Since moving to Minnesota, I have been asked for recommendations about where to get a facial. But I never had anywhere to recommend because I hadn’t taken the time to find a place to go to. And part of the reason that I didn’t take the time to research different places, was because deep down felt like I wouldn’t achieve a result that would make it worth the time and money.
Who doesn’t want to set aside time to get a facial? Work-a-holics, that’s who… But let’s be honest, finding a time to go in and set aside a couple hours for yourself can be hard. Next comes the cost. Are facials really worth it? I’ve asked myself that a lot over the years. My reasoning was that I have an extensive skincare collection and a pretty good understanding of my skin from years of seeing a dermatologists and being somewhat obsessed with all things skin, so I didn’t really think that going to get a facial would produce a result that I couldn’t get at home. Was that a cocky assumption? Totally. But, it was also based on previous facials I had that left me hydrated but wasn’t anything that that made me stop and say WOW, THAT WAS WORTH IT. (An exception to that was the acne-targeted facials and peels that I got when I was struggling with acne in my late teens. Those were totally worth it. But now that I am not actively treating acne and its scars, the kind of facials I would get now are the ones that I have found a little underwhelming).
So fast-forward to my best friend’s wedding (stay with me here, this has a point). One of the other bridesmaids, Emily, is the Salon and Medspa director for LivSkin Medspa in Minnetonka, MN. We started talking all things skin and she said she would love for me to come and have a complimentary facial (at LivSkin) and blow-out (at the sister company, Merite House of Beauty). No pressure to promote it or write up a blog post on it, but she wanted my honest feedback and experience. So I said I was game and we booked a facial. [Quick note: Emily and I are friends but that doesn’t mean that I will sugar coat this review. She knows that and wouldn’t want it any other way.]
Here’s my experience and then you will hear in the end if I think this facial changed my mind about wanting to budget for, and take the time to schedule, more regular facials.
LivSkin Med Spa is located in Minnetonka and is really easy to get to (I was coming from downtown).
They are open Monday-Saturday with the latest hours (9-7pm) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday, Friday and Saturday they close at 5pm.
You enter the reception area and it feels like a really chic boutique, complete with an array of amazing skincare products (more on that in a minute), and some other home fragrances and candles (my weakness).
I noticed right away that they carry skincare brands that I really like and respect, like Revision Skincare and SkinMedica. AND they also had one of my most favorite treatment masks that is a somewhat hidden gem because I rarely see people talk about this wonderfully effective mask in the skincare community on Instagram–specifically the Z. Bigatti Impact mask (see my review here). They also carry VivierSkin products, which I didn’t know as much about, but I had seen at Dermstore (where I buy a lot of my skincare products).
Let’s talk products
I noticed that they had a refined selection of high-quality products from a variety of well-respected brands. During my facial, I also learned that they don’t only use products from one skincare line. This is a major plus for me. In my facial, I had a mix of brands and the products that Laura chose were tailored to my skin’s needs. She noted that people shouldn’t be expected to like ALL of the products from one line, so she picks the best products from the various lines they carry. I think that is great because I don’t like when a place only uses one line of products because as Laura noted, some brands have some duds here and there. Also, it is nice because honestly the sheer amount of products out there can be overwhelming, so I appreciate a more curated selection.
On that note, I have noticed that a couple different places that offer facials use private label products where they take a manufacturers product and add their brand name and logo to it. It’s pretty common practice but I am usually not too impressed with those products when I take a close look at the ingredients. They are usually fine…. but when I get a facial I would like to be treated to the highest quality products (and in some cases, products that are too expensive for me to buy and use at home but that I want to experience in that facial). It also means that I can try some products before I decide to invest in them. (Laura also sent me home with a couple samples that I was particularly interested in, which is so great).
Bottom line, I don’t get excited about private label products, which is my own bias, but it is what it is. If the ingredients are phenomenal then I wouldn’t care so much that it was private label but usually I am underwhelmed. Also, the practice still irks me because the price that the different spas can charge for the same product (just different label) varies drastically. One place may sell something for $125 and another $65. All in all, I much prefer when spas don’t use private labeling and use brands that I know and trust (and it also allows me to shop for deals for those brands once I have found that I love them… like buying Vivier or Revision products when Dermstore has a sale!). Ok I digress… but truly, their product selection really stood out to me as a huge plus.
Meeting my esthetician
I filled out a sheet to give them some background on my current skincare regime and skin concerns and then I met Laura, who would be doing my facial. Not only is Laura the owner of Liv, but she is an Advanced Practice esthetician. What I noticed first was that she had a great vibe about her–she really radiated warmth and her engaging personality put my awkward nerves at ease.
