Doesn't this sound glorious?
You're lying down in a dimly lit room, wrapped in a cozy towel under soft, plush sheets. As part of a facial, your esthetician is expertly applying creamy lotions and potions to your skin. For that heavenly 75 minutes, you're in your own little world, thankful that you'll look and feel so much better when you emerge.
It's so tempting, isn't it? And so necessary. If you've never had a facial or haven't had one in a while, you're missing out.
And, not only on the opportunity to relax but to prime your body's largest organ, the skin, to effectively perform its job as the body's protective barrier against invasive external forces.
Yes, our skin is more than just a beauty standard. It is our first line of defence and needs the same care and attention we give to the rest of our bodies.
Your skin is the largest organ on your body. It comprises several different parts, including water, protein, lipids (fats), and various minerals and chemicals.
It is made up of three layers: the hypodermis (inner), the dermis (middle) and the epidermis (outer).
The hypodermis hosts sweat glands, fat, and collagen cells, and is responsible for conserving your body's heat and protecting your vital inner organs. Beauty-wise, the reduction of tissue in this layer contributes to sagging skin.
The dermis is a complex combination of blood vessels, hair follicles, and sebaceous (oil) glands. Here, you'll find collagen and elastin, two proteins necessary for skin health. From a beauty perspective, this layer of skin gives it its tightness and plumpness.
The epidermis is the visible layer of skin on our bodies. As such, it acts as a protective barrier to preserve internal fluids (moisture) and ward off damage from environmental toxins and pollutants, harmful bacteria, UV radiation and pathogens.
Perhaps you've never thought of your skin as a passageway that rids your body of toxins and helps prevent chemical and waste build-up. Our skin works so well that we tend to take it for granted, but we shouldn't.
And, that's why facials should be more than an occasional treat. If your pores remain blocked with chemicals and pollutants, your skin simply can't function properly to remove the toxins and keep you healthy.
And besides, nothing beats the pampering of a spa facial!
If you've never had a facial or need a pleasant reminder of the experience, you can expect the following of your treatment.
Before your esthetician can assess your skin's condition, they must remove all your makeup and cleanse your skin. They will apply a cleanser with soft terry cloth mitts and remove it with warm water.
During the consultation, your esthetician will use a lighted magnifying glass to analyze your skin and decide what type of treatment you need to get the best results. The magnifying lamp allows the esthetician to identify your skin type (oily, dry, combination), and any skin conditions (acne, sunburn, blackheads, etc.) that need attention.
This is an opportunity to discuss your concerns and skincare goals with your esthetician and agree upon the type of treatment you will have.
Next, your esthetician will position a machine above your face, directing a layer of steam on your skin. Some estheticians may apply a mask to your face to assist in opening your pores (Julia does!), which is beneficial.
The steaming is very important as it weakens blackheads and whiteheads and opens up the pores to make extractions (see below) easier. Skin that is not steamed for at least 10 minutes before the extraction process is vulnerable to damage.
The warmth from the steam also relaxes your face muscles, priming them for the calming massage to come.
This part of the facial is a welcome opportunity to relax. If you have your facial at Julia's, she will treat you to a complimentary paraffin wax hand treatment, one of the luxurious bonuses she offers.
If you're unfamiliar with the extraction process, you may not find it to be the most pleasurable part of the treatment. Although many people relish the cleansing feeling of having their pores cleaned. Still, it is necessary to ensure your epidermis is healthy and beautiful.
As you've been under the steam machine for a good 10 minutes, the extractions should not be painful. Your esthetician will look at your skin under the magnifying light to locate and remove blackheads and whiteheads.
To remove the clogged pores, she will use her tissue-wrapped index fingers to gently apply pressure at the base of the clogged pore to encourage the toxin or excess oil from your skin.
Before long, you will be rewarded for your patience with a pampering massage for your face, neck and shoulders.
Have you heard the recent buzz about the anti-aging benefits of a facial massage or the "#facegym" trend? The rest of the world seems to be catching on to what skincare experts have long known.
