BEA Wander

The Best Facial in Chiang Mai: My Skin’s Journey

23 min read

After arriving in Asia, my skin was all over the place.

I’m not sure if it’s the humidity, the excessive sun and heat, or the dirty water I’m using to clean my face.

I just know my skin is getting worse and I need to do something about it. 

It just so happens that what I need to do is also my favourite thing in the world – besides getting beat up by an awesome Thai massage!

It’s time to get FACIALS! 

What I Look For in a Facial

As someone who’s gotten facials every month in the last 6 years of her life, I think I know the difference between a good place and a GREAT place.

I researched a few places in town online and booked a service with them.

I didn’t go to too many because a) this is my FACE that I’m experimenting on, and b) when I find a good place, I stick to it. Just like with a good masseuse, there’s really no need to keep trying new places.

Every place I went to, I ran through my mental checklist:

  • Do they do extractions? If so, how?
    • This is my #1 requirement for a facial. Without extractions, it’s pointless for me. I have excess sebum, a normal scrub or a peel-off masque can’t take care of that. 
    • I like the manual way, but nowadays there is this little vacuum machine they use to suck all the nasties from your skin – I call that cheating…
  • Do they do facial massage?
    • This is my FAVOURITE – I’ld pay extra for this. It relaxes me and puts me to sleep.
    • It also has a slimming effect, giving you that oh-so-coveted V-shape. It’s only temporarily, but better than nothing!
  • What’s the quality of the products they use?
    • Is it filled with chemicals, or made with natural ingredients? I have sensitive skin, so I can feel the difference right away. 
    • Typically, the hierarchy is Euporean > Japanese/Korean > North American > Everywhere Else
    • Knowing that I’m in Thailand, I lowered my expectations on this one
  • How’s the skill level of the esthetician?
    • If you’ve been to as many facials as me, you can just tell if they know what they’re doing in the first 5 minutes, especially when they start to wash your face.
    • Since I was in a different country, I had to assess their English language a bit too. 

Anywho, this was my experience. Hope it helps you find your best facial in town 🙂 

Candy's Cosmetics


Candy’s Cosmetics came up a LOT when I was doing my research online, especially in the FB groups.

So, of course, I had to give it a try!

Booking with them online (I used their FB Page/Messenger) was a breeze.

TIP: Our Grab driver got confused because Google Maps didn’t pin it correctly…It has “Candy Cos” written on the outside.

We were definitely upsold!

But we didn’t mind. Went in for the deep cleaning facial – only 599 baht ($24 CAD) – but ended up paying 1150 baht each ($46 CAD). We opted for the December promotion and added a cleaning package to it.

This price point is considered high-end in Chiang Mai, which is still acceptable by North American standards.

If you want to ‘boug’ it out, this is the place!

The decor and ambiance was SPECTACULAR! I was blown away – it was SO luxurious.

It was nice to be in a place like this for a change of pace.

If it matters, they sell their own line of skincare – from cleanser, moisturizer, serum, sunscreen and more.

We changed out of our shoes and into their slippers but kept our clothes on.

I’m used to changing into spa clothes when I get a facial back home, but I’ve noticed that that’s not really a thing in Chiang Mai. Which is just fine – less of a hassle!

5-Step Facial

  • Cleanse & Scrub

My girl was pretty good!

Very gentle with my skin, even when just washing it with the sponges. Very skillful and considerate.

I liked her attention to detail – excellent customer service.

  • Vaccum

Then, she put some cream on me and started to vacuum my face.


She used a machine to suck the crap out of every inch of my face.

I even asked her to look at specific areas on my face – she put more cream on and went over those parts again.

I read online that they would show you what they sucked out, but my girl didn’t.


I don’t want to know how gross I am. haha!

I think this is the modern way of doing extractions. The receptionist told me that if I wanted them to do it by hand I can ask, but I didn’t.

When she was done, she put a warm towel on my face to clean up the rest of the cream.

  • Coconut Cream Facial Massage

This is when I fell asleep.

I LOVE facial massages – it just knocks me out. I don’t know why, maybe I’m just weird.

My friend K, on the other hand, fell asleep right after he laid down. Even heard him snore like a baby. haha!

Again, this is where she showed just how skillful she is. It was amazing!

She used a cleanser (or was it just water?) to take off the coconut cream, then a cold towel on my face to remove the rest.

