We love facials - who doesn't? But if you're looking to slow down the ravages of time on your face, a facial needs to give results. If you find a pampering facial that does what you can do yourself at home, i.e. cleanse, tone, scrub, mask and moisturise, then go ahead and DIY.
You may think now "oh I'm in my 30s, mid 40s, still looking good". But I'm talking preventative ageing, in other words it's to delay what will inevitably happen but just give you more years of looking good. It's so that people can say "wow, your skin looks good for your age!". It's a sad fact that in the Far East, you are judged on your looks, especially your skin. If your skin is looking bad, be assured that everyone will think they're doing a favour by telling you to your face! Either that or it's schadenfreude (taking delight in the misfortune of others, think Mean Girls)!
What to look for in a facial
Electrical facials are certainly de rigeur in many salons nowadays. Galvanic or iontophoresis, high frequency, sonophoresis or soundwaves, light therapy and then various combinations. Some of these will help to push specific ingredients and nutrients into the skin, such as vitamins. Others will encourage better circulation so that the cycle of oxygen and nutrient delivery and waste disposal is carried out more efficiently in skin cells. Some will boost the fibroblast cells to produce collagen, which will eventually make skin more smooth and supple.
Some salons which use advanced cosmeceutical products provide skin repair, healing and stimulation through the ingredients and method of application alone. A lot of salons now carry at least one cosmeceutical brand.
If you're not comfortable with electrical modalities, you can go down the route of manual facial. When I first started having facials there was the Swedish massage style of facial massage which involved lots of stroking effleurage movement. Nowadays, we've gone Eastern and Asian and are totally spoilt for choice.
Most facial massages are a fusion of deep stroking, acupressure, tapping and lymph drainage. Examples of this are Indian and Japanese face massage. These have the effect of deep release, de-stressing of muscles and in some, if carried out regularly, a lifting effect on the face. Which brings me neatly onto facelifting.
In electrical modalities, we're really talking about micro-current. Micro-current works by re-educating the muscles using low level electrical impulses. These mimic the body's own bio-electrical field and are meant to be sub-sensory so you feel hardly anything. Using low frequencies, all facial muscles are stretched and lengthened and, done regularly, this treatment will have a relaxing effect on the muscles. It will delay the inevitable contraction or dropping of muscles and can, in some people, have a visible lifting effect, hence the name. Aside from that, it's a very relaxing treatment to have but it must be done regularly.
Imagine being under a bright light like the sun, with sometimes warmth crossing over your face, other times just light. This is what LED feels like. Light Emitting Diodes emit a light energy that, unlike UV rays or sunbed light is healthy, beneficial and all things good for your skin. Two of the best known brands in the industry, Dermalux and Omnilux emit narrow band non-thermal light energy to trigger natural processses in your body which accelerate rejuvenation, repair and re-modelling of the skin cells. They can also be used to treat acne and other skin conditions. As far ageing is concerned, these are fantastic.
Regular and short exposure is best as the results are cumulative. Think how you would gradually build up your tan if you were deliberately trying to age your skin (!! ;). With LED it's the same procedure, just different result.
Micro-Needling AKA dermal rolling, skin needling, dermastamp, Roll-CIT. The original device, the Roll-Cit was designed by Dr Des Fernandes founder of Environ skincare. I used to have visions of a little man sitting in a factory painstakingly inserting all the needles into the device. He would churn out 3 a day and at the time they cost about £600 each. Thankfully they are now so much more affordable.
The concept behind skin needling is to puncture minute micro-holes into the epidermis, the upper layers of your skin. You are then aiming for a surge of beneficial vitamins and other nutrients that the skin loves through these holes in the form of the skincare you apply. If you have needling done in-clinic then the needles used will touch the layer of skin which triggers the production of collagen. Probably from about mid-30s upwards is a good time to start micro-needling because this is when most people's collagen production starts to decline.
Here are some important points to note about needling:
1) Buy from a reputable seller, preferably a salon or clinic. Not all needles are created equal. Some will do hardly anything, some will do damage.
2) Do it properly or don't do it all. If unsure, ask a therapist.
3) Use only skincare products that are meant to work with needling. Use anything else and you could damage your skin.
Whether you think of it as vanity or just good grooming, looking after your skin before your skin shows ageing is beneficial. If you go for regular treatments, you are spreading the cost over a period of years. If you leave treatments until you're much older, you are likely to spend about 10 to 20 times more.