How to Give Yourself the Ultimate Facial At Home

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

01.28.22DISCLAIMER

There’s no doubt that professional facials are one of the best ways to achieve clear, healthy, youthful skin — and who doesn’t love a spa day? With approximately 21,000 facilities and $18.3 billion in revenue (a record-setting milestone), the United States is the largest spa market globally. But if you don’t have the time (or the perpetual cash flow) to get regular pro treatments, try giving yourself a facial at home. 

Now, if you’re wondering how an at-home facial is any different from your regular skincare routine, then perhaps you’re not privy to all of the at-home facial steps, including those that balance your mind as well as your skin. A facial is a multi-step regimen meant to be performed regularly to maintain optimal skin health.

While there are several different face washes and facial cleansers, the ultimate goal is to cleanse, exfoliate, and replenish the skin, thus encouraging a clear, well-hydrated complexion that defies your age. While you can use singular skincare products to make up an effective DIY facial, consider investing in a facial kit to take the guesswork out of executing a results-driven treatment. 

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what products to choose for a facial at home. Here at Deep Science, we’ve reviewed hundreds of products with a scientific lens to ensure you’re creating an at-home facial protocol that’s safe and effective.

So, if you’re wondering how to do a facial at home, we’re sharing our favorite tips and products so you can deliver a self-facial that will have you looking — and feeling — like you just walked out of the spa. 

Facial at Home Products: The List 

Carrot & Stick Bundle, $79

Formulyst Bundle, $108

Tatcha The Starter Ritual, $72

Tata Harper The Glow Facial, $115

Glow Recipe Redness Recovery Kit, $115

Dermalogica Multi-Mask Kit, $32

SkinCeuticals Anti-Aging Skin System, $345

Proactiv MD 3-Piece System, $39.95

The Ordinary The Balance Set, $29.00

Clinique Hydrate and Glow Set Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, $44

Home Facial Steps 

When it comes to a DIY facial, there’s no need to run out and purchase an entirely new collection of skincare products. Work with what you already have, but consider adding a new exfoliant, mask, or peel to elevate the experience. 

Related: Face Mask

While these steps can be adjusted depending on the current and ongoing needs of your skin, here are general home facial steps that everyone can use whenever their complexion is in need of a pick-me-up.

 

1. Prep

Pull your hair back from your face so that it stays free from the product.

 

2. Cleanse

Remove all makeup with an oil cleanser using massaging movements—around 2-3 minutes — to reinvigorate and promote a healthy, glowing complexion. Use sweeping motions with your fingers, starting from the center of the face and working your way outward. Light pressure (not too aggressive) is enough to rejuvenate the skin.

Even if you’re not wearing makeup, this initial step sets the tone for the rest of the DIY facial while removing dirt, oil, and residual skincare products. Remove the product with a soft, warm, damp washcloth.

Related: The Best Face Exfoliators

 

3. Double Cleanse

Perform a second cleanse for 2-3 minutes using a gel, gel-cream, cream, or foam cleanser depending upon your skin type. Warm or tepid water is ideal because extremely cold or hot temperatures can prompt the blood vessels to vasodilate, which can cause them to rupture. Rinse your face and gently pat it dry with a soft towel.

 

4. Exfoliate

Now that you’ve created a clean canvas, it’s time to decide on what type of exfoliating method you’d like to move forward with. You’ve got two options:

  • A mechanical (scrub) or enzymatic (dissolving action) exfoliant, steam optional. If you go this route, start with a damp face and gently work the product in circular motions around your face, neck, and décolleté for three to five minutes. This is a great time to give yourself a steam treatment.Don’t worry if you don’t own an electric, tabletop steamer. Simply bring a small pot of water to a roiling boil. Drop-in herbs and/or essential oils for added benefits — both skin and sensory. Remove the pot from the stove and place it on a heat-safe surface —ideally, a place where you can sit.Drape a towel over your head and place your face directly (yet safely) above the steam. Take several deep breaths and use this moment as a time to relax and clear your mind. Stay here as long as you like, but once the pot stops steaming, you can move on.
  • A peel you can perform at home — no steam.
    Though peels for home use are typically milder than professional-grade peels performed in a doctor’s office, they contain many of the same ingredients and (at home facials) are more affordable.There’s no one-size-fits-all home peel. If you’re using a new peel formula or have sensitive skin, conduct a patch test first to ensure you can tolerate it. Apply the home peel according to the instructions on the label. Most formulas are left on anywhere from 5-15 minutes, but avoid those left on overnight so you can continue with the DIY facial experience.

