People have strong feelings about facials. While some swear by them, others eschew the supposedly miraculous benefits. Perhaps part of this discrepancy lies in the fact that the word “facial” has no definitive meaning. Rather, it’s an umbrella term used to describe a range of treatments — treatments that can vary from a solitary clay mask slathered on in front of a television to a fanfare of whirring, skin-perfecting gizmos administered in a clinical setting.
Furthermore, the degree to which someone “believes” in facials might have something to do with the specific skin concerns they’re trying to treat. If those skin concerns involve age-related sagging, spots, and fine lines — sorry, but a simple clay mask is probably not going to cut it.
As we age, our skin becomes less self-sufficient: cellular turnover slows, less oil is produced, and collagen and elastin diminishes. To combat these issues, turn to one of the below facial treatments. Read on for four of the best facials for people over 50.
The facial: Microdermabrasion
How it works: Consider this a professional dose of physical exfoliation. The treatment uses a wand-like device topped with an abrasive tip (usually made of metal, crystals, or diamonds) to slough off the outermost layer of dull, dead skin. While it sounds rough, microdermabrasion is generally not considered painful; at most, skin feels sensitive and/or looks slightly flushed for a few hours post-treatment.
Why it’s good for 50+ skin: Part of the reason childrens’ skin appears effortlessly smooth is because young skin has a significantly higher rate of cell turnover. (Cell turnover is the process whereby new skin cells replace old, dead ones. Think of it as our skin’s natural exfoliation mechanism.) As we age, our rate of cell turnover slows from about 28 days in our youth to approximately 45 to 90 days.
Consequently, mature skin requires more manual exfoliation to keep it looking smooth. In addition to microdermabrasion facials, most pros recommend exfoliating twice per week with at-home products between appointments. (But don’t overdo it!) The number and frequency of professional microdermabrasion treatments depend on your skin sensitivity and tolerance — though they’re often administered with monthly facials.
The facial: Dermaplaning
How it works: Dermaplaning uses a surgical scalpel to slough away the outermost layer of dead skin and peach fuzz. The process is painless; many people even say it feels relaxing. “Shaving” off dead cells allows skin to look luminous and feel significantly softer directly post-facial. (Read more about dermaplaning.) Dermaplaning could also help your skincare products work more efficiently; removing a barrier of dead skin and peach fuzz transforms the skin into a clean slate for product absorption.
Why it’s good for 50+ skin: Dermaplaning is technically a form of deep exfoliation — which makes it a go for mature skin right off the bat (exfoliation helps compensate for the aforementioned sluggish cell turnover). But perhaps the more salient benefit is that dermaplaning can get rid of vellus hair, otherwise known as peach fuzz. Everyone has varying degrees of this facial “fuzz,” though it tends to become more prominent and plentiful as we age. Nixing that downy layer allows makeup to sit more smoothly without catching onto tiny hairs.
The facial: Dermalinfusion®
How it works: Similar to microdermabrasion, this treatment relies on a provider passing a wand-like mechanism over your face in a series of careful strokes. In doing so, skin receives a trio of treatments, including exfoliation, extraction, and nourishment.
First, the wand — which has an abrasive tip — sloughs away dead skin. Simultaneously, the wand creates light suction on the skin to physically lift away dead cells. Lastly, the wand pushes a stream of nutrient-dense serum into the skin. Which serum you receive depends on the skincare concerns you want to address.
One of the most satisfying aspects of the treatment is the aftermath. During the suction portion, debris is collected into a clear glass jar. Whether you ogle at the gunk, dead skin, and other particles is your choice.
Why it’s good for 50+ skin: In addition to giving skin an instantly silkier feel, Dermalinfusion can be customized to address a range of skin concerns related to aging. Specifically, the infusion serums are designed to treat unevenness, hyperpigmentation, and fine lines. A single Dermalinfusion treatment can leave skin looking plumper and more radiant, but a series of treatments yields longer-lasting results. (Read one writer’s in-depth review of the Dermalinfusion treatment)
The facial: Radiofrequency facial
How it works: Radiofrequency facials use radio waves to spur skin’s natural collagen production process. Specifically, the treatment delivers controlled heat to the skin cells responsible for collagen production. When these cells heat up, they produce new collagen — which, over time, can yield firmer-looking skin. While collagen production is decidedly gradual, many people say their skin looks significantly tighter for a few hours directly post treatment.
Radiofrequency can be delivered via a number of different professional devices, but the basic goal and mechanism are the same. Alternatively, you could try an at-home radiofrequency device like the NEWA® Skin Care System ($399), which works similarly to professional devices, albeit less intensely.
Why it’s good for 50+ skin: We begin to lose collagen and elastin — i.e. the proteins responsible for skin’s plumpness and elasticity — starting in our mid-twenties and every year thereafter. So, by the time we reach our fifties, once-taut skin can look saggy. Since radiofrequency facials can increase our skin’s collagen supply, these treatments are an ideal way to tighten and firm the appearance of sagging skin.
Dermalinfusion® is an Allergan®-owned treatment.