Face off: facials or medi-treatments?

I was quite amused after reading this article Face-Off Brewing Over the Anti-Aging Claims of Spa Facials in Jakarta Globe which discusses the views of dermatologists about facials and the views of aestheticians towards beauty treatments offered by doctors.  Interesting topics included: treatments offered by doctors are harsh for the skin and facials are a waste of money.

Actually, I used to agree with that view concerning facials until recently. In fact, I even thought I could rely on IPL to get radiant and glowing skin. However, I no longer subscribe to that idea and now consider seeing a dermatologist for my skin issue as a last resort. I would say that while my skin did look quite nice during the times I had IPL done (firmer and smaller pores), but I also found that my skin became a lot drier and somewhat sensitive afterwards.  So it’s not enough to rely on such procedures and I would have to care for my skin in other ways.  In addition, like one of the dermatologists said, going for such treatments require one to have deep pockets in order to sustain the efforts and that’s why, he actually recommended me to use products instead.

And to most people, botox are probably a better choice to get rid of lines and wrinkles quickly versus going for a facial. It might be true, but I consider botox treatments invasive to some extent and have no guts to attempt them.

Your take?
So what’s your take on this topic? Do you consider facials a waste of money? Would you rather go to the dermatologist for instant results? And if a facial promises you results, how much time are you willing to wait till you see some satisfactory results?

My take
I no longer consider facials a waste of money.  However, not all facials are created equal and you should opt for those that are result oriented, rather than those that are just pampering. By result oriented, I do not mean using medical procedures or treatments but the ability to solve some of your skin concerns. And I would be willing to give my facials 3 – 6 months to see positive results.  By positive results, I mean getting rid of the wrinkles and solving my pigmentation problem.  My 10 IPL sessions and even two laser treatments did not help to rid my pigmentation marks and in fact, I only successfully got rid of one major pigmentation mark with laser.  The others remained the same and I was told I might have to go for several sessions to rid them entirely.  Of course I kept my money in my pocket!


  1. pf1123 says:

    I would go to a derm for my acne medication. (My gosh, another bout of acne brewing…my pores are clogged now).

    But no invasive treatments.

  2. Den says:

    Great topic for discussion.
    I used to be so obsessed in looking for the right facialist, following the monthly ritual religiously. I even did lots of research of IPL, Chemical Peel, Thermage, etc and even visited a dermatologist who prescribed Retin.

    Like you said, I read that IPL does make the skin more sensitive and susceptible to pigmentation. Isn’t it ironic how something which is suppposed to improve our skin condition actually makes it worse?

    I don’t believe in going for facials and would rather spend the money on better (organic) skincare products. Naturally my 2010 resolutions would be improving my sleeping pattern and watching my diet. I guess these would definitely yearn better results than throwing money on facials and other skincare gimmicks.

  3. AtelierGal says:

    Botox Side Effects – http://www.botoxfacts.ca/sideEffects.html

    I rather see a derm than lust for immediate results…unless my skin is sagging and I need to look pretty for my wedding lol

    Facial are a waste of money, esp. when I have people whom I do not know touching my face and god knows what they are doing to me.

  4. kiwi says:

    Hmm, I currently have eczema on my face, so I’ve been thinking alot on this issue. I thought that facials were a waste of money because there were no scientific evidence (well, *real* scientific evidence) to prove it) and well, because we’re taught not to trust anything which doesn’t have scientific proof. But I’ve been to many dermatologists, and conventional medicine such as applying steroids don’t help my eczema because they will come back once I stop applying them. So currently I’m going for facials, and it cleared up quite a bit for quite a while (1 week) when I went for the first facial. But now, my eczema’s not dissapearing like it used to… So I’m not really sure now whether facials are a waste of money.

  5. FT says:

    I will consider botox treatment when I hit my 40s. I figured it is not too good to start too young as the results may not last into my 40s/50s as stronger treatments maybe required in later years for any results to be visible.

  6. sesame says:

    I think it’s one of the popular choices to go to the dermatologist for treatment since it’ll take awhile to heal with facials. But I’ve also heard of those who took medication and regretted cos they just found it too harsh and damaging long run. Maybe it’s good short term but not long term…

  7. sesame says:

    Den, that’s a great resolution. External care only accounts for 40% of improving our skin…the balance comes from our lifestyle and diet.

    Yes, I was shocked too cos I used to think that IPL was the be-all and end-all solution. I didn’t realize that it can make our skin more proned to pigmentation.

  8. sesame says:

    I didn’t want to put it down but my mom had side effects from having botox administered to help with her drooping eyelids. She experienced swelling for quite a long period of time to her mouth. But hers is a medical condition and so her dosage was probably higher too…

  9. sesame says:

    To me, science is not everything. Sometimes, some treatments may resolve some issues but bring up new ones. But of course, many would prefer evidence and they want it fast. So I guess going to for medi-treatments will cater to this group.

  10. sesame says:

    Haha…I’ve heard many women telling me the same thing. It seems 40s is a magic number to seek such treatments.

    But you’re right…there’s no need to go for treatments if you’re young. I would say, there’s no need to go for treatments if you’re happy with your skin condition.

  11. Dia says:

    I’ve had a derma tell me before that having a facial is just like having someone wash your face for you ? So after that, it turned me completely off from Facials! ?

    Btw, don’t know how to contact but I don’t receive the newsletter via mail anymore and when i try to sign up again, it says I’m already signed up already…don’t know the issue. Help!

