Choosing the right facial

Apr 29 2014

Stylish Spy

4 min read

Facial 7

No matter where you’re having a facial, you choose it based on three things: the brand, the experience and the outcome. What products do you want on your skin? How do you want them applied? And how do you want your skin to look afterwards?

The brand

Some people find that a certain brand really suits them and will stick with those products, and the variety of different treatments offered with it

The experience

Some of us go for a facial because it’s a lovely, relaxing and indulgent thing to do. We want something we can’t get at home - so dribble me in essential oils, smother my head in hot towels, hold hot stones to my temples and turn up the whale song!

The outcome

You want your skin to be clean, glowing, fresh and even.

If you’re shopping around for an effective outcome, choosing a facial can get very confusing.


There are so many facials on the market that it can be very hard to work out which one is which. Whether a facial is sold to you on the basis of the brand, the experience, the outcome or all of the above, the language can be very ambiguous. Different spas and brands give different names to the same or similar facials; often you’ll find that the title of facials is very long, but still somehow doesn’t seem to tell you anything!

Somewhere along the line they all seem to make promises beginning with "re": rejuvenating, refreshing, rehydrating, revitalising, rebalancing, relaxing, renewing, relieving, regenerating, restoring. You’ll also find a lot of "detoxify" and "soothe" and "nourish" and even "inspire".

In addition to this you’ll find words such as "advanced" and "specialist" and "luxury". Does this refer to the length of the facial, the quality of the product, or the qualifications of the therapist? Or is there something else thrown in free? Does it just cost more?

Relentless in our search for clarity, we at the Good Spa Guide have tried (in true facial-speak) to de-confuse it all for you!

Decoding facial-speak

Before you start, you need to keep in mind that this is a facial – it is intended to improve the tone and health of your skin, make you feel better about how you look and hopefully leave you feeling pampered, relaxed and refreshed. Some facials (especially ones that feature head or acupressure massage, hot stones or towels) can leave you feeling very deeply relaxed. But unless you are really, really shallow, it is not going to satisfy your emotional needs as some of the blurb would have you believe.

All facials should make your skin feel clean, clear, fresh and soft.

Whichever facial you choose, you can expect all facials to include the basics of cleansing, toning and moisturising, achieved via creams, masks, serums, spritzers, tonics and oils. The difference between facials is the how and the how much of each you get.

Keep it simple!

We reckon you go for a facial for one of five things:

  1. Your skin is dirty and clogged up and you want to cleanse it
  2. Your skin is sore and sensitive, perhaps tired, sallow or blotchy, maybe you have acne. You want to soothe and balance it for an even skin tone
  3. Your skin is dry and you want to moisturise it
  4. Your skin is a bit wrinkly and drained and you feel old! You want to fight the wrinkles, hold back the signs of ageing... you want to look younger, to firm, lift and plump
  5. You want to prevent problems. You go for a service, to make sure you maintain healthy, glowing skin

See the table below to decode your facial and choose the best one for you!

Type of facial: Cleanse

Liable to feature: Exfoliating, heat, cleanser, deep-cleansing mask; sometimes blackhead-removal (less relaxing!), oxygen jets

Other words associated with this type of facial: Detox, refresh, revitalise, hydrogen, oxygen or ozone, enzyme peel


Type of facial: Soothe and balance skin tone

Liable to feature: Exfoliation (to even out skin tone); moisturising mask

Other words associated with this type of facial: Soothing, sensitive, brightening, relieving, revitalise, regenerative, enzyme peel, multi-vitamin


Type of facial: Moisturise

Liable to feature: Rich creams, moisturising masks

Other words associated with this type of facial: Nourishing, hydrating, restoring,  revitalise 


Type of facial: Look younger

Liable to feature: Collagen-based products, pressure point massage, Cathiodermie (electric currents)

Other words associated with this type of facial: Anti-ageing, age-defying, anti-wrinkles, lifting, plumbing, rejuvenating, enzyme peel, electro-stimulation


Type of facial: Maintain healthy skin

Liable to feature: Any and all of the above, depending on your skin-type

Other words associated with this type of facial: Mini facial, express facial, prescription facial



Stylish Spy

29th April 2014

Spy Likes:

Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.

Spy Dislikes:

Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.

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