Facial Photo 1

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Ah, the weekly facial.

Nothing feels more relaxing or more effective then taking an hour or so every Sunday and giving my skin the royal treatment.

In case you don't already know, a weekly facial does wonders for your skin. It opens your pores, removes the gunk, let treatments sink in better, and leaves your skin soft and smooth. It's a weekly reset for your face.

You could get a professional one done at a spa, but for some of us, the price range and commitment isn't feasible.

Good news: there's a way to give yourself a classy face date at home. I've outlined the steps for a mega-facial below, but I've also included three sample routines at the end for ideas of what you can do with different time allowances.

Any products mentioned in this post are cruelty-free!

steps at a glance

  • Wash face
  • Exfoliate
  • Steam Face
  • Apply Masks
  • Apply Treatments + Facial Massage
  • Moisturize


before we start

I am not a licensed dermatologist. I love skincare, and I love sharing what's worked for me. You should consult your doctor before making any major changes to your routine, although I am not suggesting anything radical or unsafe below (I've also never asked my doctor before incorporating any of this, but whatever).

You'll want your facial to be the last step of your day. This is time for your relaxation and self-care, and should help unwind you for a good night's rest. I like to incorporate my weekly facial on Sunday evenings before the week starts. 

Also make sure to supplement your facial with plenty of water. Pop a few lemon wedges into your water bottle for added benefits.

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1. wash your face

You've got to start with the basics. Cleansing your face right sets up the rest of your facial for success. Whether you wear makeup or not, double-cleansing is an excellent way to make sure you get off all the dirt and grime from the day.

An important tip: do not wash with hot water. You risk the chance of stripping and irritating the top layer of your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water to be gentle on your skin.

Double cleansing involves cleansing with a butter or oil to melt makeup and dirt, and then following with a water based cleanser to remove the rest of the residue on your skin.

I start with The Body Shop's Chamomile Cleansing Butter. It's smooth and creamy and melts makeup and dirt right off your face. It washes off without the use of a wash cloth and leaves my skin soft.

Then I follow with Dermalogica's Special Cleansing Gel. This stuff is amazing. It's the only cleanser I've used that doesn't leave that streaky, stripped feeling on my skin. It pairs great with my Clarisonic, which gently vibrates the skin to shake dirt and grime from the pores for the best clean.

If you've never used a Clarisonic, it's a great addition to add to your routine during a facial and three to four times a week during your nightly skin routine.

After you've washed, don't dry your face! It's time to exfoliate.


2. exfoliate

During my weekly facials I use both physical and chemical exfoliates. You can use both at once as long as you're careful about them. When used correctly, they can leave your skin feeling super soft and smooth, and help decrease skin issues such as hyperpigmentation, acne flare ups, and fine lines. 

Physical exfoliants include products such as face scrubs. Effective chemical exfoliants come in forms such as serums and gels and include active ingredients like salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids.

When exfoliating during face washing, it's best to use a physical exfoliant. Chemical exfoliants can also come in face washes and scrubs. However, chemical exfoliants need time to sink into the skin to be effective, much longer than the thirty seconds it'll be on your face before you wash it off.

Physical exfoliants need a very fine consistency to avoid tearing at your skin. Scrubs with such ingredients as walnut and apricot pieces generally aren't that great because their sharp bits can do just that. 

Instead opt for a creamier or finer consistency. Two great products I've used are Dermalogica's Clear Start Blackhead Scrub, and Tatcha's Enzyme Rice Powder.

Don't over scrub your face! Gently massage product in circular motions for thirty seconds, and then rise with warm water.

After you rinse, don't rub your face dry. Allow whatever water that's left on your face soak into your skin instead. If you hate a soaking wet face, then gently pat a few times, but leave skin damp.


3. Steam face

Here's where some of the magic happens. Steaming your face opens your pores to sweat out some of the nastiness that's been hiding deeper inside your skin. It helps promote circulation, makes your skin more receptive to face products and treatments, and helps to rid your skin of toxins. It's also hella relaxing. 

