The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Facial

It's easy to get lost in the jargon of spa services, especially when it comes to figuring out which facial to book.

The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Facial
The Ultimate Guide to Every Type of Facial

Lymphatic Massage Facial

If clenching jaws or grinding teeth are your equivalent of a stress ball, you may want to consider a facial with a lymphatic massage. Kneading targeted points on the face can unlock strain (good-bye, tension headaches) and even help temporarily reduce puffiness. Some spas call out the service specifically, usually including the word “lymphatic” somewhere in the name. Otherwise, you can ask which facial incudes the treatment when booking.

Microdermabrasion Facial

The fastest way to get a healthy, youthful glow is to buff away the layers of dead skin that have accumulated from age and sun exposure. In microdermabrasion, a pressurized jet scours the skin with micronized crystals (usually aluminum oxide) and then vacuums the dead cells away. Make sure the spa uses a device on which they can adjust the grit so that it is appropriate for your skin type. And don’t book this service the day of an event, since your cheeks may be a little rosy immediately afterward.

Acupuncture Facial

During this procedure, about 30 needles are pushed approximately 1 millimeter into your frown lines, forehead, and crow’s-feet. Sounds fun, huh? It actually doesn’t hurt as much as you’d think—some people barely even feel the pricks. The needles are plucked out after about 15 minutes—and an hour later, skin looks radiant and eyes are brighter.

Led Facial

This space-age-y facial harnesses the specific wavelengths in LED light to calm breakouts and inflammation, making it ideal for those with acne-prone skin and redness. A single treatment can improve both, but for severe breakouts, it may take closer to three sessions to notice a dramatic reduction.

Diamond File Facial

This is the Elizabeth Taylor of facials. Actual crushed diamonds are filed over the skin (it feels more like a cat’s tongue than an electric sander). And although the service’s claims of completely resurfaced skin are lofty, this one really does fade dark spots.

Brightening Facial

“Dull,” “ashy,” and “tired” are three words no one wants used to describe her skin. A brightening facial usually involves a combination of masks, enzyme peels, and acid treatments to remove dead-skin buildup. The result? Dewy, megawatt glow-y skin.

Hydrating Facial

When none of the lotions or creams in your bathroom seem to be cutting it anymore, you may need to dial up the intensity of your hydration routine. Look for a facial that focuses on moisturization. This usually includes humectant-rich products and masks designed to soften and plump skin.

Classic Facial

Sometimes, you just want to close your eyes and drift while having your face pampered. A typical classic facial provides deep cleansing, extractions, a head and neck massage, and…zzz. The goal is to wake up looking—and feeling—rested and refreshed.

Firming and Contouring Facial

Yes, your face may twitch and vibrate awkwardly. And yes, you may experience a metallic taste in your mouth. But microcurrent devices can temporarily tighten muscles in the face for a more lifted appearance. Some contouring facials also incorporate massaging techniques to firm. Not everyone finds this intense—but often effective—sculpting to be super-relaxing, so consider skipping it if you’re just looking to indulge.

Decongesting Facial

A decongesting facial is like a professional pore excavation. It’s designed to clear out clogged sebum and eliminate blackheads. Extractions (sometimes with a lancet) do most of the heavy lifting. And although they may leave your skin slightly pink immediately after, they should never hurt. Gentle acid peels, like lactic or AHA, also help dissolve the outer layers of skin to resurface it and keep pores clean.

Anti-Aging Facial

This one attacks signs of aging on all fronts: cleansing, resurfacing (often as microdermabrasion), brightening (acid peels), and hydrating. Book this one about a week before a big event, since skin can flake and peel depending on the strength of the peel. And be extra diligent about wearing SPF every day—skin can be especially photo sensitive.


There’s a hydrating facial, and then there’s a super-charged HydraFacial. The device essentially sucks all the gross stuff out of your face like a vacuum. Then the same tool helps infuse your skin with a vitamin-packed serum. It’s surprisingly gentle, so skin looks soft and radiant without any redness or inflammation.


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