Procedure involving a variety of skin treatments on the human face

This article is about the skin treatment. For other uses, see Facial (disambiguation)

Facials may include the use of a facial mask

A facial is a family of skin care treatments for the face, including steam, exfoliation (physical and chemical), extraction, creams, lotions, facial masks, peels, and massage. They are normally performed in beauty salons, but are also a common spa treatment. They are used for general skin health as well as for specific skin conditions. Types of facials include European facial, LED light therapy facials, hydrafacials and mini-facials.

Facial mask [ edit ]

There are different kinds of masks (e.g., clay, cactus, cucumber) for different purposes: deep-cleansing, by penetrating the pores; healing acne scars or hyper-pigmentation; brightening, for a gradual illumination of the skin tone. Facial masks also help with anti-ageing, acne, Crows feet, Under eye bags, Sagging lids, Dark circles, Puffiness[1] and more. Some masks are designed to dry or solidify on the face, almost like plaster; others just remain wet. The perceived effects of a facial mask treatment include revitalizing, healing, or refreshing; and, may yield temporary benefits (depending on environmental, dietary, and other skincare factors). There is little to no objective evidence that there are any long-term benefits to the various available facial treatments.[2]

Masks are removed by either rinsing the face with water, wiping off with a damp cloth, or peeling off of the face. Duration for wearing a mask varies with the type of mask, and manufacturer's usage instructions. The time can range from a few minutes to overnight. Those with sensitive skin are advised to first test out the mask on a small portion of the skin, in order to check for any irritations. Some facial masks are not suited to frequent use. A glycolic mask should not be used more frequently than once a month without the risk of burning the skin.

Masks can be found anywhere from drugstores to department stores and can vary in consistency and form. Setting masks include: clay, which is a thicker consistency, and will draw out impurities (and sometimes, natural oils, too) from the pores; a cream, which stays damp to hydrate the skin; sheet-style, in which a paper mask is dampened with liquid to tone and moisturize the skin; and lastly, a hybrid/clay and cream form that includes small beads for removing dead surface skin cells. Non-setting facial masks include warm oil and paraffin wax masks. These different forms are made to suit different skin types (e.g., oily or dry), and different skincare goals or needs (e.g., moisturizing, cleansing, exfoliating). Clay and mud masks suit oily and some "combination" skin types, while cream-based masks tend to suit dry and sensitive skin types. There are also peel-off mask which are great for when you need to remove thin layers of dead skin cells and dirt.[3]

"Back" facial [ edit ]

A back facial applies the same techniques as would normally be applied to the face, to the back in order to alleviate rough skin and "backne" acne which appears on the back. According to the Universal Spa Training Academy, back treatments help to unclog pores, by exfoliating, toning, and nourishment. Back facials are also a great way to ease tension on the back muscles and heal dry skin.[4] The first step of a back facial is cleansing and exfoliating and after that a mask is applied. Once the mask is done doing its work, the back is then moisturized and massaged.

See also [ edit ]

You Asked: Should I Get a Facial?

Last year, Americans spent nearly $17 billion on spa services. A lot of that money went toward facials: treatments that claim to remove blemishes, combat wrinkles, moisturize, regenerate, tighten and otherwise beautify the skin so that your face looks fabulous.

But is there evidence to support the claims (and costs) of these treatments? Experts say it depends on the type of facial, where you have it performed and the skin benefit you’re hoping to get out of it.

“I was at this beautiful spa in Santa Fe, and the esthetician giving me a facial said the next citrus emollient she was going to apply would help cleanse my liver,” recalls Ushma Neill, editor-at-large of the Journal of Clinical Investigation and vice president of scientific education and training at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “I almost sat up in disbelief.”

That experience, Neill says, prompted her to investigate the existing science on spa facials. She published her findings in a 2012 report. Her conclusion? “I realized just how useless it all was,” she says. “I haven’t had a facial since I wrote that article.”

