatologists to avoid over extraction, I specifically asked the esthetician to omit that step. The vitamin C treatment was kept simple yet highly effective, resulting in a vibrant glow that could easily grace a thousand Instagram selfies.
During the third week of my facial journey, I felt the urge to explore something new and address the remaining dryness and texture issues on my cheeks. This led me to book an appointment for a laser facial ($250) at Skin Laundry. I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive at first, but my worries quickly subsided. The entire process was swift and painless, expertly conducted by a registered nurse who was the only one permitted to operate the laser device. Unlike some other facial treatments, there was no downtime or negative side effects, except for minor breakouts in the following days as impurities were brought to the surface. Importantly, I noticed a visible reduction in texture, although consistent sessions are necessary for achieving optimal results.
For my fourth and final facial of the month, I visited Joanna Czech's New York flagship salon. Once again, the treatment was expertly tailored to address the specific needs of my skin, which, at that moment, required a break more than anything else. My esthetician appeared puzzled, giving me a "why are you here?" kind of look, to which I explained the nature of my experiment. What fascinated me about the salon was the array of advanced tools they had, some of which I had never seen before. We incorporated diamond microdermabrasion and LED therapy (LED facials at the salon start at $450) to soothe any redness and inflammation. As I walked out of the salon, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, I couldn't help but think, “I could get used to this.”
While the experiment was undeniably enjoyable, it quickly became clear that such a routine was unsustainable. Not only was it time-consuming and outrageously expensive (my treatments for the month totaled over $1,000), but there was also no real need to get a facial that frequently. After my fourth facial, I noticed that my skin had reached its limit. Dry patches and redness appeared around my cheeks, indicating a compromised skin barrier. I also started experiencing breakouts, which was not surprising given the overload of treatments my skin had undergone. As dermatologist Shari Sperling, DO wisely says, "Skin repairs itself naturally, and you want it to be able to regenerate itself." Sometimes, being too aggressive or abrasive can do more harm than good, and in the pursuit of journalism, I definitely took it too far. You're welcome, everyone! Although I miss the peaceful respite from my phone and the beautiful treatment rooms, I will be keeping my facials to the recommended monthly or quarterly cadence, and allowing my skin to recover naturally.
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