 

5. Mask

While there are copious different types of face mask formulas and delivery systems available, the bottom line is that you’re going to want to choose one for your skin type. So, if your skin is bone dry, an oil-sucking clay isn’t for you. Do your research and don’t just reach for the latest fad product as it could have adverse results.

Masks are typically left on anywhere from 10-20 minutes, so take advantage of this time and decompress — just as you would if you were in the midst of a pro treatment. Put your feet up and cover your eyes with a warm, weighted eye mask.

     

    6. Tone

    Remove the mask with a soft, warm, damp washcloth. Apply an alcohol-free toner to remove excess product and bring the skin back to a balanced pH.

    Related: The Best Face Toners

     

    7. Serum

    Apply a serum that targets your current skincare needs. Remember, since serums are concentrated, you don’t need as much as your moisturizer, but you need enough to cover your face, neck, and décolleté

    Related: The Best Face Serums

     

    8. Moisturizer and Massage

    Finish with a moisturizer and a face massage using a tool such as a jade or rose quartz roller or a light touch of your fingers if that’s more comfortable for you. Face tools aren’t a waste of your time — they increase blood flow, leading to decreased puffiness and improved circulation. 

    Related: The Best Face Moisturizers

     

    9. Eye Cream

    It’s vital to nourish and protect the fragile eye area, but a good formula also addresses dark circles and puffiness concerns. With that in mind, there are face tools (such as those mentioned above) designed to depuff and awaken the delicate skin around the eyes. 

     

    10. Preservation

    If you’re headed out for the night, make sure to wait for a few hours before applying makeup. Remember to only sleep on newly laundered sheets and pillowcases if you’re staying in. There are some other helpful preservation tips in the FAQs below.

    Before Getting Started: Facial at Home Basics 

    Make sure you’re prepped and prepared to get the most out of your facial at home. Also, since 

    you won’t have an esthetician to consult with (and you’re not in a true spa environment), there are a few precautions to consider before performing a self-facial. 

     

    Get Organized

    To avoid running around in the midst of your DIY facial, gather and set up all of your supplies beforehand. For example, washcloths, a towel, all of your products and facial tools, cotton rounds, headband or hair wrap, supplies for a facial steam, etc.

     

    Set the Mood

    Just because you’re doing a facial treatment in the comfort of your own home doesn’t mean you can’t infuse spa-like vibes. All it takes is a few extra touches like a relaxing playlist, aromatherapy candles, a slightly dimmed environment (especially when you’re masking), and something comfortable to wear. Don’t forget to silence your phone for a bit, too. 

     

    Consider Your Skin Type

    Whether your skin is dry, acne-prone, oily, or combination, you should already be using the correct products for your skin type, so the same rule applies when gathering supplies for your facial, too.

    If you ever have any doubt about your skin type, make an appointment with a skincare professional. Our skin changes over the years for various factors (hormones, stress, age, illness, diet, etc.), so the products you used five years ago may not be as effective today. 

     

    Don’t Cut Corners

    Part of the pleasure of getting a facial is that it’s a more luxurious experience than your regular day-to-day routine, so don’t skip steps or speed through the process. A measure such as exfoliating, for example, is vital for cleaning the pores, renewing the look of beautiful skin, and making it possible for all of your other products to absorb and do their job thoroughly. 

     

    Conduct a Patch Test

    To make the at-home facial experience feel different from your regular skincare routine, you may want to consider trying some new products. Just remember to always do a patch test before introducing a new product all over your skin.

     

    Use Caution With Steam

    While the steaming component of an at-home facial is excellent for opening the pores to aid the cleansing process, it’s not always a good idea. Steam should be avoided if you have acne because it can aggravate the condition while negatively increasing blood circulation. It should be avoided at all costs if you have rosacea or a fungal infection for the same reasons. 

     

    Forget About Extractions

    Leave extractions to the pros because they know the proper method of extracting the pores — they also have the right tools to do the job. If done improperly, you run the risk of scarring or making a blemish even worse. There’s also the possibility of residual sebum left that will enlarge pores and clog them even further. 

