For some, facials go hand in hand with massages—a great spa-day treat with results that begin to fade about a week after you get one. If this sounds familiar, you may not have tapped into the power of innovative, in-office facials that deliver targeted skin treatments with results that stick around and do some serious good for your skin’s health. Here, exactly what to expect from some of the top options users (and experts) can’t stop raving about, and for a good reason—they work.
To finance these and other in-office or spa procedures, visit CareCredit.com.
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Best for: Brightening and illuminating
What to expect: The double laser might sound intense to some—it combines both ablative and nonablative wavelengths to target top and lower layers of skin—but a single 30-minute session is all it takes for glowing, youthful-looking skin (your dermatologist will likely offer a topical numbing agent to lessen any discomfort you may feel). The best part? You can be back at work with makeup on the next day. The cutting-edge technology allows the laser to improve pore size, eliminate brown spots, rejuvenate skin texture and tone and stimulate new collagen all in one treatment. Once the 30 minutes are up, your skin will feel hot and will probably begin to peel a few days later—this is when the new, glowy skin comes into play—but when your refined pores, lightened pigmentation and brighter skin begin to shine through, the minimal flakes won’t even matter.
BroadBand Light (BBL)
Best for: Lightening serious hyperpigmentation
What to expect: A form of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), BBL is a nonablative laser that targets unwanted melanin in the skin with an array of wavelengths depending on your skin’s issue (read: great for dark spots, unwanted freckles, vascular lesions, rosacea and acne). Prior to treatment, New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD, explains that you should avoid excess sun exposure or spray tanning, products containing retinol and any blood thinners (like aspirin or fish oil) at least 48 hours before your treatment. When you arrive, you’ll be prepped with topical numbing and a barrier solution to protect skin from the laser’s heat. “Treatment is then administered based on your skin type and level of hyperpigmentation and vascular damage. Typically, two passes are completed—for best results, we always recommend a series of treatments (one to three) spaced one month apart,” Dr. Russak says. After the treatment, your skin will feel like you have a sunburn, which Dr. Russak says can last up to a few hours. Mild swelling and/or redness may accompany this, but it usually resolves within a few days (an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory can be taken to reduce discomfort). “Lesions may initially look raised or darker; they may turn dark brown or even black and will naturally shed in one or two weeks. Lesions are usually lightened in 21 to 30 days and will continue to fade over the next six to eight weeks.”
Best for: Tightening pores and evening tone
What to expect: They’ve gotten a bad (and extremely false) reputation for ruining skin (see: Sex in the City) but chemical peels are praised for their ability to totally reset skin by using acids to exfoliate skin and promote collagen production in minutes. The ingredients applied to the skin differ and depend on your skin type (some dermatologists mix up their own combinations or add a certain ingredient to treat your specific skin concern), but are often some type of AHA, like glycolic, lactic or salicylic, or tricholoracteic (TCA) acid. When it comes to the delicate skin types, though, Boca Raton, FL, aesthetician Cheryl Staurowsky explains that those blends of acids are often premixed to avoid irritation. The SensiPeel from PCA skin, for example, is a blend of TCA and lactic acids that can be customized to address specific skin concerns with zero irritation. By exfoliating through multiple layers of skin, Staurowsky says that chemical peels deliver a high concentration of active ingredients (much deeper than you could do at home) into the skin, resulting in diminished signs of aging and acne, as well as lightened hyperpigmentation and even sun damage.
Best for: Boosting collagen
What to expect: The concept of microneedling has recently picked up steam as a way to better skin at home, but the treatment originated in the doctor’s office, and a bit more seriously than in the kits you can order online. “Microneedling is a similar concept to laser treatments, but instead of a laser penetrating the skin, the microneedles lead to tiny insults in the dermis or microinjuries, causing minor inflammation,” explains New York plastic surgeon Melissa Doft, MD. With these tiny injuries, the skin is prompted to create more collagen, which we know is the key to plumping skin and filling in fine lines to evening skin tone and improving acne scarring. When incorporated into a medical facial, Dr. Doft explains that microneedling causes small cracks in the skin’s natural barrier, which can improve the delivery of antioxidants, peptides and other nutrients, too. Plus, contrary to popular belief, the treatment is not painful. “A numbing cream is applied to the face for comfort before the microneedling device—a rotating device with many small needles—is used over the whole face or the area of concern,” Dr. Doft explains. “Many patients are red that evening, but look normal the next day.”