  12. Jyoan says:

    I truly believe in facial, partly because I was exposed to it first, and I definitely cannot afford the machines. Before I had facial, and in fact even now, if I skip the session for that month, my skin will suddenly become really dull, dirty, with lots of breakout.

    For me, facial is a maintenance, not exactly to treat anything (yet, at my age), but to add the moisture, cos I really, really lack water (flake at the elbows and feet often), and also for clean up, something like going for dental appointment.

    Your observation during IPL period is very real. My beautician was a salon employee before, and that’s exactly what she told me. Many people who go to her, were IPL patients before, and wanted to remedy their burned out face.

    The other factor that pushes me for facial, is fear. I really can’t stand the thought of something else other than human hands on my face. Watched too many sci-fi movies with laser.

  13. sesame says:

    Haha…looks like your derm knows how to do business well. Well, many facials are like that I agree but some are different. So it just depends on your luck. Just like some derms will advice me to go for all sorts of treatments while some are more realistic.

    Oh, you also don’t receive the email alerts anymore? Really don’t know what went wrong…I will try to unsubscribe you and subscribe again. When you receive the email, just verify by confirming through the link okay?

  14. sesame says:

    You don’t need those treatments. If your facials are good, then stick to it. Of course our daily routines are also important.

    When I was having my IPL done, my derm also told me I don’t need facials anymore. However, after awhile, I feel it’s just not enough.

  15. stella says:

    i kinda agree since i used to go for facials religiously but stopped due to other commitments about 5 years ago. since then, i do my own weekly facials with pretty good products and my skin has never looked better. i reckon that nobody knows my skin better than i do so i’m never wasting money to have someone else touch my skin again.

    as for IPL, i’ve done it once but found the pain too much to endure for vanity (i’ve a high pain threshold but i really see no need to put up with any pain for vanity). the after effects are nice but i’m wary of regular treatments ‘coz i do believe they will make my skin ‘thinner’ and more sensitive. i may go for an occasional blast tho’ heh

  16. sesame says:

    You find IPL painful. I think a gf said something similar. But IPL is not helpful if you do it occasionally. It has to be sustained and then, some other problems cropped up…

  17. Jazz says:

    i have beeon thinking of whether to go to a derm or facial too, especially now when there is a huge outbreak on my face ?
    have heard that most facial hardsell and i dun know what they are exactly doing to my face. but i dunno where to go to… do u have any recommendation? or will GP do as well?

  18. sesame says:

    Facials are a bit hard to recommend. The one I go to can help and they’re available for a first trial at $55 but the usual treatments plus the products aren’t cheap.

    For doctors, I heard the one at Punggol is effective. You can google the reviews for it at Flowerpod or Cozycot.

  19. Justina says:

    May i know what is the machine of your IPL and which laser have u tried before?

  20. Audris says:

    I do believe in facials, but not OTT ones or ultra expensive ones. But facials have to be coupled with good daily care as well. I have combi skin and clogged pores, used to have really bad acne as a teenager (had to resort to Roaccutane for a few months – now that was a wonder to behold!). I do get minor breakouts now and then (especially when I go scuba diving in very dirty waters). I have a regular beautician that I go to that does a very thorough extraction without over digging. That for me is really the most important part of a facial given my skin condition. The rest of the masks/ massages are just to feel good and be pampered, especially the shoulder one ?
    I would say that these regular monthly facials and reasonable daily skincare (I use Silk Naturals’ skincare now, nothing expensive) have improved my skin. Along with the usage of mineral foundation (also from Silk Naturals or Lumiere) Most of my friends that have known me since young have commented on that, including several colleagues. I’m happy with the results and I do note that nearing that time of the month, I don’t get massive breakouts anymore, just oilier skin than usual and maybe 1 or 2 medium sized pimples.

  21. sesame says:

    Woah…it has been quite a number of years and I certainly won’t remember. Anyway, I didn’t take note of the machine then. I had it done at Medical Aesthetics. For the laser, I was though it’s surface lasering or something…the skin was burnt off for new ones to form.

  22. sesame says:

    Yes, I agree. There are expensive facials that deliver and cheap ones that deliver too. I know facials using guasa are kind good in improving complexion and those home-based facials cost less than $100 per session.

    You’re right about daily routines. Some pple have a false security because they think they can rely on facials and also beauty treatments to take care of their skin. But the reality is, they have to take of it themselves and improve their lifestyles too.

  23. aichaku says:

    i personally don’t like facials, they always irritate my skin, no matter what the beautician does or uses. i prefer to use my money on good products for prevention and will probably prefer to use the dermatologist for more aggresive treatments like removal of milia when i find it necessary.

  24. sesame says:

    Facials irritate your skin? Hmm…I guess you have rather sensitive skin then.

  25. Shalee says:

    Hi… to me facials are nice and relaxing if you happen to have a good beautician. From my experience, dont do too much extractions, will cause your pores to be big. Just do basic and probably 1 extra treatment like whitening or mositurising or deep cleansing etc. That should be enough.

    But i have another problem that probably anyone can recommend me. I have quite bad fine lines and wrinkles under my eyes. Was thinking of doing botox, but kind of afraid to go with it. Any other recommendation for a more instant eye lift to look fresh?

  26. sesame says:

    I think they use fillers but be careful. I know of someone who had fillers injected to her eyes and had a botched up job where the gel hardened or something causing a lump.

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