How to enhance a Facial treatment

I have had the opportunity to test and experience many different type of Facials during the last months. And I must admit that it is a very enjoyable part of my job; to test treatments and to analyze them and see how they can be improved… One may think “How difficult can it be? Isn’t a facial just about applying products and covering the eyes with cucumber slices?”….Well, isn’t that a typical view some people have about facials and beauty treatments?

Anyway, there are as many different facials as there are therapists in the world, and that is the beauty of the business. It is all up to the therapist when it comes to the experience and outcome of a facial. No matter how strict or detailed a treatment protocol is, the magic still comes from the therapist’s hands and touch.

A few months ago I had one of the best facials ever….it was not a spectacular, nor an advanced technology treatment. No, it was a basic facial for sensitive skin. I did not have very high expectations prior to the treatment, but as soon as the therapist; Marsee, (beauty therapist at Six Senses, Doha, Qatar) put her hands on my face, I felt the magic: She had the touch!

During the treatment I realized that the products were not the highlight, neither the massage, and there were no particular “wonder techniques” used. So, where did the magic come from? It was all related to the whole experience, the pace and the flow of the treatment and the therapist’s touch. She was the wizard with the magic wand.

Before even laying down on the treatment table, the therapist started to explain the whole procedure, so I knew exactly what was going to happen – no need to worry about what was going to happen. Before she started the treatment, she also shortly described the products she planned to use. She did a correct skin analysis, asking the right questions*. As we moved on in the treatment she spoke less, and if she said something, she spoke with a very quiet voice. She asked about the level of the music and the temperature in the room and adjusted it to my likings. But most of all, she had that special touch in her hands; soft and gentle, but still confident and firm. She prepared me for every step, for example if she was going to spray a mist on my face, she would let me know just before so there were no uncomfortable surprises. This may all sound very basic and simple, but if it was that simple, why do you meet these “wonder therapists” so rarely? Maybe it isn’t so easy to do the perfect facial after all?

I have developed several facials, treatment concepts and protocols and beauty treatments for spas, and the challenge is not to put together the actual steps and techniques in a treatment. The challenge is how do you make it magical and create a nice flow?

There are of course many basics or “must have” /  “must do” for facials, but there are also hundreds of details to consider if you want to make that magic happening….

So, what can you do to improve facial treatments?

Ensure that the therapists know how to do a skin analysis and a treatment plan. You can only understand the skin type and condition by looking at a clean skin, with proper light, as well as having a consultation where you ask the right questions*, which is not just about skin type…it can be questions like;

  • How does your skin feel right now? Is the skin’s current condition the way your skin feels most of the time?
  • What skin care products do you normally use?
  • Is your skin sensitive and how does it react when you experience that the skin is sensitive?

After the skin analysis and consultation, share your treatment plan with your guest; what you will do and why? And what you aim to treat? I really like facials where you do the initial consultation with the therapist, before the actual facial starts. Some therapists start with a short hand massage and do all the “talking” and asking questions while they give you a nice initial hand massage, this way you reduce the talking during the rest of the treatment.

Another important detail is to reduce the dosage and decanting of products during the actual treatment, this takes time from the treatment as the therapist have to open and close bottles, pump and dosage products for each application. So, if there are some products you know in advance that you will definitely use, why don’t prepare and dosage for example hand cream and face mask or any another suitable product in small bowls, so it is just ready to be used!

“The peeling-issue” – Once you have done a peeling, ensure that all grains are completely removed before you continue with the facial, there is nothing more annoying than feeling grains on the skin during a face massage. After you washed off the grains with sponges, muslin cloths or towels, make sure you check the skin (when it is dry) and carefully brush of any remaining grains, either with a cotton pad or a very soft brush.

One thing that I consider very disturbing during a facial is to hear water running, or the therapist emptying the water bowl into the sink several times. Of course this is inevitable if you use sponges or a towel to remove the products you have applied, and naturally you will need to change the water a few times, but avoid having the water running on maximum. You can also can reduce the use of a lot of water by having prepared some facial compresses / towels in a hot cabi and use them in some of the steps in the facial. Reducing the noise from the water tap will make a huge impact on the experience of the facial!

“Pit stop” Always check how the guest is feeling half way in the treatment, check if the temperature is still comfortable. Some people get very warm after a while, when having a facial, and if you are feeling too hot, you can’t enjoy the treatment. Some people may also get a bit cold, especially after they received a face massage, so check with the guest that the temperature is as per their likings, even half way through the facial.

The above mentioned advices are just a few details that can enhance the whole treatment experience, but the most important thing, and the hardest part to train, is the touch.  It has to be light and gentle when it comes to the face, but still firm and confident. Too light is not comfortable. The movements on the face needs to be slow and calming and follow a certain pattern, so you do not constantly change which part of the face you are working on.

It is difficult to explain the magic touch, but to understand what it is about, the best advice I can give is to test, test and test facials. It is the best way to learn and to actually understand how each step is perceived by a  guest. So in another words; if you want to be a really good beauty therapist, who delivers extraordinary facials; Test and try facials in another spas and salons …

…and of course if you don’t have the time to improve your facials or the spa menu, Raison d’Etre can of course assist on this matter.

It’s all about details…


Picture borrowed from Six Senses


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