There’s nothing like a fantastic facial to leave you feeling pampered, relaxed and positive about yourself. While a trip to the spa may be the ultimate treat for your skin, it can be expensive and time-consuming. An at-home facial can be a simpler solution, whether you’re strapped for cash, pushed for time or just intimidated by the thought of booking an appointment.
Cleansing, toning and moisturizing make up the basic steps of a home facial, says Donna Maria Coles Johnson, author of Making Aromatherapy Creams and Lotions: 101 Natural Formulas to Revitalize & Nourish Your Skin and founder of the INDIE Beauty Network. These steps may be augmented by steaming, exfoliating and using a face mask.
Steaming. You don’t need to fill a bowl with hot water and drape a towel over your head to get the benefits of steaming prior to your facial. “Simply soak a soft towel in a bowl of comfortably warm herbal tea. Chamomile is one of my favorites,” Johnson says. Wring out the towel and rest it over your face and neck until it cools. This is a soothing process that will open the skin’s pores for the following steps.
Cleansing. Whether you opt to use a commercial cleanser or Johnson’s home recipe of 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 teaspoon rose hydrosol and 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil mixed together, apply the cleanser to face and neck in gentle, upward, circular movements, using just your fingertips. Rinse with warm water and pat dry. If you’re wearing makeup, repeat the cleansing step, rather than using a firmer scrubbing motion, as it’s kinder on the skin.
Exfoliating. If you have oily skin, you may want to exfoliate once or twice a week, Johnson says. If your skin is drier, once a month might be sufficient. She uses a recipe of equal parts finely ground oats, finely ground almonds, honey and aloe vera gel, combined in a bowl and applied to face and neck after the cleanser and before the toner.
Masking. Now that you’ve removed all the dirt and debris from your skin, it’s time to start putting something back into it. Follow exfoliation with a facial mask using Johnson’s recipe of 2 tablespoons white clay (preferably kaolin), 3 tablespoons whipping cream and 1 tablespoon rose hydrosol, stirred into a paste-like consistency, adding more clay if the mixture is too runny or more hydrosol if it’s lumpy. Or use a store-bought product that suits your skin’s particular needs. Apply evenly to the face, avoiding the fine skin around the eyes and the lip area, and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes, or follow the instructions on the package. As with cleansers and exfoliants, rinse with warm water and pat dry.
Toning. Toning after cleansing is important, Johnson says, to “help balance the pH of the skin as it is typically disturbed during the cleansing process.” Use a cooled herbal tea — chamomile and green tea are excellent — mixed with 1 tablespoon each of rose hydrosol and aloe vera gel and 3 teaspoons each of apple cider vinegar and optional lemon juice. Drench cotton pads with the toner and dab over the face, without rubbing. Don’t dry the face after this step.
Moisturizing. Finish with a moisturizer, applied while skin is still damp from the toner. Try either your favorite brand or Johnson's recipe of 3 tablespoons each of jojoba and rose hips seed oils, with 2 drops of rose, geranium and palmarosa and 3 drops of lavender essential oils blended for the perfect finish to a fantastic facial.