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The guide to a good facial

Lynnette Peck / 02 September 2016

A facial might seem an expensive treat, but after three decades of testing them, I believe they’re essential for relaxation and glowing skin…

An older lady enjoys a relaxing facial massage

My life in facials

I was an ancient 24 years old before I had my first facial and it was a revelation. Prior to this I had been travelling the world and studying at university and my ‘skincare routine’ was wiping my make-up off with baby oil and that was about it.

Then I ventured into the world of magazine journalism as a beauty writer and suddenly a whole new world of products and treatments opened up to me.

Over the last three decades, as a fashion and beauty journalist, I have been fortunate enough to try many, many facials all over the UK and the world.

I feel I have tried every facial on the planet: from a ‘placenta facial’ in Switzerland, to four female therapists pounding my skin with pineapple grains in Sri Lanka and from an Elvis-lookalike doing the best ‘skin extraction’ ever on me in Palm Springs, USA to a facial using ‘ingredients picked during a full moon’ in Sydney.

In the process I have also become an expert on what works for skin and what doesn’t.

Facials to me are a chance to lie down and do nothing for an hour (when do any of us do that, apart from in bed at night?) and just relax. You totally give yourself over to someone else and if the therapist is good you will feel calm and all your cares (and tight muscles) will fade away.

Key ingredients for the perfect facial

For me, that starts with a beauty room that is warm enough to strip off in but not too hot you pass out.

The room must also be spotlessly clean and smell good (burners with essential oils often do the trick).

Forget tinkly music. I want silence or classical music played very quietly. I do not want bells jangling every ten minutes (facial in Thailand).

The bed must be comfortable and wide enough to fidget on and there must a towel underneath and on top of me (hygiene is paramount).

The therapist needs to put me at ease – it is not my job to make him or her feel comfortable – and explain in detail the treatment that is about to happen.

After that, the mixture of the ingredients and machines used combined with the therapist’s ability will mean you leave either with an angry, red face that fights against what has just happened or you have clean, glowing skin that looks better than it ever did before.

The expert facialist that I have gone to repeatedly for the last 15 years ( has become such a friend that she even came to my wedding…

If you think that having a facial once a year is enough then ensure autumn is your season of choice. After the summer months, skin really does need some TLC.  Time spent in the sun, exposure to chlorine and air pollution can all lead to blocked pores and very dry skin.

Does your moisturiser work?

Facials to try


This is a non-surgical treatment for the face and the one that I find leaves my skin extra glowing. It is also known as a ‘power peel’ and the skin is ‘sandblasted’ with lots of tiny crystals to reveal a fresher layer of skin. Doesn’t hurt and gives good results. Vacuuming for the face, if you like.


Not all therapists offer extraction as there is a debate about if it leaves scars on your skin. I have been having extraction facials for two decades and no scars as yet. I need extraction to get rid of blackheads and whiteheads and my skin doesn’t feel ‘clean’ unless some ‘extraction’ has occurred. Most therapists wear gloves and use their fingers and tissues to extract. I find twice a year is enough to ensure my skin remains clear.

Facial massage

Most facials incorporate massage into the beauty routine but also look out for salons that specialise in facials that are purely massage. The aim is not just relaxation but the motions are good for circulation, help decongest oily areas and minimise the look of lines and wrinkles. 

Find out how to get rid of wrinkles naturally


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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