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Never Had A Facial? Try One For Free

If you’re over 40, check-in with your skin. Shifts in your skincare routine could yield beautiful results in tone, texture and firmness. A facialist can help.

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When you imagine a day full of pampering, facials are almost always on the menu, right? Typically, the image that comes to mind is a woman lying on a massage table with cucumbers over her eyes while sporting a clay mask, but facials do more than relax the person receiving them.

"The goal of facials is to improve the aesthetic appearance of the skin and not to treat any serious skin diseases that may involve using a medical doctor," says licensed esthetician Tiara Willis. "Some facials are invasive and involve chemicals, peels and lasers. Some facials are for pure relaxation."

Age-defying sisters like Kelly Rowland, Gabrielle Union and Angela Bassett swear by facials. Union, for instance, often treats herself to oxygen facials before big events for a more radiant complexion (as if her skin wasn’t flawless enough).

A series of topical facials may help to cleanse, exfoliate, boost blood flow, provide temporary hydration, improve texture, even out complexion and reduce breakouts.

They are often combined with minimally invasive procedures such as microneedling, chemical peels or laser treatments. A facialist can provide knowledge to help us establish a system of at-home skincare.

Whether you’re new to facials or it’s been a few years since you last enjoyed one, here’s how to get the most from them.

What facials are best suited for Black women over 40?

As you may know, facials can be tailored to your specific skin type and all the concerns that come with it. Your facialist should ask you a long string of questions during the consultation.

A one-size-fits-all approach rarely works, but hydra facials are ideal for most skin types, whereas sisters noticing sagging around the jawline may benefit from microcurrent facials. According to Willis, they use "low-level electricity that mirrors the body's natural electrical impulses" to sculpt and tone the face.

Research shows that hyperpigmentation is one of the most common issues for Black skin, so incorporating microdermabrasion, microneedling and chemical peels (not all at once!) are effective for “[removing] dead skin cells and [increasing] cell turnover, which slows down [with] age,” says Willis, who adds that “collagen remodeling” is another perk. (Lay off retinoids and hydroxy acids beforehand to prevent further irritation.)

Good to know: Our pores become enlarged as we age due to loss of collagen and elasticity. Dirt and oil only exacerbate the problem. But a steamy facial is designed to unclog pores as it exfoliates your skin while extracting the gunk; in turn, pores appear smaller.

What to know before your first facial

"Be honest during your consultation about the products you’ve been using, your medical history, what medications or supplements you're taking … make sure to write them down or take pictures,” Willis advises. "I also think it’s helpful to get facials from people that look like you as they are more likely to understand your needs better."

It's also important to be realistic — chances are you won't get any invasive treatments if it's your first visit.

Where to find free facials near you

Many cosmetics counters at department stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom offer complimentary mini facials, sometimes with a purchase of at least two products. Think Kiehl's, Dr. Dennis Gross, Estée Lauder, La Mer, Kate Somerville, Lancôme, Shiseido, Clinique, Armani and Dior. Meanwhile, Aveda stores are known for their 15- to 20-minute facials (no purchase required).

If you’re ready to pamper those pores, this can be a meaningful first step toward building that commitment. Just know that you are likely getting a scaled-down version of a facial intended to familiarize you with products and routines that might benefit you—and send you home with a bag full of them. This may be a good introductory experience for anyone looking to establish an intentional skincare system. If you have a specific concern such as dark spots, scarring or breakouts, consider booking a consultation at a beauty salon, day spa, board-certified dermatologist, or licensed esthetician's office for a more comprehensive and customized approach. Willis recommends this route as beneficial because of greater expertise and less sales pressure.

A facial is more than skin-deep.

Dermatologists and cosmetologists may not see eye to eye about their benefits, but facials should be thought of the same way we think of having a personal trainer by our side at the gym. We can purchase our own treadmill and achieve results that way, but a trainer’s guidance sets the stage for success. When there’s a setback in between visits, they work with us one-on-one to assess and course correct. That same mindset extends to your beautiful skin. Your facialist can help elevate your skin care regimen, sharing good habits you can bring home. Perhaps it’s applying moisturizer to damp skin to seal in moisture, purchasing a rose quartz roller for contouring and depuffing, or popping on a sheet mask a few times a week.

Once managing adolescent acne is replaced by managing adult responsibilities, it’s easier for many women to take our skin for granted, especially if we spread ourselves thin between demands such as work, aging parents and kids. Ever notice how much more centered you feel after treating yourself to a DIY facial using good-for-you ingredients while zoning out to your favorite playlist or sipping a glass of wine? Society tends to diminish women as we age, but prioritizing ourselves and pouring effort into our appearance in this way affirms that we matter.

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