     

    Clean Your Pillowcase

    You don’t want to go through all the effort of giving yourself a facial at home, only to go to sleep on a bacteria-laden pillow. Make sure you toss on a clean pillowcase — if not an entirely new set of sheets — before heading to bed.

    In case you need more convincing, dirty sheets can also harbor fungi and quite possibly more bacteria than your toilet seat, depending on how dirty they are. 

    DIY Facial Products 

    Carrot & Stick Bundle, $79
    Carrot & Stick’s products are designed to work in synergy to address your skincare concerns. Choose from one of two pre-made three-piece facial kits. The brand’s Restore and Protect kits each contain The Eye Cream, The Moisturizer, and an applicable serum. Alternatively, you can go your own way and create your own bundle with products like The Brightening Pads, The Defense Serum, and The Face Wash.

    Formulyst Bundle, $108
    Customize your at-home facial by choosing three Formulyst products to create a facial kit. Here’s just one idea of how you can do a facial at home with Formulyst products: Start with the Clarifying AHA Cleanser, which is formulated to gently cleanse and exfoliate the skin while removing dirt and makeup. It contains glycolic acid to help refine pores, control excess oil, and smooth away surface-level roughness.

    After you’re done exfoliating and masking, apply Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Concentrate. This highly concentrated formula conditions your complexion and helps reduce the appearance of age spots, wrinkles, and fine lines. Finish your at-home facial with Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Eye Cream, which helps to blur away dark circles, puffiness, and even stubborn crow’s feet.

    Tatcha The Starter Ritual, $72
    Japanese skincare brand Tatcha has taken the guesswork out of home facial (and skincare routine) by putting together four kits to address combination, dry, oily, and sensitive skin. Each facial kit comes with Cleansing Oil, Rice Polish Exfoliant (a more gentle version for sensitive skin types), Essence, Indigo Eye Cream, and a specific moisturizer catering to each concern.

    You’ll have enough product to last you two weeks. After that, take the brand’s “Ritual Finder” quiz on their website to see what other products could be helpful for your next at-home facial.

    Tata Harper The Glow Facial, $115
    Tata Harper’s two-step ritual can be used in conjunction with the rest of your at-home facial products to give yourself the ultimate radiance boost. The Regenerating Cleanser works to cleanse and polish with apricot microspheres, natural BHA, and a hydrating olive oil liquid crystal complex that leaves the skin feeling conditioned and silky soft.

    The Resurfacing Mask works as a two-in-one exfoliant and mask to dissolve dead skin cells and dullness further to instantly restore radiance with natural BHA, pomegranate enzymes, and pink clay. As a bonus, this facial kit includes an ultra-soft application brush and ultra-plush cleansing washcloth.

    Glow Recipe Redness Recovery Kit, $115
    Sometimes, people shy away from facials because their skin is sensitive — and with good reason. From genetics to stress to lifestyle habits, red, sensitive skin can be challenging to handle. Glow Recipe makes it easier for those with a compromised complexion to enjoy the at-home spa experience.

    Their facial kit contains a “redness recovery” skincare routine, complete with Glow Recipe’s best-sellers like Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser, Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist, Avocado Retinol Eye Sleeping Mask, Avocado Ceramide Recovery Serum, and Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream.

    Dermalogica Multi-Mask Kit, $32
    It’s not uncommon for an esthetician to choose to use more than one mask on a client during a facial treatment to tackle multiple skin concerns that a singular mask simply cannot address. You can do the same with Dermalogica’s Multi-Mask Kit. Target your skin’s unique needs and mix and match with Dermalogica’s best-selling masques. Repair, exfoliate, clear, and hydrate for your healthiest-looking skin yet.

    SkinCeuticals Anti-Aging Skin System, $345
    SkinCeuticals is one of the leaders in anti-aging, over-the-counter skincare. They have an excellent reputation for their results-driven serums formulated with evidence-based ingredients — for a price. What’s attractive about this facial kit is that it contains more miniature versions of three popular anti-aging products, so you can see how well they work together to improve the skin’s appearance.

    The brand’s anti-aging system contains the best-selling CE Ferulic to provide antioxidant protection and visibly improve the look of wrinkles and tone. A.G.E. Interrupter is a multi-faceted treatment specifically formulated to strengthen mature skin’s creping and thinning appearance. Rounding out the trio is Resveratrol BE, an antioxidant night concentrate that helps improve the appearance of accumulated damage. 