After bringing me back to the room she told me she would leave the room so I could get undressed lay down under the sheet on the massage bed in the room. The bed was heated to the perfect temp and my knees were propped up (god bless those delightful knee wedges, it really makes lying down quite comfortable). A steam blew on my face to start to really hydrate the skin.
I went in with makeup on, so the first step was to cleanse my skin. Laura started with a typical cleanser, using a Clarisonic, and then she went in with a gentle physical scrub. Quick note about the Clarisonic, she commented that if you are using it you should not be pressing so hard that the bristles actually bend. I thought that was a good tip.
After that it was time for the mask. Lo and behold, Laura used the Z. Bigatti Impact enzyme mask that I love! She and I talked about just how good that mask is and how it really is a powerful mask. You just need a thin layer and 5 minutes and it helps to exfoliate and decongest the skin (and the jar really lasts a long time! I digress…)
After my skin was all clean and the mask was removed we got to the part that I think I loved the most. She dermaplaned my skin. This was my first time having it done and I loved it. It is more than just getting rid of peach fuzz, it also got rid of dry dead skin. I know some people use those little facial razors and shave their face at home but I do not use those.. anymore. I tried and after cutting my face twice I decided it was not for me. Laura was meticulous and very careful and carefully dermaplaned my entire face. During this, she also noted that she was getting off a lot of dry skin, which I think was there because I have cut down on how often I exfoliate my skin and there was clearly some build up.
In addition to removing peach fuzz and getting off the dead skin a HUGE benefit of dermaplaning is that it helps your skincare products absorb better (so you get more out of your products). Also, I have to say that it made my makeup apply so nicely on my skin in the days/weeks that followed. When she was done I felt my face and in my mind I was like “YEP. I’m definitely doing this again!” Truly my face has never… EVER.. felt that soft.
Next up was the micropeel. Specifically, the Sensitive Skin Solution Peel. I believe she said this had 2% Lactic Acid and Hyaluronic acid. So really it is a super hydrating peel to gently encourage cell turnover.
This is a mild clinical-grade peel that gently exfoliates and decongests pores while hydrating skin. I believe she said this had 2% Lactic Acid and Hyaluronic acid. Lactic acid is great because it also has hydrating properties, and at 2% concentration it should help to give smooth, soft skin (to learn more about Lactic acid, here is an infographic I made). It can also help increase glycosaminoglycans which, like Hyaluronic acid, maintain and support collagen and elastin (which give your skin the bounce and firmness we need to reduce appearance of wrinkles). So this peel should help to really hydrate the skin so that dead skin cells can more easily slough off on their own and it can plump up the skin by making sure it is super hydrated.
Finally, Laura did some extractions. To be honest, as weird as this may sound, I was so excited for this. Primarily because I have had the most stubborn milia on my forehead for months. Those are those tiny, pearly-white hard bumps that are made up of trapped karatin. They are harmless but annoying! Some milia goes away on its own but it can take weeks or months. I have been trying to take care of them with infrequent exfoliation and retinol, but they were stubborn little buggers. Good news is that Laura was able to make tiny incisions and extract the trapped keratin. I truly can’t tell you how happy I am to have that cluster of milia on my forehead gone!
This was a facial, so I wasn’t expecting to get one of the best massages EVER. Laura explained to me that her specialty is lymphatic drainage massage. I’m no expert in this, but the gist is that the lymphatic system consists of various sizes of lymph vessels and nodes, and it carries lymphatic fluid all over the body. This massage technique helps to move and cleanse lymphatic fluid and can reduce swelling in the eye and neck area, as well as the rest of the face.
Heaven. It. Felt. Like. Heaven.
Well, that’s not entirely accurate. It felt like a masseuse with 4 hands was massaging my face in heaven. With my eyes, closed I truly thought that she had an extra set of hands because I couldn’t understand how she was doing what I was feeling on my skin.
She used light/moderate pressure and these long, fluid, rhythmic strokes to increase the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid all over my face, down my shoulders and arms and feet. I kept thinking that I never wanted the massage to end and I also wanted to tell all of my friends and family they HAD to have this facial. Thankfully it went on for quite a while and when she was done I felt like a new woman.
To finish off the facial, Laura applied the VivierSkin CE Peptides serum and some other products on my skin. She also used some sort of micro-current device under my eyes but I was too relaxed to think to ask what it was.
