Face Off Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and here’s why

Did you hear the one about the worst facial in the world? No, really—a friend sent me a link to this Buzzfeed story about Singaporean beauty blogger Juli of Bun Bun Makeup Tips, whose pre-facial skin started off looking like this:

Juli of Bun Bun Makeup Tips Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

Cute! (Love that red lip on her.)

Now, you might want to sit down for this next one. This is poor Juli’s face only four days after the facial:

Worst facial in the world day 4 Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

What in the everloving F just happened here?

I’ll give you the Coles Notes. I couldn’t find any details on her blog about what, exactly, the facial entailed, but we do know that Juli has sensitive, acne-prone skin. (Ding! Ding! Ding! That alone should’ve rung alarm bells.) I’m not sure what products they used in the treatment, or how much manipulation was done, but let’s just assume it was your stock-standard facial. Cleansing, exfoliation, steaming, extractions, mask, moisturizer, done.

Things seemed fine right afterward, while Juli was still lying on the spa table:

Worst facial in the world day 1 Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

But within 24 hours, things started to go south.

Worst facial in the world day 2 Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

The next day, the breakouts were so bad that she decided to wear a mask!

Worst facial in the world day 3 Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

(I love that masks are totally acceptable in Asia. Not that I would EVER want Juli’s problem—but throwing on a mask and letting your pimple “breathe” just seems like an easier, healthier way to deal versus fiddling around with concealer. How many times have I cancelled plans because of a pimple when I could’ve rocked one of these babies?)

The same day, she went back to the facial place (MORE ON THAT IN A SECOND) and had the pus extracted. Quote: “The facial therapist simply said I have sensitive skin and extraction of the pus would solve everything.”


That didn’t go so well. Shocka! By day four, she was dealing with an outbreak that looked like little barnacles:

Worst facial in the world day 4a Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

She went back to the spa for more punishment I mean a second extraction (with bonus greasy application of anti-bacterial gel), but alas, things just continued to get worse. The next day, the pustules started to merge.

Worst facial in the world day 5 Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

Finally, on day six, she got help from a dermatologist, who told her it was an allergic reaction and that the extractions had made it worse, not better. She was given a steroid and antihistamines to treat the allergy.

Legal action is now pending against the spa… and Juli is now dealing with the aftermath of post-inflammatory pigmentation.

Insane, right? But I wanted to share this story with you because it helps me explain an opinion I’ve long held but never really revealed. And that is…

Facials aren’t that good for your skin.

You heard me. I know it’s kind of a radical statement because beauty editors usually LOVE them, but I don’t—and never have. In fact, long before I was a beauty editor, my mother instilled in me that they weren’t such a good idea… and despite having tried, oh, 50 or more of them as freebies over the past few years, I still believe that she was right!

(Don’t agree? I feel I must first caution you now against Googling stuff about facials or you’re bound to run into some sketchy content about sperm. I learned that the, er, hard way.)

But here, I’m going to present my (PG-rated) case…

1. Facials can make your skin worse, not better.

Um, HELLO, poor Juli. I bow down to the woman for sharing her story with such graphic photos, because there’s no way I’d be brave enough to do that. (Not that my experience even slightly compares to what she went through, but I am so vain, I only documented my Oil Cleansing Method horror show with words, not images.)

Anyway, nobody wants to be a Juli. And the thing is, it’s so easy for that to happen, especially if you’ve got sensitive skin. Apparently, this means a whopping 60 percent of us!

Even if you go into the spa saying you have sensitivity, the fact is that most facials are not that well customized to individual skin types, and many aestheticians just don’t have the in-depth understanding of skin types and ingredients. There’s always the danger that introducing a new ingredient (and massaging it into the skin) could backfire.

According to Juli’s dermatologist, the most common sources of skin reactions are herb and plant extracts, but really, it could be anything—and I know this from when I consulted MY derm, Dr. Nowell Solish, during my whole OCM disaster. He wasn’t sure if I reacted to the olive oil, castor oil, or both; if massaging them into my skin was too much manipulation for me to handle; OR if the oils I’d purchased had been sitting around the health food stores for too long and had become impure.

Green tea leaves Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

We’ll never really know—but he said that even just ONE exposure to something your skin doesn’t like can set off a horrible reaction. Thankfully, mine wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Juli’s, but it’s certainly not a fun time when you’re doing stuff for your skin that’s supposed to make it look better, not worse.

If you’ve found a facial treatment that works for you, then great. But if you have any sort of sensitivity—especially if you’re prone to acne, rosacea or eczema—then I would exercise extreme caution with trying new treatments. It’s so risky!

2. Any benefits you get from a facial are only temporary.

Can anyone say what long-term benefits you get from a facial? I don’t know of any. Sure, you get a glow, but at best it lasts for just a few days.

I’ve always thought that the main benefit (which is still a valid one) is the forced relaxation. I mean, think about it. Your life is so busy, you’re rushing around from one place to the next from morning ’til night… is it any wonder you look better after going into the spa in the middle of the day and snoozing on a spa table for an hour? Your body gets to let go and relax for a bit, so of course you’re going to look better coming out, no matter what products they put on you.

The other thing is the massage. That alone can plump up your skin temporarily and get your blood circulating… so again, it might not be the products.

But seriously, speaking of products, a spa facial may use “professional-strength” exfoliators and such, but they’re never going to be comparable to something you’d get under the care of a medical doctor.

(NOTE: Oxygen facials might be an exception to all of this. They’re not at all like traditional facials—instead, a stream of pressurized oxygen pushes a hyaluronic acid-based serum into the deeper layers of your skin. I don’t have an unlimited budget, so I can’t say for sure, but apparently this mechanism does help with wrinkles and acne when you get them on a regular basis. At least, that’s what Madonna’s makeup artist, Gina Brooke, told me last month—more on her soon!)

3. You get better (and more cost-effective) results from derm treatments.

A monthly facial is not going to improve your wrinkles. Or get rid of your acne. The extractions might help, but they could just as easily make things worse.

Frankly, if you’re getting facials for anything other than a short-term glow and relaxation, you’re better off going to a dermatologist. These days, you can do your own mini-facial at home with an exfoliation and masking routine, using some very decent products. (Read my PMM—peel, mask, moisturize—post for more on this. It’s the new GTL!)

Woman with injection Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres whyBut for results-oriented exfoliation or wrinkle correction, a derm is a better bet. Would you rather get a $100 facial that lasts four days, or put that towards $400 worth of Botox that lasts four MONTHS?

Now, I’m not advocating Botox either way, but in the right hands it can make a dramatic, long-lasting difference. Same with fillers, chemical peels, microderm, antibiotics or spironolactone (for acne) and laser treatments. I don’t think anybody needs to go crazy with this stuff, but if you do have a skin concern, a professional opinion might be money better spent versus a temporary fix. However, the key is that you need a doctor you trust, who won’t overdo it. (Not an easy task for sure!) Also, I’m a huge believer in beauty from the inside out—so at the same time, it’s a good idea to work on internal things like your diet, sleep habits and stress levels.

Now I’m ready to get jumped on by all the aestheticians out there. Ready… GO! But before you do, know that what I’m saying doesn’t apply to all of you. Just that there is some very valid risk in the wrong hands with the wrong type of ingredients. And y’all are expensive!

I also want to say that I think aestheticians play a VERY essential role—along with beauty blogs, obvi—in helping educate people about good skincare at home, including the importance of sunscreen. Dermatologists rarely take the time to tell you what to use (and they usually aren’t too familiar with all the zillions of products out there). I know, because I’m always interviewing them.

Now, a couple more things to know if you DO get a reaction to a facial—or anything else you’ve done to your skin:

It does not have to get worse before it gets better.

LIES! I can’t stand when people bring this up as if it’s perfectly normal to suffer for months with horrible, scarring breakouts while you “purge” and your skin “adjusts.” Who the heck wants to live that way? At the very least, you’ll have to deal with the hyperpigmentation (which can take forever to get rid of, especially if you have darker skin). And worse, if you’re prone to pitted scarring, then you could cause permanent damage.

I think if you’re experiencing anything unusual and severe after doing something to your skin—whether acne or a rash or dry patches—then it’s a sign that your face is crying for help. Get help; don’t make it suffer.

Get thee to a dermatologist.

Don’t go back to the facialist that did you wrong. In Juli’s case, the double round of extractions made her skin freak out even more.

And don’t just wait it out. When I had the reaction to the Oil Cleansing Method, it came upon me very gradually, over several weeks. First as unusual dryness, then a rash, and then the breakouts (which got worse and worse). I should’ve gone to a derm right away when I noticed the change in my skin, instead of waiting until it was a full-blown infection.

You may have to shop around for the right doctor.

I did (and so did Juli). The first guy I went to wasn’t even a dermatologist, I later found out. (In Canada, you can still put yourself out there as a “skin doctor” and even open your own clinic without having the qualification of dermatologist. Who knew?! You’ve been warned.) Doc #1 just didn’t have the breadth of knowledge I needed to diagnose and treat my condition. Thankfully, I hot-footed it to Dr. Solish when things weren’t improving, and he immediately knew what to do. Apparently some antibiotics are more effective than others, and with sensitive skin you have to be careful about drying topicals. He ended up giving me a better oral antibiotic and told me to stop using the topical (which didn’t do anything anyway), and once things quickly calmed down in a week or two, did laser on the redness.

You might need an oral medication.

Antibiotics Are facials good for your skin? Not really—and heres why

Okay, not a doctor here, so this is not medical advice! All I want to say is that sometimes there’s no “natural” way to solve a skin reaction like the one Juli had, and like I had two years ago. I’m the biggest beauty hippie, so I’m all about the natural route—but that’s what probably stopped me from seeking help sooner. Unfortunately, the infection I got was so deep that it could very well have taken months and months for my body to fight it on its own. A six-week course of antibiotics was so much easier and less stressful than having to deal with it on my own.