A lengthy face massage not only stimulates inactive facial muscles but also increases circulation, ultimately producing collagen and elastin.
Julia gives her clients a lymphatic drainage massage. This technique helps to drain the fluid of the lymphatic system, which contains toxins, waste, and proteins. She will begin at your jawline and work her way up to your hairline touching on the chin, cheekbones, under-eye area, eyebrows, forehead and temples.
By now, you now feel as if you're floating on a cloud. Seriously.
But you aren't done yet. The second last step is the mask application. Your skin consultation, coupled with any concerns your esthetician has discovered during the treatment, will determine which mask is best for your skin.
The mask works its' magic for 10 minutes, giving you another opportunity to decompress while enjoying a scalp massage.
Moisturize and Protect
At the end of your facial, your esthetician will apply a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, lip care and SPF.
Before you dress, you can look forward to a warm towel pressed to your back (another of Julia's signature bonuses) to leave you with a soothing feeling as you go about your day.
Variations of Treatments
Everyone has unique skincare challenges and goals. While the "Basic Spa Facial" follows the above format, there are many variations and add-ons that you can request.
If you are concerned with anti-aging, as most of us are, the microdermabrasion facial is popular. It is a non-invasive treatment that treats many anti-aging concerns, including fine lines, skin discolouration, enlarged pores, age spots, and acne scars.
To perform this facial, Julia uses a diamond-tip wand to gently remove the top layers of skin. It feels like a gentle vacuum sucking the impurities and dirt from your pores, resulting in rejuvenated, firmer skin. Although it is slightly more expensive than the Basic facial, the results are immediately noticeable, and there is no downtime!
If you have sensitive skin, you might opt for the facial that uses a marine serum and a seaweed mask for a gentle, soothing approach. All products used for this facial are best suited to delicate skin.
You can check out the full list of facial treatments available here. Remember, Julia and her team are dedicated to customizing every treatment based on your individual needs to help you achieve your skincare goals.
So, you're now convinced that you need a facial, like yesterday. But how often should you have one?
How Often Should You Have a Facial
Dermatologists and estheticians recommend having a facial every four to six weeks, based on the skin cycle.
The skin cycle is when a new skin cell is formed at the deepest layer of the epidermis and works its way up to the surface of the skin.
A skin cycle can vary with each individual and is affected by such factors as age, hormones, skin condition/health and stress. On average, a skin cycle is 5-6 weeks. At the age of 19-21, the process can take 14-21 days compared to a middle-aged adult, estimated to be 28 days. As we grow older, this skin cycle slows to about 45-60 days in our 40's and 50's. It can further slow to about 60-90 days in our 50's and 60's.
You know your skin best. Talk to your esthetician about the best schedule for you.
Skincare Lines at Julia's Esthetics
Julia uses two professional skincare lines at her spa, Dermalogica and Phytomer, leaders in the professional skincare industry. Julia has seen the efficacy and quality of these lines during the 15 years she's been an esthetician and recommends them to her clients for their at-home skincare routines.
Julia's Esthetics - The Spa Experience
Julia has over 15 years of experience in the spa industry and understands the importance of getting the details right. As a result, she meets clients' expectations and goes over and above to make their experience worthwhile.
Along with the very best skincare lines, Julia uses the latest equipment available to spa professionals. Her clients appreciate her undeniable passion and in-depth knowledge of skincare. She is committed to offering her services at competitive prices because she believes everyone deserves healthy, beautiful skin.
Book Your Appointment
If you've never experienced the calming and therapeutic feeling of a spa facial, you're missing out!
The treatment is not only beneficial for the appearance and health of your skin. It's also an opportunity to relax in the care of an expert esthetician who wants to see you achieve your skincare goals.
Plus, the massages are heavenly!
Book your appointment here!
Laura Gatsos Young is a health and wellness freelance writer based in Toronto. You can read more of her work at lauragatsosyoung.com.