  • Oxygen Spray

This scared the shit out of me!

I did it one time back home years ago and I almost had to stop.

Basically, it’s a machine that blows more oxygen into your skin cells for rejuvenation.

If I knew that “oxygen spray” meant using this machine, I wouldn’t have gone with this particular facial.

To me, it just feels like I’m being thrown from an airplane without a parachute and the wind is hitting me in the face.

I almost couldn’t breathe…I mean, it’s kind of a fear. 

Because I’ve done this before, I figured out what was happening when they turned on the LOUD machine.

So, with little preparation, I braced myself. 

All I could do is just hold my breath and think happy thoughts.

Good thing it was only 10 minutes (felt like a lifetime though!)

  • Face Mask

She put a face masque on me afterward for about 15-20 minutes.

During this time, I was given a lovely head massage 🙂

Then she cleaned me up, put on toner, serum and moisturizer.

Treatment – complete! 

They had a little makeup room for us to fix ourselves up.

I noticed that not all of my eye makeup was taken off from the facial… strange – shouldn’t it have removed everything? Oh well!

We were served hard jelly candy and some delicious Gael Fruit hot tea.

It tasted like juice!

I asked her for another cup and she boiled me a pot *impressed*


My skin was super smooth – like a baby’s bottom – BUT a bit red.

Maybe because I’m not used to the vacuuming or their products?

There was also a time during the facial where the area around my lip was getting itchy.

It felt like my eczema was coming back.

I get it sometimes when there’s excessive heat/sweating, or just under a lot of stress. Maybe I was just sensitive to their products…unsure what the culprit was.

Unfortunately, my skin broke out over the next few days.

I’ve also been told that that’s natural – your skin is adjusting.

But I think it was the vacuum…so I just won’t be getting that again.

Would I Go Back?

I would but I haven’t yet.

Only because a) it’s far away from me, and b) it’s just a tad pricier than the other places I visited.

Next time, I’d ask them to do manual extraction instead of using the vacuum and will remember to wear a T-shirt or long-sleeve top (instead of sleeveless).


Because the bare skin on my back was sticking to the spa bed the entire time – not the most pleasant experience, but that’s my own fault. 

If I were in the mood for a bit of bougie-ness, I’d definitely come back here. 

Dee Dee Beauty


Rebranded from Reface Spa, Dee Dee Beauty is in Santitham.

It’s exactly an 8-minute walk away from my place. I hit the jackpot! 

Way less fancy than Candy’s, this is a very basic but CLEAN place. As you can see, you don’t get your own room – all facial treatments are done in the open.

Because prices are affordable, you can expect less of an ambiance. I’m all for RESULTS anyway, so it doesn’t matter to me.

They were quick to respond to my FB message enquires, even sent me their price list right away. 

There are 2 estheticians – Dee Dee and Ging. I had them both and prefer Ging.

You can’t miss her, she’s the one with short blonde hair and her English is better. Currently, Ging only works on the weekend.

Recently, they hired an apprentice so she’ll do the not-so-important stuff, like washing your face or putting a seaweed masque on you. 

Honestly, you won’t be able to tell it’s her because your eyes are closed most of the time.

I only knew because she took my masque off, put moisturizer and sat my recliner up to tell me the treatment is done. 

I don’t mind to be practiced on though, especially for the small things – we all got to start somewhere.

I mean, I hair-modeled for students stylists for years, and got everything from cuts, dyes, and updos for free.

Living that guinea pig life! 

So what did a 450 baht ($18 CAD) facial look like? 

Update: They rejigged their menu so there are less choices now (that’s a good thing  – there were way too many before!) and the facial I get is now 490 baht (almost $20).

Not too huge of a difference but still…it’s more pricey than a massage! 

4-Step Facial

  • Cleanse

A very normal washing of your face. Nothing to go on about here.

  • Extraction

Because of my experience at Candy’s, I now always ask to get manual extractions rather than the vacuum.

Note that manual extraction hurts like a b****.

Almost every time, you’d see a few tears come down my face. But you know what they say – beauty is pain.

Also, it’s exactly what I need to remove the excess sebum from underneath the skin.

I feel pretty flipping clean afterward. Baby-smooth skin, no more black or whiteheads, and less excess sebum.

