Frequently Asked Questions

What is a facial? Why do I need one?
I’ve never been waxed before. How is it done?

What causes acne? How can skin care treatments help?
How can I get a “safe” tan? How do I choose the right sunblock?

What is a facial? Why do I need one?


A facial is a professional cleansing, purifying, and beautifying treatment of the skin on the face and neck. Facials are the number one treatment performed by estheticians, and a good way for your therapist to get a good understanding of your skin prior to suggesting more aggressive treatments.

For most people, facials can be scheduled every four weeks, although your therapist may recommend a different schedule. There are many variations of facials based on different needs, as well as different lengths of time. A mini facial may be only 20–30 minutes in length, while a more luxurious version may be 75–90 minutes in length. Tell your esthetician exactly what you want to get out of your facial, and she/he will be able to recommend a facial to meet your needs.

Preparing for a facial
Be sure to allow enough time to fill out a comprehensive intake prior to your treatment. Plan to arrive a little early so you will not feel rushed and can enjoy the entire length of your treatment. Remember that your hair may become damp during the facial, and will usually be held back from your face with a soft wrap or headband, so you may not want to schedule a public appearance right after your facial! There is no need to remove your makeup prior to the appointment, as it will be cleansed off during the facial.

What to expect
Facials are generally very relaxing and soothing. Your esthetician will explain to you what the treatment steps will be. Be sure to communicate with your esthetician during the facial if any product burns, itches, or if you need anything or have any questions. Otherwise, just lie back and enjoy the experience. A basic facial generally includes the following steps:

  • Makeup removal and cleansing of the skin.
  • Skin analysis.
  • Exfoliation by mechanical, enzymatic or chemical means.
  • Massage of the face and neck, to aid in relaxation and stimulate blood and oxygen flow to the skin.
  • Extraction of blackheads and other impurities, either manually (using gloved hands and cotton or tissue around the fingers with gentle pressure to remove the impacted pore) or using a metal extraction implement designed to clear blocked pores. This can also include the use of a lancet (a small, sharp blade to lift the dead cells of the skin prior to extraction).
  • Application of products targeted to your skin type (dry, oily, mixed, sensitive, or mature).

After the facial
After a facial, your skin will probably be soft, smooth and well hydrated. However, if multiple extractions were needed or if you required a fair amount of exfoliation, your face may be somewhat rosy for one to two hours or more, depending on how sensitive your skin is. This is quite normal. You can apply mineral makeup after your facial if there is some redness you want to conceal.

What about home care?
Your esthetician will go over which professional home care products for you to continue the improvement in your skin following your professional treatment. This way, you will be using products that maximize benefits and prolong the effects of your treatment. Your therapist can explain how, when and how much of the products to use. Feel free to call the therapist later, if you have any questions.

Your esthetician
Your skin care treatments should be provided by a properly trained professional. Don’t hesitate to ask your skin care therapist about her background, training, and experience—especially as it relates to the treatment you are considering. Your therapist is a professional member of Associated Skin Care Professionals. Our members have been validated as meeting their state’s licensing credentials and/or core training requirements, and agree to follow a code of ethics which ensures you’ll be treated responsibly and with the utmost respect. ASCP also provides its members with comprehensive resources that allow them to keep up with changing trends, making certain you’ll receive the most up-to-date therapies available.

I’ve never been waxed before. How is it done?
Waxing is the most common method of hair removal in spas today. Hair on any part of the body or face can be waxed. Warm wax is applied to the area and then removed, bringing the hair with it. There are two types of wax: hard and soft. Hard wax, which is easier on delicate skin, is often used on the face, underarms, and bikini area. Soft wax is used on the legs, arms, back, and chest.

Waxing reduces hair growth when performed at regular 30-day intervals. Because waxing pulls the hair out by the root, it grows back softer, finer, and thinner. The more you wax, the less hair grows back.

Waxing should not be performed if you have particularly sensitive skin, because it pulls off a couple of layers of skin cells along with the hair. Waxing can cause tenderness and swelling. In addition, some medications will cause the skin to react badly to waxing. Don’t wax if you’re taking Retin-A, Accutane, or any type of acne prescription.

