Facials Don’t Treat Wrinkles

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Last week one of my patients complained that she gets facials every month for her wrinkles, but that she still has prominent wrinkles around her eyes and mouth. “What,” she asked, “is she doing wrong?”

Facials are the third most popular treatment in spas after nails and massage. They come in many flavors like: mineral masks, steam treatments, microdermabrasions, LED light treatments, blu-light, and even oxygen facials.

Facials can be beneficial; they extract clogged pores, exfoliate dull, scaly skin, and give you a deep, invigorating cleansing, leaving your face smooth and silky. But facials cannot treat wrinkles, broken blood vessles, or brown spots.

Facials are done by aestheticians who are not licensed to practice medicine. Aestheticians cannot administer treatments that penetrate the skin or have  biologic effects (by definition, this would be considered medicine and must be administered by a licensed practitioner such as a physician or registered nurse).  Deeper problems such as wrinkles require invasive treatments which cross the line from cosmetics to medicine.

Facial massages or electrostimulations, which are supposed to tone your skin, don’t. Toning or building muscle requires intense and repeated activity. Just like building biceps, firming musles on your face would require working out. The problem is that wrinkles on your face are caused by contracting muscles — crow’s feet are caused by contracting muscles around your eyes; frown lines are caused by furrowing your brow; lip lines are caused by contracting the muscles around your mouth. Any treatment then that firms facial muscles would only make wrinkles worse.

Other treatments such as oxygen facials and mineral treatments have no evidence to support them, (unless you count “Madonna said so” as evidence). Save your money and have your daughter apply a mud mask the next time you go to the beach.

Photo: Arkansas Shutterbug (flickr)

11 thoughts on “Facials Don’t Treat Wrinkles

  1. After the most recent article in the NYTs on the sand at beaches being contaminated with bacteria, I think I’ll skip the mud mask

  2. I am a licensed aesthetician and am very bothered by this post. I personally have never claimed that facials cured wrinkles, but the exfoliation received in most facials does help to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Also a licensed aesthetician can, in some states, administer medical treatments under the guidance of any MD. I personally did for a year and then returned to a spa setting. As for your client that receives facials all the time and is not seeing any difference, what is her home care regime? You can’t go to the dentist every month and get your teeth cleaned and then not brush your teeth at home or you can, just don’t be surprised when your teeth still fall out.

  3. Great article, Dr. Benabio! I am Full Specialist, licensed by the State of Florida, Board of Cosmetology and work as an aesthetician in a dermatology practice. I only perform facials on patients that have congested skin or are in need of an exfoliating cleanse. I do administer a variety of peels (provider approved) depending on the correction needed by the patient. The patient must also be compliant and on a skin care regimen for a minimum of one month before any chemical peel is administered. They MUST be using a physical block daily. WE as aestheticians need to educate our patients. Skin Care should be “dentalized”…one should visit the dentist 2-3 times a year and one should see their dermatologist at least once a year or more if not practicing daily skin protection or have UV damage. Facials for the sake of a facial is truly a waste of money for the patient.

  4. I donot ‘completely’ agree with this; as body massages help blood circulation, facials enhance facial blood circulation. Though face masks do help momentarily, facials can be considered as a little investment for a healthier and glowing facial skin.

  5. People need accurate education, customized “physicians” directed home care and exfoliation treatments and realistic expectations. Facials given by an expert can be the best investment for anyone wishing to age slowly. On the flip side, I’ve seen doctors with ruddy skin from daily Retin-A use, dispense advice that results in unhappy patients who prefer not to be red and peeling and thinning their skin, so finding a well educated aesthetician who understands the balance between exfoliation treatments and home care is key. An experienced aesthetician will always be on the look out for suspicious lesions as we are often the first line of defense in preventing skin cancer and know how to work with Physicians.

  6. The only way to get rid of wrinkles is to control your emotions. It works if you are disciplined to do it. Facials are good for pampering especially using natural products & getting blood circulating but injecting chemicals and other rubbish in your skin is bad for your health. Doctors dont care about you, their only purpose is making money off you especially weak people that need something to make them feel beautiful.
    Save money and train yourself to understand your own facial muscles and expressions and refrain from frowning. I have done it & people always comment on my skin – wrinkle free.
    Its all about control.
    Queen Elizabeth was famous for her facial muscle control.

  7. Very interesting. I recently found a new product on the market called The Galvanic Spa. It gives off a light Galvanic current under the skins surface when used with AgeLoc gels. The machine and gels target the cells that cause our skin to age and turn the clock back on them. It really is kind of cool. It worked on me in 5 minutes. You can get more info on this thing at http://www.youthfulnaturally.com.

  8. I think body massages help blood circulation, facials enhance facial blood circulation. Though face masks do help momentarily, facials can be considered as a little investment for a healthier and glowing facial skin.

  9. Facials can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Estheticians can penetrate the skin if they are using a medical grade skincare that has smaller molecules such as Osmosis Skincare.

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