Often times, we think of facials in the same vein as a bubble bath surrounded by candles, or a day spent watching Netflix with your favorite pint of ice cream: a fun and relaxing form of self-care.
But as it turns out, professional facials aren't just beneficial to the spirit—they're also a crucial part of the process of repairing the skin, and an important form of preventative care. "It’s important to maintain our skin the way it is [rather] than start trying to do corrective treatments in the future,” says Chicago-based licensed esthetician Ashley White. “It’s similar to working out, right? I’m going to see my personal trainer once a month, but I still need to be doing the work at home. I still need to be meal prepping. You still have that point of contact, that person who has the expertise to make sure you’re still on track. I do think facials are crucial in terms of maintaining skin health.”
But much like hours in front of the TV or a delicious frozen dessert, you can certainly have too much of a good thing. Read on to find out what the experts say when it comes to how often you should be getting facials.
Meet the Expert
What is a Facial?
Before we dive into frequency, let's begin with the basics—what is a standard facial, and what are the different forms of facials? The classic facial consists of a basic cleanse, steam, exfoliation, extractions, a mask, and follow-up with serums. The cost of a basic facial not only varies by provider, but city to city, as well. According to White, the average facial in Chicago is about $75-80, about $100-120 in New York (with Los Angeles coming in around the same price), and Atlanta averaging about $60-70. Additions to this skincare process are what makes every facial special, depending on the needs of the person getting it. Popular add-ons include:
- Microdermabrasion for removing dead skin, improving skin tone, and reducing acne
- Chemical peel for removing dead skin and anti-aging
- Red/Blue Light Therapy to reduce inflammation and increase collagen production
- Dermalinfusion for cleaning dirt and dead skin out of the pores, as well as hyperpigmentation, acne, and anti-aging
- Hydro Jelly Mask to reduce inflammation
How Often Should You Be Getting Facials?
And now to the question at hand: how often should you be going in for a facial? For Dr. Lavanya Krishnan, founder of San Francisco dermatology practice, Arya Derm, why you're getting the facial is the most important part of the equation. For those with severe acne, she suggests clients come in once a week until they start to see results, and then every four to six weeks after that. To help with breakouts and inflammation, treatments for those with acneic skin most likely include salicylic acid or glycolic acid to help clean out the pores fully. If your concerns are anti-aging and hydration, she recommends once a month to once every three months, depending on skin type and budget.
As for White, she typically sees her clients on a monthly basis, unless a more involved treatment is being done; for example, if a client is doing something like a peel series during the cooler months, they could come in as often as two to three weeks depending on their skin and the type of peel they’re getting. Unlike, Krishnan, White likes to see her acneic clients more frequently: every three to four weeks to track congestion and deal with extractions. And for those who come to her for maintenance, she sees them every four to six weeks.
Facial add-ons and extras are great, but only when used in moderation (i.e. not every visit). “The blue and red light therapy doesn’t need to be done every single time,” stressed Krishnan. “If you’re doing more intense chemical peels, that’s not something you need to do once a month if you’re coming in for maintenance. Sometimes chemical peels can take a week to heal from ... that’s something you can do once every three to six months.”
With so many options to get your face in the best shape, always be sure to make a consultation with either a dermatologist or an esthetician to have them explain what’s best for the skincare goals you’re trying to achieve. White recommends asking for an explanation of everything the skincare professional is going to be doing and about the process itself, including why they chose a particular service for you and how much money you will be spending over the course of three months, six months, or more. She also suggests that if you can’t get a facial once a month, at least go once a season to help with skin changes and product effectiveness.
“We wouldn’t go to the gym and expect to lose 30 lbs in one session, so going into a facial, don’t expect your skin to do a total 180,” says White. “When it comes to our skin, we don’t have the same patience as when it comes to other aspects of self-care.” It’s going to take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your skin isn’t going to show significant results overnight, but diligence is key.