Uh, Is Breaking Out After a Facial Normal? 3 Red Flags for Your Post-Facial Skin

"No pain no gain" should only go so far.

Lip, Cheek, Eye, Forehead, Eyebrow, Eyelash, Style, Iris, Monochrome photography, Jaw,
(Image credit: Design by Betsy Farrell)

No pain, no gain is a term that's often thrown around when it comes to facials. From extractions to a little tingling here and there, discomfort can be par for the course during the treatment. But what about post treatment? Are rosiness and a few marks to be expected? Or is your skin trying to tell you something? Here, celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau breaks down exactly what's normal...and what's not...following a facial.

Post-Extraction Redness. Manual extractions, like those performed in professional deep pore cleansing facials, are the most effective way to manage clogged pores, like blackheads and closed comedowns (bumps, to create smoother skin. "Generally, if the skin was properly softened up well, pores should clear out fairly easy and redness should be kept to a minimum," explains Rouleau. "But the reality is, an esthetician is actually squeezing at the skin so it's normal for the area to get red—especially if the clogged pores or blackheads are large and deep and impacted in the skin."

Finding the right esthetician to perform them is key, as they should know what signs to look for and will know to ask the client if they are okay being pink for 24-48 hours or so after the facial.

A Rosy Glow. When blood circulation slows, the skin's health is impaired, which leads to dull, tired skin. During a facial, this is addressed with a facial massage. "Along with warm steam, both processes help to increase blood flow and bring new nutrients to the skin," she says. "This will encourage a youthful radiance and glow to surface in the face. The skin shouldn't look inflamed but rather have a nice glow with the skin feeling warm to the touch for a few hours after the facial."

Breakouts. "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, some purging can occur a day or two after a facial as the pore does its own self-cleaning," explains Rouleau. An experienced esthetician will know how well the pores cleaned out at the time of the facial and can usually predict if you'll be getting some slight post-facial breakouts. But once those heal up, the pores should be much clearer to prevent future breakouts.

Post-Peel Redness. Not all peels are created equal in terms of intensity, but often times a light peel is included in a facial. This can cause some redness for an hour or two after a facial.

"When the skin is exfoliated well from a facial, especially with a stronger peel, it's normal for the skin to feel tight and look shiny due to the acidic nature of a peel," she explains. "This is usually an indication that the skin will get some light flaking a few days after and you should be made aware of all of this during the consultation."

Burning Blemishes. If an esthetician applies a chemical peel on blemished areas, the acid can eat away at the opening, cause a burn, and lead to scarring. "This is why you have to be careful about putting professional acid peels on open areas," cautions Rouleau.

An Allergic Reaction. Itching, rash-like skin, welts, throat swelling, and coughing are signs of an allergic reaction. And if you experience any of the aforementioned, it's important to contact your esthetician immediately. "I once had a client that was allergic to rag weed found in nature," says Rouleau. "I used a product with chamomile, a natural calming agent used in skincare products and a derivative of rag weed, and it caused her throat to swell up!"

Severe Breakouts. "Sometimes, if a product was too heavy, greasy and the pores got clogged, then breakouts can occur. It's so important to keep things lightweight and avoid using oils for those who are acne-prone."

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Lauren Valenti
Beauty Editor

Lauren is the former beauty editor at Marie Claire. She love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. She firmly believes that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.