Neill says she doesn’t dispute claims that facials can temporarily revamp the skin by “moisturizing it to the max” and removing pimples and other blemishes. But when it comes to many of the fancier, pricier services that claim to combat aging or inflammation—everything from ozone and antioxidant treatments to stem-cell extract applications—most of that stuff is “complete malarkey,” she says.

Get our Health Newsletter. Sign up to receive the latest health and science news, plus answers to wellness questions and expert tips. Please enter a valid email address. * The request timed out and you did not successfully sign up. Please attempt to sign up again. Sign Up Now An unexpected error has occurred with your sign up. Please try again later. Check here if you would like to receive subscription offers and other promotions via email from TIME group companies. You can unsubscribe at any time. By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Thank you! For your security, we've sent a confirmation email to the address you entered. Click the link to confirm your subscription and begin receiving our newsletters. If you don't get the confirmation within 10 minutes, please check your spam folder.

Other experts reiterate that point. “As a dermatologist, I see a lot of patients with misperceptions about different creams and procedures and the whole concept of facials,” says Dr. Joel Cohen, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado and director of AboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgery near Denver.

Apart from moisturizing the skin, Cohen says most topical creams are unlikely to provide much lasting benefit—especially if applied sporadically and only in a spa setting. And while some chemical peels that use substances like salicylic or glycolic acid can help stimulate skin cell turnover and repair, Cohen says proper daily skin care—regular cleansing and applying moisturizer and sunscreen—are a lot more likely to be helpful.

It’s also important to differentiate among the many different types of facial treatments.

“If you’re talking about a standard facial”—usually a deep cleaning, followed by some kind of pimple/blemish extraction, a massage and steam treatment, a mask or peel, and a final application of some type of moisturizer—“those are about improving the appearance of skin here and now,” says Dr. Adam Friedman, an associate professor of dermatology and director of translational research at George Washington University. “But when you get into microdermabrasion treatments and microneedling and a lot of the other stuff, you’re getting into the world of anti-aging treatments,” he says. Here, the evidence is mixed or non-existent.

MORE: Want to Look Younger? Your Eyebrows May Be the Key, Study Says

“My own impression of microdermabrasion treatments is that they’re a total hoax,” Friedman says. “It’s basically a physical exfoliant”—similar to a store-bought scrub that mechanically removes the top layer of dead skin—“that costs a lot of money.”

Microneedling facials, in which short, very thin needles puncture the skin in order to increase collagen, may actually come with some benefits, he says. Studies have shown microneedling—by triggering collagen formation and skin remodeling—is an effective treatment for reducing the visibility of wrinkles and scars. “Because they’re punching all the way through the top layer of the skin, they create these channels of injury that may allow better penetration of topical treatments,” Friedman explains.

Better penetration is crucial, because some of the things science says can benefit your skin—from vitamins C and E to retinoids and collagen-stimulators—break down when exposed to oxygen and UV light. “The skin is an amazing barrier, and so it takes a long time for things to get through it,” Friedman says. The longer your creams are sitting on your skin and exposed, the less likely they are to do any good. (For this reason, he says most topical skin creams are unlikely to do much more than moisturize.)

But while microneedling could allow better penetration of helpful skin vitamins and nutrients, it also opens up your skin to irritants or allergens. “There’s always the potential to do more harm than good,” Friedman says. “Aftercare is as important as the treatment itself.”

For all these reasons, both he and Cohen say that people who really want to address skin issues—from wrinkles to age spots, acne and pigmentation flares—should spend their money at a dermatologist’s office, not at a spa. While spas are mostly about pampering and short-term skin improvements, Cohen says a cosmetic dermatologist will provide an informed medical evaluation and the most effective method of treatment—whether that’s microneedling, a specific retinoid cream or some combination of treatments. A trained dermatologist can also identify skin cancers and other issues that go beyond cosmetic imperfections.

“I have people who come in and say, ‘My sister had a treatment that made her skin look incredible for a few weeks, and I want that,’” Cohen says. “But everyone’s skin is different, so it’s not that simple.”

Another big caveat when it comes to spa facials is the lack of regulation surrounding the industry. Friedman says it’s impossible to make blanket recommendations because there’s no way to know what procedures or protocols an individual spa is following.

