Are facials safe for acne-prone skin?

Are facials safe for acne-prone skin

Facials are meant to improve skin and promote a clear, well-hydrated complexion. Most facials involve cleansing, exfoliation and supplementation of the skin, and are often touted for their efficacy in improving the quality of skin. 

However, do all facials work the same for acne skin and are facials safe for acne to begin with? Let’s find out.

Is it OK to get a facial with acne? 

The short answer is yes – it is safe to get a facial with acne provided: 

  • You are not experiencing a severe, inflamed breakout e.g. cystic acne 
  • You recently started or are currently on strong acne medications like isotretinoin
  • You recently had other dermatological procedures like laser treatments or chemical peels
  • You are getting a medi-facial done by a professional 

In essence, a facial is generally not advised if your acne is inflamed or if your skin is in a sensitive or compromised state due to medications or recent procedures. To clarify any doubts, always check in with your aesthetician. 

If you have acne-prone skin, getting a medical facial is almost a non-negotiable as certain steps of the facial must be tailored for you. Here’s what else can happen if you have acne and do not choose a facial that’s designed for acne: 

Risk of aggravation

If you have acne prone skin, you would understand the necessity of using acne-friendly products lest your condition flares – the same requirements should apply for facials. 

The products used in normal facials may contain ingredients not suitable for your skin type. Certain steps like scrubbing or massaging can also aggravate acne by causing irritation. 

Note: If you’re on acne medication, please inform your therapist –  the ingredients in a facial treatment could interact adversely with your medication.

Skin sensitivity

A common feature in facials is exfoliation. The purpose is to remove dead skin cells, allowing new, fresh skin to surface. For those with sensitive acne skin, the act of exfoliation can compromise the skin’s natural protective barrier. This vulnerability makes the skin more susceptible to environmental irritants like pollution and UV rays, as well as products that would otherwise be harmless. 

Pro tip: Before signing your facial package, check if potential irritants like acids and fragrances are used. These elements, although beneficial for some skin types, can trigger a series of unwelcome reactions in sensitive acne skin, such as redness, itching, and irritation.

Extraction concerns

Skilled extractions performed by a licensed esthetician or dermatologist can immediately remove blackheads and whiteheads, reducing the potential for bacterial proliferation and subsequent acne flare-ups. As a result, you can expect: 

  • Smaller pores 
  • Smoother skin texture 
  • Enhanced absorption of topical acne treatment (huge bonus if you use expensive skincare products!) 

On the other hand, poorly executed extractions can cause: 

  • Rupturing of the pore walls, pushing bacteria and sebum deeper into the skin
  • Increased inflammation and even the formation of acne cysts
  • Acne scarring
  • More acne (physical manipulation of acne-prone skin can stimulate sebum production)
  • Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH)

Another critical aspect to consider is the sterility of the tools used for extractions. Unsterilised or improperly sterilised instruments can introduce additional bacteria to the skin and cause more acne, or even lead to skin infections that are far more severe than acne. This is why it’s essential to consult an experienced and skilled skincare professional for such procedures.

Pro tip: Post-facial, remember to take care of your skin and follow aftercare steps as advised by your therapist. At SkinLab, we may prescribe serums to promote healing and hydration. 

Allergic reaction

It is possible to get an allergy reaction or allergic contact dermatitis after a facial – these reactions often manifest as rashes or acne. If you already have acne prone skin, the severity of each flare up will be more pronounced. 

If you have known allergies, you should definitely raise them with your skincare professional before undergoing any facials.

Delayed results

When it comes to acne-prone skin, the effects of a facial may not be immediately visible for several reasons. 

For a start, the skin often needs time to heal and adjust after a facial treatment, especially when extractions or exfoliation are involved. These processes can initially cause inflammation, redness, or even minor breakouts as the skin purges impurities. This is sometimes referred to as “skin purging,” a phenomenon where accelerated skin cell turnover brings existing microcomedones (tiny, non-visible acne lesions) to the surface, causing a temporary acne flare-up.

Some of the active ingredients used in facials, such as alpha or beta hydroxy acids, retinoids, or even certain antioxidants, can have a more long-term effect on the cellular turnover rate, sebum production, and inflammation levels. The benefits of these ingredients often manifest over several days to weeks as they work at the cellular level to improve skin health.

