We’ve done the hard yards and tested as many facials in Melbourne as our (now glowing) skin can handle. Looking for those sweet additional perks? Or maybe you prefer a more clinical approach? We’ve rounded up six of the finest facials – with a range of techniques and philosophies – where you’ll actually see results.

The “make a day of it” facial: Willow Urban Retreat

Touted as a “wellness experience” rather than a day spa, the newly-opened Willow in Armadale is the kind of place you can while away an entire day, taking respite from reality.

We recommend starting your holistic journey by consulting the resident Ayurvedic specialist (who endorses a system of traditional Indian medicine including yoga, acupuncture, herbal medicine and massage). They can tailor a program incorporating massage and mindfulness classes, and help you find the right facial. The facial menu includes the Vital Hydration, Golden Glow, Rose Quartz Holistic and Advanced Antioxidant treatments.

We particularly recommend the Golden Glow, which involves a 24-karat gold-leaf treatment. It’s designed to boost collagen production in the skin and increase skin-cell renewal. (“Gold has so many benefits when it comes to skin,” says Dr Maryam Zamani, founder of MZ Skin. “Working to stimulate the production of your natural collagen levels, it can help to reduce long-term collagen loss.”)

During the Rose Quartz Holistic facial, the therapist applies constant pressure with rose-quartz rollers and gua sha massage tools (which are all the rage at the moment). Some claim the rolling motion of the cool stone against skin helps to clear toxins and decrease puffiness, particularly under the eyes.

While the global beauty industry is still on the fence as to whether these tools actually work, we can personally vouch for their effectiveness in this case.

1203 High Street, Armadale

The “clinical” facial: Rationale

Australian beauty brand Rationale (mantra: “great skin surpasses DNA”) blends science with Australian botanicals. “We sit in an interesting new space,” founder Richard Parker told Broadsheet last year. “We’re not in the organic-natural zone, but neither are we in the hardcore drug zone.”

First-timers will begin by discussing their primary concerns (and desired results) with a skin consultant. After a double cleanse, the therapist does a “touch analysis” under magnification light, then diagnostic images (taken with ultraviolet light) are used to show any problem areas hidden beneath the surface of the skin.

The therapist will then recommend the appropriate facial: options include the futuristic-sounding CryoGenic facial, the LuminousLift facial, the PhotoGenic facial (which uses LED light therapy), the EpiGenetic remodelling facial, and others.

Our favourite treatment is the custom EpiNova Photosonic Facial. It uses LED-based light therapy, a non-invasive treatment that targets the cells responsible for repairing the skin’s supportive structures, its advocates say.

You’re in good hands the moment you climb underneath the doona: the therapist never leaves the room, and you’ll get one of the best face, neck and head massages in town.

There are five Rationale clinics across Melbourne.

The “celebrity-approved” facial: Melanie Grant

With a clientele including Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian – and a recently-opened salon in Los Angeles – Mel Grant has earned fans for her “signature glow”. Stylist and blogger Nicole Warne (Gary Pepper Girl) describes Grant as the “only person I let touch my face”.

Grant opened her first salon in Sydney’s Double Bay in 2012, followed by a Melbourne outpost in Armadale in 2016.

There are many bespoke, corrective treatments to consider here, but the most popular is the cult Camera Ready Facial, which involves a deep cleanse and ultrafine diamond microdermabrasion, followed by a custom antioxidant peel, hydration infusion and massage using French techniques. Treatment rooms are minimal and mostly white, accented with fresh flowers and soft blankets on the beds.

1208 High Street, Armadale

The “for the perks” facial: Chuan Spa, The Langham

You probably wouldn’t expect to find one of our favourite facial destinations in a hotel. But Chuan Spa at The Langham in Southbank delivers on more than just a luxurious, effective facial.

If you’re looking to get bang for your buck, go for the 90-minute Babor Grand Cru facial package. Arrive early (and stress-free) with complimentary valet parking, and take some time to relax beforehand with the “tri-bathing” ritual. (Step one is a soak in the zero-edge jacuzzi overlooking Flinders Street Station; step two is the dry sauna, which loosens your tight muscles; and step three is the colour-therapy snail shower, which uses 12 jets to massage your body.)

The facial itself is 90 minutes of pure bliss – and one of the rare facial experiences that also integrates at least 30 minutes of massage, while your rejuvenating Babor ampoule concentrate (which contains hyaluronic acid and a plant-based moisturiser) and anti-wrinkle mask work their magic.

Follow your facial with a glass of sparkling wine or a collagen beverage, then explore the Langham’s lap pool and gym. It’s a staycation waiting to happen.

The Langham, Level 9/1 Southgate Avenue, Southbank

The “best for clogged pores” facial: Shine Skin and Body

If you’re as obsessed with Dr Pimple Popper as the rest of the world seems to be, then you’ll understand the value of a good blackhead extraction. Your best bet for a facial that channels the spirit of Dr Popper’s channel is the very popular extraction facial at Richmond’s Shine Skin and Body.

Your skin will be assessed and double-cleansed before your facialist commences half an hour of dedicated blackhead squeezing. Warning: it’s not comfortable, but it’s super effective. (And you’ll be cosy under a doona.) A post-extraction steam is followed by some high-frequency therapy (via a glass electrode), which is said to help heal skin and kill acne-causing bacteria. It’s an excellent all-round facial for skin maintenance.

323 Swan Street, Richmond

The “for the hard core” facial: Victorian Dermal Group

If you’re looking for long-term solutions to combat troubled skin and ageing, head to Victorian Dermal Group in Kew for a more clinical approach to skincare. The expert dermal clinicians deliver safe and non-invasive treatments using medical-grade technology such as laser therapy and clinical skin peels. Your skin assessment will include high-tech imaging to see what’s happening underneath the epidermis for a multifaceted approach to your skincare plan.

When you arrive, your dermal clinician will assess your skin concerns and suggest the best option for you – and it’s not as scary as it sounds. If you want to start light, try one of the Mesoestetic chemical-strength skin peels. You’ll likely only experience slight discomfort during the peel. The Clear and Brilliant laser treatment is an excellent all-rounder for brighter and smoother skin. How it works is the lasers penetrate deep into the upper layers of the skin, helping to repair and improve tissue.

Level 2, Suite 206 –1 Princess Street, Kew

This article first appeared on Broadsheet on August 27, 2019. Some details may have changed since publication.