Once the splurge of a morning coffee, facials have become an important step in keeping skin looking young and healthy.
Dermatologists say that it’s crucial for fighting signs of aging like wrinkles or acne breakouts- so make sure you’re getting regular treatments from someone who knows what they are doing! From calming irritated redness caused by shaving (or other irritants), to deep pore cleansing which can clear up blackheads – we’ve got your bases covered with our extensive guide on how often should I get my face done? But don’t take my word.
Even if you don’t usually treat yourself to a spa facial face, now’s the time. Regular treatments – if you can afford it, with follow-up care at home – can yield long-term benefits of facial, like warding off wrinkles and keeping skin hydrated.
Besides removing blackheads and exfoliating dry, flaky skin, facials help fade dark spots from long-term damage and bad habits.“Almost 90% of premature aging is attributed to sun damage and smoking,” says Susan Evans, M.D., a dermatologist with Skincare Physicians of Beverly Hills, Calif.
But skin needs to change as we get older, so it’s important to get the best facial for your age. A glycolic peel that’s perfect for a 40-year-old could irritate a 20-something.
I asked experts what to look for in a spa facial face and how to follow up at home. I’ve also included product recommendations, which are based on my 15-plus years covering the health and beauty industries for national magazines and as the author of two books, Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty: 1,000 Quick Fixes(both Workman Publishing). Here are the top rate best facial products.
What’s the Best Facial for your age? tips.
In your 20s: Start good skin-care habits
At this age, you’re probably not worrying about your skin or beauty routine. You’re too busy working, staying out late with friends, and having fun in the sun. In your 20s, however, you should lay the groundwork for maintaining that youthful glow later in life.“Prevention and maintenance, with an effective skin-care regimen, [are] keys to long-term healthy skin,” Evans says.
Neglect is cumulative, says Debra Jaliman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Not exfoliating dead skin cells, for example, prevents healthy, new cells from coming to the surface, leaving skin dull and lifeless.
Ignoring skin at this age may also lead to “premature wrinkling, dehydration of skin cells and the potential for an increased incidence of skin cancer from [sum] damage,” Evans says.
At the spa: Deep-cleansing facial face with masks of clay or kaolin (also known as china or white clay) draw out impurities – including dirt and excess oils – from the skin. Fine clay particles also exfoliate, unclog pores and stimulate circulation, which nourishes cells with nutrients. If the skin is dry or sensitive, a mask with botanical extracts of chamomile or aloe will soothe it.
how to do a facial at home: Good skincare should be as mindless as brushing your teeth. Make a habit of a four-step daily regimen: cleanser, exfoliant, moisturizer, and sunscreen with a protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more. Look for zinc oxide or titanium dioxide as active ingredients that physically block the sun’s rays. (For more on sun-proofing skin, read Is Your Sunscreen Safe?)Also, keep your face clean – and never sleep with makeup on.
My recommendations: Alba Botanica Rainforest Foaming Cream Cleanser for all skin types, $13.49, drugstore.com; Yes to Carrots Exfoliating and Soothing Mud Mask, $10.04, yestocarrots.com; Kimberly Sayer Organic Ultra-Light facial face Moisturizer SPF25, $32, futurenatural.com; Desert Essence Daily Essential Moisturizer, $6.29, Whole Foods.
In your 30s: Bust blemishes
Hormones rule in this decade. And that can mean breakouts – from your period, pregnancy, or stress. All can push oil glands into overdrive. In fact, adult acne affects 1 in 5 women between 25 and 40 years old. The thick lotions that kept younger skin moisturized can now clog pores – trapping oil and dead cells that mix with bacteria to create blackheads and blemishes.
Even if you never had breakouts as a teen, you may get them now. Cycling hormones and stress can also trigger eczema (a chronic condition causing red, cracked patches), as well as blotchy, itchy skin and other types of inflammation.
You may also see signs of aging, such as crow’s feet, smile lines, and irregular pigmentation.“In their 30s, people usually notice fine lines, especially around the eyes,” Jaliman says. “This area is extremely thin and sensitive.”To ward off these signs of aging, Jaliman recommends daily use of sunscreen and antioxidant supplements, such as vitamins E, C, and A, as well as beta-carotene and quercetin.“It’s also important to eat well and exercise regularly,” she says.
At the spa: “Acne-prone skin will only worsen if not treated,” Jaliman says. If you’re prone to breakouts, facials can help prevent them.
An aesthetician can do extractions to remove sebum (oily, fatty secretions associated with acne) from clogged pores. Don’t do this on your own; it can cause scarring if done incorrectly.
