I’m frequently asked what exactly a facial is and how it’s different from regular, daily, skin cleansing. There are many steps to a professional facial, and the fun part is that each facial is a little bit different. If you’ve seen more than one Esthetician in your life, you’ll probably notice that the process is slightly different from person to person, but the basic steps are the same. While I offer a variety of facials, they all have the same basic components: cleanse, exfoliate, extract, massage, masque, tone, moisturize, SPF. Depending on your needs, we might skip the extractions or the massage, or we may change up the exfoliation process by adding a glycolic or lactic peel, or by using the dermafile as a form of manual microdermabrasion. Regardless of the type of facial you choose (basic, signature, dermafile, etc.), each step has a specific function for your skin.
During the first step of all facials, we cleanse the skin using an appropriate cleanser for your skin type. There are cleansers for all skin types, normal, combination, dry, oily, acneic, aging, sensitive, and so on. The purpose of the cleanser is to remove makeup, dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other pollutants that may be sitting on the surface of the skin, clogging the pores.
After cleansing, we move on to exfoliation. During most facials at Cara B., your skin will be steamed during the exfoliation process, to open your pores for the next step, which I’ll get to in just a moment. There are 2 forms of exfoliation, mechanical and chemical. During mechanical exfoliation, we use one of 2 scrubs. Both use jojoba beads to scrub and polish the skin. One has the addition of retinol while the other includes blue cornmeal. For more advanced exfoliation, the dermafile can be used. For chemical exfoliation, we use enzymes and/or glycolic, salicylic, or lactic acid peels. All of the enzymes used at Cara B. are fruit based enzymes which use actual fruit purees and extracts to exfoliate the skin. Sometimes the enzyme will feel tingly, which is the enzyme doing its job to dissolve and digest excess debris on the surface of the skin.
After the exfoliation is complete and the skin has been gently steamed, it’s time for extractions. Extractions are simply clearing clogged pores, essentially removing blackheads. The steam opens and softens the pores, allowing the compacted dirt and debris to be lifted out. Depending on the level of compaction, extractions can cause discomfort and occasional pain, though with the assistance of an ultrasonic skin scrubber when possible, this process can be less painful.
Once the pores have been successfully extracted, a gentle cucumber or mint toner is applied through either a gentle mist or with cotton to help calm the skin from the extraction process. From here, we proceed to the most relaxing portion of the facial, the massage. What’s the point of facial massage other than to relax you? Well, there are quite a few reasons! First off, facial massage can help relax the muscles of the face, which of course has a calming effect. However, face massage can also help tone and tighten facial muscles as well as create greater circulation, giving the skin a natural glow. Most facial massages at Cara B. use a hydration mask which penetrates into the skin to help hydrate parched skin. Now, depending on the client’s needs, we may use a seaweed mask or fractionated coconut oil for this part.
At the completion of the facial massage, we’ll once again tone with cucumber or mint toner and then apply a masque for 10-15 minutes. Masques are formulated to penetrate the skin once it’s been thoroughly cleansed. Some masques are creamy and deeply hydrating while also providing important nutrients, other masques are clay or even charcoal based which can help clear clogged pores. Yet still, other masques are gel based and have other benefits as well.
Once the masque has penetrated the skin, the excess masque is removed. An appropriate serum is applied prior to the moisturizer, though sometimes the serum is applied prior to the masque application. Serums function as sort of a lightweight moisturizer that penetrates more deeply into the skin delivering active ingredients to the deeper layers of the skin. Moisturizer is applied after the serum, because the serum functions minimally as a moisturizer, and more as an active ingredient delivery system. Moisturizer’s main function is to keep the skin hydrated by including ingredients like humectants, which draw moisture from the air to the skin, glycerin which acts as a lubricant to keep the skin soft and smooth, and a variety of natural ingredients like aloe among others.
After the application of moisturizer, the facial is closed out by applying SPF. At Cara B., we use a powder sunblock called Brush on Block which you can learn about here and purchase here. Why SPF after a facial? Well, after a facial, your skin will be more sensitive to the sun because the surface of the skin has been exfoliated/polished, leaving behind new skin that needs protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Why do we use a powder SPF rather than a cream SPF? This is all personal preference. I don’t like the feel of cream or spray on sunblock, so I discovered that powder sunblock exists and once I tried it on myself, and had excellent results (I burn all the time, but not once in 2 years of using Brush on Block).
And that’s it! Most facials are about 60-75 minutes, though our express facial is shorter at 30 minutes (perfect for a lunchtime pick-me-up!), and our signature facial is longer and more involved at 90 minutes. Dermafile is available as its own facial, or it can be added to any facial for an additional cost.