Same thing with Juli, but in her case she needed anti-allergy meds instead of antibiotics. (I’m still a bit unclear on how a doctor could tell the difference, since it sounds like we both reacted to ingredients and my situation cleared up just fine with antibiotics. Anyone care to venture a guess?)

Anyway, I’ve babbled enough here. This is basically my long-winded way of saying that I’ll be sticking with my Retin-A, PMM and Clarisonic, thankyouverymuch.

Let’s talk about this:

Do you think facials are good for your skin?
Or do you think they’re a waste of time, money and potentially dangerous?
Ever had a facial-from-hell experience of your own? Please share!


Monday, June 24/2013 at 3:10 pm

I do have to say that I love getting a facial- mostly for the relaxation and the lovely after-glow.

What I don’t love is that my skin always tends to break out a week or so post-facial. Coincidence? I think not! I’ve realized this fact even more after reading your post, it’s not just me!

Maybe I just get massages from now on when looking for a way to relax?!


Vee Mistry
Monday, June 24/2013 at 3:22 pm


Breaking out is NOT normal and one of the feed back that we have had is that when our guests try our facials they do NOT break out.

We believe correct product selection during facials should make this problem not be such a nuisance.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 5:16 pm

I agree, it shouldn’t happen. I forgot to mention it above but aside from the ingredient thing, I’ve also had very bad experiences from facialists getting too aggressive with minor little clogs, and then causing the pore to erupt in a cystic pimple that takes a week or two to heal. Annoying!


Katrina Thomson
Monday, June 24/2013 at 7:37 pm

I have tried a few different places and have almost always had issues. I would LOVE to go for a facial and leave knowing my skin won’t react in a week or so. The quest continues!


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 5:12 pm

The same thing has happened to me! Not always (like Dermalogica for example will never break me out) but enough for me to be wary of a new facial I haven’t tried before.

I really like oxygen treatments now, although I’ve even done stories on those where dermatologists have told me they don’t actually “do” anything. One said the glow you get is from the force of the air hitting your skin and not the actual ingredient… and that long-term that inflammation isn’t so great for your skin.

I only have them once in a blue moon so it’s not something I’m too concerned about – I would definitely recommend an oxygen treatment over a regular facial if you need a skin boost before a special event.

As for relaxation – massage, yoga, deep breathing, a hot bath?


Vee Mistry
Monday, June 24/2013 at 3:20 pm

First and foremost I would like to say how sorry and disgusted I was reading this article from start to finish.

Let me elaborate. I am and have been an aesthetician for over 17 years and currently run my own spa in Yorkville, Toronto.

Our 1st and most important part of the facial is a good thorough consultation which means listening to the guests needs,wants and past experiences.

Secondly it is our duty to treat all guests with the up most care from a hygiene prospective as well as customizing any treatment to suit each guests needs!

When spa’s or obviously so called spa’s get guests in and out and do NOT listen or pay close attention to what feed back there has been it is extremely frustrating.

My self and my therapists have nothing but passion for our industry and what we do every day is to treat each guest like they are our only guest and customize all experiences to deliver nothing but the best.

This is NOT normal and should not have happened nor should it happen.

We would advise ALL guests to ask plenty of questions to their therapists on experience with in the industry, as well as products that will be used, how they sterilize tools (if used) and what others have seen and felt after and during the treatment.

We wish that this particular lady recovers fully.

Thank you for reading.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 5:30 pm

Yes – like I said it’s obviously not ALL aestheticians that don’t take the time or have the knowledge. We have no way of knowing what exactly they used on this poor girl, but from the sounds of it, it doesn’t seem like they paid much attention to her existing (sensitive, acne-prone) skin condition. I could be wrong but I think if this had been a point of discussion at the spa during the consultation, she would have mentioned it in her many posts about the experience. (And things *might* have turned out differently.)

Of course, who could imagine a reaction could go this wrong. It just goes to show you that everyone should treat their skin as if it is sensitive, and be extremely cautious about what they do to it.

Good point too about sterilization. I’ve talked to doctors who say the majority of spas just don’t have the expensive medical sterilization equipment to be able to sanitize their nail tools properly… so I can only image the same is true of facial instruments. And what can happen is quite scary – I know of someone who thought she had extremely resilient skin, but was hospitalized for a staph infection on her face after scratching with her own contaminated fingernail. Craziness!

Anyway, in Juli’s case I feel the spa was extremely negligent in seeing her not once but twice afterward for the extractions, and not recommending she see a dermatologist ASAP. Good for her for taking legal action.


Friday, September 13/2013 at 1:48 pm

It is not ‘normal’ for someone to have a reaction like the one Juli had. There are many factors that can be considered here. My first thought was: Was a proper hygienic (sterilization of implements etc.) technique used? Secondly, did the esthetician obtain a good history on her client and did she do a proper skin analysis? I had a client once (seen previously) who revealed that she had just developed an allergy to nuts. The products I was using contained some nut ingredients, such as almond oil which is actually exceptionally good for skin as a rule. Obviously, I did not proceed with the facial. The client needs to be asked EVERY time they come in if there are any changes in their health history, any medication, what products they are currently using and so on. It’s not an invasion of someone’s privacy, it’s simply of matter of being careful and reducing the risk of something like this occurring. I have never seen a reaction like this and neither have I had clients comment about breaking out after a facial. Having said that, an occasional breakout following treatment is not unusual because the comedone (pimple) was likely brewing under the skin surface already.
If you do not have regular facials or you are going to a spa for the first time, I do not recommend having a facial done the day prior to an event.
I am a trained medical esthetician with years of experience. Think about the millions of women (and men) who have regular facials and reap the benefits in many ways. There are anti-aging and acne treatment facials that are very effective. Steaming and deep-pore cleansing is beneficial and a facial massage is relaxing and aids in lymphatic drainage. What a way to spend an hour?
You make a choice where you go. Is it clean and are the therapists appropriately attired and prepared for each client? It’s like going to the dentist. The importance of hygiene in any type of practice is always a crucial element.


Monday, June 24/2013 at 3:57 pm

My question to you is…how do I find a great Derm? I live in BC and don’t know who to ask to find one.
Thanks for your help.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 5:42 pm

That’s a very good question! I feel like I should write a post about this. So many that get written up in the media aren’t necessarily “better” than those who don’t seek out the press. In fact in my experience, some of the more ‘famous’ derms tend to be the ones who push expensive treatments on you and make it hard to get a simple prescription. They can also overdo it on the injection stuff and want to get you on a schedule so you’re always coming in. A lot of them get so popular that they have nurses doing their injections… sometimes that can work out okay, but sometimes it can go horribly wrong. If it were me I would rather see the top expert which is the doctor.

Honestly what I would do is look for a derm who is affiliated with a university – that way you can be assured that he/she is at least keeping up with the latest advancements in dermatology. If you’re getting injections check that he/she does them. I’m a bit wary of giant medi-spas.

Since I’m in Toronto I can’t vouch personally for any of the BC derms, but my favourite guy over there is in Victoria – Dr. Mark Lupin. Interviewed him many times and he is an absolute sweetheart – also the only derm I’ve ever spoken to with an insane amount of knowledge on over-the-counter skincare products. Dr. Frances Jang and Dr. Jason Rivers are also probably ok.

If anyone reading from BC has a reco for a dermatologist, please let us know!


Sara Jane
Monday, June 24/2013 at 4:05 pm

I’d have to disagree with you. I love my facials and will continue my facial treatments till I die.

While I feel horrible for the young lady who had the bad experience, I have to wonder a couple of things. First, why did she allow more extractions to take place? Her first call should have been to her dermatologist after she made contact with the spa regarding her situation. But to return twice?? I really have to question her thinking. Secondly, shame on the spa for not sending her directly to the doctor. I am in the medical field and this doesn’t look like an acne breakout to me.

For you to slam a profession in the manner you have, leads me to think of people who drive drunk. Are all drivers drunk? Or did you get sick from the food you had at a restaurant? Then, following your logic, ALL restaurants must serve bad food. I know of a narrow minded beauty editor but that doesn’t mean all beauty editors are as closed in their thinking..

I wish a full recovery for the young lady.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 5:56 pm

That’s great that your facials are working for you. It’s totally okay to disagree with me but it sounds like you missed the part of the post where I specifically said “…what I’m saying doesn’t apply to all of you [aestheticians]. Just that there is some very valid risk in the wrong hands with the wrong type of ingredients. And y’all are expensive!”

Is that slamming the profession? No :) If you go back and re-read, you’ll also see that I went on to say that aestheticians play a critical role in educating people about skincare. And there are definitely short-term benefits to facials, no doubt about that.

What I am saying is that facials can be fine under the care of an experienced, knowledgeable aesthetician… but in my experience finding someone like that is more the exception than the rule… and you’re not going to get any long-term benefits. And people with sensitive skin need to be particularly careful when trying something new because reactions can be pretty horrific.

We are in 100% agreement about the negligence of the spa. But I can’t fault the girl too much for going back – yes going to a derm right away would have been the ideal thing to do, but in many countries including Canada, it’s very hard to get access to one and they can be expensive. Also a lot of people put tremendous trust in their aestheticians as the experts… which is why it’s so sad she was wronged so badly!


Monday, June 24/2013 at 4:21 pm

Interesting take on the whole situation – but I’m going to offer up an alternate perspective.

I have followed Juli’s story as well, and this was an allergic reaction. She could have had the same reaction from a face cream that she bought at the store. It was NOT specific to getting a facial.

