Facial guide: How to know which type of facial is right for your skin

Time to treat the skin (Picture: Getty)

The facial market has expanded rapidly over the last decade.

New techniques have become mainstream and now there are plenty of options – some of which are invasive and require downtime afterwards, and others that allow you to spring straight off to the next event.

So, it can be hard to know which treatment type is right for you.

We’ve spoken to the experts about some of the most common classics and trending new ones out there.

From peels to LED to massages, there will be a technique that your skin will reap the benefits of.

Traditional massage facials

Those with acne should avoid this (Picture: Emma Hardie)

These are the facials that first come to mind when you hear the word – hands-on and simple, yet still effective in stimulating the skin.

They usually come with no downtime afterwards, and won’t be invasive.

Emma Hardie, skincare expert and facialist, says of her own facial: ‘It’s designed to lift, sculpt and plump and the skin using our renowned linear massage technique.

‘We use short, downward strokes rather than circles to work with the natural grain of your facial tissues, encouraging a fresher, healthier, and younger-looking skin, improving circulation and lymphatic drainage, and bringing up moisture from the lower levels.’

It activates the lymphatic system, which removes waste from the skin.

Facials like this suit most skin types, but those with eczema or active acne may need to be exercise some caution to ensure skin isn’t further irritated.

The Emma Hardie Facial can be booked at Harvey Nichols.

Chemical peel facials

You need downtime (Picture: ClinicBe)

Chemical exfoliation has surged in popularity in the last decade, trumping physical exfoliants in most cases.

Peels are more intensive, going deeper into the skin and requiring good aftercare to ensure damage isn’t caused as a result. (Hint: make sure you avoid direct sunlight after).

Dr Kubicka from ClinicBe says: ‘There are different types of peels and that impacts the outcome of the skin peel and facial. For example, one with salicylic acid will help to balance sebum production and calm down the acne prone skin.

‘Peels based on lactic, glycolic or mandelic acid will gently exfoliate the skin, brighten complexion and help with superficial pigmentation. Peels hydrate the skin as well. Retinol peels help with skin renewal.’

Peels are generally best for oily skin types, especially those prone to acne.

‘Sun damaged skin is a good candidate for peels as well,’ she adds.

Sensitive skin prone to rosacea skin shouldn’t be treated with peels as they can worsen the irritation.

Dr Kubicka says: ‘Darker skin types need to be treated with caution as they can be left with post-inflammatory pigmentation.

‘Very thin skin is not suitable for the peel as well as it can become even thinner and wrinkled.’

Deeper skin tones can still get peels, but it’s best to go to someone with a reputation for working with dark skin so the right kind of treatment is used.

Downtime after treatment depends on the strength and type of the peel, but it will be necessary.

Gentle peel facials can create some redness and skin flaking, while stronger peels will result in significant skin peeling.

ClinicBe facials can be booked online.

LED facials

One for quick rejuvenation (Picture: Light Salon)

LED is becoming increasingly popular, with many clinics incorporating LED segments into wider treatments, as well it being a thing in its own right.

The Light Salon, which specialises in LED treatments, is founded by Laura Ferguson and Hannah Measures. They say LED is great for stimulating collagen and elastin production.

‘By delivering red 633nm and near infrared 830nm wavelengths of light deep into the body, we can reach muscles, nerves and bone, increase blood flow and target inflammation, whilst supporting cellular regrowth and regeneration to help reduce pain and heal injuries.

‘Just like water, diet, exercise and sleep, light is vital for our cells to thrive and a core ingredient of a balanced lifestyle,’ they say.

LED is also proven in clinicals to help improve the appearance of wrinkles, and boost mood more generally.

There are different kinds of lights for different skin types, making this treatment suitable for most. One targets acne, while another is better for dry skin.

This is why it’s important to do a consultation first, so the right kind of light is used on your skin.

Even better, there’s no downtime afterwards at all – skin instantly glows and isn’t sensitised.

Book The Light Salon’s Signature facial from £45.

IPL facials

This one isn’t suitable for pregnant women (Picture: Debbie Thomas)

As a follow on from LED, there’s IPL (intense pulsed light therapy), which is far more intensive.

