The Steps of Different Kinds of Facials: Skin Care Services 101

This article will help educate you about the various steps in various types of facials as well as add-ons and upgrades.

NOTE: Not all of our facials include all of these steps; and your Professional Licensed Esthetician and skin care specialist should have the final say in what you need for your unique skin type and goals.


Purpose: To remove dirt, debris, and oil.

Tip: Come in with a naked face. While your esthetician will remove your makeup for you, this step takes time and will reduce the time they can spend with other steps.


Purpose: To remove some of the top layers of dead skin cells, revealing more youthful skin underneath.

Types: There is mechanical exfoliation (scrubs, microdermabrasion, dermaplaning, etc.) that physically removes the dead skin cells and chemical exfoliation (enzymes, peels, gommage, etc.) that dissolves the bonds between dead skin cells so it can be washed away. (A chemical peel, listed below, is an advanced form of exfoliation as well as treatment.)

Tip: Most skin types should be exfoliating at home, however how often, how long, and with what type should be discussed with your facial specialist. Over-exfoliating is a large problem and can lead to a compromised skin barrier and inflammation. Not exfoliating can lead to more impacted pores, ingrown hairs in shaved/waxed areas, and blemishes.


Purpose: Steaming is used for several reasons. It can help to soften the skin, activate product, keep the skin moist for other products, etc.

Tip: Not all estheticians use steaming. At Mad Science Massage & Spa we use hot towels and other means of activating products that need it. Steaming is often too harsh for sensitive and inflamed skin. Another issue is that steamers harbor bacteria, mold, and fungus if not cleaned properly. Cheaper models from overseas may not fully come apart or be able to be fully sanitized. Also, clients with breathing issues such as asthma and chronic bronchitis can find it irritating.


Purpose: To remove blackheads, whiteheads, and other blemishes. If you’ve seen “Dr. Pimple Popper” on Youtube (don’t look that up unless you have a strong stomach) you’ve seen an extraction. Can be done with gloved fingers, gauze, or special extraction tools by a licensed professional. In some states lancing may be done only by a physician or nurse while in others an esthetician can do so.

Tip: Do not try this at home. Technique matters to ensure you don’t worsen the issue. Sanitation is critical to avoid infection and spreading the bacteria. Not all estheticians do extractions, and some will only do the ones that are necessary. At Mad Science Massage & Spa we limit the number we do, instead preferring to help the skin’s natural lipid barrier and biome (the balance of good and bad bacteria) balance while lessening redness and inflammation. If we perform more than a few extractions (something that would be discussed ahead of time with the client) which is extremely rare, we insist on an LED light therapy treatment to calm things down afterwards.


Purpose: Pampering. It feels good. Facial massage can help bring blood flow to the surface of the skin which some say allows for better product penetration. It can also stimulate the tissue, reduce tension, and when done with a cold stone set even cool and decrease inflammation. Hand and foot massage is sometimes added during another step.

Tip: If this is something important to you make sure you ask if a massage is included. Not all facials–especially clinical facials, express facials, lunchtime facials, and mini facials–include massage. It is usually available at an upcharge.


Purpose: A mask is usually customized to create an effect on the skin. An anti-aging mask may be highly moisturizing. An acne mask may draw out excess sebum/oil.

Tip: Sometimes a massage of the hands and feet happens at this point, but not always. Be sure to ask. It’s not uncommon for a licensed esthetician to leave the room altogether to clean up their tools while you “rest” with the mask on, or for them to work on notes for your file.

Light Therapy

Purpose: LED Light Therapy, such as the Celluma LED Panel we use at Mad Science Massage & Spa, has been shown to help control the bacteria that causes acne as well as help with signs of aging. (ONLY blue and red LEDs have been thoroughly scientifically proven at this point, though home LED units are available in many different colors.)

Tip: This is a great add-on treatment and most places, such as ours, allow you to come in for LED-only treatments several times a week. Bringing headphones for music or an audiobook is a great way to pass the time. If the light is too bright, ask for goggles.

Chemical Peel

Purpose: A chemical peel is a more advanced treatment that removes layers of dead skin cells. Some peels also have other active ingredients to help with the client’s skin care concerns such as sun spots, signs of aging, dryness, acne, excessive oil, etc.

Tips: An esthetician may perform a Light chemical peel. A physician or nurse is usually required if the peel will be medium or deep. (Also, much more downtime, prepwork, and medical screening must be done as the peel gets deeper.) If we do not feel our peels are strong enough for you, we will refer you out. We’ve gotten amazing results from our ModVellum Clinical line (which has NO downtime), however, and starting with the least-invasive procedures is always recommended.


Purpose: Serums have the highest concentration of beneficial ingredients in skin care and are tailored for a client’s unique goals. They are usually one of the last steps of a facial (before moisturizer and sun block), applied to a clean, exfoliated face for maximum penetration. Serums are amazing for at-home, though the higher price can be prohibitive.

Tips: If you go home with serum–which we recommend–be sure to ask when to apply it. Some that are for pigmentation and aging are better at night when you won’t be in the sun. Others should start once or twice a week and slowly work up to daily.


Purpose: To moisturize as well as lock in the skin’s moisture, add helpful ingredients in lower concentrations than a serum, and to protect the skin from the environment.

Tips: If you are just starting out with skin care, an at-home moisturizer is often the first thing we’d recommend. We have spray-on options as well as cream-based for all skin types. Spend your money here first on a high-quality moisturizer and then build off of that.

Sun Protection

Purpose: To protect the client’s skin from the damaging UVA and UVB rays that cause cancer, sunburn, and faster aging.

Tip: Most makeup these days has some SPF, but it’s not always enough. You may need to reapply SPF throughout the day. Also, remember your neck, ears, chest, and even arms and hands. These are exposed daily yet we rarely think to protect them. And always be sure to book your yearly appointment with a dermatologist to be screened for skin cancer! In Florida this is life-saving and should be mandatory.


Purpose: To push ingredients deeper into the skin by creating nano-channels for product penetration. Plumps lines, reduces signs of aging, and is deeply hydrating.

Tip: Our ModVellum Nano-Fill Procedure is available for lips-only as well as full face. No numbing cream is needed as it isn’t painful. No needles. No downtime. Similar youth-enhancing effects for some clients as the PRP, Fractal, Vampire Facial, and some fillers.


Purpose: Uses a set of needles at various depths to help with acne scarring, stretch marks, and other serious skin issues. Often sold as a general anti-aging procedure, but we recommend the Nano-Fill instead.

Tip: Microneedling can be very traumatic and inflammatory. It is also usually far more expensive than our Nano-Fill (Sarasota averages $450 per treatment, which is over $100 more than the Nano-Fill Procedure). We will refer you out if we feel your goals will not be met as we do not offer this here and strongly recommend going to a dermatologist or plastic surgery office for supervised micro-needling. For moderate to deep acne scarring, for example, microneedling may very well be the way to go. We do NOT recommend rollers as they can be traumatic. Look for someone who uses a “pen” or “stamper” instead of a roller.

What’s next?

If you’re ready to book, ask questions, or discuss your options for facials at Mad Science Massage & Spa in Sarasota, click “book now” or call 941-676-3433.

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