Put all this together, and you get a lot of unknowns and ambiguities around facials.

“I think there’s very little benefit you could glean from a facial that you couldn’t get on your own from cleaning the skin twice a day and applying moisturizer,” Neill says. And no, she’s not talking about expensive topical ointments and French under-eye creams. “I use Oil of Olay and St. Ives—that’s about it,” she says.

Friedman says a lot of consumers are lured by niche products featuring exotic ingredients from far-flung places. But he has more faith in big, well-known brands. “They have the resources to evaluate their products in clinical and preclinical settings,” he says.

“I’m also fastidious about wearing sunscreen,” Neill adds. In contrast to the science on facials, there’s a huge body of evidence showing that sun exposure ages skin. One recent study found that UV-light exposure accounts for 80% of visible facial aging.

None of this is to say that facials don’t feel great and won’t improve the appearance of your skin for a few hours—or even a few days or weeks. It’s also possible that research will eventually prove the worth of some popular treatment methods.

But if you want to look your best and maintain the youthful appearance of your skin without spending a fortune, regular washing, moisturizing and applying sun protection are what matter most.

Contact us at

Facial Definition & Meaning

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered facial-recognition startup Clearview AI to delete all photos of U.K. residents that the company has amassed over the years. — Jonathan Vanian, Fortune, 24 May 2022

Scarlett, meanwhile, remains concerned about the potential for facial-recognition technology in the future. — Rachel Metz, CNN, 24 May 2022

Users will use facial recognition, passcode, or fingerprint ID to register their identity through their smartphone. — Gene Marks, Forbes, 22 May 2022

Facebook has used facial recognition since 2010, allowing for quick and easy photo tagging and sharing across the network. — Stephanie Mlot, PCMAG, 19 May 2022

The surveillance footage was used to process Harman’s tattoos through facial recognition, arrest documents stated. — Amaris Encinas, The Arizona Republic, 6 May 2022

At the same time, a small but growing number of places have in effect banned law enforcement use of facial recognition, citing studies showing that the technology can have a hard time positively identifying women and people of color. — Libor Janystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 2022

First Advantage also uses facial recognition to match applicant selfies with their driver's licenses and gains access to applicants' banking institutions to verify financial information. — 23 Apr. 2022

What problem is facial recognition trying to solve? — Dwight A. Weingarten, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Apr. 2022

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

On the mask front, though, consider Hanacure’s take on an at-home facial crafted to brighten, lift, smooth, and even complexion in 30 minutes. — Kiana Murden, Vogue, 17 May 2022

Schumer, who is co-hosting this year's Oscars alongside Regina Hall and Wanda Sykes, paid a visit to celebrity aesthetician Georgia Louise for a facial before the show. — Kaitlyn Frey, 27 Mar. 2022

Brady's response isn't heard, though his facial expressed suggested he wasn't quite done yet. — Nick Romano, 14 Mar. 2022

Ready to experience the heavenly moment during a facial when the esthetician steams your skin and wraps you in a warm towel? — Mara Santilli, SELF, 28 Feb. 2022

This weekly exfoliant combines a blend of exfoliating acids, along with chickpea flour and pumpkin ferment extract for a brightening at-home facial. — Patrice Grell Yursik, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Jan. 2022

Its 3 1/2-hour Ultimate Escape package — which includes a signature massage, a hydrating facial, a manicure and a pedicure — is the height of decadence (with a $645 price tag to match). — Marielle Wakim, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan. 2022

Favourites include the Cryolift facial, a hydrating treatment that combines a high pressure shot of frozen CO2 with hyaluronic acid to hydrate, plump and lock in moisture and the Hollywood carbon peel. — Bridget Arsenault, Forbes, 26 Dec. 2021

When the vampire facial and lasers were finished, Dr. Diamond convinced Oliver to get a little bit of Botox injected into his forehead for the first time, too. — Alexia Fernández, 12 Nov. 2021

See More

  • Facial
  • Maryan Barbara
    Maryan Barbara

    Leave a Comment