How To Get A Facial On The Cheap

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Facial-Aerobics_Sandy4Illustrated by Sandy Ley.
For a lot of women, the spa facial is an infrequent indulgence. Not everyone has the time or money to invest in a professional monthly skin treatment. And, yet, I believe that subjecting your skin to regular facial care is an important part of a healthy skin-care regimen. Fortunately, you can give yourself an at-home facial that may yield results similar to those you might get from a spa session.

An at-home facial shouldn’t take longer than 25 to 30 minutes from start to finish, leading to newly refined skin clarity and smoothness. More specifically, facials can deep-clean clogged pores, keep blemishes at bay for acne-prone skin types, help to fade brown spots and discoloration resulting from acne and sun damage, and deliver intense moisturizing properties to those with dry or dull skin.

Follow my five simple steps for a DIY facial, and you'll effectively cleanse, exfoliate, smooth, and balance your skin — no matter the type. Just keep in mind that, depending on your skin type, some product recommendations may not be ideal for you.
Facial-Aerobics_Sandy3Illustrated by Sandy Ley.


Step 1: Clean skin with a cleansing lotion (for normal, dry, and sensitive skin types) or gel cleanser (for normal, oily, and combination skin types). Avoid washes with sulfates, as these can dehydrate skin. Cleaning the skin thoroughly creates a blank canvas for the next product.

Step 2: Apply a thin coat of an exfoliating peel, and leave on for five to 10 minutes to remove dry skin cells. This works to even skin tone and eliminate flakiness or rough skin patches. Look for a peel with exfoliating acids like lactic, glycolic, or salicylic. It’s normal to experience a tingling sensation as the acids work to dissolve the dead cells by lowering the skin's pH. Rinse well.

Step 3: Once the peel has been rinsed off, it's time for the second exfoliation: Apply a facial scrub to your skin and massage in tiny circles for 30 to 60 seconds. The reason for this two-step exfoliation is so the scrub can physically lift off any excess dead skin cells that might've been left over from the peel. Be sure to use a scrub with round, gentle particles like a natural jojoba bead; avoid scrubs containing apricot kernels or walnut husks, as they can be too irritating to the skin. If you have red, fair, sensitive, or rosacea-prone skin, be sure to use the scrub very lightly when massaging over the skin.

Related: 7 Summer Skin Survival Tips
Facial-Aerobics_Sandy2-1Illustrated by Sandy Ley.


Step 4: Apply a few drops of a facial serum formulated for your skin type. Serums contain a higher concentration of active ingredients and usually come in a gel or creamy gel form. Since they typically contain a small molecule that's absorbed deep within the skin, it is meant to be used under a mask (or moisturizer) to give skin-boosting results right away. Depending on your skin’s needs, you’ll want to look for serums with different ingredients. For reducing breakouts from within, try soluble beta glucans and silver ear mushroom; white tea calms signs of redness instantly, while magnesium ascorbyl phosphate is an ingredient that may brighten brown spots. If it's firmer skin you're after, try a peptide-containing product.

Step 5: Apply a thin layer of a mask formulated for your skin type to your face and neck. Let it dry for 15 minutes, and then rinse well before applying moisturizer.

Masks are an important part of achieving healthy, beautiful skin, but because everyone’s complexion is unique, masks are not one-size-fits-all. The general rule of thumb is this: A gel mask is great for providing hydration, a clay-based mask works to absorb oils and tighten the skin, and cream-based masks contain moisturizing oils that help to deeply hydrate and plump up the skin. While it may feel silly to apply a serum and then wash it off, the absorption of the serum's small molecules is actually aided by the mask application.

While I still recommend getting professional facials regularly, especially at the change of every season so your skin can be reassessed by a professional aesthetician, you can certainly get similar results with a little me-time DIY.

Next: Celebrity Skin-Care Secrets Debunked

When it comes to our faces, we don’t rely on just anyone to tell us what our skin needs to get that ever-elusive glow. Instead, we turn to skin-care veteran (and celebrity fave!) Renée Rouleau, who knows it takes more than the right products to get radiant. Each week, she’ll be serving up her expert tips to keep your complexion in tip-top shape.