Are Facials Harmful to Your Skin?

In a recent blog entry, I included getting facials as one of the mistakes you may be making when it comes to skin care -- and that generated some strong responses. I welcome your thoughts and wanted to continue this discussion!

Let me first clarify an important point: I have worked with many talented and well-trained aestheticians. When I noted that aestheticians may not always choose the right products for every skin type, I was absolutely not suggesting that this is always the case. Many dermatologists, myself included, employ aestheticians to help them make the best skin care recommendations, and I believe that well-trained aestheticians play a crucial role in effective skin care. After rereading my words, I realize that I did not make that clear enough, for which I sincerely apologize.

But throughout my professional research, I have pursued one point most of all: Skin-typing is a complex process, far more so than the original four skin types led people to believe. That's why I spent years researching and developing my 16 skin type system. In many cases, facial clients themselves may not understand all the elements of their skin types, which can be too much to determine during a brief consultation. And in that case, when a facial is not properly tailored to a client's specific skin type, inappropriate product choices can do more harm than good.

Because training requirements for professionals performing facials vary from state to state, it can also be difficult for clients to distinguish between the highly skilled and the unskilled. If you would like to get a facial and are still looking for the right aesthetician, I suggest that you look for one who uses the Baumann Skin Type Indicator (BSTI), which is a questionnaire that I've been developing since 2002.

After years of validating this system at the University of Miami, I truly believe that this is the best system for assessing your skin's entire profile. Skin care professionals can sign up at www.skinIQ.com for free access to the questionnaire. If they use the BSTI, you can be sure that they have considered your skin's specific concerns. If your aesthetician is well trained, then you should benefit from a facial -- rather than be harmed.

However, there are some skin types for whom -- even in the best-trained hands -- facials will always be a risky proposition. The heat and friction that often accompany such treatments, for example, can exacerbate acne and rosacea. Sensitive skin types, who may be prone to redness or stinging as a result of new products, often do best avoiding facials. And in skin types prone to hyperpigmentation, even slight inflammation -- as a result of an irritating topical ingredient or excessive exfoliation, for example -- can turn into stubborn dark spots. Knowing your Baumann Skin Type can help prevent these complications because your facialist will know what ingredients to avoid on your skin.

Because there can be downsides to facials for many skin types -- the skill and training of the aesthetician are crucial. Do you believe that facials offer lasting benefits? If you've found an aesthetician or a treatment that you love, what do you recommend that others look for? Join in the conversation here, or at my blog at SkinTypeSolutions.com.

Wishing you great skin!

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Dr. Baumann is author of the best-selling book, " The Skin Type Solution." To learn more about her revolutionary skin typing system, visit her Web site, SkinTypeSolutions.com

All of Dr. Baumann's recommended skin care products are available online, and a portion of proceeds goes to The Dermatology Foundation.

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