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What Is a Complete Facial?

We hear the term “facial” a lot in cosmetology and aesthetic medicine. Like other general terms, it can mean different things for different patients (and professionals).

Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what’s meant by a particular type of facial: a complete facial. Here’s what you need to know about what’s usually included in a complete facial, what may or may be included, and where to find high-quality facial treatments.

What Is a Complete Facial?

A complete facial cleanses, exfoliates, and rejuvenates the skin, leaving it looking healthier and younger than before. It’s minimally invasive, with no syringes or cuts. And it’s appropriate for all skin types, though certain skin conditions may contraindicate specific facial treatments, such as chemical peels.

Why Get a Complete Facial?

It’s a fair question. A complete facial takes time out of your day and costs money. But when done properly, the benefits of a facial are clear:

  • Moisturizing dry skin, which may be caused by environmental factors or certain skin conditions
  • Cleaning and unclogging pores
  • Exfoliating (removing the top layer of dead skin cells) to restore a youthful glow
  • Stimulating skin cell repair
  • Reducing redness and other skin issues caused by unhealthy or overly sensitive skin

It’s important to remember that a complete facial should complement your skin care routine, not replace it. While you’ll leave the spa looking and feeling rejuvenated, you’ll need to put in some work between skin treatments to maintain those results. There’s no replacement — yet — for daily application of serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

What’s Included in a Complete Facial?

A complete facial spa treatment typically includes:

  • Applying a gentle cleanser to the face to remove dirt, makeup, and dead skin cells
  • Using an exfoliating scrub or cream to remove more dead skin cells and ground-in dirt
  • Using a steam machine to complete the exfoliation process (some facials skip this step)
  • Clearing individual clogged pores by hand or with a pore treatment device
  • Massaging the face and neck to improve lymphatic drainage
  • Applying a chemical peel to resurface the skin (some facials skip this step)
  • Applying a facial mask tailored to the patient’s skin type
  • Applying moisturizing creams and serums, generally with SPF

Basic Facial vs. Vampire Facial

A complete facial temporarily reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and restores that youthful glow to your skin, but it’s not a true anti-aging treatment.

A so-called vampire facial is. Sometimes included in a complete facial package and sometimes offered separately, a vampire facial uses platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from your own body. PRP is full of helpful growth factors and proteins that stimulate the body’s natural tissue repair and cell production processes, with longer-term results than a basic facial. 

PRP procedures often incorporate other types of facial treatments, such as microdermabrasion and microneedling, to prepare the skin. These treatments may or may not be included in a complete facial package.

Can You Do Your Own Facial?

Yes, you can do your own facial at home, with or without a friend’s help. The procedure isn’t complicated, but you will need to invest in the necessary treatments and equipment to make it successful — a significant cost upfront. 

There’s also no guarantee that the procedure will produce the results you desire. So most patients choose to work with certified aestheticians who’ve completed facial aesthetic training.