Getting fresh and vibrant skin: How to navigate popular spa treatments


To address concerns about their skin, consumers are increasingly turning to in-spa services, such as facials, peels and fillers. However, navigating spa jargon can be tricky. Here are some popular services and what they entail.

Traditional facial

A traditional facial typically begins with a cleansing of the face using steam to open up pores, which lets impurities clear out. Depending on an individual's skin type or concerns, a mild scrub may be used to exfoliate dead skin cells, dirt and oils. A hydrating mask or lotion will be applied to soothe skin after treatment.

Chemical or fruit acid peel

Chemical and fruit acid peels rely on various acids to exfoliate and peel off the outer layer of skin. The skin beneath is usually more smooth and less wrinkled. Some deep peels target the middle layer of skin to remove damaged skin cells. The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery said that peels can be used to treat anything from acne to aging skin to scars. Alpha-hydroxy acid and lactic acid may be used in mild peels. Trichloroacetic acid, or phenol, is used for more potent chemical peels. Peels are best left to an aesthetician or dermatologist.

Facial masks

Masks may contain many different ingredients designed to treat various skin problems. A paraffin mask, for example, involves the process of applying molten warm wax over a thin mask. The wax will open pores and moisturize the skin. Masks are applied, and then there is a waiting period, during which the mask dries or penetrates. Then the treatment will be removed.


In microdermabrasion, layers of dead skin are buffed. This dead skin may have accumulated due to age and sun exposure. Many spas employ a device that scours the skin using micronized aluminum oxide crystals. Similar at-home products use motorized spinning brushes that employ bristles to slough off skin cells.

Lymphatic massage

Many facial treatments also include some massage. With lymphatic massage, particular pressure points are targeted to release strain from tension headaches and may even reduce skin puffiness. Massaging the skin can promote blood flow and lead to a rosier, more youthful glow.

Cosmetic fillers

Injectable dermal fillers can soften facial creases, remove wrinkles and improve the appearance of scars, said the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. These procedures are best left to professionals.