Last month I was lucky enough to visit Mario Badescu’s salon in New York. Favoured by celebrity clients and New York natives, the salon is a 37-room skin haven that has been an institution on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for over 50 years. I entered the building with skin freaking out (a seven-hour flight followed by New York humidity is not a recipe for good skin) and left it positively glowing.
Upon arrival I was introduced to my aesthetician Maria, who has been administering facials at Mario Badescu for 22 years(!) and knows everything. Once she got a close look at my face she identified the fact that I sleep on my right hand side (I have more blemishes on my right cheek and creases around my right eye), and confirmed my deep conviction that I always get breakouts in the same places (due to deeply clogged pores in need of extractions). This is a huge part of the facial – identifying the client’s individual needs and adapting the products and techniques to suit them.
The thing about facials is you can’t expect them to fix your skin in an hour – you have to take your aesthetician’s advice and up your game in your daily skincare after the facial to carry on seeing results. Below, the six most important things I took away from my hour with Maria.
Steam your face before you mask
After makeup removal and cleansing, the facial started with a gentle steaming. The reason, according to Maria? “Steaming your face warms up the surface of your skin and opens your pores. This loosens debris (making it easier to remove) and means that products you apply afterwards will more easily absorb into your pores”. To steam your face at home, fill a bowl with boiling water, place your face over the bowl, and drape a towel over your head to trap the steam.
Never attempt DIY extractions
My facial included extractions to remove stubborn blackheads and whiteheads, but Maria warned me to never try this technique at home – “A DIY extraction can easily go wrong, and will not only leave skin red and irritated, but potentially at risk of permanent scarring”. Noted.
Layer Buffering Lotion under your masks
I’ve used and loved Mario Badescu’s iconic Buffering Lotion for years. It’s one of my favourite ways to treat blemishes around the clock, since it’s light and thin enough to layer under makeup and contains acne-busting ingredients like niacinamide and zinc. “With patients who are prone to breakouts, it’s a great product to boost the mask to suit their skin”, says Maria, “just swipe a thin layer on immediately before masking”.
Apply eye cream when you mask
The skin around your eyes is thin and delicate, so needs to be treated with extra care. As masks can be super drying, and the process of removing them can tug at the gentle skin, Maria’s advice was to “always apply eye cream before and under any face masks to counteract the dryness and prevent long-term damage”.
Spend time massaging your products into your skin
Massage is the most therapeutic and relaxing part of any facial, but that doesn’t mean you can’t employ the technique at home, too. In fact, according to Maria, it’s important that you do so every day – “Massage encourages blood flow and circulation which helps to clear congestion and also improves product absorption”.
Treat your neck the same way you treat your face
The skin on your neck is exactly the same as the skin on your face and will be the first to show signs of aging if you don’t look after it in the same way. According to Maria, “Anything that you apply to your face – masks, serums, cleanser, moisturisers, SPF – should always go on your neck as well.” I’ve always applied my moisturiser to my neck, but from now on I’ll be taking my entire routine down south, too.