Preparing for treatment
Let the hair grow out to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the skin. If hairs are too short, the wax won’t adhere strongly enough to pull them out. Refrain from taking a shower or bath before the treatment. Soaking the hair will soften it, allowing it to break more easily and making waxing less effective. Do not apply lotion to the skin before your waxing session.

What to expect
An antiseptic lotion may be applied to cleanse the area first. Some estheticians apply a light dusting of baby powder to be sure the skin is dry before applying the wax.

  • If soft wax is being used, the warm wax will be spread on the hairs in a thin layer. A cloth strip (muslin or pellon) is then applied to the wax, and rubbed in the direction of hair growth. The strip is then pulled quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth while the skin is held taut with the other hand.
  • If hard wax is being used, a thicker amount of warm wax is applied and allowed to cool. No cloth strip is applied. One edge of the cooled wax is grasped and pulled off quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth. Hard wax doesn’t adhere to the skin as much as soft wax, and is therefore used on more delicate areas such as the bikini area, underarms and face.

How much does it hurt?
Most people tolerate it well, and get used to the sensation after a few treatments. The level of discomfort you will feel depends on your level of pain tolerance in general, and on which area is being waxed. If you still find waxing very uncomfortable after several treatments, many estheticians offer numbing crèmes that can be applied 45 minutes prior to the service. Clients are also recommended to take two ibuprofen tablets prior to their appointment, to reduce discomfort and decrease inflammation in the post-waxed area. For women, it is generally best not to schedule waxing services just prior to or during your period, as you are more sensitive to pain at this time and will experience more discomfort.

Home care after waxing
It’s important to care for the waxed area properly after treatment to prevent ingrown hairs, breakouts, or other reactions. Exfoliation, using a pumice stone or exfoliating gloves with a bath gel, will help keep the skin clear. Avoid using a bar soap because it leaves a film on the body that could cause ingrown hairs. For the face, back, and chest, use a more gentle exfoliant and an anti-breakout lotion (ask your waxer about recommended products). Directly after waxing, avoid direct sunlight and tanning booths, especially while the skin is still red from treatment. For 24 hours after waxing, avoid exercise, hot tubs, and products with harsh chemicals, perfumes, or dyes. Apply a gentle moisturizer 24 hours after treatment.

What causes acne? How can skin care treatments help?


Acne is the most common skin disorder, and 85 percent of all Americans will experience it some time in their lifetime. While commonly thought to be an adolescent problem, it can appear at any age, most often on the face, back, and chest.

The causes of acne are complex, but usually involve the overproduction of oil, the blockage of follicles that release the oil, and the growth of bacteria in those follicles. This can be triggered by many things, including a change in medications or a change in hormone levels caused by stress or other factors. It’s important to treat acne early to avoid scarring.

There are 4 grades of acne. Grade 1 is the mildest form, with open and closed comedones (whiteheads and blackheads). Grades 2 and 3 include papules and pustules as well. Grade 4 is the most advanced form, with all the above plus the appearance of cysts or nodules beneath the skin surface, that can be dime size or larger and often require medical attention to treat. Acne is not only painful but can be very emotionally and psychologically challenging as well.

Who can benefit from acne treatment?
Anyone who has acne can benefit from treatment. Acne sufferers often state their quality of life and self-esteem improves dramatically once their acne is alleviated. If you are seeking a licensed esthetician’s care, chances are you’ve already tried over-the-counter preparations with disappointing results.

Depending on the grade of your acne, your esthetician will go over the treatment options that would be the most successful for you. If you have Grade 4 acne, your esthetician will refer you to a dermatologist who can treat it medically. Once your acne is under control and improving, your esthetician can suggest treatments that will assist you in accelerating the healing process, relieving pigmentation which often accompanies acne.