Clear + Brilliant
Best for: A multitasking facial
What to expect: Fine lines, discoloration and uneven skin tone have met their match with this diode laser, often referred to as the “Mini-Fraxel” (because it was designed by the makers of the Fraxel laser), which delivers an overall more youthful, uniform complexion with no downtime. “After a treatment, you should notice an improvement in the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles or scars, diminished age spots and a more even skin tone,” says New York dermatologist Michele Green, MD. “But what patients don’t expect, is that over time, they’ll also see an increase in natural collagen production, which will help skin look firmer and more youthful, as well.” According to Dr. Green, you’ll feel like you have a sunburn immediately after the treatment, but that goes away in less than an hour. You’ll also have some mild redness. When planning your sessions (expect to have a total of four to six, scheduled a few weeks apart) around an event like a wedding, Dr. Green says to schedule your first treatment two to three months before the big day for peak timing.
Best for: Firmer skin without surgery
What to expect: “During a microcurrent facial, extremely low-voltage electrical currents are applied to the facial muscles, which mirror your own body’s electrical currents on a cellular level to repair damaged skin and stimulate collagen and elastin production,” Dr. Doft explains, adding that the intensity is so slight that it would take one million microcurrent machines to light a 40-watt light bulb. This treatment is popular for its ability to “tone” the face, almost like a facial muscle workout. During the procedure, a prong is run over your skin in a specific set of movements to manipulate and “retrain” your muscles, targeting those which tend to lose tone with age. Dr. Doft says you’ll feel your muscles twitching and may have a slight metallic taste in your mouth, but both will fade. A difference can be seen immediately after the facial, but the initial results will vanish in a week or two. “The results are cumulative,” says Dr. Doft. “For sustained firming, we recommend a treatment course of 10–15 weekly treatments within the first three months and then monthly maintenance. The result is a reduction in puffiness, improved muscle tone and an increase in cellular activity, leading to firmer skin.”
Best for: A quick glow
What to expect: Designed to replenish the levels of oxygen found in your skin, this facial also smooths out wrinkles and delivers an immediate glow. Plus, it clocks in at around half an hour with zero downtime. Here’s how it works: After cleansing and exfoliating, hyaluronic acid will be applied before a wand-like device is used to deliver pressurized oxygen into your skin. Minutes later, you’ll look like you applied coats of highlighter and took an eight-hour nap.Image/Getty
Best for: A surge of moisture
What to expect: Popular before special events because of its ability to deliver a glow like no other facial can, this treatment utilizes a handpiece boasting Vortex-Fusion technology and a disposable tip to cleanse, exfoliate and extract impurities from pores without any of the pain commonly associated with other detoxing facials (some compare the sensation to having a sonic toothbrush running over the skin). Once skin is entirely exfoliated, a hefty application of targeted serums rich in peptides, antioxidants and hyaluronic follows to address specific skin concerns and to deliver a luminous, plump glow. Post treatment, you’ll notice a dramatic improvement in hydration as well as lessened hyperpigmentation, oil and congestion around your trouble spots for a complexion you won’t want to hide with concealer.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP)
Best for: A natural solution to dullness
What to expect: Perhaps the newest facial to gain traction within the celebrity circle, this treatment, popularly known as the “Vampire Facial” utilizes your own blood—it’s drawn in-office before being spun in a centrifuge to concentrate the plasma—in order to stimulate natural healing. Your doctor or aesthetician will use a microneedling device to create microscopic injuries (or “holes”) all over your skin before applying the blood solution, which is said to boost cellular regeneration and collagen production through harnessing the body’s natural healing system. Dermatologists are even using it now to stimulate hair growth! But, you won’t see results immediately—your face will look red and, well, bloody, after the treatment and up to a few days later—but a few months later, you’ll begin to see glowing, radiant skin looking back at you in the mirror—no fancy potions or lotions required.
Best for: A clean sweep plus a targeted treatment
What to expect: A celebrity favorite for a reason, this dermalinfusion treatment marries diamond-assisted microdermabrasion (the exfoliating diamond tip is surrounded by “pneumatic suction,” which works as a vacuum to sweep up dry, damaged skin and debris) with a deep infusion of condition-specific serums—these range from brightening to hydrating—for optimal delivery deep into the skin. During the treatment, you’ll feel the scraping sensation—it can feel a bit abrasive in some areas, but nothing intolerable—as well as the suctioning and depositing of the serum around the entirety of your face and neck (the treatment can also be done on the body!). The result is a plumper complexion (according to the brand, the facial can increase volume by up to 70 percent!) and a smoother, clearer canvas.
Best for: Sensitive skin in need of results
What to expect: If you have supersensitive skin and a low pain tolerance, LED photofacials are for you. These offerings utilize infrared light to improve hyperpigmentation, acne and aging skin with barely any contact if any (all you’ll feel is warmth). Your skin is cleansed before the LED tool begins to emit red, white and blue infrared lights to deliver different results—red stimulates collagen production, white penetrates the deepest to tone skin and blue is used to minimize acne-causing bacteria—for around half an hour. You’ll begin to see results immediately, but your dermatologist or aesthetician may recommend weekly or monthly treatments for best results.
To finance these and other in-office or spa procedures, visit CareCredit.com.
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