How do I know this?

I had the same reaction when I was 18 to some antibiotics I was taking. In a nutshell, basically everything that your body is rejecting tried to come out through your pores. Thank god I was able to get in to see my doctor the same day my skin erupted, which was literally overnight, and then see a derm, who prescribed me some super heavy duty cortisone pills. By the time I got meds, the rash had spread from my face, down my neck, and to my chest. The derm gave me two options. The first was that I could let the reaction run it’s natural course and it would spread all over my ENTIRE body, and then go away, or I could take the drugs. I took the drugs.

I do agree that the spa company dropped the ball and they should NOT have tried to perform extractions and instead should have sent her immediately to a doctor. But it is faulty logic to say that you are going to get this type of reaction due to a facial. It was an allergy, plain and simple, that she could not have avoided it by a skin analysis or anything.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 6:08 pm

Oh my goodness – sorry to hear you had to go through something similar. I would’ve taken the drugs as well!

I definitely don’t think this is the norm from facials, by any means. Obviously we’re talking extreme scenario here. I’ve never heard of this happening from a regular over-the-counter product though, have you? I think it’s specific to the plant extracts that her skin wasn’t used to, which are in higher concentrations in professional-strength spa products… and which they never should have used on her in the first place, knowing that she was sensitive and acne-prone. Dermatologists are always telling me that it’s the plant extracts that are the most risky and unpredictable in terms of skin safety. Plus there is the manipulation aspect of a facial (just like many people report breaking out from the pressure of a Clarisonic).

That’s why I feel like there are so many similarities to my OCM experience, where I was using castor oil (which is way stronger than a normal drugstore skincare product) and the massaging action.

I think in my case I got some kind of allergic reaction first as well, because it was a dry, red, irritated rash… and then it morphed into an actual infection which is why the antibiotics worked when I finally got treatment.


Monday, June 24/2013 at 6:31 pm

Hey Michelle,

I have gotten similar reactions to drug store products (my skin is CRAZY sensitive ever since the antibiotic incident) but I patch test absolutely everything on my skin now so the result is just an itchy mess in the nook below my ear, which is easily hidden by hair!

And I agree with your assessment on your OCM issue, you probably had an allergic reaction which compromised your skin through some cuts/sores and allowed the bacteria to get in. It sounds like the perfect storm :(


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 2:40 pm

Eeks that’s terrible – which ingredients are the problem ones for you? Do you have normal skin otherwise – and what do you normally use on it? Do you have to go really bland with everything?


Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 12:12 pm

Moisturizers are what raelly do it for me. I am allergic to shea, as well as some other mystery ingredient that I haven’t been able to figure out yet. And shea is in damn near everything! I have generally normal skin, and switch between using Bioderma and B. Kamins Vegetable Cleanser. I use pure rosehip seed oil that I buy from my local health food store to moisturize for the majority of the year as well as Neutrogena Face sunscreen in the summer.

Monday, June 24/2013 at 4:36 pm

Oh my god that poor girl! Those pictures made my skin crawl! I can’t even imagine.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 6:10 pm

I know – having gone through something that was only like 1/20th of this, I can attest to how horrific it is. Once she’s done healing she should definitely do laser to get rid of the red pigmentation – it really works!


Monday, June 24/2013 at 4:48 pm

I disagree with this article as well. I’ve been getting monthly facials for the last three years and it is the only thing that keeps my skin clear of hormonal chin acne (in addition to a great home skincare regimen). I have never broken out right after a session or had a bad experience. If I go regularly I rarely get breakouts anymore.

When my dad passed away last June I stopped going for three months (but continued my usual home skincare routine) and got terrible breakouts on my chin. I returned to my spa because I was getting married a month later and my aesthetician whipped my skin back into shape in two visits (two weeks apart).

I feel really bad for what happened to that blogger but I think that case might be really extreme and hopefully rare. If I had a reaction like that I would NEVER return to the spa but go immediately to a doctor. I’m not sure how she selected where she got her facial but I think this illustrates the importance of doing thorough research and finding a reputable spa.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, June 24/2013 at 6:14 pm

That’s great! What do you think is the key to them working for you – the extractions… the exfoliation… or something else? And what do you think is the root cause? I guess I’m just more about finding and treating the root cause of whatever is the skin problem. Not that I don’t think what you’re doing isn’t perfectly fine, I’m just cheap :) And a health nerd. Usually there is some kind of underlying hormonal/diet/lifestyle connection with acne, so addressing that can work wonders and in the long run save you $$$.

Would love to know who your aesthetician is! Sounds like you found a gem.


Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 12:27 pm

I did a complete overhaul of my diet a year ago. I adopted a mostly vegan diet that includes fish once a week which has done wonders for my skin and energy levels. I realize this diet isn’t for everyone and requires a lot of planning to do it right (I know someone who didn’t plan properly and ended up losing a lot of her hair) but it’s been great for me. Regular exercise further increased energy levels. I rarely drink caffeine and generally avoid refined sugars. I have been thinking about trying cod liver oil as you’ve suggested to see if it makes a difference (as you can see I’m not a strict vegan haha). I’m pretty convinced from things I’ve read that dairy might have been causing problems.

I exfoliate regularly at home so I’m thinking it’s the extractions that help (clogged pores on my chin turn to cysts). I read Kristen Ma’s book several months ago that you recommended and was pleased to find my spa mentioned at the end of the book (I’m in California so I’m useless to anyone in Canada). They use Eminence products which fortunately I haven’t had any bad reactions to.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:00 pm

Ah okay. You might want to consider NutriSorb-A instead of cod liver oil. http://www.iherb.com/InterPlexus-Inc-NutriSorb-A-Liquid-Vitamin-A-0-6-fl-oz-17-ml/31265. It’s in the most pure, liquid form (just water and glycerin) without the crappy fillers/excipients that are in just about all vitamins and can be quite harmful. (Unfortunately nobody talks about that… most NDs are vitamin-pushers sadly.) I’ve been taking a few drops a day for a few months now and it does the same thing for your skin as the CLO, except you’re not consuming PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids). I would definitely look into eliminating those elsewhere in your diet too. The only oil I use now is coconut, and very occasionally olive oil but not heated. The rest of them are very dangerous and can really mess with your skin and overall health.

The other thing with a vegan diet – and I’m not trying to convince you to change that, just sharing info from my research – is that you’re probably too low on quality protein and that is KEY for good skin (and preventing aging skin). Most of us are way too low, vegan or not. You need 80g a day minimum. You could try eating gelatin and more shellfish – I think that would really help you. Liver is the best but I’m sure you’re not going to be down with that :)

As for dairy the reason people break out is because it increases their metabolic rate, which uses up more vitamin A, so your body needs to consume more whether it’s through food (liver) or a vitamin A supplement.

The other things to consider would be your thyroid – if it’s low that definitely causes acne because it raises cortisol – and whether you’re estrogen dominant (most of us females are). To know if your thyroid is low you can measure your morning temperatures… below 37.5 is considered low. To correct thyroid you can take dessicated thyroid or follow a thyroid-boosting diet and see if that helps. For estrogen dominance the remedy is a progesterone oil called Progest-E, which is the purest one.


Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:35 pm

Thanks for the link. I’m going to order some and give it a try. I know what you mean about vitamins. I take a B12 supplement and didn’t realize there are different forms and some aren’t readily absorbed in the body. Took a lot of research to find a good one. Also, we only cook with coconut oil and occasionally olive oil.

The CDC says women only need 46 grams of protein daily. Where did you come across 80? I wouldn’t mind reading up on that. I make sure to have the right amount of grains and beans daily so they become a complete protein but maybe I’ve been shooting too low (46 grams)?

How do you find out officially if you’re estrogen dominant?

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 12:28 pm

The 80 grams is from Ray Peat. raypeat.com. I can’t find the original article right now where he mentions it, but it’s in this collection of quotes here http://www.dannyroddy.com/main/2011/12/29/ray-peats-brain-building-a-foundation-for-better-understandi.html. He doesn’t recommend beans or grains FYI. It takes a lot of time and reading to understand his work because it’s so science-heavy, but I love it… it expands your mind :)

Re: estrogen

ALL female problems (tumors, fibroids, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, PMS, cramps (dysmenorrheal),
amenorrhea, female cancers, spontaneous abortion, cyclic seizures, dry vagina and infertility), weight
problems (usually high, sometimes low) gallbladder disease (six times higher in women with excess
estrogen or on birth control pills or ERT), and abnormal facial hair.
OTHER PHYSICAL SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS: fatigue and insomnia, immune system problems,
(chronic infections anywhere such as bronchitis, frequent colds, etc.), asthma, heart disease, cancer,
colon problems (constipation, appendicitis, cancer), hair loss in men and women, excess facial hair in
women, skin problems (dry skin, acne, psoriasis, eczema, etc.), osteoporosis, arthritis, low blood sugar,
allergies and digestive problems, cold hands and feet, sensitive to changes in temperature, blood
pressure problems (high or low), weight problems (high or low), a hoarse voice, vision problems and
other symptoms.
MENTAL/EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD), moody, irritable
behavior, excessive crying or worrying, depression (a classic symptom) and serious mental problems
That’s from http://www.longnaturalhealth.com/sites/default/files/NutriPakNaturalThyroidHowTo.pdf

Also some other articles are

Monday, June 24/2013 at 6:43 pm

I have never scrolled through an article so quickly as I did this one…I’m actually a little sick from seeing those pictures. Poor girl!
I don’t get facials because I figure spa aestheticians won’t give me the medical perspective I need to really understand the process of what they’re doing and why they’re using the products they are, and no one knows your skin better than yourself.. they can’t possibly have all the combinations to best apply to the myriad of skin types that are out there!
I will forever remember this story as a cautionary tale.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:08 pm

I agree with you. I guess I’m cynical but I’ve had a LOT of facials over the years in this job, more mediocre than amazing ones, and at best they’ve been a nice way to relax and get a pinkish glow for a few days. (Dermalogica and Pure + Simple by the way are a couple of the amazing ones…)

I just can’t recommend them as a regular long-term skincare strategy for the average person. Too expensive, too risky and while there are problems with dermatologists too, personally I trust a derm more as a skin expert. And they have more tools at their disposal to treat a problem.


