August 24, 2014 7 minute read
For most of us, spending money on monthly facials is out of the question. Although this ritual has become mandatory in the world of beauty, it doesn’t mean you need to – or should – empty your bank account in the name of clear skin. I believe in the power of an at-home facial. However, this special monthly pleasure – whether paid for or self-performed – should not replace diligent regular skin care. Would you work out once a month and hope to see long-term benefits? I don’t think so. So continue to treat your skin uniquely every single day, and that dedication combined with a little extra TLC will set you on the path to a flawless visage.
Why Going To a Spa May Not Be Your Best Option
Your standard cookie cutter facial looks something like this: cleanse, exfoliate, steam, extract, mask, moisturize. This looks great in theory, but there are many ways things can go terribly wrong:
1. The esthetician doesn’t pay attention to your unique skin type and history and applies a mask or lotion that will irritate your mug. Take this poor bloggers horrific experience as your warning.
2. There is a medical reason for your breakouts and a facial will do nothing, except cost you a lot of money.
3. The venue is unsanitary and you contract an infection.
4. You spend upwards of $200 on a treatment that you can do yourself.
Or maybe a little cleanse, exfoliate, steam, extract, mask and moisturize performed by someone else does wonders for your skin. To you I say you’re lucky. There are those rare estheticians out there who know their sh*! and will take the time to explain the methods of proper skin care to you. Hallelujah! But, unfortunately, that’s rarely the case. So if you’re willing and able to spend the money and accept the risks, all the power to you. Personally, I’d much rather a DIY facial and spend my money on customized dermatological treatments in the future when necessary.
6 Step DIY Facial
If you use the right products and techniques for your skin year round and are ok with performing your own extractions, DIY facials are totally within your reach. Before you begin, start up your kettle for step 3.
1. Cleanse. Wash your face, ears, and neck with your regular non-foaming cleanser (remember to apply to dry skin).
2. Exfoliate. I usually recommend an exfoliating lotion like Biologique Rechereche’s P50 Lotion, but for your at home facial you want to use something with teeny tiny beads. I love Fresh’s Sugar Face Polish, $68. It’s a beautiful brown sugar scrub with antioxidant-rich wild strawberries which work together to gently dissolve dead skin cells and reveal perfectly nourished skin. The best part is that it’s formulated without any of those nasty parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, and triclosan. Apply to a damp face and massage into your skin and neck in gentle circular motions. Leave on for 5-10 minutes to allow your skin to absorb all of the hydrating nutrients and then rinse with tepid water.
3. Steam. I like to stick my face over a bowl of hot water for my facials. Usually I prefer the warm cloth method pre-emergency extractions, but since I only do a facial every 3-4 weeks I like to spice things up. Pour the boiling water into a large bowl. I like to add a few drops of essential oil, but it’s totally optional. My go to scent for an uplifting steam is lemon, but peppermint is another great choice for clearing out those nasal passages. Place your face over the bowl and cover your head with a towel. Stay for 5 minutes.
4. Extract. I’ve talked about DIY extractions here, but I’ll go over it again. Each type of spot will require a different course of action. For blackheads, either use the flat side of your comedone extractor and apply slow/even pressure until the sebum comes out, or use two q-tips and gently apply pressure and squeeze. For whiteheads and pimples with heads, I recommend starting with a sanitized needle and poking a small hole in the head of the spot and then using the small loop side of your comedone extractor to apply slow/even pressure until the sebum comes out. If the sebum does not come out in 2 tries STOP. If you keep bugging it the result will be worse than you having to survive another day or two with a spot. Note: I don’t always have to perform extractions during my at home facial, so if you can’t find anything without a magnifying mirror it’s best to put the extractor down.
5. Mask. This is where things get exciting. You want to choose the perfect mask for the current condition of your skin. Is it dry? Look for a hydrating mask. Is it rough? Look for an enzyme peel. Is it oily? Look for a clay mask. You get the idea.
My favourite hydrating mask is still my classic DIY yogurt mask, but I’ve been experimenting with avocado recently and I’m not hating the hydrating effects. Mix one ripe avocado with 2 tbsp honey (I like Manuka Honey – check out my Ode to Honey here) and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with tepid water.
For an enzyme peel, Ole Henriksen does some pretty incredible masks. I’ve raved about the Blue/Black Berry Enzyme Mask, $41 for a while now, and decided I needed to test a new product to tell you all about. Enter Lemon Strip Flash Peel, $60. It’s a bit stronger (and slightly more expensive) than its predecessor, and that’s what I like about it. It has a 20 percent AHA complex of lactic, glycolic, and multifruit acids to dissolve dead skin cells and resurface, while purified algae extract and bio-saccharide soothe and nourish. I see a difference with this mask after one use. Leave it on for 10 minutes (or less if you find that you need a few applications to get used to it) and rinse with tepid water.
For a clay mask, I can’t bring myself to stray from my trusty GlamGlow Supermud Clearing Treatment, $76 and Fresh Umbrian Clay® Mattifying Mask, $57. I don’t usually recommend products without a thorough personal review, but because I know you’re itching for a new clay mask I’ll make an exception. I have it on good authority that the Origins Clear Improvement™ Active Charcoal Mask To Clear Pores, $29 is a great budget friendly mask to draw out deep-dwelling pore-cloggers your oily skin may be harboring. Once I’ve emptied my top shelf clay masks I will be giving this one a shot.
6. Moisturize. Finish up by spritzing a little mineral water on your skin and applying your regular fragrance free moisturizer.