11 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Facials
Facials are basically beauty treatments for your skin, which involve multiple steps.
They are normally done with the help of a skin or beauty expert at a spa or beauty salon, or by hiring a professional at home.
However, facials often involve specifically designed washes, masks, and lotions.
Sometimes, technological devices that improve your skin can be also used.
So it’s best to have them applied at a parlor.
Facials are beneficial for all skin types, and particularly for people who are experiencing skin problems (such as acne or signs of aging).
In general, a facial should be done at least four times a year, as each season changes.
However, the best plan is to clear time and get a facial once each month.
That way, when your new skin cells have been generated, the dead cells can be exfoliated.
Facials have become exceedingly popular, as more people realize the health benefits they have to offer.
To learn more about these scientifically proven benefits, read on.
Health Benefits of Facials
Lower Stress Levels
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s quite difficult to set aside time for yourself.
However, it’s important to pamper yourself every now and then (for both your physical and mental health).
It’s also important for the sake of your skin, which can deteriorate due to stress.
It’s been shown that stress can be a factor causing acne (as well as a range of other skin disorders, such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, erythema, and alopecia areata) (1).
Facials are an excellent choice because they give you a much-needed chance to relax and calm yourself.
They consist of a thorough massage, which can give your skin a well-deserved pick-me-up.
A study conducted in the User Science Institute in Japan reported the results of a 45-minute facial massage (including hydrating cream and steam treatment) on women aged 20 to 40.
The study showed that facial massages significantly reduce anxiety and negative moods.
During the massage, parasympathetic nervous activity is activated, which helps you rest and slow down.
The authors concluded that “these results suggested that the facial massage had strong effects on stress alleviation, or psychological relaxation” (2).
In another study conducted in India on women aged 17 to 63, the majority reported feeling fresh and rejuvenated after getting a facial (3).
Thus, facials are the perfect way for you to let go of all the stress that’s limiting your happiness and health.
Treat Acne and Acne Marks
Suffering from acne is frustrating.
These blemishes are sometimes painful and always unattractive, and you can’t help but yearn for clear, spotless skin (like you see on movie screens and in magazines).
Flawless skin is possible, but oftentimes, over-washing your face or trying an array of different products backfires, which makes your breakouts worse.
The products used during facials will be suitable for your skin type, and it’ll be properly applied after cleansing.
Then they’ll absorb properly.
At the same time, exfoliation and extraction will clear out your pores, so that more pimples or blackheads don’t form.
Salicylic acid peels have been proven to reduce acne.
A Korean study reported that patients treated with SA 30% peels saw an increase in the reduction of lesions.
LHA peels were also shown to significantly decrease micro comedones.
In addition, studies have concluded that these peels help reduce acne scarring (4).
In a study conducted to test glycolic acid peels, a significant discovery was made that improves skin texture, reduces follicular pore size, and treats comedones, papules, and pustules (5).
Similarly, light-based devices have been found to partially or completely treat acne after repeated use.
Studies found that intense, pulsed light devices can reduce acne severity by up to 56%, infrared devices by up to 79%, pulsed dye laser devices by up to 49%, and blue-red light LED devices by up to 77% (6).
Improve Blood Circulation
When the blood vessels under the surface of your skin have poor circulation, it shows on your skin.
Poor circulation makes you look pallid and sickly, and it prevents nutrients from enriching your skin tissues.
However, researchers have found that massage significantly improves blood circulation, blood flow, and vascular function.
A study at the University of Illinois showed that the flow of brachial arteries mediates dilation, which was measured in participants.
Some of them received massage after exercising, and others didn’t.
The researchers found that improved blood flow at all time points for up to 72 hours (for the participants who received a massage after exercising).
Therefore, the massage component of a facial will improve blood flow under your facial skin, and it’ll help you look more vigorous and healthy.
Other researchers have found that steam improves circulation, so it facilitates better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to keep skin cells healthy (9).
By receiving facial treatments in regular intervals, you can ensure that there is healthy circulation under your skin in the long-term.
Prevent Skin Aging
There are many reasons why your skin may be showing signs of aging.
As you grow older, your skin becomes more prone to oxidative damage from the accumulation of too many free radicals.
And they can lead to more inflammation and an older appearance.
Similarly, there is a decrease in collagen production, so wrinkles and fine lines begin to form on your skin.
On the other hand, with repeated exposure to UV radiation, your skin begins to experience photo-damage (which also gives you a prematurely aged look).
For people over 25 (especially those who are already noticing signs of aging on their face), getting facials once a month is a great way to keep looking young.
Facials often make use of topical pharmacological agents with anti-aging properties.
These agents include antioxidants (such as vitamins, polyphenols, and flavonoids) and cell regulators (such as retinols, peptides, and growth factors).