Ging even showed me how nasty I am.

My Only Wish: I’d appreciate it if they put something to cover my eyes while a strong light is in my face.

I do have some light sensitivity but most of the facial places I’ve been to have done that for me without being asked.

  • Facial Massage

My favourite part – after the pain comes the pleasure.

I usually fall asleep. Just something about someone touching my face relaxes me.

Did you know that facial massage can help you look younger?

Basically, you are moving the muscles around and tightening the skin at the same time.

This can temporarily remove water bloating, smooth wrinkles and ultimately give you that oh-so-coveted V-shape jawline.

I’ve actually been shown the difference when they just did one side of my face.

I was so surprised!

It was a slight difference, but enough for me to notice.  Also, not trying to go for a plastic surgery look here.

It only lasts for a few hours, then, like Cinderella, it reverts back to its original state.

Better than nothing right?

You can actually do self-facial massage every day!

It’s probably one of those ancient Asian beauty secrets…I mean, why do you think we age so gracefully?!

  • Masque

The masque is alright – I’ve had higher quality ones.

I’ve thought about getting a facial without a face masque, but then it just wouldn’t feel right.

It’s too bad that the masque doesn’t really do anything to sooth the redness.

My Wish: I’d love to see ALL spas do is put some lip balm or – better yet – a lip mask on my dry-ass lips during the treatment.

It’s a small gesture and I’d super appreciate it!


Tea or cookies for you? Nope, it’s basic, remember?  

My face is always really red afterward because of the manual extractions and their masque doesn’t really have any calming effect.

So I always try to book them at night, when I know I’ll just be going home after and can let the inflammation die down overnight.

I also don’t particularly like the moisturizer they use on me – it’s just not super high quality, but whatever.

Can’t complain that much knowing that it’s only $20, can I?

But the RESULTS can’t be argued with. You physically see the gunk they remove from your face.

Your skin feels less bumpy, more smooth and psychologically you just feel cleaner!

TIP: Don’t go too frequently. You won’t see that much of a difference and it just won’t be worth the money. Every 2-3 weeks is a good schedule to follow.

Would I Go back?

Hmm, let’s see. It’s close by. They open all day. It’s affordable. I get the results I want.

Yeah, I’ve been back every 2 weeks since I found them. This is why I’m broke!

TIP: Gentlemen, don’t be shy. You need a cleaning once in a while too – especially during burning season where all the gunk seeps into your pores.

I took 3 of my guy friends there and they loved it!

Oct 2019 Update:

Ging no longer works there (boo!) but Dee Dee still does a fantastic job, and they have 2 new workers. Koi – the one that helped me last time – Ging was training her. 

Koi was good – I’m sorry I doubted her abilities, being new to the store and all. I was blown away with the level of care and detail that both Dee Dee and Koi showed. 

I had just got my eyelash lift done and asked that no water be used on/near my eyes and they were so cautious about it. Also, while they were doing extractions, I thought to ask them to look at certain parts more closely, but I didn’t have to! 

Definitely coming back again and again! 

Ratika Skin Clinic


Very professional and clean. There’s only one doctor and she speaks fluent English. There’s a handful of staff – their English is not that great, but it’s enough to communicate.

We didn’t go for facials.

I could be wrong but I didn’t think they were that kind of a place. If they did offer it, it’d probably be much pricier than Dee Dee’s anyway.

We went to Ratika for a variety of different treatments.


Mole Removal

I had two I wanted gone for the longest time and Ken also had two too.

It was only 200 baht ($8 CAD), so why not!?

Both of mine only took about 10-20 seconds each because they were flat. For raised moles, it’s a different procedure and would involve some sort of local anesthesia.

First, they numb the area with an ice pack – it honestly didn’t physically help that much, but maybe it psychologically did.

Then, they use a pen-like tool that’s attached to a machine on your skin.

Essentially, this pen burns your mole off. When your skin scabs and flakes off, there should no more beauty mark.

The doctor said that it could come back in 2 years’ time if you don’t take care of it properly by protecting it from the sun.

Literally, just put a blob of sunblock on there or cover it with clothing.

She did tell me it would hurt. And, it did, but it was tolerable.

Oh, what we do for beauty!

She said we were strong because other clients had screamed or cried before. Ouch!

You’ll definitely smell your skin burning. Don’t be too grossed out, it is YOUR own skin after all.