Monday, June 24/2013 at 8:38 pm

I live and die for facials by my (years loyal) aesthetician at Pure + Simple! Cleansing, light extractions, mask and massage of simple, organic oils? You can’t go wrong. I had several facials in the short period leading up to my wedding a couple years ago and never had better skin in my life. Also, have *never* broken out afterwards.

Have to say that my experience with derms is quite the opposite. I look at derms like GPs — they’re prescribers. I’m pretty holistic so I much prefer organic facials/naturopaths vs. derms/traditional doctors. Always beauty from the inside out! Diet is key key key.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:19 pm

I really do like the Pure + Simple facial. It’s one of the few where I feel super relaxed. (A lot of places are so damn awkward with the spa music and stupid rituals and all of that… I feel like P+S is a little younger and cooler.) I also like that they use natural ingredients. I have, however, broken out from there several times – not sure it was the ingredients or the extractions.

I 100% agree that anything skin related needs to happen from the inside out, i.e. diet and lifestyle (lowering stress and correcting hormone imbalances). I’ve just learned that it takes a LOT of work to get the real truth there because there’s just as much BS with naturopaths and organics too. (You might want to read my comment above to Robyn.)

Where I think derms are useful is in fixing a short term problem like the reaction I had to the Oil Cleansing Method – it would have been ridiculous to let that go on for months for the sake of being “natural” just to avoid a short course of antibiotics. Or laser treatments for acne for someone who, say is getting married and wants to have a clear complexion. Or even let’s face it hyaluronic acid injections for wrinkles. It’s a natural substance and injected by the right doctor, I have no issue with it if someone is seriously unhappy with the loss of volume in their skin.

But long-term yes I believe in working on the root causes and not going on the birth control pill, Accutane and stuff like that… you just need to shop around for a derm that understands your needs.


Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 4:36 pm

True. And if you don’t have problematic skin—just the odd breakout or dryness or whatever—a derm shouldn’t be necessary. Clean diet, healthy lifestyle, infrared saunas, simple skincare and the odd facial (in my opinion) keep my skin problem-free.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 5:09 pm

Exactement. I don’t think people should rely on dermatologists OR aestheticians to get healthy skin… just like you wouldn’t go to a GP to become a healthy person :)


Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
Monday, June 24/2013 at 9:22 pm

Ahhh Michelle! I read about this when someone tweeted a link and I felt, so, so bad for this girl and I know how she feels :( I’ve been suffering from breakouts for over 2 years – did the meds, changed my diet did the natural thing. Saw a derm that didn’t even LOOK at my skin and wanted to put me on accutane (no thank you!). I’ve done Chinese meds, acupuncture, naturopath and even a native healer! Finally found a dermatologist that has taken the care to look at my skin and I’m finally seeing results.

In terms of facials working or not…I think one has to be REALLY careful for sure. I’m sure like you as a blogger I get offered facials but I turn many of them down if I’m unsure about the products they use. I have never broken out from Pure + Simple – I’ve never had an oxygen facial but I’ve had an aquabrasion one and I love it! It’s like a pressure washer on your face (it doesn’t hurt though!) to help extract as well as afterwards to push the serum into the pores. I’ve also not had a reaction with several Eminence Organics based facials however I do feel like those ones are more relaxation as they use so many steps and layers that it’s hard to say if they actually work.

There’s no science to it but I feel like you need to do your research and go with your gut. I personally get really turned off if a spa is trying to push their products on me or telling me that everything I’m doing is wrong (I must know SOMETHING!) but I do appreciate some education.

Great post – definitely has me thinking :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:27 pm

Hi Elaine :) I agree about Accutane – seems like they over-prescribe it and the side effects are very concerning. What did your dermatologist give you now that is working for you? And what is your diet right now? Did anything change in your life two years ago? Just curious if you had clear skin before what could be some of the possible triggers. Do you notice any hormonal pattern to your breakouts? Have you ever had your hormones/thyroid checked?

I never got around to doing the Aquabrasion facial but yes I’m a Pure + Simple fan. They have broke me out though :(
I agree about product pushing and the “shaming”… huge turn off. It’s so bad that I always get nervous before a new facial appointment – are they going to judge me and my skin and what I use? Ugggh why do so many of them do that?!

Anyway, it’s kind of a radical thing to say given what I do, but I think products only have a minimal effect on skin vs. internal factors. So am always skeptical when a facialist promises me I just need to buy her products to solve whatever problem she thinks I have…


Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 11:17 am

Right now I’m not on any meds – the derm did put me on tetracycline for just two weeks just to get rid of any bacteria. So now I am just using her skin care line – which I was skeptical about b/c I tried it back in November and it was too harsh for me but seems I was using it wrong (rather using too much!) and so now it’s working! It’s the Kellett skincare line actually. I was also a bit weary of seeing Dr. Kellett but a friend of mine saw her about 10 years ago so I gave it shot and she was really great. Didn’t try to push anything on me either – just told me what types of products I should be using (texture, ingredients) but I just decided to try her line out again to make things easier on me (didn’t feel like going around and searching).

I did do hormonal tests and nothing really changed in my diet – which is the first thing I tried to look at by keeping a diary. I eliminated dairy and gluten strictly for a few months and didn’t notice any difference :( I do agree that we should try to figure it out internally but I’ve tried that route and all the experts I’ve seen have been baffled. Not to mention the amount of $ I’ve spent on appointments and at the health food store :P

Aww too bad about P+S breaking you out – I have heard that from one other person. Sometimes “all natural” doesn’t work for everyone. I never broke out and was seeing slight improvement but then my skin would just go back again – it was taking too long and I am impatient ;)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 12:42 pm

Ohhhh Dr. Kellett :) I’ve been to her. She is a smart lady, but I’m not sure I believe her line is really that different from everybody else’s. Good that’s it’s working for you though. In my experience she doesn’t tell you about other (cheaper) options like spironolactone or Retin-A. Dr. Skotnicki told me about spiro (and takes it herself). It’s an anti-androgen that I believe is safer than the pill… maybe something to look into.

It’s possible that there is a hormonal issue like low thyroid that’s not showing up on tests. Are you cold frequently – or do you have cold hands and feet? Have you ever measured your morning temperatures?

And I strongly suspect you are vitamin A deficient so that would be the very first thing I’d do. Eat liver once a week or take Nutrisorb-A. That’s going to make a much more dramatic difference than dairy or gluten. (I agree to avoid gluten but you can do dairy if your A is high enough)

I know what you mean about it being a pain in the ass (and expensive) figuring all this stuff out, and there are so many “experts” who lead you down the wrong path. It’s incredibly frustrating. I do think it’s important to find the root cause though, as acne is a sign you’re not truly healthy. It’s actually a blessing because then you can correct the problem.

Just my two cents because I know exactly how you’re feeling! I feel like I’ve finally after years of research figured it out. If you go up and read my comments to Robyn that’s kind of the gist of it.


Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 1:41 pm

Oh thanks for the advice! I will look into this! When Dr. Kellett looked at my skin (and I mean REALLY looked – like with a magnifying do-hicky and everything :P ) she believes my acne (at least the most severe area) was caused by products that I was using in the past. Again – not sure I feel that’s 100% true but as I mentioned her products seem to be doing the trick. And I’ve tried many other lines as well so for now anyway I’m crossing my fingers this is the solution!

I’ve been prescribed retin-A by my GP – I got pretty red and flaky but perhaps I’m not using it correctly. I’ll go back and search your previous posts on the topic. Hmmm…as for the Vit A thing – I will look up that supplement – not sure I can do the liver thing LOL! I DO have cold hands and feet when it’s cold…clammy when it’s hot haha! yeah perhaps I should ask for specific tests again.

Thanks Michelle :)

Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 7:17 pm

Oh ok interesting. So you mean she thinks you were using products that were too harsh?

With Retin-A there can definitely be an adjustment period, but a lot is in how you apply: http://beautyeditor.ca/2013/02/05/how-to-use-retin-a-and-not-turn-your-face-into-a-red-flaky-peely-mess/

I can’t stomach liver either unless it’s a chicken liver pate… and only at restaurants, not the store-bought kind. I try to have that once a week as you get like 10-20,000 IU at once. Otherwise Nutrisorb-A drops are easy to do.

If you often have cold hands and feet you probably are slightly hypothyroid and that alone would cause acne. Very easy to correct with natural dessicated thyroid.

Monday, June 24/2013 at 9:33 pm

I’m in Toronto…who are some good dermatologists you would recommend? Also, it seems that most derms require referrals from the family dr while I just moved to Toronto so I don’t even have a family doctor right now.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:32 pm

I’m not sure how the referral step actually works (I kinda get in through the media side) but I adore Dr. Nowell Solish – he’s a prof at U of T so always up on the latest, and he is extremely honest. He actually will say he doesn’t need the business so will tell you whether something is worth it or not instead of trying to push it on you. For injections he is very very subtle. I also like Dr. Sandy Skotnicki… she is my alternate derm :) Sometimes good if you want a female perspective. Those would be my two top picks! Be careful with the large fancy medi-spas.


Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 11:19 am

Hi Niche,
If I could add to Michelle’s comment above. I believe if you have a referral from your Doctor it is covered by OHIP but you need to be weary too – your doctor may be associated with a certain Derm that might not work out for you (which is what happened in my case). If I’m not mistaken you can go to any derm without a referral but you may have to pay for the visit.


Monday, June 24/2013 at 11:08 pm

Articles like this are why I tell my clients to avoid beauty blogs. To truly understand skin health and physiology it takes many years of in-depth study and experience. Beauty bloggers lack the education and clinical application to provide this type of advice.


Vee Mistry
Monday, June 24/2013 at 11:44 pm


I have to some what agree with you. As an aesthetician and an owner my self you can get a little frustrated when people who have never really studied the skin and anatomy can suddenly start educating the public.

Just as Doc’s and Derm’s most aestheticians have in depth education on the human body.

Coming from the UK where we go to Beauty school not as a last resort but as a career move we spend countless hours, days, weeks, years (3 years to be precise) getting educated on what most class as “Pimple poppers or Nail techs” We are more and wish the general public could respect that.

Choose your spa and aesthetician carefully and no matter what treatment big or small you are receiving asking plenty of questions. Having them answered gets the guest ready for the best experience and the most educated treatment you will receive.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:49 pm

But this is what a writer does – acts as a translator between the actual “experts” and the general public. That’s how people get educated. It’s never going to be a perfect interpretation unless you are going to write the blog or the magazine article or whatever yourself.

And since writing at the level where you get a lot of exposure is generally a full-time job, then you’d cease to be doing the original work where you became an expert :)

It’s a common frustration sources have… but that’s the dilemma of it. I would love to read an aesthetician’s blog but I just haven’t come across any that are well-written or regularly maintained.


Wednesday, July 10/2013 at 3:41 pm

Hi Michelle,

I’m an esthetician and I have a blog :) http://www.skinwellness.tumblr.com

And that’s exactly my goal, to educate and help the public make wise choices when it comes to their skin. Also, I’m so sorry to hear you haven’t had good experiences with facials. Unfortunately, there are too many “colleagues” ruining our reputation as skin care professionals. Some wonderful esthys will agree with me: there is nothing like a great facial! But it has to be customized and almost tailor made to YOUR skin, and not every esthetician can do this.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to gimme a shout! ;)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:42 pm

Come now, that’s just as bad as doctors who say “never read the internet” because it might question their supposed authority.

I believe that everyone needs to do their own research and the more information that’s out there to learn from, the better. The days of blindly trusting one “expert” are long gone. There are things that aestheticians don’t know, just as there are things that dermatologists don’t know… and things that beauty bloggers like me don’t know (obviously). Not sure where you got the idea that a running blog in any way compares to what an actual skin expert does – what I do here is just offer my own personal opinions/experience in a forum for discussion. It’s not medical advice.


Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi Michelle. Great post, I have recently been thinking a lot about unnecessary beauty regimes women pour money into, facials being one of them. I stopped getting facials a few years ago and instead put that money into a braidless sew-in weave (allows your hair to breathe, grows out naturally with your hair, lasts about 3 months). My skin is exactly the same as it ever was when I was getting facials, and now I have crazy thick luxurious hair…. the bullet point to this rant is that I think women should focus in on a couple beauty fixes that make a dramatic difference for them (in my case, bigger hair that is now finally in proportion with my very curvy body) rather than superficial treatments like facials. Also instead of getting facials, I have handed over my whole skin regime to the capable hands of Future Derm – I refuse to waste money on products that do not have a transparent scientific basis behind them. Their retinol treatments have gotten rid of all my fine lines. Future Derm, ladies, its the bomb.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, June 25/2013 at 3:53 pm

YES! Very smart strategy. Invest in what’s going to make the biggest difference. For me that is hair too (just colour – every 3 weeks) and what I eat/supplement with, as outlined above. It’s so expensive to eat healthy!

Now, tell me more about this weave!

Good call on Future Derm, I’ve poked around there but not enough. If I recall they had some good articles on retinoids/retinol.


Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 3:23 pm

i totally agree with this. there are so many products and treatments on the market, and you don’t have to buy in to all of it. a facial is a treatment that is completely overrated, imo. they are often used to sell product as opposed to really treat. there are SO many other things that will help to treat problem skin (like lasers, retin-a, vitamin c etc.), and a monthly facial isn’t all that helpful. plus, finding an esthetician that REALLY knows what they are doing, is rare. x


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 7:23 pm

Thanks Erin! It’s true – women are marketed to HARD with all of this beauty stuff and there is a lot of hype. A few months ago I was talking to one of the aestheticians who does my nails sometimes, and she told me there was a huge decline in the number of people getting facials in the last few years… which are their money-makers. More people come in for waxing and nails now.


Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 8:45 pm

I agree, most esthetician’ s (like hairdressers) are clueless. At home treatments are better, or go to a dermatologist someone who can actually fix your skin problems.


Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 7:24 pm

Can’t seem to reply to the thread above – but more so too harsh and too heavy for my skin. That may have some merit to it as I was getting into anti-aging products (given my age!) plus getting into beauty blogging when the issue started.

I completely forgot about pate – I actually like that stuff!

I just looked up natural dessicated thyroid sounds a bit gross LOL! But I will look into it :) is it something I can get from a good health food store?


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 7:39 pm

Gross how? It’s just a tiny white pill you swallow… no taste.

Getting it is a whole other can of worms because most doctors have zero understanding of the thyroid. The normal range on blood tests is way too broad. And even if you can convince them to give you meds, they will want to give you a synthetic form because they’re in bed with the drug companies. The problem with synthetics is they only contain T4 but you need a 4:1 ratio of T4 to T3. Most women have trouble converting T4 to T3.

You can get NDT from certain naturopaths or if you’re lucky find a doctor who works with an ND. Even that is a hassle though! Apparently there is a synthetic T3/T4 med called Cynoplus that is supposed to be fine, and you can order it from Mexico if you can’t get a prescription.


Elaine A (TOBeautyReviews)
Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 7:45 pm

I read that it’s from pigs thyroids :P I have a couple of naturopaths that I can ask about this I’m sure they’d be able to find me a natural and effective form.

I work in the pharma industry LOL so yes they are in “bed” with the companies ;)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 10:29 am

Oh haha! As I just trash your industry. Oops! Well I’m sure you know what I’m talking about… drug companies are dangerous because they are motivated by profit, not wellness.

Yes NDT is an animal product. There are animal ingredients in candy, vitamin supplements, ice cream, baked goods, toothpastes… lots of things people aren’t aware of :)


Wednesday, June 26/2013 at 9:18 pm

If you truly enjoy getting facials and believe that you’re better off with them in your beauty regime, then take the following with a grain of salt, but as a former esthetician who performed all sorts of facials (regular, oxygen, glyco, lactic, micro etc) I can honestly say that the benefits and the high tech $90-300+ lotions & potions I used as part of them, are all a bunch of pseudoscience & BS. If you have sensitive, acneic, hyperpigmentation or anything ending in -ic or -ion, facials aren’t for you. The only thing I found that worked on acneic, wrinkled, scarred or otherwise problametic skin were peels (green, Russian, etc) blue & red IPLs (for acne & wrinkles respectively) & various other machines in conjuction with 100% collagen & elastin creams. All else…a waste of money to be quite honest.

Ps in Canada, can you get Retin A from your family doc or do you have to hunt down a derm? I’d rather get it from my doc, then having to find a dermatologist again & be put on their never ending waiting lists…


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 10:34 am

Wow thanks for sharing! Is that part of why you’re now a “former” esthetician? I guess re: pseudoscience, the entire beauty industry is sort of built on that… facials are just more expensive than spending that money on a face cream that’ll last you 3 months.

Yes you can get a Retin-A prescription from a GP. But it really depends on your GP – some are cool but some will get weird and make you go through a derm.


Thursday, July 4/2013 at 2:32 am

That was a part of it, the fact that these people were paying a lot of money (I worked at a high end European spa on Danforth. Just their regular facials started at $92!!) for some light massage & promise of glowing skin at the end of the treatment no matter how problematic their skin was, and I knew I couldn’t improve it- at least not with a facial.
There were other, more pressing factors: 1) I couldn’t take being a babysitter/therapist/bff/skin messiah to many of these clients; when you’ve got your own problems, the last thing you want to deal with is your clients’ personal dilemmas & childhood traumas (that for some reason, ALWAYS seem to surface near the end of the session) for 45 hours a week. 2) The crappy pay. Since the beauty/holistic industry is so over-saturated with nail techs/etheticians/spa therapists the only real way to make any money & save up is to open your own clinic/go at it alone. The tips are only there as a supplement. and 3) I was just so damn tired. I never had a weekend off, and combined with all the other stuff, it just wasn’t worth it for me to stick around.

Also getting back to my original point: Not only are facials & creams a lot of hocus pocus BS, but I also felt with a some of the treatments that they were a shot in the dark a lot of the times. Meaning 80-90% of the time, the client would end up with predictable results but sometimes it would be WTF- what just happened? I’ve never had an incident with a client like Juli above, but it makes you wonder. Like, is it my fault that they have skin darkening from an oxy+lactic facial? Is it theirs? Did they apply sunscreen like I told them to? Did they pick their face? Like you said in your post, a lot of times you just don’t know. And to me, that’s not good enough, especially when your spending $200+ on an expensive treatment that may or may not work. Or make you look even worse than when you walked in.

