Spa Facials vs Medical Facials

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They may help instill a sense of relaxation but treating yourself to regular facials is also essential to maintaining a regular pattern of exfoliation and healthy skin. When the skin is properly and frequently exfoliated, the normal rate of cell turnover ensues, which translates to softer skin that is more even in tone, less prone to breakouts and shows fewer signs of aging.

Spa Facials vs Medical Facials. What’s the Difference?
Facials are offered almost everywhere, from salons and luxury spas to dermatologists’ and plastic surgeons’ offices. So, what are the differences between them—and how do you know which you’ll best benefit from?

The Spa Facial

If you choose to have a facial done at a spa, expect more of a relaxing and pampering experience. Skin problems can be tackled, but the ingredients are more comforting and soothing. And while they can be effective, they may not be as strong or medically-based as what you can get at a doctor’s office.

Steam is Used
A steam-emitting machine is positioned close to the skin to “open up” pores and soften oil that has hardened within them. “Steam prepares the skin for extractions,” says celebrity aesthetician Joanna Vargas. “But some skin types are too sensitive for it. And if not done properly, it can cause extreme redness and even burn the skin.”

More Pampering
For those who want added indulgence, spa facials can be complemented by other stress-relieving treatments—think a neck, hand or foot massage and even aromatherapy—and further enhanced by a luxurious ambience.

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The Medical Facial

Medical facials are not considered luxurious or pampering, but more like a hard-core workout for the skin; they give extra attention to serious skin problems and focus on deep exfoliation. “Medical facials are great for those with specific skin concerns who need a clinical approach to get the results they want,” says Boca Raton, FL, medical aesthetician Cheryl Staurowsky.

Use Different Ingredients and Modalities
Stronger concentrations and prescription-strength ingredients, like retinoids and hydroquinone can be used, as well as light and laser treatments, more aggressive peels and microdermabrasion.

Steam is Not Always Used
“Some clinicians like using alphahydroxy acids to soften the sebum and 
cellular buildup, as opposed to steam, making extractions easier and less traumatizing to the skin,” says Staurowsky.

Done Under the Supervision of a Plastic Surgeon or Dermatologist
“Licensed aestheticians are well-trained in their craft and extremely knowledgeable about skin care. They should always be on hand to treat any problems, should they arise,” says Studio City, CA, dermatologist Gene Rubinstein, MD.

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