What’s The Difference Between A Facial And A Clean-Up?

Clean Up or Facial? When to Choose What?

We all know we should wash our face every day, but sometimes simple soap and water don’t cut it. A deeper clean at the hands of a professional can work wonders for our complexion. But, the world of salon skin treatments can be confusing if you’re not familiar. If you’re wondering what the difference is between a facial and a clean-up, we’ve outlined them here so you can choose the one that best meets your skincare needs.


The core goals of a facial and a clean-up are the same, to cleanse the skin and clear the pores. But, they offer different services to achieve these goals. A facial is more involved with more steps whereas a clean-up is a quick in-between refresh. If you take a peek at any salon or spa service menu, you’ll see many different types of facials. Whichever facial you choose, the basic steps are the same.

Facial Steps:

Cleansing: Every facial starts with removing makeup, dirt, or oil. A washcloth or cotton pad is used to cleanse the face.

Exfoliation: Next, your face is exfoliated and dead skin cells are sloughed away. 

Steaming: To open your pores, estheticians use steam. Either a hot towel or steaming device is used to open up your pores and clear them of toxins.

Extraction: This is an important part of a facial. Sometimes, clogged pores are stubborn and need a little extra help. Using special extraction tools, your esthetician will carefully remove blackheads, pimples, and whiteheads.

Massage: Once the skin is completely clean and your pores are clear, your esthetician will massage your face. This encourages circulation and boosts lymphatic drainage.

Masking: Next, a mask specific to your skin type and issues is applied. Last, serum and moisturizer are applied.

There may be extra steps in between all these depending on the facial you select. Some facials involve LED light therapy, chemical peels, or other additions. Facials usually target specific concerns. There are facials for acne-prone skin and anti-aging facials. Every salon offers its unique facials, so you can expect different offerings depending on where you visit.


Clean-ups focus only on cleaning. There are no extra steps to target skin discoloration, fine lines, acne, or anything else. Clean-ups are less involved than facials and less specific to your skin issues, so they cost less. Clean-ups are the in-between care your skin needs to stay in tip-top shape. They can be done at home or a spa.

Clean-Up Steps:




Extraction (if needed)


A Facial And A Clean-Up

A Side-By-Side Comparison



Massage Included

No Massage

Deep cleansing, exfoliating, steam, and extraction

Deep cleansing, exfoliating, steam, and extraction

60 to 90 minutes long depending on extra steps

30 to 45 minutes long

Recommended monthly or a minimum of four times a year

Recommended every two weeks

A customized experience using specific products to address your skincare needs

Uses basic generic products

More involved and more expensive

Fewer steps and more affordable

Should be done by a professional

Can be performed at home

Which Should I Choose?

If you have a special event coming up, you may need a customized facial to get your skin ready for your big day. Plus, facials include those extra steps to pamper your skin and leave it feeling smooth, soft, and supple. Before booking a facial, make sure you inquire about the time it will take as some can take up to an hour and a half. A facial gives you the true spa experience. But, if you’ve got a busy schedule, a clean-up may better suit your needs. They’re short enough to get you in and out and on your way. Or, you can even handle your clean-ups at home.

Reveal The Beauty Within

If you want to reveal your best skin, regular facials with clean-ups in between will help keep your skin clear, bright, and smooth. Men and women both can benefit from regular facials and clean-ups. Handling clean-ups at home is an easy way to save money between facials. It’s easy enough to do clean-ups at home if you’re careful with extraction. If done incorrectly, extraction can make blemishes worse and even lead to scarring. So, if you don’t feel confident handling extraction, then see a professional.