Got a Valentine’s Day gift card to the spa—or a Groupon coupon? How to pick the right facial for your complexion’s needs.
You want: Younger-looking skin
You need: A facial that uses collagen-stimulating ingredients, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) which exfoliate skin and encourages new cell production. “When new cells are produced, skin produces new collagen and elastin, which are essential for achieving healthy skin structure,” says Celeste Hilling, CEO of the Skin Authority brand of professional skin care products. Peptides and vitamin C are also believed to boost collagen production, making them useful in anti-aging facials as well.
Featured facial: The Anti-Aging Collagen Treatment at Tova Day Spa at the Fairmount Hotel in San Jose, Cal. ($180, 80 minutes), begins with a gentle peel to reveal new skin cells, followed by an application of medical-grade collagen to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
You want: Major moisturizing
You need: A facial incorporating products like hyaluronate that naturally bind moisture to the skin. Hyaluronate, a humectant, draws water to the skin so it stays moist and soft. Natural plant oils are also easily absorbed by the skin and make for a great addition in moisturizing treatments. Just be sure any hydrating facial you book includes a gentle exfoliating step so moisturizers can be more readily soaked up by the skin.
Featured facial: The Deep Hydration Facial at G2O Salon and Spa in Boston, Mass. ($115, 60 minutes), is tailored to your skin’s level of dryness, but it’s the application of a moisturizing mask loaded with natural plant oils and hyaluronic acid that really locks in moisture.
You want: A brighter, more even complexion
You need: A peel or microdermabrasion to fight sunspots and hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal changes or acne scars. Serious microdermabrasion and strong peels are best left to the experts at medi-spas, but some day spas offer lower strength (but still effective) versions of these services as well. Just be sure to find out what sort of training your esthetician has received before you book the service. (Click here to find out what to look for in a facialist.) The last step in a brightening facial should always include an application of a full-spectrum sunscreen to help defend skin from future damage. Go ahead and ask for some SPF if the treatment protocol doesn’t call for it.
Featured facial: The Enbrightenment Facial at TallGrass Spa and Salon in Denver, CO ($110, 65 minutes) includes a plant-based enzyme peel to sweep away discolored skin cells. Post-peel, the esthetician applies a serum and mask containing mulberry extract and caffeine to treat and prevent future spots.
You want: A clear complexion
You need: A pore-cleansing facial using salicylic acid, which not only clears away debris, but also has natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties to calm irritation and prevent breakouts. “Sebum gets trapped in the pores with dead cells and this becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and infection,” says Hilling. Vitamin A can also help speed up skin cell turnover so dead cells don’t accumulate and clog pores. The typical anti-acne facial includes sometimes-painful pore extractions, so either request fewer extractions or be prepared for the pain.
Featured facial: The Acne Facial at the Ivy Spa Club in Minneapolis, Minn. ($110, 50 minutes), clears blackheads and blemishes and controls bacteria with the help of cleansers, mattifying moisturizers and spot treatment masks that all contain salicylic acid.
You want: Plenty of peace and quiet
You need: A stress-reducing facial that includes tons of extra massage time, is light on extractions (or extraction-free) and focuses primarily on easing muscle tension in the face and elsewhere on the body. Look for treatments that feature leg, arm, foot and/or scalp rub downs in addition to face massage. Aromatherapy can also help you relax even deeper. Bonus: Massaging the skin increases circulation so your complexion will look fresh and healthy post-facial. “The key in any relaxing facial is a great esthetician with an incredible touch and a passion for what she does,” according to Lindsay Campbell, lead esthetician at Hiatus Spa and Retreat in Dallas, Tex., so check out the sidebar below for advice on finding someone special.
Featured facial: The Ultimate Arden Facial at the Red Door Spa at Harrah’s in Atlantic City, NJ ($180, 50 minutes), is a basic facial that’s given a stress-reducing boost from a hand treatment and a warm stone massage for the entire upper body.
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