Look for facials described as “clarifying” or “purifying.” They have active ingredients made from exfoliating fruit acids like papaya, cranberry, pumpkin, cherries, and berries. These can help clear up congested skin and remove excess oil and dry, flaky skin.
how to do a facial at home: Avoid petroleum-based products and compounds with synthetic fragrances, says Evans. These can clog pores and irritate the skin. Instead, use light gels, which are nonocclusive (meaning they won’t clog pores). And “stick with natural compounds that are fruit and vitamin derivatives … and that will exfoliate and rebuild healthy skin cells,” Evans says.
Look for exfoliating ingredients like willow bark extract (a natural source of salicylic acid), beta-hydroxy acid and citrus extracts, as well as fruit enzyme peels, which help oily, blemished skin. Apply a mask or peel once a week to keep skin clear. My recommendations: Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel – Sensitive (for blemishes, lines, and wrinkles), $39, sephora.com; Naturopathica Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel, $56, naturopathica.com; Burt’s Bees Pore-Refining Mask, $7.99, local drugstores; Dr. Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel, $49, dralkaitis.com.
In your 40s: Stop lines, wrinkles, and spots
In our 20s, skin cells replenish every 28 days. But by the 40s, the effects of sun damage and environmental stress slows the process to 45-50 days, a delay that causes cells to build up, leaving skin dull and exaggerating fine lines and wrinkles.
Were you careless about sun protection in your youth? That damage may show up now as deeper lines and wrinkles.“People [also] notice broken capillaries, irregular pigmentation, and sunspots,” Jaliman says. Skin also may become more sensitive or blotchy at this age from sun exposure and perimenopause, the years before your periods stop.
At the spa: A peel – glycolic, beta-hydroxy, or enzyme – will remove the top layers of dead cells.
facials with skin-lightening ingredients like licorice extract (glycyrrhizinate), soy proteins or Indian gooseberry can reduce hyperpigmentation. And hydrating masks will help soften lines and wrinkles.
how to do a facial at home: Exfoliate at least three times per week – less often if the skin is sensitive – to get a glow back. Not only does this slough off dead cells, moisturizers also penetrate better.
If the skin is dry, add a weekly moisturizing mask and daily serum to your regimen. Serums contain highly concentrated antioxidant ingredients like retinol (vitamin A) to reverse sun damage or rosehip oil (vitamin C) to moisturize.
Also, look for skin-care products with active ingredients such as peptides, retinol, vitamin C, and antioxidants like green tea and resveratrol, says Jaliman. These increase blood flow to cells and collagen production and protect against free-radical molecules that damage cells.
My recommendations: Kimberly Sayer Organic Antioxidant Daily Moisturizing Cream SPF 25 with vitamins A and C, $32, futurenatural.com; DeVita Perfecting Time Age-Defying Moisturizer with Argireline and other peptides, $21, devita.net; Avalon Organics Exfoliating Enzyme Scrub, $13.99, local drugstores; Aura Cacia Sweet Almond Oil, $13.69, Whole Foods; Body Shop Nutriganics Smoothing Serum, $24, thebodyshop-usa.com.
In your 50s: Maintain elasticity and tone
Because of estrogen loss in menopause, middle-aged skin produces less collagen, which can leave it thinner and drier, with a lot less elasticity than in your youth.
“People find deep frown and smile lines, crow’s feet, thinning lips, and hollowness under the eyes,” Jaliman says.
At the spa: Look for a “hydrating” or “firming” facial, with masks and botanical oils that deeply moisturize. Treatments with sea plants – like seaweed and algae – are rich in vitamins and trace minerals that firm and hydrate skin.
At home: Look for intensive moisturizing ingredients and nourishing oils (evening primrose, sea buckthorn, carrot seed, borage, and geranium) to plump up and deliver antioxidant vitamins A and C to thin, dry skin. These kick-start the skin-renewal process and collagen and elastin production.
Firming creams with seaweed or algae-based ingredients also deliver nourishing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and help prevent the breakdown of elastin fibers. If your skin is papery-dry, apply serum first, then layer a moisturizing cream on top.
My recommendations: Naturopathica Geranium Regenerating Serum, $40, naturopathica.com; Juice Beauty Organic Facial Moisture Concentrate, $36, beautorium.com; Camocare Organics Instant Radiance AHA Lifting Peel, $19.99, Whole Foods; Burt’s Bees Evening Primrose Overnight Crème, $17.99, local drugstores; Kimberly Sayer of London Restore Anti-Aging Cream, $38, futurenatural.com.
Rona Berg is a beauty journalist who has written for major consumer publications, including The New York Times Magazine. She’s the author of two books about fashion and hair care topics: Beauty: The New Basics (Workman Publishing)and Fast Fashion – 1,000 Quick Fixes(both released in 2012).