Your Guide to Every Type of Facial

There are so many types of facials these days! It used to be a simple treatment for cleaning out pores and cleansing your skin, but has since morphed into an umbrella term for a variety of face treatments.

What type of facial should you get? When should you get it? Is it okay to get a few days before your big event? What products will they use? Will you peel? It’s all very overwhelming.

In this post we’ll clear up some confusion around facials by explaining the most popular variations and ranking them on intensity (Gentle, Moderate, Intense), and clarifying the objective (e.g. cleanse, brighten skin, treat breakouts, etc.)

Let’s start with the classic.

Classic Facial

Sometimes you just want to close your eyes and drift while your face is pampered. The main objective is to restore a clean refreshed look to your face, and to have some relaxing personal time! This involves cleansing, some exfoliating (usually with an enzyme under steam), a short extraction if needed, and a mask of course. Hopefully accompanied by a head and neck massage.

  • Intensity: Moderate
  • Objective: Cleanse, Lightly Exfoliate, Relax

Hydrating Facial

Lotions and creams don’t always get the job done, so you may need to dial up the intensity of your hydration routine. Hydrating facials focus on moisturizing. This usually includes hydrating products and masks designed to soften and plump skin. There may be some gentle exfoliation using a very mild enzyme with steam. This is followed by a hydrating massage and hydrating mask to deliver moisture back into your skin. There should be no extracting here (unless you ask for it), making this by far the most relaxing of the facials on our list.

  • Intensity: Gentle
  • Objective: Cleanse, Hydrate, Relax

Anti-Aging Facial

The goal here is as stated, to give you smoother, healthier and younger looking skin. This occurs through deep exfoliation that lifts dead skin off your face, usually in the form of a peel that ultimately reduces fine lines and wrinkles and evens out your complexion. Alpha Hydroxy Acid is commonly used to encourage light peeling; it’s a form of acid derived from fruits and flowers. This can also be achieved using enzymes that eat up the dead skin cells as opposed to causing them to slough off. You can even combine the two for great results without flakiness. If it sounds intense, don’t worry, this is still much milder than a full chemical peel and pleasantly relaxing.

  • Intensity: Moderate
  • Objective: Exfoliate, Reduce Fine Lines and Wrinkles, Promote Collagen Production

Acne Facial

We’ve officially moved out of the relaxation zone. Acne facials work to clear your face of pimples primarily through manual extraction. Before extraction begins, steam is used to soften clogged pores, then the aesthetician will work to clear any excess oil, dirt or anything else that may be clogging your pores in order to aerate your skin, allowing oxygen in to kill p bacteria that causes acne. Next you’ll usually receive an enzyme or acid treatment to exfoliate the top layers, again to aerate your skin. This is usually followed by an antibacterial, often sulfur based mask to kill acne. Once that’s is over a calming mask will be applied to sooth the skin.

  • Intensity: Intense
  • Objective: Cleanse, Unclog Pores, Treat Acne, Prevent Breakouts

Oxygen Facial

Your cells run on oxygen, so this facial infuses them with pure oxygen through an airbrush that brings life back to your skin. The oxygen kills bacteria (that can cause acne), reduces inflammation, and restores circulation to your skin. It will also opens your pores, making them more receptive to any serums or product applied to your skin after. The oxygen facial is calming and works great for people with sensitive skin. Overall, it’s known for leaving you with a youthful glow.

  • Intensity: Gentle
  • Objective: Cleanse, Promote Collagen Production, Restore a Youthful Glow


The latest in facials promises all the results of a more aggressive extraction and exfoliation facial without the agitation. Hydrafacial is a special device that cleanses, peels, extracts and hydrates. It uses a small “deplaning” like tool that opens up pores and sweeps the uppermost layer of makeup debris and dead skin cells away. Then comes a gentle acid peel that uses a glycolic/salicylic blend that only creates the faintest tingle. Then comes extraction uses a special nozzle that is much gentler than when performed manually. It finishes off with an antioxidant serum that relaxes your skin leaving you with zero redness.

  • Intensity: Moderate
  • Objective: Cleanse, Unclog Pores, Exfoliate, Hydrate

Vampire Facial®

The most effective facial on our list is the Vampire Facial®, sometimes called a “blood facial”. It’s a cutting edge cosmetic procedure that uses growth factors taken from your own blood (hence vampire) to rejuvenate your face. During the procedure a doctor draws a couple vials of blood from your arm, then centrifuges the blood to separate out the Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP).The PRP is then applied to your face in combination with micro-needling. It’s a slightly more invasive than the others, but it’s more than worth it!

  • Intensity: Intense
  • Objective: Anti-Aging, Tighten Skin, Promote Collagen Production, Improve Skin Color and Texture


How to Choose the Right Facial for You

As with all cosmetic treatments, we recommend finding a certified aesthetician that you trust and discussing your objectives with her.

A good aesthetician will recommend the appropriate facial for you based on . . .

Your skin type

  • Do you have sensitive skin? Is it dry, oily or both? Are you prone to breakouts? Etc.

Time of year

  • Use more gentle facials in the summer, saving more intense versions for winter when you are less exposed to outdoor elements

Your skin’s needs

  • Hydrate, cleanse, remove blackheads, treat a breakout, or just refresh!

Healing time

  • Most facials have little to no recovery time, but some are slightly more intense than others. So if you have a big event coming up for example, opt for a more gentle facial.

All in all, facials are a great way to relax and have a little “you time” while your face gets refreshed, leaving you with that just back from vacay look!


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