Everyone loves a little pampering! The sheer luxury of lying back, closing your eyes, turning off your blackberry, and having someone massage your aching neck and steaming your pores is always a welcome treat. But do facials really have any long-term effects on your skin and are they really worth the investment or are they just an indulgence? Facials tend to be more of a “feel good” treatment than “look good” therapy for your skin. A facial itself will not stop the aging process or even slow it down to any degree. Facials are more about cleansing and hydration. A facial can help to deep cleanse and unplug blackheads and dead cells much better than you can do yourself at home. A good aesthetician or facialist will be able to reach hard-to-see areas around the nose and chin where dirt tends to congregate. A thorough extraction session is the crux of any facial. Not only will the removal of blackheads increase the penetration of the treatment products that are applied, but it can keep the pores from stretching out and help prevent the bacteria build-up that can lead to acne. However, beware that although the act of massaging will increase blood supply and encourage lymphatic drainage, it can also stimulate oil glands to produce more oil, which can add to breakouts. Squeezing pores also tends to cause the infection to go deeper and create an eruption. You may find yourself left with red marks after a facial if the aesthetician is too aggressive. Facial techniques have really advanced over the last few years and are more effective, and therapeutic. Boosters such as collagen infusions, glycolic acid, and anti-aging serums added to a basic facial protocol allows your facialist to customize the treatment to your specific skin type and concerns. A thorough skin consultation and history is an important part of the process. When booking a facial, ask for a consultation with the aesthetician before you have a treatment so you can discuss the way your skin behaves, the products you are currently using, and your preferences. At high end salons, offering a hand or foot massage while a mask is applied is a nice added touch. Soothing music, a darkened room, cozy blankets, and aromatherapy candles set a mood of calm. The real benefits of a facial are that hour or so of relaxation can do wonders for your psyche. After a good facial, you should leave the salon feeling refreshed and renewed, plus with soft, clean, glowing skin as an added bonus. If you are a diehard facial afficionado, you can cut back to having one treatment every one to two months. Twice-weekly gentle exfoliation at home can help keep skin looking fresh, if time and money constraints mean that a spa facial is not within reach. 5-STEP AT HOME DIY FACIAL 1- CLEANSE – Fully clean skin to remove all dirt and makeup. Use a creamy cleanser for dry skin, gel formula for oily skin, and lotion for normal or combination skin. 2- EXFOLIATE – Using your fingers, rub a gentle exfoliating scrub in a circular motion all over your face. Concentrate on the areas around your nose, chin and forehead where there are more oil glands. If you have combination skin, do more on the areas that tend to be oily. Rinse your face well to remove all residue fo the scrub. 3- STEAM – Take a soft wash cloth, fill your sink with warm water, soak the cloth, ring it out, apply to your face. Repeat a few times as the wash cloth cools down. 4- MASK – Apply a mask all over your face, leave on for about 10-15 minutes depending on directions on the product. Clay is good for oily skin. Seaweed and mineral ingredients are great for clogged skin. Choose a hydrating mask if your skin is dry. For sensitive skin look for anti-redness and calming masks. Rinse completely. 5- MOISTURIZE – You can use a serum or ampoule at this stage for added benefits, or skip and go straight to a protective moisturizer.