First off: you need the steamer. My personal favorite is a steamer I got from Kingdom Cares. It seems they're no longer selling my exact model, but I've heard great things about the Kingdom Cares 3 in 1 Steamer as well. There's also good reviews for the Dr. Denis Gross Steamer, but the Kingdom Cares one is very effective for a fraction of the price. 

Whatever steamer you decide on, make sure it sprays nano-ionic steam for better penetration within the skin. When using your steamer, make sure you use filtered water. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for added benefits.

I love to pat on a toner before my steam session, that way the soothing ingredients in my toner are able to soak into my skin better. Right now I'm using the Whamisa Green Tea Serum Toner.

Hold your face at least 12 inches from the steam to prevent scalding and close your eyes. You want the steam to be warm and moist, but not too hot. Steam for 10 - 15 minutes max. Since steaming is such a deep cleansing treatment, you want to limit your steams to once a week.

Here's where you can incorporate some other areas of wellness and self-love. While you're basking, repeat your favorite positive affirmations or take the time for mindfulness and meditation. Practice deep, whole breaths. Play your favorite music, or listen to an inspiring audiobook such as The Big Life by Ann Shoket. 

After 10 - 15 minutes, finish your steam by splashing warm water water on your face. Now it's time for those hefty skin treatments.


4. Apply Masks

Masks, masks, masks. I'm a bit of a mask junkie, because they freaking work. Now that you've steamed your face, any mask you apply afterwards will be more effective.

I would recommend a three mask combo for anyone looking to create the ultimate advanced at-home facial: the exfoliating mask, the clay mask, and the hydrating mask.

By the way, while you're treating your skin with these masks, you can continue the self-love and wellness you started during your face steam.

at home peel

This is where you'll get into your chemical exfoliants. An at-home peel is a great way to boost the effects of any chemical exfoliants you use on a regular basis, or it can be a way to introduce an accelerant to your skin's natural turnover if you don't already use a chemical exfoliant.

A chemical peel will help dissolve the glue that holds dead skin cells to the surface of your skin and promote cell turnover. This combats issues such as hyperpigmentation, acne, and fine lines and wrinkles.

If you're new to at-home peels, patch test first. You need to make sure your skin won't react unfavorably to your new products, so don't start by slathering a thick layer all over your face. You can even patch test a small area of your face a few nights before your facial to make sure it's safe to use. 

When looking for a peel, a good sign is a blend of salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids. Other ingredients can include fruit extracts and soothers such as green tea. I really enjoy Drunk Elephant's Sukari Babyfacial, which has powerful doses of all three acids above, but doesn't leave my sensitive skin red and irritated afterwards. Another good option is Juice Beauty's Green Apple Peel.

With any mask, you'll apply a thin layer using your fingers or a mask applicator such as a brush (I always just used my fingers) over damp and clean skin.

Make sure you follow the timing on the instructions! Leaving an exfoliating mask on longer than you should can cause more harm than good.

clay mask

An at-home peel helps slough off dead skin cells. This allows a clay mask, which attracts and sucks dirt and grime from your pores, to do a better job.

A clay mask can be made from several different types, including kaolin, bentonite clay, and french green clay. All have various strengths when it comes to cleansing your pores.

Bentonite is very strong and may be too harsh for sensitive skin, but if you're looking for something super-full strength, go for it. I find Kaolin to be the best option for my sensitive and combination skin. It's gentle, but still gets the job done.

My favorite clay mask is Lush's Rosy Cheeks, which includes Kaolin clay, glycerine to attract moisture, and a rose petal infusion to soothe and calm. It does have fragrance, which is usually a no-no, but since it only stays on the face for 10 minutes and is naturally derived, I'm all right with it.

Typically clay masks will spread on creamy and then gradually  harden on the face. This is good: it means the mask is pulling at the dirt in your pores, but make sure to wash the mask off before it becomes so hard it's painful.

hydrating/moisture mask

The last mask out of your three mask combo is a hydrating (for dehydrated skin) or moisture mask (for dry skin).

