[Solved!] Can Facials Help with Acne?

Find out more about facials and their potential risks and benefits for acne-prone skin.

If you’re struggling with active acne, you’ve probably considered doing facials for acne to help with your problem. However, you might be unsure if they can actually solve your acne breakouts.

Facials require time and money, after all! So, it’s just right to know if their potential benefits will be worth spending on.

With this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about facials for acne: what they are, how they work, and if they can be the answer to your acne problems.

What is a Facial?

A woman with a face mask after a facial treatment. (From: Unsplash)

A woman with a face mask after a facial treatment. (From: Unsplash)

Generally, a facial is a skincare treatment done by a trained aesthetician in a beauty salon or spa. This generally involves a series of steps to rejuvenate the skin.

A facial starts with cleansing the skin to remove makeup and dirt. Afterwards, a steam bath is used to soften the skin and make extraction easier.

Some salons may skip the steaming step and go directly to the next one: exfoliation. Here, the aesthetician will slough away dead skin cells, either using a physical exfoliant, or a chemical peel.

If necessary, your aesthetician may also perform an extraction. This involves the use of a special metal tool, used to manually extract whiteheads or blackheads that have clogged the pores.


How long this step takes will solely depend on how many closed comedones you have on your skin. Aestheticians will generally leave active acne alone, but will clear out all clogged pores.


Once extractions are done, a mask or treatment will be applied to the skin. These treatments supposedly target specific skin issues, such as dryness or oiliness.

As a final step, the skin will be toned and moisturized, and then you’re good to go.

A basic facial normally lasts for an average of one hour. However, when facials are done in conjunction with other treatments, they can reach up to an hour and a half.

Facials are generally cost-effective, with a basic treatment costing around $75. However, if you’re looking for added treatments alongside your facial, be prepared to shell out an average of $75 to $150.

Do Facials Help with Acne?

An aesthetician applies a mask during a lady's facial treatment. (From: Unsplash)

An aesthetician applies a mask during a lady’s facial treatment. (From: Unsplash)

Facials claim to provide many benefits to the skin, one of which is clearing acne.

That’s because most facials for acne utilize methods aimed at reducing acne-causing factors. Facials cleanse the skin, getting rid of dirt and oil that may clog the pores. Through exfoliation, facials also help in getting rid of dead skin cells which may clog the hair follicles and cause acne.

Additionally, facials perform extractions on closed comedones. This eliminates whiteheads or blackheads that may get inflamed and turn into pimples.

Through all of these reasons, it certainly seems like facials can help with acne. However, often, it may, in fact, do the opposite.

Although a basic facial may feel relaxing, its effects are completely short-term. After all, the steps used in facials to reduce acne will only work if done regularly. Cleansing and exfoliation, for instance, if done intermittently, can’t solve your skin concerns.

In addition, facials can actually aggravate active acne. Facials for acne utilize methods that can potentially irritate the skin, such as using physical exfoliants and extracting acne. These can cause irritation and inflammation if the aesthetician is not careful or you have sensitive skin, which can lead to breakouts.


It might be best to invest on good skincare products instead of a basic facial. These are more cost-effective, can last for a long time, and, when used consistently, can yield better results.


If you have some extra cash, you can also opt for more effective facials, such as the following:

Deep cleansing facial

An aesthetician extracts a woman's pimples using a metal extractor. (From: Pixabay)

An aesthetician extracts a woman’s pimples using a metal extractor. (From: Pixabay)

Also called a decongesting facial, this facial focuses on unclogging the pores. It’s designed to clear out the pores to prevent whiteheads and blackheads from causing acne breakouts. This facial focuses on extracting whiteheads and blackheads, along with using gentle exfoliants like lactic acid to remove dead skin cells on the skin’s topmost layer.


This facial must not be used with nodules and cysts. Doing so may irritate your skin further, and make your existing nodules worse.

LED light facial

Red infrared light being shone on a woman's face. (From: 123rf.com)

Red infrared light being shone on a woman’s face. (From: 123rf.com)

LED light facials utilize blue and red light in targeting acne.

Blue light has been proven effective in killing acne-causing bacteria, as well as reducing inflammation and redness. Red light, meanwhile, helps with inflammation and with healing damaged skin. It’s also believed to reduce the appearance of acne scars.

This facial is perfect for people with moderate acne, who are looking for a non-invasive way to get rid of acne. However, note that the best LED light facials utilize both blue and red light to effectively target different causes and symptoms of acne.


A woman undergoes HydraFacial with an aesthetician. (From: Unsplash)

A woman undergoes HydraFacial with an aesthetician. (From: Unsplash)

HydraFacial refers to a medical-grade resurfacing treatment that unclogs the pores and delivers nourishing serums to the skin.

During a HydraFacial, a specialized HydraPeel Tip is used to clean out the pores. This vacuums out dirt, sebum, and dead skin cells that can clog hair follicles. This rids the skin of impurities that may lead to breakouts.

At the same time, the HydraPeel Tip infuses the skin with serums, allowing them to get absorbed more readily into the skin. These serums can target a variety of skin concerns such as aging and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. In fact, a study has found that using HydraFacial regularly can increase collagen levels in the skin, helping with softening fine lines and making the skin tone more even.


Hydrafacial involves exfoliating the skin’s top layer, which may cause further irritation for people with active rashes and rosacea.

Word of Caution

As mentioned earlier, facials can be irritating to the skin, making them a poor choice for those with active acne.


Active acne refers to the presence of different forms of acne in the face. This includes whiteheads, blackheads, and inflamed papules and pustules.


Aside from this, accidentally popping papules or pustules during a facial can prove detrimental to the skin. This may cause bacteria in the pimple to spread to other inflamed pores in the skin, leading to even more breakouts.

Additionally, although facials can help remove existing non-inflammatory breakouts, that doesn’t mean that it can be used to prevent acne.

After all, facials don’t permanently address the root causes of acne: sebum overproduction, build up of dead skin cells, and presence of acne-causing bacteria, which clog and inflamed hair follicles. Therefore, if you’re looking to solve your acne, you’re better off getting to the root of the problem.

To this end, consulting with a board-certified dermatologist is more preferable. Dermatologists can assess your skin and prescribe proven medication or treatments to solve acne breakouts.


Check if your aesthetician is licensed, before you book an appointment at a beauty salon. Do note, though, that not all states provide a license for aestheticians.


Beauty spas also tend to upsell their products and packages to customers. If you’re availing a facial with a beauty spa, its employees will likely promote products while you book a package, or while you consult with their in-house dermatologist. This means that they’ll convince you to buy their own products, claiming it will help with your skin concern.


Remember: if you’re uncomfortable with beauty spas selling you their own products while you consult with a skin concern, it’s your right to decline and find another beauty spa to go to.


Although facials may provide the skin some benefit, they aren’t enough to treat acne problems. Most facials only have short-term effects, after all, that aren’t enough to get rid of acne for good. We hope that, through this article, we were able to explain why facials for acne may not be your best bet in treating severe acne problems.

Learned something new from this article? Let us know what you think in the comments!


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