True Story: Meet the Most Definitive Guide to At-Home Facials

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at-home facial tips
Photo: Courtesy of @natascha.lindemann

We all deserve some self-care and a top treatment from time to time, so why not turn your self-isolation into a spa session? Yes, that’s right – you don’t need to go see a professional to transform your skin, especially when you have an expert guide to at-home facials – like the one below – at your fingertips. Even better? It will give you something to do other than stare into your fridge for the umpteenth time. You’re welcome.

Set the Mood

No at-home facial is complete without a spa-like setting, so before you get started, be sure to set the mood. We’re talking dim lighting, flickering candles, zen-inducing music, a calming cup of tea – the whole shebang. But if trawling through YouTube looking for an accompanying soundtrack is killing your vibe, the Calm app is particularly good for, well, keeping you calm while providing everything from ocean sounds to meditation music.

And if your go-to scented candle isn’t quite cutting it, then it doesn’t get much better than a diffuser pod for creating the ultimate spa-like scent. Releasing a blend of essential oils into your room with just the touch of a button, it instantly provides a calming aroma and can even purify the air around you. Whichever soothing scent you opt for, be sure to light your wick or turn on your pod at least 15 minutes before you start your facial to really maximize the calming mood.


There’s no point applying a load of powerful products to your skin if it sits a layer of dirt and grime – which, yes, happens even if you haven’t worn makeup or left the house all day. The most effective way to ensure your skin is squeaky clean? Double-cleanse. Start with an oil or balm cleanser to break down and melt off oil-based impurities. They’re perfect as they attract greasy particles and dissolve them without stripping skin of its own hydrating oils. Start at your chin and, using gentle pressure, really massage your oil or balm into the skin, working your way upwards in small, circular motions.

Rinse with warm water and apply your second cleanser to remove water-based impurities such as sweat and environmental pollutants. As surface dirt has now been dislodged and removed, this step ensures a really deep-down cleanse to make sure there’s no bad stuff left behind. Here’s when you can get a bit more creative, as the specific cleanser you use really depends on your skin’s needs. Just avoid anything containing sulfates or SLS (the ingredient responsible for that frothy foam and lather) as it’s super harsh and will strip skin of the good as well as the bad.


It doesn’t matter if you opt for a mechanical or chemical exfoliator, it’s just essential that you do it, but – more importantly – that you don’t overdo it. Never use a harsh scrub, and don’t exfoliate every day. Once a week is more than enough. Removing the outer layers of dead skin cells makes for a fresher complexion, refined pores, and even tone. It can even help reduce pigmentation and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Focus on areas that get more congested (your chin, around your nose, and forehead) for maximum effect.

Manual scrubs contain abrasive ingredients like sugar, salt, and coffee grinds that, when massaged gently into the skin, remove dead cells. If your scrub contains synthetic microbeads, stay away. They’re incredibly harsh on the skin and the planet. Most professionals opt for chemical exfoliators, which literally peel off the top layers of skin. This might sound scary, but they can actually be super gentle and easier to control than a manual scrub.

Ingredients such as fruit enzymes and acids (lactic and glycolic to name a few) penetrate deep down to loosen the glue-like substances that hold cells together, shedding the top layer of dull, damaged skin. Depending on the strength of the peel, you might feel a mild tingling as the product gets to work. With an amazing array of at-home peels and chemical exfoliators available – which will be gentler than the ones used in clinics – this is one of the best ways to transform your complexion. Just make sure you read the instructions and follow them to a T.


Nothing beats a good old steam when it comes to opening up pores, boosting circulation, and softening skin – plus you get the added bonus of feeling warm and cozy, which is never a bad thing when you’re cooped up indoors. And before you ask, no, you don’t need a professional steamer to do this at home. In fact, all you need is flannel or a muslin cloth and some hot water.

Simply run your cloth under the water, drape it over your face, and lie back and relax for a good five minutes or so. You can also fill a bowl with hot water, drape a towel over your head, and hold your head over it, but we prefer the more comfortable way (obviously). Or if all that sounds like a bit of a faff, you can invest in a clinic-worthy steamer, too.


After you’ve cleansed, scrubbed, and steamed your skin, it’s time to apply a mask. And this is where you get to have some fun. Gone are the days of “one mask fits all” – instead, it’s all about multi-masking. As its name suggests, we’re now using multiple skin masks at one time to create the ultimate facial treatment that tends to all our skin’s needs.

So, if your skin is feeling a little dry and tight in some areas, but you’re suffering from breakouts in others, no problem. Just pick the right product for that part of your face and let it work its magic. Clay masks are great for deeply cleansing pores and removing impurities – and banishing breakouts to boot – while hydrating masks will simultaneously nourish, moisturize, and soothe dryness and discomfort. Slather it on (or apply it carefully if you’ve opted for a sheet mask), place some cucumber slices over your eyes (a great natural de-puffer), and treat yourself to a little power nap.


Now it’s time to tone. This helps to balance the skin’s pH post cleansing and masking, refresh and cool it, and prepare it to better absorb the products you’ll leave on during the next couple of steps. Simply mist your toner of choice directly onto skin or sweep on with a cotton pad, and you’re good to go.


Mask off, it’s time to indulge in a facial massage. Not only does this help detox the skin and the entire body as it boosts lymphatic drainage, but it also helps tackle everything from acne and blocked pores to inflammation, puffiness, aging, and dullness. For the ultimate facial massage techniques, we tapped “skin whisperer” Nataliya Robinson for all her top tips on how to use different methods depending on your skin’s needs. You can read what she had to say, here.

But if you don’t trust your hands to do the job, or you’re feeling way too relaxed by now, invest in a gua sha tool or roller to massage and sculpt your skin to perfection. Simply take your chosen tool – be it rose quartz, jade, or marble – and use it to gently scrape, pull, and massage the skin in an upwards motion. This can be done on your entire face, even around the delicate eye area, as well as your neck and décolletage. You can use your cooling tool alone or massage in a facial-boosting oil or serum if your skin is in need of a little extra TLC before the final step.


Last but not least, it’s time to rehydrate your skin and seal in all those nourishing ingredients you’ve applied. This is the part when your therapist would normally treat you to an extra little massage, so take the time to really work them into your skin and enjoy the end of your DIY treatment.

If you’re about to venture onto your balcony or into your garden – or you have a day of staring at a screen ahead of you – make sure you also apply a broad-spectrum SPF to keep your skin protected. You wouldn’t want to go and undo all that hard work now, would you? Exactly.

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