Acne is influenced by a host of factors, including hormone levels, diet, and other lifestyle variables. A single facial treatment will not address all these elements, and tends to exist as part of a longer-term skincare strategy rather than a silver bullet for acne.

Professional expertise

Professional expertise is crucial when it comes to facials for someone with acne-prone skin due to the complex nature of this skin type and the potential for adverse reactions. Acne-prone skin is sensitive to various factors, including mechanical irritation, certain ingredients, and even the technique used for extractions. 

A skincare professional has the training and knowledge to assess your skin’s specific needs and tailor the treatment accordingly. They can also identify the type of acne you have—be it hormonal, bacterial, or comedonal—and adapt the facial to target these concerns effectively. 

Trained professionals are also skilled in techniques that minimise the risk of inflammation, scarring, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, common issues that can arise from improperly conducted facials. 

Furthermore, they can provide valuable advice on an ongoing skincare routine, recommending products that are compatible with acne-prone skin. In contrast, a lack of professional expertise could lead to exacerbation of acne, ineffective treatment, and even long-term skin damage.

How to choose the right facial for your acne skin

Acne-prone skin can benefit from the right type of facial. We just need to be selective. However, picking the ideal facial for acne-prone skin can be a challenging task, given the sensitivity and specific needs of this skin type. Here’s a quick guide to help you make an informed choice.

Research and consultation

Before booking a facial, it’s essential to conduct thorough research. Read about different types of facials available and their suitability for acne-prone skin. Schedule a consultation with a certified skincare professional to discuss your skin concerns, your history with acne, and any current treatments or medications you’re using.

Check professional credentials

Don’t hesitate to inquire about the qualifications and certifications of the skincare professional you’re considering. Ensure they have the proper training and experience to treat acne-prone skin effectively.

Ask about specialisation

Some skincare professionals specialise in treating acne or acne-prone skin. Opting for a professional with this specialisation offers you the advantage of targeted, more effective treatment.

Discuss your skin type

Acne-prone skin isn’t a one-size-fits-all category. Whether your skin is oily, combination, or even dry, it’s crucial to discuss your specific skin type with your chosen professional to receive the most appropriate treatment.


Ask if the facial can be customised to suit your skin’s specific needs. For acne-prone skin, avoiding harsh scrubs, excessive steaming, and certain oils may be beneficial. Customisation ensures that the treatment addresses your unique concerns and doesn’t aggravate your acne.

Products used

Inquire about the products that will be used during the facial. Make sure they are non-comedogenic and free from irritants that could exacerbate your acne. If you have any allergies or specific preferences, like natural or cruelty-free products, discuss this as well.

Treatment techniques

The techniques employed during the facial should be of prime concern. Talk to the skincare professional about their approach to crucial steps like extractions and exfoliation. Their techniques should be geared towards minimising irritation and preventing the spread of bacteria, which can exacerbate acne. An experienced professional will explain the rationale behind each technique they propose, putting you at ease.

Ask about aftercare

The period following your facial is crucial for maintaining benefits and preventing potential complications. Your skincare professional should provide a detailed aftercare plan, which may include product recommendations and lifestyle advice tailored to keep your acne in check.

Reviews and recommendations

Don’t underestimate the power of peer reviews and personal recommendations. Check out online forums, social media, and review websites to get a broader picture of the skin  care professional’s reputation. Additionally, if you have friends or family with acne-prone skin who have undergone facials, their firsthand experience could offer valuable insights into what to expect.

Cost and package options

Understanding the financial aspect of getting a facial for acne-prone skin is essential. During your consultation, ask for a clear breakdown of costs to assess the value offered. Also, inquire about package deals for multiple sessions, as these often provide cost savings and help maintain a consistent skincare regimen. 

However, read the fine print on expiration dates and missed appointments. While it’s tempting to go for cheaper options, remember that effective treatment from a skilled professional is worth the investment. By evaluating both individual and package costs, you can find a treatment that aligns with your skincare needs and budget.

Facial acne treatment in Singapore

The right facial for your acne-prone skin is just one phone call away. Your acne-prone skin needs the support of our experienced, well-trained professionals who can care for your skin. Combining the natural benefits of papaya enzymes with modern day high frequency therapy, our Acne Express Defence Facial soothes skin and regulates sebum production for an acne-free face.

At SkinLab, Singapore’s largest medical spa chain, our highly trained therapists endeavour to give you the best care and treatment, so you walk out of the door looking and feeling your best.

Contact us now.

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