What do you think about facials? Are they a necessary pampering or a splurge of epic proportions? Most people splurge — as of 2012, the treatment is the third most popular service in the $14 billion spa industry (massages and nail care come in first and second, respectively), according to the International Spa Association.
But what can a facial do for your face that a washcloth and soap can’t?
Julie Vick, an aesthetician and owner of Bushwick’s Brooklyn Skin Therapy, is, not surprisingly, an advocate of the facial. “Facial treatments are a great way to ‘check in’ with our skin: They unclog pores, rebalance hydration levels and boost collagen,” she notes.
“A good skin therapist can help you understand your skin and how to get it in balance. Facial treatments and home care go hand-in-hand.”
Ling Chan, the famed facialist and owner of Ling Skincare, agrees. “A good spa should teach skin care — not just a facial.” Chan says she and her team analyze each face that comes in; there is no such thing as a one-facial-fits-all. Ling and her team still do extractions — somewhat of a lost art in today’s spa world. “This is not a pampering,” she told me before she began to work on my face with her pricey (but ultimately worth it) 90-minute Energy Lift Facial, a multi-step event that includes a back massage, peels, extractions and masks. Ling then gave me some products to test at home — her expertise and the treatment were just what my winter-parched face needed.
But not every aesthetician is as skilled — or honest — as Chan and Vick. So how to you make sure you are getting the best treatment possible? The smartest bet, notes Vick, is to try out different aestheticians to find one that fits your lifestyle and budget. “As a woman in my 30s, I know this industry does everything it can to exploit and confuse us into spending money on things we don’t need,” she says.
“I see it as an integral part of my job to empower my clients to see through marketing hype and make smart choices based on science, not snake oil.”
Follow Dorothy Robinson on Twitter, @dorothyatmetro.