Find the best spa treatment for your skin type

Feb 27, 2012 at 8:00 a.m. ET

Going to the spa is a fabulous indulgence, especially during the dreary winter months, but knowing exactly what type of treatment to go for can be tricky.

Woman getting mud mask at spa

If you're craving a complexion boost, we have some tips on how to figure out what kind of facial is best for your skin type.

Dry skin

A dry skin type needs many different treatments and can be tricky to deal with. It lacks natural lipids or oils making it prone to dehydration, especially in the winter. Because of this lack of water, the skin's natural exfoliating cycle slows down.

Facials that include gentle exfoliation (with enzymes) are a great way to take your skin from flaky to fabulous. Dry skin also needs both oil and water to balance it out, so look for facials that include masks that will help products to penetrate the skin.

One example is a mask that will harden slightly or rubberize. It may sound a little strange, but any product you put under this type of mask (a serum for instance) will be pushed into the skin as the mask hardens, leaving your skin feeling hydrated and refreshed.

Oily skin

An oily skin type produces more oil than it needs. This oil is a magnet for debris such as skin cells, makeup and pollution, which can then cause congestion inside the pores. Over time, the congestion becomes hardened, just like plaque on your teeth.

To combat complexion congestion, look for facials that include a chemical exfoliant (glycolic acid or salicylic acid). This will penetrate into the pores and melt the congestion. Oily skin also needs extractions to remove any hardened debris within the pores (so long, blackheads!), but don't try this at home. Extractions are something your esthetician is trained to do safely as part of your facial.

Combination skin

A combination skin type has both oily and dry areas, so these areas need to be treated separately. Look for a spa facial treatment that offers enzyme, chemical or even microdermabrasion exfoliants, which work very well to boost your glow and create a more balanced complexion. Extractions are also needed (usually in the T-zone) to remove congestion, and a professional treatment mask should be added to replenish lost water and soothe the skin.

Mature skin

A mature skin type can be challenging. It can be many things -- oily/acne prone, dry/dehydrated or a multitude of skin type combinations. Mature skin also slows down (cell production, circulation), so there are many issues to address. Your esthetician will first treat the type of skin (oily, dry, combination, normal). Then she will have to focus on the aforementioned slowing process. Look for treatments said to increase circulation and saturate the skin with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals for healthier, younger looking skin.

More skin care tips

Pretty Little Things: Serious skin savers
A new way to cleanse your face
The ultimate dry skin survival guide