For aftercare, they said to a) protect it from the sun, and b) keep the skin moist – use coconut or Vitamin E oil on the area twice a day until the scab falls off.

Update: After my skin healed, there was still a faint mark, so I got a second treatment…for FREE!


We tried their microdermabrasion treatment. They said that it’s a good idea to do it once a month.

I did it twice – they had a special that month for 300 baht ($12 CAD).

I’ve done this before back home so I knew what to expect. My skin definitely felt smoother afterward for about a day or two.

Tash said it felt like a cat’s tongue licking your face.

I have no idea where she got that from. Haha!

It felt more like a little suction cup all over your face. It’s supposed to suck all the dirt, dead skin cells and debris that you can’t remove with just washing your face.

It didn’t hurt at all and was kind of relaxing.

I wouldn’t say that I noticed too much of a difference, so I didn’t try another time.

They said it’s a great procedure to have before a Phonophoresis treatment.

Phonophoresis “Facial”

This is the one treatment I got that resembled an actual facial the most. It cost 800 baht ($32 CAD or $8 each time – CHEAP!) for a package of 4, I think I bought it twice.

A clear mixture made of aloe gel and some other nutrient-rich ingredients are put on your face

Then, they use this ultrasound tool that further penetrates the gel into your skin.

Like a facial massage, I fall asleep every time!

She actually does massage it into my face with her hands after the timer on the machine goes off.

I went every week for a month – it was my guilty pleasure!

I still have two sessions. Good thing it never expires, so next time I’m in town I can use it up.

They told me that I should see a difference after 2 sessions, but I didn’t…not sure why.

I saw that doctor a few times and asked about it.

She suspects that it’s internal causes – not drinking enough water, or not having enough good oils in my body.

I even went to buy Omega 3 fish oil supplements – no visible difference!

Maybe if I didn’t do this at all, my skin would be worse!


IPL Hair Removal

I went for a package of 4 sessions for 2200 baht ($88 CAD). That’s 550 baht ($22 CAD) each time – not bad!

They use Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) for hair removal.

This is NOT laser hair removal.

I’ve never had this before, so it was a new experience for me. I’m used to actual laser, where there is heat and it kind of hurts, but it’s effective!

Keeping in mind that we’re in Thailand…I wasn’t given a pair of sunglasses and was just told to shut my eyes.

So I asked if I could wear my own pair of shades instead.

I also wasn’t sure if the schedule followed the hair growth cycle. For those who had laser hair removal before, you know what I mean!

They just let me book it whenever I wanted, so I went every 3 weeks. This way I’d use up the package while I was still in town.

I can’t really say that it was super effective, though I do see some reduction in growth. But I still see hair *sad face*

How they explained it to me was laser hair removal will reduce hair growth by 50% each time, whereas IPL only has a 20% reduction rate each session.

Would I Go Back?

Yes, I’ve been going every week since I found them. And will need to come back to use up my last two phono sessions.

They’re clean, professional, affordable and friendly!

Ratika also makes their own line of skin care products. I bought a Milk Cleanser, Vitamin E Serum, Sunblock and Aloe Gel Moisturizer. None of them were more than 360 baht ($15 CAD)!

Oct 2019 Update:

Still very good, though I didn’t see my usual girl there anymore. I really like they sell skincare product brands that I can trust. I got these 3 items for…i think it was around 350 baht altogether.

Ratika Skincare Products

Other Services I want to Try


I loved what Nancy, a Philbrow Royal Artist, from Grand Arc Studio back in Vancouver did for me!

But since I’ve been traveling and enjoying the Thailand sun, mine’s faded a bit 🙁

A friend of mine went to get her brows microbladed at Cute Arts Eyebrow, and it turned out really good! So I’m considering going there too.

I do wonder about correct colour matching since they’d be patching me up instead of doing fresh brows. I’ll find out!



Before I went to Nancy, I had a HORRIBLE experience with microblading.

The lady I went to sketched it on exactly how we discussed, but when it came time to put on the pigment, she overplucked my brows.

Even though I piped up and said that I feel I’m losing too much hair, she reassured me and said she’s only plucking outside of the outline.

I trusted her, she was the professional after all. I also had to close my eyes the entire time.

It came out HIDEOUS – it was so thin and not EVEN. I wanted natural and bold brows, and I got the complete opposite.

