I totally get why the skin experts consider facials to be regular complexion maintenance—kind of like car tune-ups for our face. Regular facials can help combat the toll stress , the environment , and some of our guilty habits take on our skin. And there is plenty to be said for that fresh, dewy glow and satin-soft skin post-facial (not to mention the relaxation of an hour of me time and a mini massage).
But even as a beauty writer , I’m always surprised by the cost of a good facial. When you're spending as much as $150 or more per session, whose budget can afford to keep up regular facial appointments—especially when most aestheticians, and even dermatologists, recommend getting one every four to six weeks?
My freelancer budget can’t quite handle a monthly trip to the spa , but I knocked a few fancy dinners and happy hours off my calendar recently to treat myself to an appointment with my aesthetician. While I was lying face-up on the massage table with a steamer staring me in the face, I steered our conversation to the best ways for me to maintain the effects of the treatment until the next time my facial-fund jar was full. What ensued was a laundry list of the things I shouldn't do upon leaving the spa. Nearly everything she said was included in my afternoon plans (sunbathing myself to sleep with a cocktail in hand before showering and heading out for a night on the town).
Here I was dropping $200 on a hydrafacial, and I was an hour away from undoing all the benefits I was counting on it to bestow. Nuh-uh. I followed my aesthetician's advice , then called in more experts to find out exactly what not to do after a facial—so you can reap and keep the results you paid for.
For the first day after getting a facial, you'll want to avoid these things:
1. Picking at your skin
True, you really should try to avoid this all the time, but your skin is especially sensitive after a facial. Though it’s tempting to pop every tiny black- or whitehead that rears its ugly face on yours, keep your hands off if you want beautiful skin. There’s a reason your facialist didn’t nix them herself. “If I've done extractions on a client, I don't want them picking at their skin any further, as it can cause irritation and potential scarring,” Chicago-based aesthetician Meghana Prasad tells SELF. “Sometimes, there will be a lesion that I leave without extracting because it's not ready to come out yet.”
2. Using heavy makeup
If your face is looking red from the exfoliation or extractions in your facial, you might be tempted to whip out your heaviest full-coverage concealer . Resist. Sejal Shah, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, says that because your facial provides such a deep cleanse, it’s smart to give your skin a break from makeup and heavy products for a day or so, because your pores are more open than normal and, therefore, susceptible to more bacteria. Taking a break from makeup will also allow the serums, creams, or peels that were used to be more effective. Don’t worry, you can resume your usual makeup routine the following day. The first time you do apply makeup after a facial, make sure you’ve given your brushes and applicators a solid scrubbing to avoid post-facial breakouts.
3. Stepping into a sauna
It’s tempting since most spas often have some kind of steam room or sauna available for customers to use, but it’s in your skin’s best interest to enjoy this amenity pre-treatment. Once you’ve had your facial, keep away from hot rooms of any kind for at least a day. Your skin has already been steamed to the max during your facial, and adding any more could lead to sensitivity and broken capillaries, Shah explains.
4. Hitting the gym
If you didn’t get the chance to work out before your facial, you might be tempted to sneak it in right after, but wait at least a day. “The increased heat in the skin and sweat can be irritating to your freshly exfoliated skin,” says Prasad. “If my clients are adamant about working out, I usually suggest they make sure to make their trip to the gym before their appointment so their skin has time to heal.”
And you'll want to wait a few days before trying any of these:
5. Using an exfoliator or face scrub
There’s a reason the directions on the back of most exfoliators recommend using them no more than once or twice a week. Over-exfoliating can damage your skin’s protective layer, lead to inflammation, and even cause irreversible damage. Since most facials incorporate an exfoliant—either chemical or physical—Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, recommends skipping anything that could irritate your skin for several days after getting one.
6. Applying acne products and other at-home treatments
It’s best not to overdo it on products post-facial, and this is especially true when it comes to harsh, potentially irritating products. This includes retinols , face masks, at-home peels , and cleansers and toners with salicylic acid. These products will turn that fresh post-facial radiance into redness. Experts agree you should ask your aesthetician for recommendations of what to use on your face once she’s done with your treatment.
At the very least, you should cancel any plans to sit pool- or beachside after your facial—unless you plan on hiding behind a wide-brimmed hat the whole time. “Because your skin has just been exfoliated, it is more sensitive and vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays,” Prasad explains. After a few days, you can worry less about your skin reacting negatively to the sun, but it’s still smart to wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to protect against the everyday threat of skin cancer.
Wait a full week before doing this:
8. Getting a wax or laser treatment
When your esthetician gives you the green light for hair-removal procedures on your face will depend on how intensely you were exfoliated during your facial, but Prasad says a good rule of thumb is to wait at least a week. “Waxing, especially, exfoliates the skin, and over-exfoliation will make it more likely that the wax will lift the skin and leave you with an ugly scab instead of beautifully groomed brows,” she says.