Some common ingredients used in facial products (such as retinol) have been shown to have positive effects on both intrinsic and extrinsic skin aging.
Similarly, techniques used during certain facials (such as laser resurfacing) have been shown to be effective against photo-aging (via epidermal ablation, collagen shrinkage, and other internal processes) that get rid of your pesky wrinkles (10).
More commonly used during facials, LED light devices have been shown to bring up to 50% reduction in photo-aging.
And 81% of subjects in the study reported a significant improvement in periorbital wrinkles (11).
Exfoliation means getting rid of the dead skin cells on the outer surface of your skin.
These dead skin cells pile up on the surface of your skin, which cause it to appear dull, dry, and rough.
The buildup of dead skin cells can also lead to clogged pores (which are essentially blocked openings of hair follicles that cause acne) and unsightly blemishes.
You can exfoliate every now and then with a scrub.
But for proper exfoliation, a facial is the way to go.
Exfoliation removes the dead cells clogging your pores.
And it opens them up, so that they can absorb other products better.
Facials generally make use of chemical peels, which clear away the whole outer layer of your skin.
That way, they promote new cell growth and reveal a layer of bright new skin underneath.
Estheticians recommend a peel based on your skin type and degree of sensitivity.
Generally, they use peels with alpha or beta hydroxyl acids for deep exfoliation.
The research has shown that chemical peels stimulate new epidermal growth and collagen (with more evenly distributed melanin).
Aside from giving you luminous skin, these peels can be useful in the treatment of mild dyschromias, acne, post-inflammatory pigmentation, and many other skin issues (12).
As you grow older, the skin on your face begins to appear looser and less defined.
It is common to lose elasticity in your skin as you age, and the synthesis of collagen slows down.
However, there are certain ways to boost collagen production, tighten up your skin, and get a more youthful complexion.
The creams, lotions, face masks, and chemical peels used during facials (whether botanical extracts or synthetics) have ingredients that help achieve this result.
For example, antioxidants (such as vitamins C, B3, and E, or polyphenols), green tea extracts, and isoflavones (such as soya extract) work to reduce collagen degradation.
Similarly, cell regulators (such as vitamin A derivatives, polypeptides, and botanicals) directly stimulate the production of collagen and elastic fibers (13).
Light-based devices have also been found to improve skin-tightening.
One study found that radiofrequency worked extremely well at tightening facial skin.
And in another study, infrared light improved skin elasticity in 86% of participants.
Likewise, in a study on Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), 73 out of 97 patients saw outstanding results (14).
Studies on LED light devices (which are the most popular during facials) have all confirmed that they stimulate collagen production (15).
Your lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs, which help your body dispel toxins, wastes, and other unwanted materials.
It also helps purify and regenerate tissues.
To filter out toxins and foreign substances (and keep your immune system strong), it’s imperative that your lymphatic system remain healthy and well-functioning.
Facials now often include manual lymphatic drainage, which involves light massaging to reduce bloating and remove toxins.
According to one study, manual lymphatic drainage uses light, rhythmic, relaxing strokes, which give the appearance of a mini-facelift.
Lymphatic drainage massage has also been found to help reduce sinus congestion, bronchitis, laryngitis, acne, and eczema (15).
Although manual lymphatic drainage is a fairly new concept, it’s already popular, and some research has been conducted about it.
In one study, cases of an insufficiency of chronic lymphatic drainage were treated by using a manual technique.
A single session of manual lymphatic drainage was found to have “a significant clinical effect on the total fluid levels on the massaged” areas.
The study also recorded a softening of the tissues following the massage (16).
Lymphatic drainage helps by stimulating the lymphatic system via an increase in lymph circulation.
This stimulation expedites the removal of biochemical wastes from body tissues, enhances the dynamics of bodily fluid, facilitates edema reduction, decreases sympathetic nervous system responses, increases parasympathetic nervous tones, and yields a non-stressed body-framework state (17).
Increase Absorption Abilities
Yet another advantage of regularly indulging in facials is that it preps your skin to absorb other beauty products more effectively.
You may have been spending a lot of time and money buying and trying out different skincare products (from serums to face creams).
However, in order for these products to actually make a difference, they have to absorb deep into the skin and work their magic.
But the truth is that these products often only superficially permeate the epidermis, so they don’t make much of a difference at all (especially when your skin is tough and doesn’t yield to the products you purchase).
Facials help these products properly absorb by making your skin soft and supple.
A study published by the International Anesthesia Research Society looked at the difference in the absorption rate of lidocaine (an anesthetic) on a large group of participants aged 22 to 56 — with and without a pretreatment with a warm, steamed towel.
