Facials are one of the most relaxing and luxurious things that you can do for yourself. Right now, many of us need to take care of ourselves and destress more than ever, but it's not possible to book an appointment with your favorite esthetician for a professional facial. Luckily, it's still possible to give yourself a spa-quality facial at home.
"To call something an at-home facial in my mind means I'm going to do something deeper than my daily routine," says Olga Lorencin, celebrity esthetician and founder of Olga Lorencin Skincare. "You can do it once a week at home," says Ling Chan, founder of Ling Skincare and Spa, who adds that now is the perfect time to try to recreate your favorite facials. Even though we now have ample time at home, a facial should still be considered a treat, not a daily occurrence.
We spoke to experts and gathered product picks from Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab for at-home facial tips that go above and beyond your normal skincare routine:
1. Create a relaxing atmosphere.
If you can't actually go to the spa, you can bring the spa to you by creating some relaxing ambience at home. This may seem like a small step, but erasing as much stress as possible to unwind will make your facial that much better.
Lorencin recommends taking a bath with epsom salt. If you're not in the mood for a full-body dip, you can soak your feet for the same de-stressing feeling. "It's very healthy for all those pressure points in the foot and it's very relaxing," says Chan.
For optimal relaxation, both Chan and Lorencin recommend adding a few drops of lavender essential oil (but you can use any essential oil that feels right to you). Be sure to light a few of your favorite candles and put on a relaxing playlist of your choice.
2. Cleanse your skin well.
Before you do anything else to your face, you need to start with a clean canvas. Any makeup or product left on your skin will result in a less effective facial. To make sure your skin is as clean as possible before you start the facial process, give double cleansing a try.
"Cleanse with an oil-based cleanser first, but the second cleanse should be more of a de-greasing kind of cleanser," says Lorencin. The oil-based cleanser will remove makeup, products, and sebum, while a water-based cleanser will clear your skin of any grime like dirt or sweat, leaving you with squeaky-clean skin ready for next steps.
3. Steam your skin.
If you're a facial enthusiast, you know that most facials will include some kind of steaming process. Steaming your face helps open up your pores and soften the top layer of your skin to prime it for exfoliation, explains Chan.
If you want to steam your face at home, take extra care not to over-steam your skin, as this can lead to dryness. According to Ling, there are two ways that you can (safely!) try steaming your face. You can either hover your face over a bowl of hot water and cover your head with a towel to trap the steam in, or soak a towel in hot water and put it over your face, making sure the water isn't hot enough to burn you.
4. Exfoliate to smooth and brighten.
Any good at-home facial (or facial in general, for that matter) involves exfoliation to slough off dead skin cells and reveal radiant skin. Both Chan and Lorencin recommend using an enzyme or chemical exfoliator instead of a physical exfoliator (like a scrub). Scrubs "leave little micro-tears on the face. Micro-tears are little tiny scratches," which can get irritated and lead to breakouts.
Exfoliating with a peel, however, creates a perfect canvas for the rest of your at-home facial. Chan explains that exfoliation helps open your pores and smooth your skin's texture. She recommends massaging a chemical or enzyme exfoliator into your skin, focusing on problem areas like your T-zone that may be oilier or have clogged pores.
5. Massage in a mask.
A facial wouldn't feel right without some kind of face mask. You can pick whatever mask you want to use based on your skin's needs, but Chan recommends looking for a mask with detoxifying ingredients that will help clean out your pores, since your pores will be open after exfoliating (think a clay mask or a charcoal mask).
To make your at-home experience resemble the spa, try massaging in your mask for a few minutes instead of just smoothing it on quickly. "If the mask is a little on the thicker side, wet your fingers with warm water, or if you really want to get fancy, with some warm green tea," says Lorencin. "Then massage your mask into the skin. That will greatly improve how glowing your skin looks afterward."
Leave the mask on for 15 to 20 minutes. "If possible (and these days I think it's really possible) sit in the bathtub or warm shower and just kind of let that mask steam super gently on your face," says Lorencin.
6. Moisturize skin.
One of the biggest keys to achieving a radiant glow is well-moisturized skin with a top-rated moisturizer. Once you remove the mask, lock in the hydration with your favorite serum or moisturizer. To continue making your facial feel less at-home and more in-spa, Lorencin recommends mixing a few drops of your serum into a moisturizer.
To take your moisturizing to the next level, you can use a facial massage tool like a jade roller or gua sha to help de-puff your face, among other benefits like rejuvenation, collagen promotion, and cell turnover, according to Chan. "Facial massage is actually very healthy for your facial muscle," she says. "It's like a gym for your skin."
7. Skip the extractions.
Of course, extractions can be one of the most satisfying parts of a facial. But this is one step you should leave to the pros. "I don't recommend it," says Chan. "If it's not clean, you can get an infection if you get it only halfway out." Attempting to execute your own extractions and pick at your face is never a good idea. Similarly, our experts recommend leaving microneedling to the pros to prevent scarring and infection.