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Five of the Most Common Facial Treatments at the Spa

BY: Editorial Staff | Feb 27, 2019

Interested in a facial? Here's what to know about the most popular spa facial treatments.

A day at the spa is incomplete without a facial treatment. Your tired skin could use a pick-me-up, but it can be tough to decide exactly which treatment to choose. We suggest starting with the basics. Read on for a bucket list of spa facial treatment classics for you to check off with each spa visit.

LED Light Therapy

Treats: Fine lines, sagging skin, acne

What is it? Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) give off heat-free light that passes through the skin to affect its deeper layers in different ways, depending on the light’s wavelength. Aestheticians shine the different kinds of light onto the face during sessions, which typically last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour and a half.

How does it work? Red light stimulates skin cells to produce collagen and elastin, two proteins that make skin look firmer. Blue light, on the other hand, kills acne-causing bacteria to prevent future breakouts and shrink pores.

How often can you get one? For optimal results, a series of treatments spaced a few weeks apart is recommended.

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European Facial

Treats: Clogged pores, dull skin, blackheads, irritation

What is it? The european facial, a spa treatment staple, is the most common type of facial. It’s designed to deep-clean the skin and rid it of impurities on the surface.

How does it work? While there are variations, its components remain the same: cleansing, exfoliation, steam, extractions (typically optional), a massage, a soothing mask, and a moisturizer with sunblock.

How often can you get one? Every few weeks, since it’s recommended for simple skin upkeep rather than specialized care.

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Oxygen Facial

Treats: Fine lines, sagging skin, imperfections

What is it? The oxygen facial became popular among celebrities for its ability to refresh the skin right before a red-carpet appearance. It instantly plumps and lifts skin, without the telltale redness of other facial treatments, so it is immediately ready for makeup application.

How does it work? An aesthetician uses an airbrush to spray pressurized oxygen and custom skincare serums onto the face. The oxygen supposedly boosts the skin’s intake of the anti-aging and moisturizing products, which can reduce the tiny flaws that might otherwise show up on camera.

How often can you get one? Every week. The oxygen facial’s effects are immediately apparent but tend to fade over the next few days.

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Microdermabrasion

Treats: age spots, sun damage, blemishes, fine lines, stretch marks, acne scars, dullness

What is it? Microdermabrasion essentially buffs away the outermost layer of skin on the epidermis to expose the smoother, fresher cells underneath. The procedure evens skin tone and diminishes the appearance of fine lines. It also improves the skin’s absorption of lotions and creams.

How does it work? An aesthetician can perform microdermabrasion with one of two tools. One sprays small exfoliating crystals, while at the same time vacuuming them up along with the sloughed-off skin cells. The other uses a diamond-covered tip to scrub off that outer layer of skin.

How often can you get one? The treatment requires no downtime for recovery. Generally, once a month is recommended.

Read our microdermabrasion FAQs and watch a video to see how it works.

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Chemical Peel

Treats: uneven pigmentation, sun damage, acne, fine lines

What is it? A chemical peel will use glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid, or a combination, to treat skin. From most to least irritating. Glycolic acid targets fine lines, while lactic treats aging or sun spots; salicylic acid is a good choice for acne or oily skin. All peels are similar to microdermabrasion in that they remove the skin’s top layer of cells, albeit chemically rather than mechanically.

How does it work? An aesthetician brushes a solution onto the face, where it sits for up to 15 minutes before being washed off with water. The solution might cause a slight stinging sensation as it breaks apart the exposed skin layer. The end result is a clearer, more uniform skin tone.

How often can you get one? The skin might be red and somewhat flaky in the days following the procedure. However, these effects should not be severe. Peels should be spaced one to two months apart.

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This article was originally written by Mel Kassel in 2016 and has since been updated by our editors.

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