Why Did I Break Out After A Facial?
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Directly following a spa cleansing and microdermabrasion my face broke out. It was just a matter of hours after the treatment when I started to feel the ache of reddish pimples pushing through my skin. My initial thought was that the esthetician didn’t check my skin properly and missed something brewing under the surface. She missed the signs that we should pivot from microdermabrasion to a deep cleaning facial.

But it wasn’t the first time I’d broken out right after getting a facial or face treatment. I wanted answers. One esthetician told me that even with 20 years in the business she’s seen it happen with her own clients—it just happens to some people.

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Still not completely satisfied with the response I reached out to Lesley Thornton, licensed esthetician, former TV makeup artist, and founder of sustainable clean skincare brand KLUR. An expert in care for all skin types with a specialty in skin of color, she broke down the mystery behind my post-facial breakouts and what I can do to avoid them.

Why do some people break out directly following a facial?

During a facial, skin is well stimulated and much of what’s below the surface is encouraged to come up and out. If extractions are not done well then pores and pimples may have left over debris that come to a head in the following days. 

Is this typical for certain skin types?

All skin types may experience some irritation or flare up after a facial. Even the most diligent and skilled skin therapist will see cases where their regular clients might react after a facial. This can’t necessarily be avoided, nor explained. If this does occur I recommend sticking it out with your regular specialist and modifying the treatment protocol with them. Also, let them know right away so they can document the products and reaction. 

What can a client do before or after a facial to prevent a post-facial flare up?

Pre-facial I recommend clients focus on strengthening their skin barrier by simplifying their routines. Discontinue using all acids, exfoliants, waxing, face shaving and other treatments at least five days before your scheduled facial. Instead just use a gentle cleanser and moisturizer both morning and night. This will help build skin your skin’s resilience and reduce risk of over-stimulation and irritation during your treatment.

Thornton also offered some tips on what we can do following a facial or skin treatment to maximize results and minimize an adverse reaction.

  • Avoid direct sun exposure and wear an SPF of at least 30.
  • Avoid exfoliation for 5-7 days post treatment.
  • If you feel something coming up, spot treat only that area or extraction site. 
  • Do not put on makeup the day of your facial.
  • Use hyaluronic acid and aloe-based products to sooth, and restore hydration levels to skin. 


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