For those who had the steam towel application, the lidocaine absorbed and worked much better than for those who hadn’t (18).
There was another innovative study that supports this conclusion: a group of researchers “designed a microdevice that rapidly heats water by an electrical discharge” and ejects a “superheated steam jet at the skin surface.”
The researchers tested the permeability of sulforhodamine (a hydrophilic molecule) and BSA (a protein macromolecule) before and after the steam treatment.
They found that permeability increased after the steam treatment for sulforhodamine by 10,000 times and for BSA by 1,000 times (19).
Many people have naturally dry skin, stemming from low sebum production or combination skin (with dry areas on some parts of the face).
Aside from a natural inclination towards skin dryness, other factors may cause your skin to lose moisture.
Taking long, hot showers often allows people to relax and enjoy the hot stream of water, but it can compromise skin moisture.
Similarly, itchy clothing, harsh soaps, face washes, and medical conditions (such as diabetes, psoriasis, or hypothyroidism) can also cause dryness.
It’s important to properly moisturize your skin every day if you suffer from dry skin, but facials can be of great help, too.
They make use of chemical peels and face masks, which have been tested on participants by researchers in a study (20).
In another study, cosmetic products (such as face creams and lotions) were tested.
Therefore, getting a facial in certain intervals can ensure that your skin remains hydrated and doesn’t look dry and flaky.
Dry skin is more prone to wrinkling and signs of aging, so facials will keep your skin soft, supple, and vibrant.
Provide Expert Care
Remember that facial treatments offer the expertise of estheticians.
Before most facials begin, you’re asked to write down the answers to certain questions about your skin type, skin problems, and goals for the facial.
Estheticians may also examine your skin to analyze problems you may not have otherwise known existed.
Based on all of this information, they can then give you a treatment that will bring out the best results.
They can select peels, masks, lotions, and creams that suit your skin type and address whatever issues you may have.
Similarly, if you need further treatments (such as extraction or LED light treatment), they can suggest and conduct those, too.
According to one article, “estheticians have available to them a wide variety of skin-care products and estheticians know how to use these products properly.
Without the training and knowledge of a licensed esthetician, finding the right products for your skin can just be a downright futile endeavor” (23).
After trying to find a suitable product from the plethora of brands and products in a store, you may have been disappointed because they don’t suit your needs and deliver results.
With facials, you don’t have to worry about that happening.
Treat Eye Areas
During facials, your skin will get a chance to be rejuvenated.
The area around your eyes will thank you for your visit.
You probably know just how unappealing dark under-eye circles, under-eye puffiness, or crow’s feet can look.
They give you an aged, tired appearance and perhaps raise a question such as: “Did you not get sleep last night?”
It’s definitely not pleasant to hear such remarks, or even hear disappointment from within yourself when you catch your reflection in a mirror.
These days, there are many products on the market that have been specifically developed to keep the area around your eyes bright and youthful.
But with an esthetician’s expert hands and knowledge, your eyes will be treated like royalty.
A study tested the efficacy of anti-aging products for periorbital wrinkles, which was measured by 3D imaging.
Eye cream was among these products, which was found to show improvement in the smoothness of the periorbital skin and reduce the apparent depth of large wrinkles (24).
Estheticians use quality eye creams, which give you an anti-aging effect but won’t irritate the sensitive skin around your eyes.
Similarly, they often use cucumber slices to soothe your eyes during or after the facial.
Cucumber slices can reduce dehydration in the skin tissues, reduce dark circles (because of their vitamin K content), and reduce inflammation (because of lignans).
They can also treat wrinkles and sunburns (and moisturize and brighten skin) by inhibiting tyrosinase (25).
Therefore, facials will work wonders for your eye areas!
Your skin is as important as any of your other organs, so you need to make sure you take care of it.
However, you don’t have to empty your bank account on expensive products or treatments.
All you have to do is avoid anything that harms your skin, and have a suitable beauty regime that enhances it.
Your beauty regime doesn’t need to include ill-devised treatments (such as white lead from the 16th century or radium-laced beauty products from the early 20th century).
Since then, modern treatments (including steam, seaweed wraps, and mud masks) have been developed.
The best of contemporary skin treatments are all included in a professional facial.
As you can tell from all the benefits listed above, getting a facial once a month is a surefire way to nourish your soul and skin, and dramatically improve your appearance.
These treatments (which generally include steam, exfoliation, extraction, creams, lotions, facial masks, peels, massages, and LED machines) give you smooth, supple skin.
Having baby-soft skin that looks young and radiant will boost your confidence and make it easier for you to climb the ladders in your life.
Are you still skeptical? If so, go visit a nearby spa or salon, and get a few facials in the coming months.
See the benefits for yourself!