For a look at the difference between dehydrated and dry skin (and how to tell which one you have), go here.

Now that you've cleaned your skin like a pro, you need to reintroduce moisture or hydration to help plump and rejuvenate your face.

I have dehydrated skin (boo). My favorite fix right now is Farmacy's Honey Potion Hydration Mask. It's an interesting product: it warms and turns white and creamy as you massage it over your face. The results aren't instant: it does it's work while you sleep. When I woke up the first time I used this, my skin felt so soft and so hydrated I almost didn't use a moisturizer.

additional mask options

You can also incorporate other masks, such as a lip and eye mask. A lip mask can be as simple as applying a thick layer of balm such as Bite Beauty's Agave Lip Mask (it smells sooooo good).

For an eye mask, my favorite is Honest Hazel's Eye Masks, which include ingredients such as cactus collagen and vitamin E to soothe and combat fine lines. 

apply masks individually or all at once

I like to apply all my masks individually so my whole face receives all of my treatments. You can also customize: you can apply all your masks at once by focusing on specific areas of concern on your face.

For example, if you tend to break out on your forehead, apply your exfoliating mask there, then a clay mask along your nose for blackheads and oil, and a moisture mask along your cheeks if you tend to be dry there. 


5. Apply advanced skincare products + give your face some massage love

After you've applied and rinsed off all of your masks, it's time for the final steps of your routine. 

Now you can apply your usual skincare products. I'm guessing a lot of you already have advanced skincare products that you use on a daily basis (if not, head over here to see my top 8 products for an advanced skincare routine).

My only suggestion is this: do not, for the love of your skin, use a powerful exfoliant and retinol on the same night. They will cancel each other out, and you'll have neither working on your skin while you sleep.

If you don't use an exfoliating mask during your facial, then it's fine to use retinol. If you do use an exfoliating mask, you can supplement it with an exfoliating serum or gel at a lower dosage.

Products that are great to follow up a facial with include an antioxidant serum, a retinol serum, an exfoliating serum or gel, a face oil, an eye serum or cream, and a moisturizer. I won't give you an exact process here because everyone's skin is different, and some people don't respond to ingredients such as retinol well.

I can tell you that when applying face products, especially serums, allow at least a minute to pass between products to allow the absorption of each into your skin.

Now let's get into the face massage. Typically you want to do this with a product of serum or oil consistency. Facial massages can be done daily and are great for your skin. They encourage lymphatic drainage, which moves toxins into your lymphs nodes, where bacteria and other badness are destroyed. 

If you can't fit a facial massage in everyday, then your weekly facial is a perfect way to incorporate one. You can start with a quick two minute face massage here, or dive in deep with the following:


6. bonus: humidifier

Enhance the effects of your facial by using a humidifier. Humidifiers keep air moist and prevent your skin from drying out overnight. They can also aid in a better, deeper sleep.

Humidifiers can be found at local stores such as Target. Make sure your humidifier has a filtration system, and use distilled water!


time for the different routines!

As promised, using the steps outlined above, here are three sample facials for three different time allowances. These are just suggestions and are not concrete, but hopefully they will give you an idea of how to customize your own facial.

i've got no time

  • Wash
  • Exfoliate
  • Apply one mask (clay) or apply all three masks at once
  • Finish with regular skincare routine (no fancy skincare products needed)

i've got some time

  • Wash
  • Exfoliate
  • Steam
  • Apply one mask (clay) or apply all three masks at once
  • Finish with regular skincare routine and a quick two-minute massage, including a few advanced skincare products such as retinol

i've got all the time

  • Wash
  • Exfoliate
  • Steam (apply serum beforehand)
  • Apply masks separately 
  • Apply lip and eye masks
  • Finish with skincare routine and an in-depth facial massage, including mostly advanced skincare products such as retinol or exfoliating serums, eye serums and creams, and an advanced night cream
  • Turn on the humidifier a half-hour before bed


What do you think? How do you create your own at-home facials? Let me know in the comments.

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