While we try to maintain perfectly healthy skin by doing routines like skincare for men, there are some things — automotive repairs, taxes, and medicine — that are just best left to the professionals. Enter the facial, a spa treatment that feels luxe but can also be found at accessible prices.
Cindy Kim is the co-founder of Silver Mirror, a New York City facial “bar” that specializes in customized facial treatments. Facial treatments for men is absolutely a part of her business. After completing a degree from a business school, Kim founded Korean beauty e-commerce site Peach and Lily. Though she has access to the world’s best skincare products, Kim had finicky skin and began to seek out a more effective solution. Before long, she realized that frequent treatments in the form of fast (affordable) facials (like she could get when she lived in Korea) were important, and Silver Mirror was born.
Wait — do men get facials, too?
Kim says yes. We asked her about some of her thoughts on facial treatments for men and how to make a guy’s first one a little more gentle and a lot less awkward.
While facials for men make up a relatively small percentage of Kim’s business, she is seeing an increase in the demographic. “When I speak on industry panels,” says Kim, “it’s always the men who have questions about skincare. They want to do the right thing … they just don’t know how to or where to turn.”
Benefits of facials for men include:
It’s also relaxing. Silver Mirror offers a more gender-neutral space and experience, so you won’t feel like you’re walking in on your sister’s Sweet 16 or your Mom’s bridge club. Like a good barbershop visit, going to a facial bar means sitting down while the facialist or esthetician gets right down to work.
Before you show up for your first facial, don’t worry. There’s not a lot you have to do.
Some businesses offer more of a pampered, European spa-like experience, where you’ll be placed in a chair and covered by a blanket, almost like a massage. You’ll be invited to remove your clothes and make yourself comfortable because the facialist may also massage your neck, shoulders — even your feet — as part of a holistic, relaxing experience. It all depends on what you’re into and how much time you have.
Before you show up for your first facial, don’t worry. There’s not a lot you have to do to prepare when it comes to facial treatments for men. For example, should men shave before a facial? No, says Kim.
“When you shave in the morning, you’re already exfoliating, so it makes the skin too sensitive for our treatments. We use light chemical peels and stimulate the skin a lot. Shave the day before … stubble is okay,” says Kim. “Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do if you have a beard, but if you’ve got to keep it, you’ve got to keep it. In that case, we can work on the skin around the beard—the T-zone (your forehead and nose) and eye area, which are just as important. Other than that, just show up. I get guys that come in, and say ‘I don’t know why I’m here, my girlfriend sent me.’ Then they get their first facial and they’re sold.”
Other pre-facial to-dos include:
- Ceasing use of any topical medications from a dermatologist about two days before the facial (Discuss any potential issues with your provider first)
- Check your products to see if they contain hyaluronic acid for moisturizing or glycolic and alpha-hydroxy acids for exfoliation.
- Stop using acid products about two days before the facial
Because Kim’s company is very results-driven, they pack a facial with anything and everything your skin needs. Her process involves:
- A deep cleanse in a way that you won’t be able to do at home. “We use a steamer to soften the skin and open the pores,” explains Kim. “We use professional-grade products to cleanse and exfoliate.”
- Two rounds of exfoliation. “We may use enzymes or a light chemical peel … even microdermabrasion (think of it as using an orbital sander on your skin, but a lot smaller and gentler) … to get the dead skin cells off your face. Exfoliation is probably one of the most important parts of a facial. It cleans and preps your skin for what’s to come.”
- Extraction and infusing the skin with “hydration, oxygen therapy, LED therapy … whatever your skin needs,” Kim says.
Of course, “no pain, no gain,” so the worst part of your experience will probably be the extractions — but don’t worry, it’s nothing like the kind you get at the dentist.
“Extractions (removing dirt and gunk from the pores) are never that comfortable. It’s probably more so for men because they’ve never had them. There is a lot of stuff in there that the aesthetician needs to get out,” says Kim. “They’ll need to work harder and apply more pressure to clean properly, but you shouldn’t really be in pain … just uncomfortable. In this case, the discomfort will pay off.” Kim also points out that sometimes a men’s facial will focus on folliculitis, removing ingrown hairs, etc.
One note of caution on facials for men (or anyone, really): Don’t do your first facial, a new kind of facial, or a facial at a new facility before any kind of a big occasion (your wedding, a media appearance, your TED talk). “Depending on the person and the type of facial you get, you may break out,” says Kim. “It’s a purging … but it’s a good thing. Your skin is pushing all the bad stuff out. If it’s a concern, let us know and we can go a little lighter.”
One note of caution: Don’t do your first facial, a new kind of facial, or a facial at a new facility before any kind of a big occasion.
Post-facial, for a couple of days afterward, Kim recommends not using anything with acids in it (just like your prep period). Try not to stress your face in any way. “You should also definitely wear sunscreen,” emphasizes Kim. “You should anyway, but especially following a facial because we’ve removed a few layers of skin. Hopefully, you also have a good skincare routine at home to pick up from there. Then, depending on your skincare goals, we recommend you come back in.”
Now that you know that the answer to the question, “Do men get facials?” is yes, you may also want to know how often you should get one. Kim says that of course, it depends, but if you have decent, normal skin, probably once a quarter is good for a follow-up. Those who are more interested in skincare should stop by once a month. “If you have problem skin, though, probably every two to three weeks is good,” says Kim, “until we can get it under control.”
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