Celebrity facialist Debbie Thomas says: ‘LED can help with some of the same skin concerns as IPL does, but it will be much slower process with many more treatments needed.

‘I would say LED is a great maintenance treatment once you have treated the skin with IPL.’

IPL is designed to even out skin tone, targeting red and brown spots.

It can also helpful for acne and rosacea and will boost collagen levels a little.

Debbie says: ‘Breaks down specific types of pigmentation (sun damage), it can remove broken capillaries (tiny veins), it kills bacteria and reduces flushing.

‘It also stimulates collagen which can help with fine lines and pores but don’t expect lifting or wrinkle reduction as it doesn’t penetrate deep enough.

‘The most important thing is that the person doing it is experienced, they will tell you if your suitable. The problems I have seen with IPL is inexperienced practitioners treating unsuitable skin type, colour or skin concerns. 

‘Generally IPL is not suitable for darker skins, because IPL targets colour, and with a lot of pigment in the skin, too much energy would be absorbed – this means there’s a very high risk of burns.

‘While it is excellent for some types of pigmentation it is not good for melasma and often makes it worse – there are better options.’

Here there is downtime ranging from 12 hours to seven days. Pigmentation that’s targetted will go dark and flaky, taking four to seven day days to disparate.

Normally you get some redness and possible swelling which takes 12-72 hours to calm down.

Skin tends to look its best around 10 days after the treatment. 

D. Thomas IPL treatments can be booked online.

Cryotherapy facials

Sit in the cool beauty lounge (Picture: Young LDN)

Cryotherapy is a growing beauty trend, and it involves making the skin cold.

It’s suitable for dull, lackluster, dry, and aging skin. It also works for people wanting a quick fix, lift, plump and hydration before a special event. 

Young LDN’s aesthetic practitioner, Abbey Conley Senior says: ‘The Young LDN Cryolift facial uses CO2 at high pressure to push the high concentration serum at a low temperature into the lower dermis of the skin.

‘This quickly introduces the re-formation and stimulation of collagen and elastin within the skin.

‘The low-temperature pressure onto the skin also promotes increased circulation, nutrition, and oxygenation of the skin’s dermal cells, which then enables the active serum to be easily absorbed for optimal results.

‘The treatment is completely painless and helps soothe, hydrate, lift and plump the skin.’

People with rosacea or acne should avoid this.

Abbey explains: ‘Due to the high pressure and low temperature, I wouldn’t recommend this treatment for open or inflamed acne or severe rosacea, as this could risk the spread of bacteria or cause more irritation to the already inflamed skin.

‘Although we wouldn’t recommend this treatment over acne, great results have been found for acne scarring as the plumping and hydration effect also helps to minimize acne scarring pits and smooth the uneven skin texture associated with acne scarring.’

There’s no downtime, but you should use SPF after.

YoungLDN also do a treatment in which you get to try lots of different techniques at once. We got to test it out and you can watch the experience below.

The Cryolift can be booked online for £145.

Heated facials

Doze off (Picture: Sensory Retreats)

If getting cold isn’t to your liking, you might want to go warm.

Not only is this a beauty treatment, but the heat benefits wellbeing too – it is so relaxing, clients often fall asleep mid-facial.

Clare Anderson, founder of heated mask brand Sensory Retreats, says: ‘The heat on the face will improve the blood circulation which in turn is bringing oxygen to the surface of the skin. This brightens the skin.

‘Heat will open pores, allowing any further product to penetrate into the skin faster and deeper. 

‘The heat can revive and illuminate a tired complexion.

‘Good blood circulation helps cell regrowth and promotes healthier skin. Blood carries oxygen and those all-important nutrients to the skin improving tone and nourishing from within, it also carries away waste products.’

At Danesfield House Spa, they offer a calming facial with Sensory Retreats.

Clare says it’s suitable for most, but some should avoid the treatment.

‘Clients we would advise against having heat are those with conditions such as rosacea and folliculitis,’ she says.

‘Those with heat sensitivity, recent over exposure to the sun, recent scar tissue from an operation and recent aesthetic procedures should also avoid heat to the area.

‘Also a client with a lot of puffiness around the eyes may prefer to avoid heat.’

There is no downtime either, given how gentle it is.

You can book the Divine Glow Relaxing Facial online.

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