Spa treatments are the ultimate indulgence. From relaxing in the steam room to a peaceful massage- a day at the spa is a treat unlike any other. Of course, many spa treatments are just that- treatments! Lately, the Rue team has grown particularly fond of facials- not just for their relaxing benefits, but how great our skin looks when we make regular appointments!

It had been years since I’d had a facial of my own, and my memories of it included painful extractions and a longing for the service to end. I recently paid a visit to the International Orange Spa in San Francisco, CA to expel my negative thoughts. What I learned? Not all facials are created equal! Having admittedly problematic skin, I wasn’t sure if I’d have any results. My esthetician, Jennifer, asked me a lot of questions about various issues I was having- and created a custom facial catered to my skincare needs. Facials typically consist of a comprehensive deep cleansing treatment, exfoliation, extractions, and a relaxing facial massage. If you’re having specific issues like scarring, aging, acne, or imbalance, they’ll adjust the treatment to best suit your needs. For facials to work, you need to have an open discussion with your esthetician. In the end, I was so grateful for the evaluation. My skin was clear and glowing for weeks!

Since we know many readers are not in the Bay Area, we’re sharing the necessary products to recreate your dream facial at home. And if you’ve never had a facial, or are apprehensive about getting another one, Jennifer of International Orange is giving you all the details you need to know beforehand:

Licensed Esthetician Jennifer Gallegos’ Top Tips for Facials:

1. Plan ahead- timing is important.
There are many types of facials and your esthetician can help determine which treatment will best suit your needs. Your skin should look fabulous after being cleansed, exfoliated and massaged, but it can be a little pink and possible blotchy if extractions or a stronger exfoliation is performed. So, if you have a big event, give yourself a few days just in case. You’ll still have the facial glow and your skin should be completely calmed. *A tip for extremely sensitive skin types- avoid getting facials when you’re premenstrual. Extractions and chemical exfoliants can feel especially uncomfortable.

2. Make a mental list of the products that you’re currently using.
Your esthetician will be able to tell you if you’re on the right track or need to make some modifications in order to achieve your desired results.

3. Avoid aggressively exfoliating prior to your facial- it can make your skin sensitive and limit what your esthetician is able to do during your treatment.
Exfoliation, chemical and/or physical, is generally a main component of any facial. In general, take a break from using prescription-strength Retinoids (Retin A, Differen, etc.) for about a week, but be sure to alert your esthetician to any prescription usage in order to stay clear of contraindications. Avoid using OTC products with retinols and strong Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) for 2-3 days prior. Same goes for facial waxing. Plan for smooth, refined skin after your professional exfoliating treatment!

5. Do your research.
Just like with hairstylists, it’s great to have a recommendation. If you go to a reputable establishment with skilled practitioners that use high-grade products, your facial will be worth every penny. It’s tempting to jump on the latest group special, but before you commit, take a look at the spa’s/clinic’s website or even call and ask a few questions. You’ll want to see reference to the products used during the facials, ensuring that you’re staying clear of cheap and skimpy products that won’t do much for your skin. You’d be surprised at how many spas actually scrimp and use low-efficacy products in their treatments!

6. Book a series of treatments.
It’s the best way to see results. Think of it like working out with a personal trainer for the first couple of months when starting a new workout routine. In the same vain, a skilled esthetician can help whip your skin into shape and send you off with a solid home regimen and future treatment plan to maintain your results. If you have normal skin and your facial is purely about maintenance, you can space your treatments out evenly over the year, e.g., monthly, quarterly, etc. If you have a condition that you would like to address, it’s ideal to squeeze in a series of treatments in a shorter amount of time. For example, acneic skin can be remarkably improved if you do a series of 4-6 pore-cleansing and exfoliating treatments spaced 2-3 weeks apart. Same goes for hyperpigmentation, fine lines and lack-luster complexion, etc.

If you follow Jennifer’s tips, you’ll be an ideal spa client AND have truly beautiful skin! If you can’t make it to the spa or are still nervous about facials- we suggest the products below. They’ll whip your skin right into shape before summer is over!

At Home Facial Essentials: 1. Dr. Alkaitis Organic Herbal Toner // 2. Astara Blue Flame Mask // 3. Arcona Magic White Ice // 4. In Fiore Fleur Vibrante // 5. Arcona Tea Tree Mask // 6. Malin + Goetz Rice Bran Eye Moisturizer // 7. Arcona Triad Pads