Expert Tips for Picking the Right Facial For Your Skin

Leah Faye Cooper

Photo: Brigitte Sporrer / Getty Images

It isn’t uncommon to come across a spa menu that looks like it needs CliffsNotes. There are often so many options that a trip for a facial turns into a test of your decision making and decisiveness. Even with our extensive beauty knowledge (read: obsession), we still have a hard time identifying the best skin treatments for our individual needs. As such, we spoke with three Manhattan-based estheticians who explained what one should consider based on the issue they’d like to address. Their tips should aid in picking not just the best facial, but the best type of facial for you—so you can focus your attention elsewhere, like where you’ll be going after the spa to show off your glowing complexion.

What to look for in a routine, maintenance facial  
“A great cleansing facial that includes lymphatic drainage massage is perfect for anyone,” says Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon. “Lymphatic massage helps the skin maintain a healthy glow by circulating nutrients and removing waste.” At her salon, Vargas suggests the Oxygen Purifying Facial ($250) to those interested in basic upkeep. The treatment involves cleansing, exfoliation, and an oxygen spray that’s infused with antioxidant-rich, collagen-boosting serum.

What to look for in an acne-fighting facial
“For guests with oily or acne-prone skin, I always recommend a facial that focuses on deep cleansing, healing inflammation, and thorough extractions,” says Nandi Wagner, an esthetician at Bliss Soho. Wagner advises looking for ingredients such as salicylic acid and tea tree oil, which kill bacteria and reduce irritation associated with active breakouts. “Our No Zit Sherlock treatment ($175) is our go-to acne-fighting facial designed to kill bacteria in the pores, reduce inflammation, and leave the skin deeply cleansed and refreshed,” says Wagner. Those who book it can expect a salicylic and mandelic acid peel designed to address post-acne pigmentation and a seaweed mask to calm the skin after extractions.

What to look for in an anti-aging facial
Alina Cimpoeru
, lead esthetician at the Guerlain Spa in the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, suggests treatments that emphasize facial massage. “The aim is to stretch and relax the most tense areas and reinforce the sagging areas,” she says, adding that targeted muscle stimulation helps prevent dropping and restores volume to facial areas that lack firmness. Among anti-aging facials at Guerlain is the Orchidée Prestige Treatment ($325–$545), which employs a massage repeated three times to redefine the contours of the face, and the application of gold orchid-infused products that aid in cell renewal for a youthful glow.

What to look for if you want to get camera-ready
Vargas’s favorite camera-ready technique involves using microcurrent technology. “It drains out excess water to tighten the facial muscles and skin,” she says, noting that the mild electrical current—penetrated through the skin with two-pronged wands—de-puffs and contours for a toned, well-rested look. While Vargas’s take on the treatment, her signature Triple Crown Facial ($250), is exclusive to her NYC salon, microcurrent facials have grown in popularity in recent years and are offered at salons globally.

What to look for if you have fine lines and wrinkles
“Facials for fine lines and wrinkles should contain thorough exfoliation and intense hydration,” Wagner says. “Exfoliation rids the skin of old cells that can settle in fine lines and make them more noticeable.” Wagner names hyaluronic acid, kojic acid, and CoQ10 as fine line-diminishing ingredients, which also fight dryness and even the skin tone. Bliss’s Youth as We Know It ($195) facial is her pick for addressing wrinkles. It features an exfoliating mushroom enzyme peel to and collagen mask that plumps the skin with moisture and boosts its radiance.

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