/end confessional ;)


Friday, June 28/2013 at 9:03 pm

God that poor woman’s experience fills me with horror..what a nightmare. I have had a facial every 5 weeks for the last 2 years..mainly because I have terrible blackheads over the T-zone, my nose is the worst. Strawberry nose haha. I do my own clay mask at home once or twice a week, use decent products, but I need the extractions, I am not sure what magic product could replace them and cause the blackheads to pop out on their own! Any ideas Michelle? I am 26, oily T-zone, normal cheeks, pale, slightly dehydrated/sun damaged skin, a couple of broken capillaries..thinking about getting IPL for the capillaries..
I have one facial horror story, I had a mandelic acid peel which was not that strong, but had a terrible reaction to it, peeled so much there were red raw bits of my face that scarred for a while! Don’t think I could ever peel again I am terrified..although I had peels before that and been fine so who knows what happened!
I went to a derm once here in Australia, they prescribed me benzyl peroxide (or something like that) which burnt my face, I couldn’t hack it. I have been thinking about going back. Ahh the quest for perfect skin! lol


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 10:41 am

You could try this instead of the extractions http://www.livestrong.com/article/181015-how-to-remove-blackheads-with-gelatin-milk/. Retin-A would also really help. When I’m consistently using it and get a facial, the Dermalogica lady will tell me there’s nothing to extract.

I would also increase the vitamin A in your diet… liver once a week or the supplement Nutrisorb-A. That should help with the excess oil that is causing the clogs.


Tuesday, July 2/2013 at 11:09 pm

So terrible to see what happened to the poor dear :( I’ve struggled with acne for about 10 years or so, so I know how it feels to have uncontrollable, painful breakouts, but never have I experienced something that severe. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been, I hope she’s doing lots better!

Also, I don’t know about spa facials since I’ve never had one, but I definitely find that homemade facials do wonders for my sensitive, acne-prone skin :o I just mix a little honey and sugar with some kind of liquid, usually water if I’m lazy or don’t have time, but when I do have the time, I use either green tea or this minty “relaxing” herbal tea after it’s boiled, steeped, and cooled to a workable temperature. It’s a great weekly exfoliant. I learned to make my own facials from BubzBeauty on YouTube, my mix is basically just hers minus the exact measurements. I think this method might work better for those with sensitive skin, as the ingredients don’t have those icky chemicals and such that cleansers and pre-made facials do. Although I must say, Freeman’s brand facials are great for a quick, no-mess treatment.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 10:43 am

Great advice! That’s amazing that ingredients as simple as honey and sugar can be used for home treatments. What differences have you noticed in your skin?


Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 10:09 am

Very nice post! I agree to some extent but I have to say I found this very good aesthetician that has been working wonders for my skin in the past 2 years. So I would say you need to look and test and you might find someone great. I live in Madrid, Spain, so it probably would not be useful to share, but this lady uses a (brand new each time) needle to extract in a very careful and gentle manner, so I do shine a bit in the evening after the session but my skin stays great for the next month. And she recommends to visit every 4 months, which I have been doing. I am so happy that I found her :)


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, July 3/2013 at 10:48 am

Ahhh you’re in Europe – I feel like facials are way different there! There is one lady I’ve been to here in Toronto who is old school European and I think she does the same thing for extractions (but I’m not 100% sure because when you’re lying there, you can’t see what she’s doing). But it was the only facial I’ve had where the extractions didn’t cause redness, pain or breakouts later on. (A lot of the time they push on your skin way too hard.)

For anyone in Toronto reading, this was Irina at Robin Barker. I used to go to her for eyebrows but I think her facials are better :)

Every 4 months is actually really reasonable. Here they want you to come every 3-4 weeks and at $100+ per facial that’s so expensive.


Margarita Law
Thursday, July 11/2013 at 6:53 am

Thank you so much for sharing this information. I do not know what Juli really felt above this, but if I were in her place I will be devastated. I actually had several facial sessions and it went well for me. Maybe her skin was just so sensitive that she wasn’t able to tolerate for that kind of facials. I just hope she is okay now. Moreover, those information mentioned above is great to know and good to remember. Thanks again for posting this.


Wednesday, July 17/2013 at 6:19 am

Facial masks are a very popular skin care product. You may or may not be familiar with them. If you have used them, do you actually know why? Perhaps you just use them because everyone else is. Perhaps you’ve never bothers. It’s time you learned what facial masks do.
The outer layer of your skin is actually dead. If your body is slow getting rid of it your skin will have a dull, aged look. Facials masks are an excellent way to remove the dead cells that make up your outer layer of your skin. But that’s just one of the things that a facial mask will accomplish for you.


Monday, November 4/2013 at 3:39 am

Hi Michelle! Thank you very much for posting this! My skin is sensitive and acne-prone, but I still dared to try OCM and even experimented with PONDS facial cream(It might be good on most people but it did the opposite effect for me), and got the most HORRIBLE breakout in my life ever. I was considering to get a facial until I came across this post. (Luckily, I didn’t have the budget at the time.) I’ve been taking Cod Liver Oil(w/c I’ve also learned from your blog before, but not the ones you recommended since I can’t afford those yet) and DayZinc(Ascorbic Acid and Zinc) everyday for two weeks now and thankfully, my pimples seems to have started clearing up. Thanks again!


Wednesday, January 15/2014 at 9:13 pm

This article is horrible and ignorant. Facials are NOT bad for you…bad, lazy, uneducated estheticians are. She had AN ALLERGIC REACTION that not any Dermatologist nor Super Esthetician could have prevented, unless of course Juli was aware of what ingredients she was allergic to and disclosed that information to the skin professional. You should be ashamed of yourself as a “beauty editor” to write such things and rethink your career.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Wednesday, January 15/2014 at 10:14 pm

Oh dear :) You must be an esthetician – are you? Yes, I think I made it clear in the article that Juli had an unusual reaction but it sounds like you missed my broader point, which is that facials can often irritate your skin and are unnecessary. You will NEVER find a dermatologist recommending facials, unless he/she is making a buck on the side by offering treatments at a ‘medi-spa’. No derm I’ve ever spoken to in all the years I’ve been a beauty editor has ever gone on record saying that facials will benefit your skin. They may feel nice but anything you get out of them is short-term and there are risks for sensitive people.

All the best!


Melissa powley
Thursday, January 16/2014 at 6:12 am

I love the benefits of good facial treatments. Directed to the specific needs of the skin and given a thorough analysis, including any contraindications, allergies, concerns and patch testing where applicable, the chance of irritations or reaction is highly reduced. You have not outlined the condition of the salon this lady visited or the kind of facial and products she used, and without that information being detailed you cannot possibly fairly label all facial treatments as being equally bad or ineffective or problematic. Yes the benefits are – that they promote relaxation, and a healthy after glow for a couple of days but so does visiting the gym. I do not visit the gym once then expect that to make me fit and healthy forever – that is ridiculous! It is not a one off effect that will last, the effects will only be maintained from regular visits.


Friday, January 17/2014 at 10:10 am

I am an experienced medical esthetician. I went to college for 2 years and then I completed another year in Europe. In the intervening years I have likely taken dozens of courses on skin care. I have worked with dermatologists and cosmetic surgeons. Obviously, I cannot say that facials are of no benefit!
The points Melissa made are good ones. The severe reaction that Juli had could happen in any situation whether she was seen by a derm or “super esthetician.” Personally, I have NEVER had a client show such an adverse reaction to products, however, I view a thorough skin analysis and health history to be extremely important and I can then proceed with a customized facial that is suitable for the skin type and condition. There are many types of facials – anti-aging, acne, rosacea, sensitive skin, etc. The “one size fits all” approach does not apply here. There are also many devices used by estheticians which can have superior results for acne, such as the high frequency treatment.
Where severe cystic acne is involved, I do recommend a dermatologist who will then likely prescribe medication or a series of treatments using a specific product and done by a facial expert. For milder blemishes, many people over dry their skin and it’s response is to produce more oil (sebum) in order to counteract this problem.
Points to consider: What do you expect from a facial (or a derm) Are your expectations realistic? Do you have a hormonal imbalance, a poor diet, a lack of water, etc. Smoking depletes your Vitamin C, which is essential for collagen growth, not to mention it’s aging and other effects. Cheese is often the culprit when it comes to acne breakouts and blemishes and candida (yeast) can be another. I came across a woman recently who had been treated by a DERM for months for acne before she sought out another one who told her she had rosacea! This is a vascular condition but acne can be part of it. (aka acne rosacea) Now that she is being treated for the right condition her skin is amazing!
Whether you choose a derm or an esthetician, it is essential to research and even view the condition of the salon or medi-spa. It’s never a good idea to trust that all doctor’s offices and spas are completely clean, that all instruments and devices are thoroughly disinfected or sterilized. I have been in situations where a high degree of infection control was NOT adhered to.
Having said all that, I believe facials have their place, are beneficial and used by millions of people around the world with excellent results. Why do you think celebrities always look so great? Forced relaxation? Why go in the first place if you don’t want to lie down and be pampered, have a rest from your busy day, boost your energy and endorphins and stimulate lymphatic drainage (a good thing) with massage? Why not hydrate your skin and have unsightly blackheads carefully removed and hopefully be given some advice on lifestyle changes which can help improve the skin’s condition?
I have personally been to a derm who then sent me for a series of treatment facials. This does happen, often!!
*Some product manufacturers will not permit their products to be used until they have first inspected the premises.