Visiting your esthetician for acne treatment
Be ready to fill out a medical questionnaire and describe what medications and skin care products you are using. Your therapist will do an analysis of your skin, look for any interactions between products and medications, and devise a treatment plan that’s suitable for your unique needs. Keep in mind that results require a commitment on your behalf to follow a prescribed home care and professional treatment program. This often involves a series of professional treatments. It takes time to balance the skin and treat acne. Though results may not happen overnight, you are on the path to reclaiming your beautiful, clear skin!

What should I expect from my acne treatment?
You should expect regularly scheduled treatments. Your treatment program may begin with an acne facial. This may include deep cleansing and extractions (clearing blocked pores), special exfoliation that will not increase inflammation or spread bacteria, a balancing/calming mask, anti-bacterial and balancing products, or some combination of these. The goal is to deeply cleanse follicles and disinfect them, clearing away oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells without drying or compromising the lipid barrier of the skin.

What about home care?
Your esthetician can provide the best guidance on caring for your skin between treatments. Generally, this will involve keeping your skin clean and avoiding picking at your blemishes—the single biggest cause of scarring. It’s very important you follow instructions given to you by your esthetician. Untreated or undertreated acne can lead to continuing, worsening outbreaks and scarring. Your esthetician will be in close contact with you to be sure your products are working effectively for you. As your treatment progresses, your esthetician may change your home care routine to fit your changing skin’s needs.

How can I get a “safe” tan? How do I choose the right sunblock?


Like many people, you’d love to have that bronzed look but don’t want to expose yourself to harmful ultraviolet rays. With spray tanning and airbrushing, there are ways to get this attractive look safely.

The tanned look has been popular for decades and reached a new level of sophistication in the 1970s when tanning beds were invented. Many people found them a fast way to get an even, year-round tan. However, dermatologists soon became alarmed at the growing incidence of skin cancer and started educating the public about the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet rays.

Some manufacturers of tanning beds promote the misconception that getting a base tan in a tanning bed will protect you from an even more damaging sunburn. But dermatologists agree there is simply no safe way to sunbathe or use a tanning bed.

Spray and airbrush tanning
Fortunately, there are safe alternatives. Most dermatologists consider spray and airbrush tanning as safe as applying makeup.

The active ingredient for sunless tanning, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is derived from raw sugarcane and sugar beets, which reacts with the skin’s amino acids to produce color. This color develops three to four hours after application, deepens over the next 24 hours, and lasts one week to 10 days. A session usually takes 30 minutes or less and may be performed in a spray booth or with a handheld spray unit. Clients undress to their level of comfort; many wear bathing suits. The solution easily washes out of fabrics you wear to your session and, in general, does not rub off onto clothes.

You’ll still need to wear sunscreen, as spray and airbrush tanning don’t provide protection from the sun.

Help or hype?
It’s also helpful to know which sun protection aids on the market measure up to their claims. Following are a few products and procedures you may have heard about.

  • Some companies promote ingestible pills that purport to provide sun protection. Experts say there is insufficient scientific evidence to support these claims.
  • There are bracelets that manufacturers claim will signal you when it’s time to apply more sunscreen or to move into the shade. Experts don’t consider these an adequate safeguard.
  • While some companies claim their contact lenses protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays, this is a little misleading since the entire eyeball needs protection. For best results, use a pair of comfortable wraparound sunglasses with an ultraviolet block and polarizing lenses.
  • Cellulose fabrics, like acetate and rayon, block some ultraviolet rays. Rit makes a product called SunGuard, a detergent you add into your washer, that significantly improves the sun protection factor of cotton clothes for about 20 washings.
  • For maximum safety, look for some combination of these ingredients in a sunscreen: avobenzone, mexoryl, oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide.
  • Your car windows are already protecting you from 50–75 percent of the sun’s rays. Film that rejects as much as 99 percent of ultraviolet rays can be applied to windows. Have this done professionally, however, as the do-it-yourself products are very difficult to apply effectively and often bubble. Many states govern how much you can tint certain car windows, such as the windshield and driver’s side front window. A window-tinting professional can provide guidance on this.