I wanted to CRY – I was so sad, frustrated, embarrassed.

My self-esteem plummeted for weeks afterward. I had to powder them in until they grew out.

Six months later – they still weren’t back to normal!

I never knew that my self-confidence was so tied to my physical appearance.

Lessons Learned:

A) If it has ANYTHING to do with your face, you better double and triple check everything with the service provider before you go through with it.

B) Just because it’s done in North America, doesn’t guarantee quality…

Teeth Whitening

I’ve just always wanted my teeth whitened.

A lot of people said that I don’t need to because it’s white enough already, but I want Ross-level white!

Actually, my dentist told me that I wouldn’t see much of a difference with take-home kits because I don’t have stains – I don’t drink coffee, red wine, tea or smoke.

In any case, as I was doing my research to see which dentist to go to for just a regular dental check-up, I also looked at the pricing for in-clinic whitening!

I was disappointed – the average price is 8000 baht ($320 CAD) – WTF?! I can get it cheaper back at home, so why would I do it in Thailand?!

That’s too bad…maybe one day when I have frivolous money to spend while traveling aboard.

I’ll definitely do more research into this the next time I’m in Thailand though.

And, that’s a wrap!

I’m curious – have you been to these places before? What did you think?

Do you have any recommendations for me?

10 thoughts on “The Best Facial in Chiang Mai: My Skin’s Journey”

  1. So so so helpful! I’ve been scouring FB for facial recommendations but it’s hard to come by good reviews. I googled “facials in Chiang Mai” and was led to your site! Thanks a bunch! So of all the ones you recommended, which would you say is the best? I’m used to the regular cleansing, steam, facial extraction, massage, diamond peel/light therapy (one or the other) then mask routine. But I’m happy to try whichever you think was the best for you!

    • Hey Rebecca! I’m so glad that you found my post helpful 🙂

      I would definitely go back to Dee Dee Beauty! They have all the steps you mentioned except for the diamond peel/light therapy. It’s super affordable and Ging does a GREAT job. Just tell her what you prefer and she’ll try her best to accommodate your wishes.

      For more advanced treatments like a diamond peel, light therapy, or microdermabrasion, I’d go to Ratika clinic 🙂 They have a doctor on-site for consultation and to supervise. Tell them Bea sent you!

    • Nope, that’ll be my next assignment when I’m back in Chiang Mai this Fall 🙂

      Why don’t you get a head start and let me know which ones to go to when I’m in town?

  2. Thank you so much for your recommendations!
    With the weather here in Chiang Mai, I’ve been needing a good facial, definitely making an appointment this week 🙂

  3. Hello Bea! My name is Alba!
    I’m so happy I found your website ?
    I’m actually in Chiang Mai, looking for the best facial treatment for my skin.
    I suffered from big pimples/acne? specially since travelling around Asia.
    I’m looking for a facial treatment where they spend enough time to do manual extraction as my pimples are getting bigger and spreading all over my face right now, with natural products.
    I’ve never tried any treatment with a machine to help my skin.
    In your experience, to get good quality for a good price, which place do you recommend me to treat my skin?
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience ?

    • Hey Alba – so happy that you found my post helpful!

      Full disclaimer: I’m not a dermatologist, and since I can’t see your skin, I probably shouldn’t be giving any advice 🙂

      But I will say this: Have you notice what trigger flare-ups? It could be a combination of hormones, humidity, stress, food, allergies, skin care products and anything else! I’m someone that believes in holistic healing, so perhaps a trip to an acupuncturist who also understand herbs will help too. (Sorry, no recommendations there since I haven’t to one in Chiang Mai yet!)

      Definitely pay a visit to Ratika Clinic and ask for the dermatologist on staff for her professional opinion. (It’s not too expensive there and from what I remember a consultation is complimentary.) If it’s quite a serious skin condition, I do think laser/machine treatment would help better than manual extractions.

      Just my 2 cents. Let me know how it goes!

  4. This post is amazing! I’ll be in Chiang Mai for a few days in October from HK and I haven’t found an aesthetician here like my beloved one in the States. I can’t wait to try one of these!

    • Amazing!!! Hope you have a great time in CM – I do every time I’m back in town.

      Will be trying out a few other places, so stay tuned for updates!


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