Deciphering a facial menu can be as bewildering as choosing a cocktail from a six-page martini list. Here’s a guide to some popular types of treatments.
Sometimes called “signature,” “perfecting” or “renewal,” this is the classic facial you’ll find on almost all spa menus. “A European-style facial means the treatment is done by hand without any high-tech equipment,” says Kirsten Kayser, a licensed esthetician in Golden, Colo. The steps: cleansing, skin analysis and exfoliation, followed by extractions, massage, treatment mask and final application of moisturizer and lip balm. Facials can help clear away the accumulated grime that can leave our skin looking dull. “If you’re acne-prone, no product in the world will get rid of the gunk that builds up in your pores the way thorough extractions will,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, dermatologist author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.
Think of this as a very gentle sandblasting for your skin. Using a handheld wand, an esthetician sprays aluminum oxide crystals across the skin and suctions up the dead cells that are loosened. Some spas may use a diamond-tipped wand and call the service a “diamond peel.” Another variation is an ultrasonic dermabrasion, during which those skin cells are sloughed off with a handheld machine that emits sound waves. Whatever the instrument, these dermabrasion facials exfoliate and polish the skin, revealing a smoother, more refined complexion.
Done as either an add-on to a facial or as a service in itself, these light peels dissolve the superficial layers of the skin. A solution that contains fruit enzymes or glycolic, lactic or salicylic acids is painted on the skin. You’ll feel a light tingling as the acids or enzymes go to work. After three to five minutes, the solution is washed off. Studies show that even very mild peels can improve the appearance of skin, helping to fight acne and treating uneven pigmentation.
A pair of electrodes is pressed against the skin, emitting very small currents of electricity. Those currents may cause a mild tingling or a slightly metallic taste in your mouth. Advocates say that microcurrent facials are like aerobics for your complexion, lifting drooping skin. Many doctors, however, are skeptical, and the treatments can be pricey.
Photo: Corbis Images