Is It Normal To Suffer From Breakouts After A Facial?

Facials are the ultimate form of beauty self-care. Treating yourself to an hour of sheer bliss and relaxation as an expert works to fix all of your skin woes feels unequivocally rejuvenating. The experience is all the more fulfilling as you glance in the mirror and see that unmatched natural glow that leaves you wanting to go makeup-free for the rest of the day. Of course, it could all come crashing down when you wake up the next morning in a fit of rage after discovering a breakout. 

How could something designed to help my skin make it worse? Then the blame game begins, convincing yourself you're never going back to that facialist again and that it must have been their fault. Or is it just your skin? Well, it turns out that it's a lot more complicated than that.

Don't worry, though; you're not alone. Breaking out after facials is actually very common, per Refinery29. The real trick is figuring out if your post-facial breakout is the natural outcome of a facial or if it's actually safe to blame your esthetician this time.

When it's normal to experience a post-facial breakout

As it turns out, "The Purge" isn't just a title reserved for a terrifying movie series. It can also mean your very own personal horror movie unfolding on your skin. If you've had a lot of experience with intense active ingredients, you'll be familiar with the concept of skin purging. This means that your skin can instantly react to a new product pulling out all of the gunk that was living underneath your skin, resulting in a phase of pretty rough breakouts before your skin begins to magically clear up and get better (via Byrdie). Essentially, your skin may look worse before it gets better after a facial.

"When doing a lot of extractions to clear out bumps, sometimes not all of the lodged oil will come out and because we don't force anything that doesn't want to come out," celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau explained to Marie Claire. "Some purging can occur a day or two after a facial as the pore does its own self-cleaning." 

So, in some cases, a post-facial breakout makes perfect sense and can even be considered a good sign. The deep cleanse is working; it just also happened to skip ahead and force out any breakouts lingering underneath the surface. However, sometimes it can just come down to a poorly executed facial.

When to question the post-facial breakout

While breaking out is a common result of the facial process, it sometimes has a lot less to do with skin purging and more to do with the type of facial. Using extraction tools at home can be tricky, but a professional esthetician should know how much pressure to apply and when to stop pushing. Your esthetician should also make a point to clear out all of the debris they can when beginning the process. On this, Dr. Sejal Shah explained to Self, "If the pore is not completely cleared during extractions, you may notice an acne flare after the facial as the residual contents come to the surface naturally." 

The best way of telling if the post-facial breakout is normal is by examining the type of breakout. On this, Andrea Pfeffer, the founder of Pfeffer Sal, spoke to Refinery29 about the signs you should look out for. "If a treatment is done properly, a breakout should be minimal, and it shouldn't be a big continued breakout after a treatment. A few whiteheads is okay, but if you're inflamed and it's out of the ordinary for your skin, then it's a red flag," she explained.

Depending on the facial you're getting and your skin type, post-facial breakouts are likely to be a result especially if extractions are involved. The best way you can minimize the aftershock is to stick to a simple hydrating skincare routine without any actives in the days leading up to your facial, per Essence. It's all about making sure your barrier is in the best state possible before undergoing an intense facial.