Facial leaves woman’s face ‘on fire,’ a reminder to speak up during treatments

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Heather Muir thought she was going to get a rejuvenating skincare treatment. Instead, she left with severe damage to her face and neck.

Muir says she had a feeling something was wrong during the facial, but her concerns were dismissed.

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“Numerous times throughout this facial, I felt uncomfortable, which I verbally expressed as burning, stinging, and on fire,” says Muir, who shared the damage in a series of photos on Instagram.

“I was told I must be sensitive and even asked if I had a pacemaker (I do not). When I went to the bathroom to change, I saw my skin — red, raw, and with a beating sensation — I knew something was wrong.”

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Muir is the beauty director at Real Simple and Health magazines, so she often receives invitations to try new products and procedures.

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PSA: Two weeks ago, I accepted a publicist’s invitation to try a “red carpet” facial from a “board certified master esthetician.” Like I’ve done many times, I jumped at the chance to experience a fancy (free) facial, after confirming there would be no downtime, as I was filming hours later. This time, however, the result was different. Instead of leaving with glowy skin, I left with a hard lesson learned. Please know, I’m not posting this to get revenge or to put anyone “on blast” but to share what I took away from this scary experience. I wouldn’t be doing my journalistic duty to only cover the good stuff. I trust people (strangers) with my hair, my skin, my body, thinking that because of my job, I’d only receive the best. Numerous times throughout this facial, I felt uncomfortable, which I verbally expressed as burning, stinging, and on fire. I was told I must be sensitive and even asked if I had a pacemaker (I do not). When I went to the bathroom to change, I saw my skin—red, raw, and with a beating sensation—I knew something was wrong. I was told “well, that’s what I was supposed to promote,” and to drink lots of water and moisturize with the oil capsules I had been given. So many emotions followed and everyone had an opinion on how to handle, but after reflecting, here is what I want to pass on: 1.) Go with your gut. When something doesn’t feel right; leave. Simply remove yourself from the situation no matter how awkward it feels in the moment. I wish I had. 2.) Skin heals—fast! Along with my incredible derm (who prescribed a miracle-working wound cream; ➡️ to see slide 10), my skin is looking and feeling *almost* back to itself. 3.) Be grateful. A day after the facial, I had a shoot. I’m not the type to cancel (regardless of looking like I was attacked by a wild cat, woof). Without any mirrors and a job I love, I had a fun day and came home telling Dave I was so grateful for my normal skin with all of its imperfections, knowing that this would pass. To my husband, fam, friends, coworkers (who had an aloe leaf waiting), video crew who had to reschedule, and bosses, thank you for helping me and letting me handle this my own way; in my own time.♥️

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In an interview with Today, Muir said she thought her treatment had three parts: microdermabrasion, an acidic peel and a microcurrent.

The aesthetician told her the symptoms would subside if she drank lots of water and moisturized her skin with the oil capsules provided by the company.

Muir, sensing that she needed more help, immediately made an appointment with her dermatologist.

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Her instinct was right — her doctor suspected she may have suffered chemical burns, and she was treated accordingly.

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“What I regret doing is not leaving the facial,” Muir says in the interview. “I just wish I would have said to her, ‘Thank you so much for your time, but I just want to leave at this moment,’ and gotten dressed and left. Because I just knew — something in my gut was telling me this doesn’t feel right.”

For Dr. Julia Carroll, a Toronto-based dermatologist, research is the key to knowing if a treatment is right for you.

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Prior to your appointment, find the credentials of the person who will be performing your facial, says Carroll. Ideally, they are a board-certified dermatologist themselves, or they’re associated with one.

This is especially the case if there’s a peel or laser component to it, Carroll says.

“Know your own self. Know what you’ve reacted to in the past. Know if you have any allergies or sensitivities,” explains Carroll.

“If something is uncomfortable, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad. Some of the procedures we do – for example, a chemical peel – can produce stinging and burning, but it’s important to share that with the person performing the procedure and to see if that’s normal for that procedure.”

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Ideally, the person performing your treatment should set expectations for what will happen to your skin during the hours and days following the procedure.

“Whatever kind of discomfort you’re facing, if it’s expected for the procedure, it probably should peak the night after and then you should get better from there,” says Carroll.

“I’m generalizing, but if you have symptoms like itching, stinging and burning that are getting worse as each day goes by, then I think that’s a sign that you should seek medical help from a board-certified dermatologist.”

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According to Carroll, it can be tough to know what you’re going to get at your appointment because the word “facial” is used to describe many different kinds of treatments.

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“There are as many types of facials out there as there are cars on the road, so it’s really hard to put them in a box and say, ‘This is safe and this is not,’” says Carroll.

“I find recently we’re seeing a corruption of the word ‘facial’ in that people are calling something a facial to make it sound light and easy when it could actually be a chemical peel,” Carroll says. “If something sounds too good to be true, it likely is.”

“If someone is promising you the moon, and if you just have to go through this one procedure, it’s probably not legitimate. They’re setting unrealistic expectations for what procedures can do for you and what the outcome is going to be.”

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