If your skin has olive or dark undertones, you may not be getting the right facial treatment at the spa. Here's why.
Your cultural background may influence your spa experience.Sometimes, not all skin treatments are created equal. There may in fact be a need for special attention given to olive or warmer-colored complexions when it comes to spa skin care therapy.
According to spa and skin care specialist Linda Harding-Bond there is a link between darker skin tones and subpar treatments.
"An esthetician's education is always done from the European perspective. This limited training places professionals in a disadvantage from the get-go, so women with darker skin end up at the bottom level of the professional's learning curve," says Harding-Bond who believes women need to take charge when it comes to their skin by researching individual needs, spas before visiting and knowing which questions to ask.
Panamanian spa client Arlene Pitterson found herself the unfortunate recipient of a lack of expertise when treating her darker complexion. Years of acne had left her skin scarred and spotty, so her dermatologist suggested a visit to the spa. However, the facial she received left her bruised and with even more hyperpigmentation on her skin. A recommended visit to a facialist who specialized in women of darker skin made up for all the disappointment. "She prepared my skin and didn't do any extractions on my first facial, and for the first time I had no bruising in my skin after a treatment," says Pitterson, whose subsequent second facial included a successful extraction. The Panama-native has happily continued her customized esthetic treatment, which includes periodic ultrasound microdermabrasions (a more delicate way of exfoliating), as well as a wealth of information from her new specialist on how to take care of her particular skin.
What to expect when you're expecting a facial
Basic facials follow a four-stage process: Cleansing, Steaming, Extraction and Exfoliation. However, most facialists don't know how to prepare warmer skintones correctly for treatment: "Darker skins are usually richer in oils. These skins need more time under the steam than fairer ones to prepare them for extraction. Extractions should never be painful. If the [darker skinned-client] experiences pain, it's because the skin was not probably prepared…not steamed long enough," says Harding-Bond.
All you have to do is ask
According to Harding-Bond, who now specializes in ethnic skin care, women need to do their homework and ask the right questions in order to get the best out of their spa facial experience.
- Search online for spa and beauty salons that offer the services you're looking for. Visit review sites like Yelp and Citysearch to see what other clients are saying about the salon.
- Call the spa and ask if they have an ethnic skin professional. Not sure how to ask? Harding-Bond tells you how in her video tutorial.
- Ask the esthetician about his/her experience treating darker skin tones, and ask if she/he does extractions on a first-time facial: Yes-bad answer; No-good answer.
- Ask for a free consultation prior to the service; it will give you an opportunity to check out their skin care lines. A good spa will offer more than one brand, a better spa will have products catered to darker skins. Esthetics expert and owner of Philadelphia's Spa Bavu Diana Kline even goes as far as doing an "ancestral background" consultation. When it comes to specialized skin treatments, genetics [more than skin color] determines how your skin will read to the esthetician. The surface skin may be fair, but the ethnic background decides how the skin will react to treatment," says Kline.
Linda Harding-Bond is President of Moontide Consulting, specializing in ethnic skin and retail sales training from a global perspective. For more information, visit www.lindatheskindiva.com.