Things are slowly evolving, however, as more and more dermatologists are beginning to offer the services of specially trained estheticians to their clients. Whether you get your facial through a doctor's office or through a spa or salon, some general guidelines apply.
What a good facial will definitely do: leave you feeling pampered, well moisturized, and deep-cleaned. Select a facialist with the same caution you would a manicurist. They must use clean utensils (towels, latex gloves, etc.) for each new customer, especially in terms of utensils used for extractions.
One word on extractions: When a facialist is extracting blackheads, or squeezing out trapped impurities from clogged pores, slight discomfort is normal. Pain, however, is not. Pimple popping or blackhead removal that is so overzealous it hurts can lead to scarring.
What it is: A gentle cleansing massage that unclogs pores and exfoliates the dead skin cells on the surface, leaving the skin thoroughly cleansed and moisturized.
Procedure: Skin is cleansed, then massaged. Next, a steam machine may be directed toward the face for a few minutes to open pores. Clogged pores (blackheads and whiteheads) are then extracted. Finally, facial mask is smoothed and left on the skin for a few minutes to tighten pores again, then washed off and followed by a moisturizer.
Good for: All skin types except oily.
What it is: This facial expands on the deep-cleansing facial with the addition of glycolic acid, which enhances exfoliation and improves skin tone and texture.
Procedure: Same as deep-cleansing facial, except glycolic acid is applied after extraction.
Good for: Most skin types, especially those with sun damage, but not recommended for those with highly sensitive skin.
Oily Skin Facial
What it is: An adaptation of the deep-cleansing facial, an oily skin facial involves less facial massage, which can stimulate oil glands.
Procedure: Similar to the deep-cleansing facial, except that oily skin facials use only oil-free products and include the use of astringents.
Good for: Oily, combination, or acne-prone skin.