Wednesday, January 22/2014 at 10:58 am

Would you mind sharing the 6week course of antibiotic that your deem put you on that worked. I started battling adult acne after I have my two girls. I have been to the derm and spent more $ than I can remember trying to clear things up. Several months ago in desperation I was told about the OCM and thought its natural why not give it a try. It ended up being my worst nightmare and made my problems 100x worse!!! I feel like everyday I wake up with 1-3 new cystic type blemishes as well as it created clusters of white bumps. Im talking what looks like hundreds of small white bumps which after research Im thinking are oil clogged pores. I obviously stopped the OCM probably about 3months into it. When I noticed my skin getting worse by the day I thought it was just the purging period and I had to wait it out. Eventually I realized things were not getting better rather worse so i quit and went back to regular cleansing and started taking high doses of B5 which Ive been told has helped people. I feel like Im desperate and would do anything to get my skin back to where it was before the OCM! I made an apt with an aesthetician but honestly Im terrified its going to make my situation worse. I have not been to the derm since doing the OCM but prior to trying it he had suggested accutane. I feel like Im running out of options!!! When I came across this blog your story about the OCM related so closely to mine. Can you provide me more specifics on how you got your skin looking good again. I would much rather try a different antibiotic than jump straight to accutane. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I never knew your skin could take such a toll on everyday life. It sounds vain but I feel very depressed and Im sure the stress and worrying about it is not helping!!! Thx you in advance for any insight!!


Monday, January 27/2014 at 2:33 pm

Here’s yet another comment from an Esthetician, you lucky gal you!

I actually agree with pretty much everything you said, even though I might modify some things slightly. For example, I truly believe that a facial massage, especially regularly, can be a miracle worker – not just for a better appearance of the facial skin overall, but the whole skin as an organ. Not to mention the tension relief, relaxation, detoxification and lymph dranage, release of endorphans, etc. for whole body health. I’m a fan of pretty much any properly performed massage!

You can certainly give yourself a decent facial and facial massage at home, but let’s face it – it’s not nearly as relaxing and satisfying! It’s also my belief that human touch is healing. After being an Esthetician for the last five years, I’ve seen that healing happen first hand over and over again. You are right, our services are expensive – but I hope you know that as technicians, we don’t see the vast majority of all that money you are paying.

That being said about facials, there ARE people who have skin that simply can not tolerate too much manipulation – not to mention the loads of product applied during a facial. That’s why I think consultations before services of all kinds are so very important – but honestly, consults are skipped over by many professionals. Whether that’s due to time constraints, company policy, management styles, etc., all these can effect whether or not the proper precautions are taken for the benefit of the client. Also, some companies carry specific products for sensitive skin, but some do not – so technicians don’t always have a lot of choice!

For me, it comes down to this; for any kind of treatment I perform, whether chemical peel, facial, wax, etc., the vast majority of the population with normal skin is not going to have a problem with it. It is for this population that MOST treatments and products are created. And that has always pissed me off! What about the rest of us?!? Those who are sensitive, acne prone, sensitive AND acne prone, thin-skinned, thick-skinned, extra oily…the list goes on. That’s where your choice of technician or physician really comes in to play. But it’s a bit of a gamble who you end up with.

So the best idea is, just like with hair stylists or your gyno, get a referral if you can!!!!!!!!!! Go with someone with more experience if possible. Sometimes their prices are higher (which doesn’t necessarily mean they are better), but going with a pro who comes recommended by someone you trust is probably the safest gamble.


Monday, January 27/2014 at 3:20 pm

Are facials good for your skin? Nope, not really…
Laura, good points listed above. I agree all skin types cannot tolerate too much manipulation and application of products. I have very sensitive skin myself so I am highly aware of what can happen when there are adverse reactions.
Again, I stress that a thorough skin analysis is essential and the facial treatment is based on the skin type and condition of concern for the client. I suggest to those of you who still want to reap the benefits of facials to find out what products are being used and research them in order to determine if they do contain ingredients to which you may be sensitive or contain a potential allergen.

Question: Is aerobic exercise good for you? Nope, not really. Read the numerous articles on this subject for good measure!!


Wednesday, January 29/2014 at 10:31 am

As an esthetician I do believe in the benefits of facials. I no longer perform any of the other services but am strictly a facial expert. When they are done by an experienced and knowledgeable therapist, the risks of bad reactions are greatly reduced. However, we all know that there are risks in every profession. Are you 100% certain, for example, that all the instruments used by your dental hygienist are sterile?
In defense of estheticians, I have to say that they work very hard and have to study and learn a ton of theory and practical procedures. Each service – waxing, mani/pedi, massage, facials, etc. etc., has it’s own set of indications, contraindications, biology, pathology, infection control and so on. Then there’s a mountain of study on ingredients and the use and practical application of numerous product lines. Not everyone studies for 3 yrs. as I did but whether it’s 1 year or 3 yrs. or more, there’s usually a lot of cost involved. At the end of this many estheticians are likely to be paid minimum wage at best and in my experience it’s rare for an inexperienced therapist to be performing ANY facials. They usually work long and hard before they get to the stage where they are considered “qualified” to do so.
Speaking of working long and hard, that’s certainly the case – evenings, weekends, special parties, weddings and all the rest of it. I know of a recent grad who works in a high end spa and literally does manicures while standing next to a client as she gets her hair done.
It’s the choice of those who do it of course but be kind to the people who work so hard and spend so much money to be trained and don’t end up making that much after all. They often listen to a endless complaints, quibbling about prices and sometimes don’t even leave a decent tip!
Remember, there’s good and bad in every profession and it’s really up to you as a consumer to be well informed, do some research, look for reviews, etc., and hopefully you will have the experience and result that you seek.


Monday, March 24/2014 at 10:28 pm

I had a microdermabrasion facial last year. worst thing ever. a few days later my skin was breaking out. it looked worse. after that incident i had a feeling facials werent really that effective and then i found this article.


Tuesday, March 25/2014 at 9:48 am

Hello Lianna,
Sorry to hear that you had problems with micro. I am curious as to whether you booked this yourself or went to a med spa and had a skin analysis done and then the micro. was determined to be a beneficial treatment for you based on this analysis. Either way a skin analysis should ALWAYS be done.
Contraindications for microdermabrasion:
*undiagnosed lesions (any spot, patch, lump, bump etc)
*active acne
*herpes (cold sores)
*unstable diabetes
*using retin-A or just had chemical peel
*having laser treatment or surgery (inc. laser hair removal)
*auto-immune disorder (can cause some patients hyperpigmentation)

Again everyone will experience different results with micro. I have seen very good results on *certain* skin types. A thin, fragile and fair skinned person is generally not a candidate for something as abrasive as microdermabrasion. I had one done myself a long time ago before I became a medical aesthetician. I have rosacea and it was made worse by this treatment. A proper skin analysis was not done in my case and I didn’t know any better. Also keep in mind that when there’s a high degree of exfoliation, pores plugged up with debris, oil and bacteria can allow pimples to pop to the surface even when skin is clear prior to this. This is a common result and should resolve itself when the skin has time to heal. Again, this is information that is given prior to treatment. If it was your first time with micro. the therapist would need to know this also and set the machine accordingly.
Personally, I am very cautious with micro. but there are other very effective treatments that have the same effect if a fairly aggressive exfoliation is what you wish to achieve.


Sunday, April 13/2014 at 12:31 am

I get these it’s not because of a facial though. I don’t know the reason why. I usually get them around my period, but it recently started to happen.


Sunday, April 20/2014 at 4:40 pm

Has anyone tried apple cider vinegar as an overnight toner? I find it help to rebalance PH levels and i wake up with smooth clear skin.


Sunday, April 27/2014 at 10:46 am

As an esthetician I just had to make a few comments. Facials are good for your skin. A trained professional should use the highest quality skin care, of their choice, available and know which skin types need what. Yes I know that’s obvious but it is harder for some estheticians to grasp for some reason than others. A facial should be detoxifying, healing and relaxing all at the same time. Exfoliation is so important, and facial massage exercises the tissues promoting elasticity and collagen build, and masques provide the perfect concentrated treatment according to skin type. You are right that there is only so much one facial can do. The home care is so important and it’s important you work with a trained professional to get you on the proper regimen. Facials every 8 weeks will enhance results by professional exfoliation and electrical tools that are right for each individual client; (LED light therapy, micro dermabrasion, micro current, etc)

A rule of thumb you only extract black heads, you never ever extract pimples or baby pimples. Not even small clogs. You never do that it can cause scarring and spread the bacterial infection. It is all about calming acne in a facial. Never aggravating it.

I just had to stick up for my chosen career. I believe in it so much, but unfortunately there are so many people abusing their power as licensed therapists and not furthering their education and training past the required 600 hours.


Monday, April 28/2014 at 9:52 am

Thank y0u, Jackie.
As an experienced medical esthetician, I appreciate your comments on the benefits of facials.


Wednesday, June 4/2014 at 2:27 pm

I know I’m late to the comment party on this, but are there any facialists in the Toronto area who are NOT affiliated with a specific skincare brand? I’m really tired of being told to use one particular range by a facialist who has to sell me a bunch of products after a relaxing facial. I just want someone who will give me solutions based only on their assessment of my skin, and not because they need to sell x amount of product this week.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, July 4/2014 at 5:36 pm

No kidding Zahra! They all want to sell you something. You could try Irena at Robin Barker – I think she uses Thalgo but she’s more of an old school European facialist and I think quite knowledgeable. That’s who I would recommend anyway. She’s not too pushy about products.


Saturday, June 7/2014 at 8:46 am

You’re basing all of this on ONE facial experience. Therefore, it is biased. Not all facials use the same technology and products. Nor is everyone allergic to one material.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, July 4/2014 at 5:35 pm

Not really. I’m saying the good results are only temporary at best – and why bother when there is a risk of reacting to ingredients or extractions. Plus having regular facials becomes extremely expensive.


