Saturday, 26 November 2011

Cheat Sheet - What facial?

Despite their popularity and the continued growth of spas and salons - the average woman in the UK has a facial 'as a treat' across three occasions, a birthday, Christmastime/celebration or their wedding.

There is nothing more frustrating than looking forward to something, paying out good money and coming away feeling dissatisfied so I thought a general guide of what to have and when might prove useful.

Most facials contain the following steps:

Exfoliation (sometimes with steam)
Application of product

Types of facial


Will include massage, extractions, steam and possibly machinery


Lots of massage, possible steam and lots of masks/serums


Massage, clay masks, steam, extractions


Machinery such as microdermabrasion, light therapy, galvanic, Caci and serums/massage


Deep cleanse, exfoliation, extraction, masks

There are lots of facials on offer - this is just a broad spectrum to give you a basic idea.

Getting married

You don't want to walk down the aisle on the biggest day of your life with a beetroot face or spots. If you want to gear up for your wedding and you skin needs a little help...
  • Try and start around 4 months before - 6 if you can afford it
  • Have a couple of maintenance facials 6 weeks apart and then a pampering facial a couple of days before the big day itself
  • Avoid machinery, extractions and anything you haven't had before on the last facial before the wedding
If your dress is backless or low on the back - consider a back facial. All those people staring at your back acne while you're saying your vows. Eeww.


If you fancy a one-off treat for a special occasion go for pampering. 
  • You want something that includes plenty of massage, masks, serums and moisturisers to leave your skin plumped up and bouncy - something that will last for around 48 hours.
  • Avoid extractions or too much steam which can leave you red faced and dehydrated
  • This is not the time to have a go at those spots

Facials with a purpose

If you have any of the following...

Sensitive - avoid steam, deep clay masks, most machinery - especially microdermabrasion and blackhead extraction 
Rosacea - avoid steam. deep clay masks, fruit acids, microdermabrasion
Acne - avoid mineral oil massage - ask what they are using for massage - a LOT of brands and more surprisingly, well-known facialists use mineral oil as a massage lubricant
Ageing - avoid too much steam

If you are receiving chemotherapy or recently finished treament - avoid massage. Especially lymph drainage massage. Most good facialists should ask you to fill in a questionnaire before your treatment to highlight any concerns anyway - if they don't, leave. Simple as.

I've written previously on what to expect from a good facial - this will hopefully just give a little guidance as to which type to spend your money on.


  1. Caroline, your cheat sheets are like little nuggets of golden wisdom to us layfolk. Thank you so much :)

  2. Thanks so much for this! I look my best mate for a back facial before she got married, was a lovely treat x

  3. this is great for us who haven't had much experiences with facial! thank you for taking the time to share this :)

  4. I use the Spa as a special treat, but maintain a regular routine at home {about once a week} where I steam and do a clay mask. My favorite is French Green Clay and Rose Witch Hazel. I have a facial sponge that I use in the shower for exfoliation.
    I'm hoping after the Holidays to start getting regular microdermabrasion.
    Thanks for the post. It really helps.

  5. I can't justify the cost of a good facial most of the time but you've written such a good post. Now I know what to look for when I'm keen to shell out some cash & give my skin a pick-me-up.

  6. Oh to be like the French and have facials all the time! (Or so they say.) *If* I ever get married I am FOR SURE having facials for 6 months. My skin knows how to take the piss and I would do anything to have clear skin in general and definitely on that day.

  7. I have to say Bliss on Sloane Avenue was the WORST facial I've ever encountered. Absolutely zilch customer service, I got shepherded into the changing room by the harrassed Receptionist who didn't bother telling me where I was meant to be going until I asked - I felt like I was on a conveyor belt. Then I was made to sit in the waiting room for about 20 minutes, until the red-headed therapist turned up without a word of apology. When she asked me about my skincare problems, I told her I had quite a few and after I'd gone into detail she simply smirked "well I'll try to deal with ALL of that!" The heated bed was too hot and she never bothered asking if I wanted it turned out. Then came the extractions.... my God. She used some sort of metal implement with which she preceded to literally scrape away at my face and the pain was excruciating (I later learned that despite being uncomfortable extractions should never actually hurt.) By the end my face was red and screaming. Really unimpressed.

    In contrast the best facials I've ever had were Georgia Hewitson in Beauchamp Place, and Fortnum and Mason's, where the client's experience counts just as much as the end result.

  8. great info i'm not hugely in the know about beauty treatments and facials etc but its good to read

  9. You say you are not a fan of microdermabration what about IPL collagen boost facials? Just to improve the overall texture/tone/look of the skin & would you recomend a course of say 3 or 6 rather than a one off? Or is it the case that once you begin to have the more advanced facials you will need to keep having them to keep the results.(if any)

  10. Thanks for a great post! What are your thoughts on pore strips? Are they any good?

  11. I would love for Caroline to do a list of natural items that she likes/approve of? Like Lemon water, Apple Cider vinegar, Fuller earth, hemp oil, avocado oil, rose hip oil?

  12. Caroline, do you ever use or approve of Natural skincare? Like lemon toner, apple cider vinegar toner or exfoliants, hemp-rosehip-avocado oils? Fuller earth?

  13. I've read that Biologique Recherche's facials absolutely forbid extractions during their sessions...if this is the case, why do most facials include extractions? Thank you

  14. Hi Caroline,
    a quick question: where can i have a proper facial in London or in Paris?
    I come from Italy and in two weeks I'll be there. Should I visit Sarah at Fortnum & Mason's.

    thanks :)