What is a European Facial?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Facials are a series of treatments meant to improve the look, feel, and composition of skin on the face and neck. There are dozens of different facials, often geared toward certain conditions or beauty wishes, such as reducing acne or fine lines. A European facial is a basic treatment meant to generally improve the look of skin. A European facial is often considered a great “introductory” facial, as it uses basic and uncomplicated steps to provide glowing, healthy skin.

Facials may help reduce acne.
Facials may help reduce acne.

Though salons and spas may offer slight variations, many European facials follow a basic pattern. First, the skin is cleansed to remove traces of makeup and topical buildup. This is often followed by an exfoliating scrub to remove dead skin and encourage cell turnover. Steam may also be used to help release dirt and oils from deep within the pores. Steam may be applied with warm towels or a steam generator placed over the face.

A European facial helps to improve the look and feel of the skin.
A European facial helps to improve the look and feel of the skin.

At this point in a European facial, the spa technician may perform extractions of blackheads or white heads. Extractions can be somewhat painful, and may also cause redness that lasts for several hours. Although extractions can help improve the appearance of the skin, some people find them uncomfortable and distracting from the relaxing overall effect of a facial. Most technicians will be happy to skip the extraction portion of a facial if asked.

An exfoliating scrub is often a part of a European facial.
An exfoliating scrub is often a part of a European facial.

Some European facials follow the cleansing and extraction with a facial mask customized to match skin type. The mask is typically left on for 10-15 minutes, and the spa technician may massage the neck, hands, or feet during this time. After the mask is removed, a toner and moisturizer will be applied to prevent excessive drying that can occur after deep cleansing.

A customized masque is part of the European facial experience.
A customized masque is part of the European facial experience.

A European facial typically takes between 60-90 minutes, although less expensive “mini-facials” are often available and last about 30 minutes. Be certain to inform the spa of any allergies before the treatment begins, so they can adjust treatment options. Spa technicians will often perform a skin analysis before a European facial to ensure that the products used will benefit the client’s skin type and tone.

After a European facial, skin should feel refreshed and hydrated. Some people may notice a healthier glow or more even skin tone that can last for days or even weeks. If skin feels dry, reddens, or begins to flake, contact the spa. Redness or irritation can be signs of an adverse reaction to a product, due to an allergy or skin sensitivity. The spa will be able to give ingredient lists of products used, and may offer to help correct the condition for free.

European facials typically begin with a gentle cleansing wash.
European facials typically begin with a gentle cleansing wash.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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Discussion Comments

artlover

@peasy--There are several European facial products on the market. One of the first things I would check for is one that is organic and has no harsh chemicals.

Making sure the product has not been animal tested is beneficial as well.

peasy

Great information thanks! Some friends and I are going in for facials and I wasn't sure what to ask for. Does anyone have any suggestions on types of products that are great?

I know sometimes the spa will try to sell you some take home products and I would like to try some European facial products that will not break the bank.

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