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Do facials really work?

You’ve probably asked this question to your aesthetician or dermatologist and I bet they gave very different answers. I have heard some aestheticians claim that dermatologists do not have enough knowledge with facials because they are only trained to treat skin diseases while dermatologists say that there are not enough scientific studies to back up claims that facials really work.

If your face is too dry or too oily, or you're always looking for ways to cover up unsightly facial blemishes, a facial may help. A facial is usually defined as deep cleansing treatment applied to the face, designed to eliminate clogged pores, blackheads, and other skin imperfections. It includes several steps that can include the use of creams, masks, peels, steam, exfoliation, extraction and massage.

However, there is no “ one size fit all” technique in facial treatment, everyone has a specific skin type thus it cannot be the same for all the clients. A spa facial is soothing and relaxing and is done to pamper yourself but not to treat the skin problem. On the other hand, medical facials start with skin assessment and consultation so that the skin problem can be properly addressed and treated. Proper skin assessment is important so as not to aggravate the skin condition. There are so many horror stories about “Facials gone wrong” and this is because there is no proper skin assessment or the facialist does not have enough knowledge about the client’s skin condition. For example, some skin care providers do condone extraction because it is included in the facial package even if it is not needed. The facialist will try pricking the skin until it bleeds, it will then end up with scars which are harder to treat in the end. Additionally, too much massage may cause bruising and sometimes may lead to skin inflammation and acne breakouts. Some “organic” products are too harsh that it causes severe hypersensitivity reaction or allergies (contact dermatitis) so their skin will end up worse than before.

As a dermatologist, I believe that facials can help clear your skin provided: it is customized for patient’s skin type, it is combined with other clinically proven procedures like microdermabrasion or galvanic treatment and done by a certified skin care provider. If you want to treat and pamper yourself, by all means go to a spa for facials. If you want your skin problems treated then make time to research and find a good skin care provider. Do not trust your skin to just anyone, you only have one face and you don’t want it ruined by just one facial treatment.


Gloria Octaviano is a Physician-Dermatoogist in the Philippines, she is a member of the International Society of Dermatology and Philippine Academy of Clinical and Cosmetic Dermatology. She is the founding partner of Melanin Aesthetics and Laser Clinic, Gloria is the clinical researcher and training officer of Nubody Equipment Ltd., Canada. Her office, Melanin Aesthetics and Laser Clinic is located at 10342 Whalley Blvd, Surrey BC. You can find more information at


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