Beginners guide to facials

Facials are not just the hobby of the wrinkled and rich these days, as an entire industry has sprung up to provide skin treatments for young and old, for those with skin problems and those without. In other words facials have become an affordable luxury in the modern world designed to rejuvenate skin which is subject to constant pollutants and toxic chemicals.

In Thailand most spas and spa resorts offer facial packages, and these are accompanied by scalp and cranio-pressure point massages, or shiatsu or lymphatic drainage massages which are not only blissfully relaxing but help detoxify the skin as well.

Traditional Thai facial ingredients are honey, lime and cucumber, blended for their softening and moisturising properties, ability to stimulate new cell growth and to ease skin irritations and infections.

A variety of local and imported herbs are also popular, such as lemongrass, ginger and eucalyptus. Flowers such as jasmine, lotus and hibiscus are also mixed to create a sweet scent and smooth application. The experience is then as sensory as it is deeply cleansing. Aromatherapy through inhalation or compresses helps to invigorate tired and stressed minds and complements the overall experience.

Revitalising masks are often applied during the facial, many including cucumber for plumping and hydrating dry skin, or aloe vera – sometimes applied directly from the plant – for sunburn.

Some of the top range spas are now experimenting with 24 carat gold leaf blended with essential oils and herbs. This treatment, resulting in softer, hydrated skin will definitely leave you feeling like a million dollars.

However, if you really want to work on fine lines and tired skin then perhaps a step beyond the traditional facial is necessary. Thailand is also home to many clinics and hospitals which specialise in skin treatments. Laser treatments for the face are becoming more popular, from low power lasers for acne, marks and scars to collagen remodeling laser for stimulating new collagen growth resulting in wrinkle and scar reduction and a firmer skin texture.

Skin peels, collagen masks and mocrodemabrasion therapy are all available in numerous road-side clinics and at a much cheaper price than in Europe or America. They generally take only an hour or two out of your day and can have long lasting effects which will not only brighten your holiday but provide you with plenty of compliments when back home.

If clinical treatments aren’t your thing, and you would rather laze around under the sun than spend time in an air-conditioned spa resort, then it is possible to mix your own facial ingredients at home. Yoghurt and honey are the staple of many facials and are found in most people’s kitchens.

Yoghurt contains high levels of lactic acid which refines pores, stimulates collagen production and exfoliates the skin. It is a gentle cleanser and is suitable for even the most sensitive skin types

Honey retains water in order to keep skin soft and supple and also functions as an antimicrobial agent which can even be used to treat minor cuts and burns. It is an anti-irritant and is also great for binding together all the other ingredients in a mask.

Just mix a tablespoon of full fat yoghurt with a tablespoon of honey and two tablespoons of cooked – and cooled – oatmeal. You need to form a smooth paste and leave it on for 10-15 minutes before washing off with a warm cloth. Your skin should feel smoother, rejuvenated and rehydrated immediately.

So whether you want the home-made option, the fancy spa specials or the clinically proven medical methods, there is a facial for everyone. Just make sure that before trying anything with particularly exotic ingredients to do a patch test on a small piece of skin to make sure it doesn’t irritate, which is especially important if you are prone to allergies.