Lauri, Aesthetician
Friday, July 4/2014 at 4:23 pm

So because a few people have bad reactions to products, the conclusion is that facials are bad for skin? Really bad logic there.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Friday, July 4/2014 at 5:31 pm

Ah no. It’s because any positive changes they produce are at best only temporary, they are very expensive AND there is a risk of having a reaction. Hope that helps :)


Friday, July 4/2014 at 9:15 pm

Again, I will come to the defense of those dedicated aestheticians who work so hard and learn so much about skin care and other services. Many of the comments here seemed to be based upon the reaction that was sustained by Juli who had a horrid situation after a facial. I cannot, nor can anyone, say with 100% that it was the facial that caused this to happen first of all. There’s a possibility perhaps that she had a systemic viral/bacterial infection already present in her body.
Are teeth cleanings good for you? Just because you go to the dental office where everything is supposed to be sterile, do you simply take this for granted? People can become seriously ill and worse due to dental infections and otherwise poor dental health can cause serious other issues.
Is aerobic exercise good for you? Check out the material on this written on this subject. I have NOT EVER had a client suffer any kind of severe reaction, illness or allergic response following a facial.
My point is: facials are beneficial when proper analysis and thorough evaluation of skin conditions, treatment regimes and at-home care, are all covered with each client, with a person whom they trust in an environment that is clean, organized and well run. They don’t have to cost a lot and you don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to buy. That is your choice.
Clinique products are ALL ALLERGY TESTED and 100% FRAGRANCE FREE and recommended by dermatologists. So what – one size fits all? Clinique made me break out, caused my rocacea to flare up and I had a rash around my mouth that persisted for weeks.
Does Retin-A work for everyone? No. Does CLO work for everyone? No.
Also remember, our skin is not the same all the time so again, everything needs to be taken into consideration when deciding which treatment should be used.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Saturday, July 5/2014 at 1:33 am

I don’t think we are disagreeing, Chris – nothing is black and white and of course there are exceptions to everything. However, I will say that having a professional facial IS a luxury. I just don’t think the average person should have the idea that they are a necessity. I’ve always advocated for good home care and think that + proper nutrition are what really produces great skin.


Monday, July 7/2014 at 8:45 pm

Oh my!! This discussion is heating up a bit!
I am a certified medical aesthetician specializing in facials for the past several years. I have been extensively trained both here and in Europe and have worked and studied extremely hard over the years in order to be the best I can be. (btw I am also a semi-ret. RDH)
Both these courses included major components of study in nutrition. Therefore, I can say that I am qualified to offer nutrition advice. It is part of what I am expected to do in both of these areas within the boundaries of my position.
Earlier today, I asked my daughter (24) her opinion on the following statement – “the average person is unaware of the correlation between nutrition and skin health.” She all but rolled her eyes when she replied the following: “Nutrition affects everything! I think most people know that, otherwise they have been living in a cave.”
I have stated it here before and I will again. Nutrition is crucial to healthy skin. Free radical damage is extremely damaging to skin (and other organs) and it is clear that in today’s environment, antioxidants derived from a healthy balanced diet will help to fight free radical damage which is one of the huge contributors to aging skin.
I haven’t worked and studied and researched so diligently on behalf of my clients and for my own education only to have someone argue that facials are not beneficial. I am not saying they are vital to one’s existence but they do have their place. There’s a expression used in dentistry which states: Floss only the teeth you want to keep. If there is a parallel when it comes to skincare I suppose it would go something like this: Care only for the skin you wish to keep youthful, glowing and healthy for the rest of your life. Facials in combination with nutrition and good home care will allow this.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Monday, July 7/2014 at 9:23 pm

Oh not really? (Heating up that is.) Again, I don’t think we are ever in disagreement in all the comments you’ve left, Chris. I agree with the statement that facials CAN be beneficial, temporarily at least. But my point (again) is that they’re not a necessity, and for some skin types can certainly cause problems. You will not find a dermatologist that says anything different.


Tuesday, July 8/2014 at 1:46 pm

Vitamin A
Source: Dr. Andrew Weil, MD
Are there risks associated with too much Vit. A?
” Excessive chronic intake of some forms of vit. A can be toxic. Avoid taking supplemental vit. A as retinol or retinoic acid, and instead use plant-derived precursors such as beta-carotene (in addition to other mixed carotenoids) Also avoid concentrated animal sources such as *cod liver oil* (some forms of CLO are vit. A reduced and are safe) Warning symptoms of overdose include hair loss, confusion, liver damage and bone loss.”


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, July 8/2014 at 4:21 pm

Well if you’re going to quote Dr. Weil then I don’t know what to tell you… :) He’s a big proponent of soy products, fish oils, etc. All very harmful – I’m not sure if you’ve taken the time to read Ray Peat’s articles, but I recommend you check them out :)

Regarding vitamin A, please note that nowhere am I suggesting people take massive doses – I’m simply saying to look into whether you are meeting your body’s requirements.

Here is some information from Ray Peat on vitamin A that you may find interesting:

“For several years, I had a similar need to take 100,000 i.u. daily to prevent acne and ingrown whiskers, so I read a lot about its effects. The toxic effects of extremely big doses, such as 500,000 to a million i.u., seem to be from either oxidative processes (rancidity) that are prevented by adequate vitamin E, or by antithyroid effects. I found that when my need for vitamin A began to decrease I tended to accumulate carotene in my calluses; that happens when the thyroid function is lower, reducing the need for vitamin A. Since you are eating foods with carotene, the calluses on your palms or soles should serve as an indicator of when your tissues are saturated with vitamin A. About 100 i.u. of vitamin E would help to keep the vitamin A from being wasted by oxidation, and possibly could reduce your requirement for it.” – Ray Peat

Also regarding this study – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14668278 he says:
“I think it would have been possible for any one of those six co-authors to write an equally worthless paper. The amount of “water-miscible, emulsified, and solid preparations” would have been about 40,000 i.u. per day for an average sized person, but there was no clear definition of what they mean by chronic hypervitaminosis A.” – Ray Peat


Tuesday, July 8/2014 at 2:01 pm

I would also like to add that while I believe the average person to be fairly well informed on the correlation between nutrition and skin health, they are not as well informed on skin care itself.
For example: most people (in my experience) are not aware that it is actually important to have a balanced skin pH. The phrase “pH balanced” is far more than a marketing slogan. Throw off the skin pH balance – by using the wrong products or eating the wrong foods – and your dermis will let you know, in the form of wrinkles, acne, inflammation and extreme sensitivity.
These issues can be discussed during a facial. It’s information that every client should be given.


Tuesday, July 8/2014 at 2:10 pm

I took the freedom of writing my professional opinion on this blogpost.
Michelle, I love your blog and I 100% agree that great nutrition is mandatory for beautiful skin. Regarding facials being bad for you.. well… read on.


Comment Avatar Michelle Villett
Tuesday, July 8/2014 at 4:29 pm

Nice post Maria! Thanks – I’m glad we have some common ground :)

I guess I’m thinking more of the person who suffers from ongoing persistent acne that can only be controlled to a certain degree via products or facials. This seems to be extremely common with young women nowadays. Or someone with premature aging, and bad skin tone/texture. For those people I honestly believe that nutritional changes will do more.

The good thing is both can coexist – you can work on your diet but nobody has to give up facials if they like them too :)


Tuesday, July 8/2014 at 7:51 pm

I liked Maria’s article as well.
As for Peat and Weil, well, I don’t specifically subscribe to the ideas of either one. I have read some of the material, and there’s a lot of it, on both of these men who would undoubtedly consider themselves “experts in their field.”
Dr. Andrew Weil – Degree in Biology, (botany) Harvard. MD, Harvard. Expert on Integrative Medicine, Clinical professor of internal medicine, etc.
Dr. Ray Peat – PhD in Biology, U. of Oregon. Specializing in Physiology and providing private nutritional counselling.
btw: Michelle, you raved about CLO and I see that Peat believes it to be extremely toxic. There’s an entire forum based on this. I noted his views on Omega 3′s as well.
Ultimately, we have to make our own choices. There is so much information out there and it can be difficult to sort through it and try to decide what is the best way to manage your own health (and skin) concerns. Some people with auto-immune conditions involving pain, find that sugar causes inflammation and thereby increases their pain. Dr. Peat argues that sugar is acceptable. He’s not a fan of vegetables and certain fruits…etc, etc. A lot of people would clearly argue with this.
We must navigate the maze of information available online and elsewhere, cautiously and with the advice of experts in whom we trust. We also have to educate ourselves. Fortunately, for me personally, I found a Naturopathic Dr. I trust her and we work *together*. Whether you are getting dietary counselling or facials, your specific needs in terms of age group, health conditions, medications and lifestyle are all factors that need to be considered.
After about a year of studying facials and having many of them done on myself, I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in some time. She raved about my “beautiful, glowing and youthful skin.” My rosacea had calmed down, breakouts no longer occurred, skin tone even and lines minimized. I could go on (and on) about the benefits of facials!!
Thank you to those of you who have read my posts. I am passionate about my profession and I will not waver in the firm belief that what I am achieving is worthwhile and rewarding in so many ways.


Wednesday, August 13/2014 at 10:17 am

I think it should be made clear that having a facial DOES NOT make you end up looking like this poor girl. She could have gotten the same reaction if she had purchased a product and used it on her own that didn’t agree with her. If someone is concerned about allergic reactions they should ask what products are being used and what’s in them from the spa staff. They should also know what can and cannot be used on their skin. I got facials every two weeks for years and never had a breakout….lots of people never get breakouts like the one this young lady had. You made this article look more like a scare tactic rather than a educational tool.


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