Skin Care

By Eudie Pak

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Collagen-Seaweed-Green Tea-Pineapple Paradise Booster. It sounds like some new ice cream flavor of the month. But would if it were the name of a new trendy facial treatment courtesy of your neighborhood spa? Would it sound that far-fetched? Strangely, these days, it probably wouldn’t.

From papaya enzyme peels to hyaluronic acid to collagen and red ginseng masques, the world of facials can be an understandably daunting venture for the first-time client. There are so many exotic-sounding treatments and new technologies emerging – how does one find a truly effective facial that suits the needs of her skin?

Beauty News NYC went to the experts to find out what the virgin facial consumer (and any facial consumer for that matter) should know before investing in a treatment. Here is what we found…

1. Facials are not face-lifts.
All of the experts we interviewed agree: be leery of any spa facial facility that over-promises you results or claims it can give you a facial equivalent to a face-lift. If you hear extreme phrases like ‘get rid of’ or ‘will make wrinkles/sagging disappear,’ you might want to clutch onto your purse and make for an exit. If it’s too good to be true, unfortunately, it probably is.

2. You should be getting facials.
It may not be financially viable for you to get one once a week or even once a month, but you should still make it a point to visit a skin professional for a deep cleansing from time to time. Your dermatologist or aesthetician has the technological tools and skills that will help maintain your skin’s clarity and overall health. Oscar Bond Salon (SoHo) aesthetician, Carrie Richman, explains it in this way: “I like to compare facials to teeth cleanings. Having them cleaned twice a year is better than not at all. Imagine your teeth without a professional cleaning…now imagine your pores.” If you’re looking for more than a pretty glow, dermatologist Dr. Bank, founder of The Center for Dermatology in Mt. Kisco, NY, and author of Beautiful Skin: Every Woman’s Guide to Looking Her Best at Any Age, believes that consistency is vital for significant change: “You should get into a facial routine in order to see any dramatic improvements in the tone and texture of your skin.”

3. If all else fails, there’s always the tried-and-true.
If you’re curious about that honey yogurt promotional masque that’s being offered to you but truly prefer real results minus the gimmicks, you can always resort to the reliable, science-backed treatments: glycolic acid peels, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion. These procedures have been proven to be effective for cell turnover, collagen production, and scar reduction, but it’s important to know your skin’s tolerance level to these treatments, especially with acid and chemical peels since certain strengths can damage sensitive skin. Microdermabrasion is the safest and least abrasive of the three but will likely require more treatments to see results.

4. Dermatologists and aestheticians are not the same.
Depending on what your skin needs are, you should be aware of the differences between what a dermatologist and what an aesthetician can do for you. At a dermatologist’s office, don’t expect to be greeted with a candlelit room and jars of rose-scented creams awaiting your hungry pores. Your dermatologist is a doctor, and you’re a patient, not a client. What your dermatologist is going to do is examine your face and based on his/her medical training, offer you the best facial treatments that science and research can offer.

On the other hand, if what you’re looking for is that candlelit room and exotic-smelling facial that will cater to your senses and relieve stress and tension, a visit to your local spa is the better option. That’s not to say that a spa facial won’t have efficacy and enhance your complexion – the point is to figure out if your skin goals lie more in straight-forward science or the aesthetics of a treatment.

5. Personalization/customization is key.
It’s tempting to try out the signature facial on a spa menu. After all, if it’s the company’s trademark, it must work, right? Well, rest assured, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. If it fits your fancy to try the hottest trend or some other generic facial on the list, then go for it. But, remember this: you should always expect the dermatologist or aesthetician who’ll be performing your facial to examine your skin and inform you of what he/she recommends. In short, he/she should have an opinion. Anyone who doesn’t isn’t worth your time or money.

For some experts, customizing a facial for the specifics needs of your skin is the right first step to skin maintenance. Just ask ‘Miracle Worker’ Tricia Cherry, a skincare expert for Skingenics, Inc., in Costa Mesa, California, who takes customization a step further by offering her clients a facial catered to the needs of every visit. She believes that a first-timer should find “an honest expert who’ll make a unique facial to improve the complexion each time and not just give a rote treatment.”

So before you book that appointment, consider all these points and expert opinions and do a little of your own research. By doing so, you’ll be well on your way to having healthy and gorgeous skin.

Originally published May 2007
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