Walking into a new spa and seeing a new aesthetician can feel like a gamble—and unlike buying a new product, you can’t exactly take it for a test drive first to see if it’s going to work out. Because we’ll be the first to tell you that you should be very careful about what you (or someone else!) does to your face and skin, we asked two top aestheticians for both the good and the warning signs, so you can tell if you’re going to be in for a treat—or not—before you even start.
Good Sign: Your skin therapist asks you to analyze your own skin verbally and then does an analysis of it under a magnifying lamp.
You know your skin best, so a good facial always starts with your aesthetician asking you what your personal concerns are. Your skin therapist should also do a fiscal analysis of your skin in the treatment room under a magnifying lamp, says Eliana Restrepo from New York’s Erno Lazlo Institute. “This is done to confirm the client’s answers and see their actual skin condition. This step is critical to ensure that proper products and treatments are selected."
Good Sign: The aesthetician asks very thorough questions about your at-home regimen.
While that “so what products are you using” question might feel judgmental (especially if followed by a vague “ummhmm”), it’s a critical question that all good skin therapists should ask prior to the start of a facial. “If you regularly use retinoids, dermatologist-prescribed skin care or any medication, your aesthetician should know,” says Margo Falevich, aesthetician at Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa. Other bits of important information that usually come out at this time? Whether or not you have any product allergies.
Bad Sign: Your aesthetician is not asking questions about your overall comfort.
Regardless of the fact that getting your pores cleaned out isn’t the most relaxing spa treatment one can get, your aesthetician should be aware and concerned about your overall comfort level, especially because many clients might not speak up about their discomfort voluntarily. It’s not a good sign if the room isn’t clean and organized or if your therapist doesn’t tell you that the bed is warm before you get in it. And going back to the pore work—you should never feel like you have to suffer through it. “I always tell the client when I’m beginning extractions and to give me feedback on the pressure so I can adjust,” says Restrepo.
Good Sign: Your aesthetician can answer any questions you have about the product she’s using.
"Product knowledge is so important," says Falevich. “It's key to know main ingredients, how to use particular products and what combination of products works best to get the best results on your skin.” Adds Restrepo, “A good therapist also doesn’t end the treatment at the room, but instead will prescribe your home ritual with easy-to-follow tips on how to care for your skin to achieve better results for the immediate and long-term.”
Bad Sign: Your aesthetician is promising to fix everything at once.
“Sometimes there are a number of concerns with the skin. For example, it can be sun damage or pigmentation, and acne/clogged pores at the same time,” says Falevich. “It's difficult to target both problems during the same treatment in 60 minutes. Therefore, it is important for the aesthetician to target the main skin concern for the first facial to repair skin successfully for the next treatment to target next issue. This is also the reason why getting regular facials every 4–6 weeks can dramatically improve your complexion.”
Good Sign: You trust your aesthetician’s intuition.
“There are always different products to address the same issues, says Falevich. “We always have a variety of peels and exfoliating products to use during particular treatment. In this case, it's more about aesthetician's intuition to choose the right product for the client to get the best results.”