Though semen can be directed at any region of the face (cheeks, forehead, lips, nose, etc.) the intention is to deposit the majority of fluid onto the surface of the face, and not into a specific orifice such as the mouth. This distinction differentiates the facial cumshot from the oral cumshot, where the intention is to discharge the majority of the semen into the mouth of the receiving partner.
The amount of semen that is ejaculated during a facial is dependent on several factors, including the male's health, age, and degree of sexual excitement, and the time since the last ejaculation. Normal quantities of ejaculate range from 1.5 to 5.0 milliliters(1 teaspoon). Seconds after being deposited onto the face, the semen thickens, then remaining visible for 15–30 minutes before liquefying again.
The adult entertainment industry has responded to consumer demand for facial oriented material by producing such video series that specialise in showing the act. Vivid Entertainment's national sales manager Howard Levine in a press release for an adult film described the movie as "It's [her] first movie ever, it's got high production value and lots of facials.
On the internet, many site specialise in offering this content to the market. Internet based content is distributed in the form of picture galleries and videos made available as downloads or streaming content. Content is distributed freely or by means of subscription based services.
Feminist critiques of the depiction of facials have been more critical. Anti-pornography activist Andrea Dworkin stated at a conference at the University of Chicago, "It is a convention of pornography that the sperm is on her, not in her. It marks the spot, what he owns and how he owns it. The ejaculation that is on her is a way of saying (through showing) that she is contaminated with his dirt; that she is dirty." Sociologists Gail Dines, Robert Jensen and Russo echo these sentiments in the book Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality it asserts "In pornography, ejaculating onto a woman is a primary method by which she is turned into a slut, something (not really someone) whose primary, if not only, purpose is to be sexual with men.
In Hard Core: Power, Pleasure and the Frenzy of the Visible, author Linda Williams concludes that facials are a fetish or a perversion. She states "The money shot is thus an obvious perversion -in the literal sense of the term, as a swerving away from more "direct" forms of genital engagement- of the tactile sexual connection." Joseph Slade, author and professor at Ohio University, wrote of her work that "Williams thinks of ejaculation as a leitmotif similar to those that punctuate musical comedy, a genre she thinks resembles the hard-core film. Although Williams' thesis tends to reduce porn films to a single heterosexual genre, Hard Core is remarkable because the author actually engages the subject instead of pontificating from distance and because she insists that feminists must learn to reevaluate sexual expression."
In her essay "Speaking Out: Teaching In" Cindy Patton simply reached the conclusion that critics have devoted too little space to discovering the meaning that viewers attach to specific acts such as cum shots.
Though its effectiveness as a facial skin cream is debatable, semen has made its way into mainstream cosmetic care products. The Norwegian based company Maritex sells processed cod sperm for use in lotions and makeup, selling several tons of sperm annually.
Use of semen in cosmetics has also been presented in popular media. The cable television drama series Nip/Tuck aired an episode during its 3rd season involving the use of semen as a cosmetic agent. Julia, Gina, and Liz go into business selling a facial skin cream that contains semen as its main ingredient. They test the product out on celebrity Joan Rivers, who is so enamored with the cream she agrees to endorse the product. Later, upon finding out the product's "secret ingredient", she threatens to sue.
Isolated from other sexual activity, that may have occurred prior to performing a facial, the risks incurred by the giving and receiving partner are drastically different. For the giving (ejaculating) partner there is almost no risk of contracting an STD. For the receiving partner, the risk is significantly higher. Since potentially infected semen could come into contact with broken skin or sensitive mucus membranes (eyes, lips, mouth), there is a risk of contracting an infectious disease.
The research paper The Adult Film Industry: Time to Regulate? co-authored by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and UCLA noted "All the more concerning, high-risk practices are on the rise. These practices include sex acts that involve simultaneous double penetration (double-anal and vaginal–anal intercourse) and repeated facial ejaculations." The authors make recommendations for eliminating the risk of performing facials by suggesting "Facial ejaculations could be simulated through the use of inert materials such as liquid antacids combined with filming techniques, which would eliminate any health risk to the performer. Industry publication AVN Magazine scoffs at such suggestions. Considering the idea of simulating facials to be ridiculous, writing "Simply put, the viewing public isn't that easily fooled – and it wants its facials.
Mild cases of semen allergy can often be overcome by repeated exposure to seminal fluid.