How my skin looked right after
My skin felt so so plump. My skin felt firm and bouncy but not tight. Glowy and not greasy. I can say with 100% certainty that these were results that I have never achieved at home (and for what it’s worth, it was better than I had ever had from previous facials).
Ok so in terms of redness… on a normal person I don’t think you would have any redness from those extractions because she did them so expertly. However, I am an Irish redhead and if a strong breeze hits my face it turns red for like 5 min. So, needless to say, I did have some redness in the areas with extractions. Laura did apply the Revision Intellishade tinted SPF at the end of my facial which helped reduce some redness but I did wish I had gone to the bathroom and added some concealer before getting my hair done. But really, even when I have a full face of makeup I always feel like I look like a gremlin in hair salon mirrors.
How long did the facial last?
I think we went back to the facial room at 2:15pm and when I got dressed and looked at my watch it was two hours later.
How my skin looked in the days that followed
I had the facial on Friday, and on Monday I did have some peeling and dryness around my forehead and chin. But that went away after a few days and my skin was so smooth and even toned.
Ok in a perfect world we would all treat ourselves to facials every 4 weeks, right? But they cost money, so let’s talk costs. Mine was gifted but I am already setting aside a budget so that I can do this again, so I am not going to pretend like facials are cheap. But in the end, do I think this is worth it? Absolutely. I think that it is something that is worth setting aside money for, or skipping an impulse online purchase for.
Ok, on to the nitty gritty. The facial that I had was called the “Epic Facial” and it starts at $200 depending on who does it. The Epic Facial with Laura costs $243. But the parts of what I got could be broken up.
Part 1: Vitamin C Facial — Starting at $100 ($132 with Laura)
Part 2: Dermaplaning — Starting at $50 ($61 with Laura)
Part 3: Sensitive Skin Solution Peel — $50
Laura made a great suggestion that I am going to do. She said that a smart idea is to rotate between just getting the dermaplaning + peel (either $100 or $111 based on who you see) and then doing the full Epic facial or Vitamin C facial every other time.
Note: If you just do the dermaplaning and peel, there’s no massage. The heavenly massage is only with facials. (But you could just opt for the Vitamin C facial with no peel and dermaplaning if you wanted to make it more affordable).
Also, she said if I ever had any bad milia and I wanted to just come in for extractions I could. Extractions are INCLUDED in facials. But if you just have some congestion or stubborn milia that you want an expert to extract for you, you can book for just the extractions, which is $20 (and money well spent in my opinion).
Final note: Something that I valued when I was teen getting regular facials for my acne, was the relationship that you form with the esthetician. They come to really know your skin and offer great advice. For example, Laura told me that I had some surface dehydration and we talked about ways to tweak my current routines to address that.
I also really like that Laura didn’t turn the facial into a sales pitch for products. During one of my last facials I was given a sheet at the end of the facial saying which products I should buy that day, and it irked me because (A) I was never asked if I already had similar products at home and (B) it made me feel embarrassed and cheap when I declined buying the products. So anyways, I was very glad that that wasn’t the experience I had with Laura.
All in all it was a truly Epic Facial and I loved every minute of it.
Other treatments available at LivSkin Med Spa
They also offer some other treatments that I am very interested in exploring. You can read more about them here: https://livskinmedspa.com/pages/laser-treatments
But the main one I have my eye on is BroadBand Light Therapy (BBL) — called “Forever Young BBL” . It is a preventative regime that targets signs of aging and sun damage. It uses a device that uses infrared invisible light technology at various wavelengths to target pigmentation (such as freckles, age spots), rosacea, fine lines, acne and broken capillaries. I would love to see if this could get rid of some persistent redness on my cheeks and some veins around my nostrils.
Merite House of Beauty
Before closing out this long blog post, I also wanted to talk about the great blow out that I had at their sister company, Merite House of Beauty. It is connected to LivSkin, so you can easily have a facial and then get your hair done and live your best life.
The salon is huge and inviting and I was told that the stylists all specialize in something. So I saw Ashley, who does cuts, blow outs and extensions. If I were to want to have my hair colored, I would see someone else. I like this because it means people really get to find their niche and hone their craft.
Ashley not only styled my hair in these amazing waves, but she actually taught me how to do it!
I saved a video of me trying to recreate her approach of “horizontal-vertical-twist-pull” on my Instagram page under hair highlights if you want to check it out.
A wash and style from Ashley would cost $57.
All in all I had a wonderful experience and I look forward to visiting LivSkin and Merite House of Beauty again.