    Proactiv MD 3-Piece System, $39.95
    Of all the systems that Proactiv MD offers, this one will be the closest to a professional treatment — but for a fraction of a price. This trio is ideal for treating stubborn breakouts — and the redness and inflammation that often appear alongside them. Its star is Adapalene Gel, the brand’s prescription-strength formula that works on a cellular level to clear skin and restore even tone and texture. This facial kit also contains Proactiv MD Ultra-Gentle Cleanser and Ultra-Hydrating Moisturizer.

    The Ordinary The Balance Set, $29.00
    From genetics and stress to hormones and climate change, this facial kit is ideal for those who need to balance oil production and reduce breakouts without stripping the skin of its natural oils. It includes The Ordinary’s gentle and moisturizing Squalene Cleanser. It creates a perfect canvas for the Salicylic Acid 2% mask, formulated to target lackluster tone and textural irregularities.

    Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is a high-strength vitamin and mineral blemish formula that helps reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and congestion. Finally, Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA helps keep the outer layer of the skin protected and well-hydrated without being too heavy or greasy.

    Clinique Hydrate and Glow Set Moisture Surge 100H Auto-Replenishing Hydrator, $44
    Most people are familiar with Clinique’s cult three-step skincare system, and while it may not be for everybody, this lightweight, oil-free moisture surge facial kit is something all skin types can get on board with. Just three essentials keep skin dewy for days in just a few minutes of your time.

    Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator delivers stabilizing hydration against daily assault. Moisture Surge Overnight Mask deeply moisturizes while you sleep while Moisture Surge Eye 96-Hour Hydro-Filler instantly re-floods and tightens the skin around the delicate eye area. Key ingredients include aloe bio-ferment, a hyaluronic acid complex, and activated aloe water. 

    Facial At Home: The Bottom Line 

    If you’re wondering how an at-home facial is any different from your regular skincare routine, then perhaps you’re not privy to all of the at-home facial steps, including those that balance your mind as well as your skin. A facial is a multi-step regimen meant to be performed regularly to maintain optimal skin health.

    While there are several different facials, the ultimate goal is to cleanse, exfoliate, and replenish the skin, thus encouraging a clear, well-hydrated complexion that defies your age. While you can use singular skincare products to make up an effective DIY facial, consider investing in a facial kit to take the guesswork out of executing a results-driven treatment.

    Along with the formulas we provided within this story, we also inserted links to pages listing the best products for each of the home facial steps listed. While an at-home facial can’t replace a pro treatment, it is a way to elevate your current home routine.

    Do you like giving yourself an at-home facial? Let us know in the comments below!

     

    FAQs
    Generally, before all facials, avoid sunbathing, shaving, waxing, the use of retinol or peels — home or otherwise — and don’t pick at blemishes or other areas of your skin.
    Ideally, after a facial you should:
    •Avoid makeup for as long as possible (about five hours or more is ideal)
    •Refrain from smoking or drinking for 72 hours after your treatment
    •Avoid direct sunlight and direct heat (sauna, sunbed, etc.) for 48 hours
    Steam opens up your pores and helps loosen any buildup of dirt, oil, and dead skin cells for a deeper, more effective cleanse. Opening up your pores also softens blackheads, so they’re easier to remove. The combination of warm steam and increased perspiration dilates your blood vessels and boosts circulation. While this can be beneficial for some skin types, it should be avoided if you have acne, extremely sensitive skin, or a condition such as rosacea.
    Facial massage devices can help increase blood flow, leading to decreased puffiness and improved circulation. Massaging our face promotes oxygen and blood flow in our skin, resulting in a brighter skin tone and appearance. Along with expensive electronic devices, tools such as gua sha, jade (and rose quartz) rollers, and other natural gemstones have proven effective on a budget.
    As the name suggests, it involves thoroughly washing your face with two cleansers. But to indeed be a double cleanse, the cleansers need to be two different types to have the desired effect. The first is usually an oil-based cleanser, as noted in our home facial steps above.
    While there’s nothing wrong with boiling a pot of water on the stove, for the sake of convenience, a portable facial steamer device for the home can be extremely useful — especially if you plan on giving yourself an at-home facial regularly. There’s no need to spend a lot of money. Several affordable devices can get the job done without taking up too much space.

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