Flash Facials: The Skin-Care Secret Every Lazy Girl Needs To Know

Photo: Courtesy of Valentino.
The number-one rule of getting a facial? Never do it right before a big event. Thanks to extractions, microdermabrasion, and the use of skin-irritating acids that are common in most pro treatments, it’s easy to emerge looking blotchy, inflamed, and with a greasy hairline rather than fresh-faced and party-ready.

Well, consider that old rule of thumb passé. Because today’s skin experts have found a way to condense the skin-illuminating results of a facial into a quick treatment that doesn't involve all the poking, steaming, and agitation. You can emerge radiant and camera-ready after mere minutes — no hours at the spa or crazy-expensive lasers required. It's called a flash facial, and it’s how models and celebs create instantly radiant skin before their biggest events.

Designed as a 10-minute pick-me-up for dull and dehydrated complexions, a flash facial emphasizes cocktailing expertly combined products that put active ingredients into overdrive. The result is brightened, de-puffed, and glowing skin in mere minutes. We spied the technique used on models backstage at the resort collections, and the whole concept of complexion CPR appealed to our inner lazy girls. Whether it's in flight or part of the pre-date dash, there are plenty of off-the-runway scenarios when this technique could come in handy.

So we rounded up some of fashion and Hollywood’s best dermatologists and aestheticians to provide real-girl guidance on how we can supercharge our complexions before a major event — or, let’s be real, after a written-on-our-face hangover — by creatively using skin-care supplies that we already have in our bathrooms.

Read on to learn exactly how to do this skin shortcut at home.


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Power-Cleanse Skin Without Unnecessary Roughness
Even the most Jedi of A-list skin experts can’t make a complexion glow without a clean slate. But when it comes to making skin look lit from within, clearing pores of gunk and excess oil is only the half of it; one must buff away the dulling dead skin cells, too.

The key is to exfoliate gently, according to Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, founder and director of Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery and clinical professor of dermatology at the George Washington Medical Center in Washington, D.C., since many robust scrubs can create micro cuts and tears in the skin — and result in the redness many suffer after full-fledged facials.

Skip bumpy scrubs (like those stocked with nut shells), and try something with a more simpatico texture — like a cleanser made with finely milled powders. True Nature Botanicals Pacific Exfoliating Cleanser is an R29 fave. Or try a DIY yogurt-and-oatmeal mix. You can also use a formula made with glycolic or lactic acid, provided you're not loading up on acid-spiked products later in the facial.
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Supercharge Your Regular Face Mask
Typically, a mask treatment is a languorous, 20-minute affair. But when used flash-facial style, these blends deliver active ingredients into the skin for instant hydration, plumping, and all-around radiance-making without the time suck. The trick is to boost your mask — or concoct your own — for optimal results in just five to 10 minutes.

Aesthetician Joanna Vargas, who helps celebs like Julianne Moore achieve their red-carpet glows, suggests spiking whatever mask you have with a few actives to target your particular skin concern.

“I always like to add boosters to masks, even in the salon,” Vargas says. To counter acne, she recommends adding a drop or two of tea tree oil and anise to a charcoal or clay mask. To calm red or inflamed skin, she suggests adding rose, arnica, lavender, or chamomile with horse chestnut. “Around the eyes, it’s all about cucumbers and chamomile for de-puffing,” she adds. To firm skin and tighten pores, try mixing egg whites into a mask. This will help constrict pores, notes New York-based dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman, MD.
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Create Your Own Ultra-Nourishing Blend
No mask on hand? Blend your trusted products to make a fast-acting skin brightener of your own. Backstage at Stella McCartney’s resort collection this summer, models were treated with a combination of Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser (which contains clay) and Sunday Riley Good Genes (a cream with lactic acid) for a makeshift skin-brightening mask — a combination that Dr. Engelman says is spot-on for creating a quick glow.

When cocktailing products at home, Dr. Engelman suggests mixing water-based serums with cream or powder cleansers to create high-powered masks. Since serums tend to contain a bevy of skin-penetrating active ingredients, they’re often primed to boost a complexion when allowed to marinate on the skin. If a concoction is too thick, make it more spreadable with a few shots of a rose face mist or floral water.

One caveat when home mixing: Since the goal is to make skin beam with the light of a thousand Instagram filters — not become hot and bothered — keep retinol-containing products on the shelf, and avoid using too many types of acid (such as lactic, glycolic, and salicylic) and benzoyl peroxide in one dose. Vitamin A combined with glycolic or salicylic acids can cause hypersensitivity and inflammation. “Your skin will look like it’s on fire — and you don’t want that before an event,” Dr. Engelman warns.
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Hydrate, Plump, & Go
After you rinse off your seven-minute supermask, your skin will look brighter. Now it’s time to activate illumination by plumping and hydrating. “I love facial oil for this,” Dr. Engelman says. “It gives your skin an instant quench and makes it look glowy.” To bypass the greasy-faced state that befalls many self-facialists after smearing generous pumps of oil, tap or press a few drops into your skin instead.

If you just don’t like oils in general, try a lightweight but majorly hydrating gel with hyaluronic acid, like Dr. Gross Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion, which is oil-free.

Finally, make cheekbones and browbones appear expertly lit by tapping a bit of eye cream around the sockets. Is your skin not a fan of luxe creams and balm textures? Use a soothing rose gel (Aromatica Damask Rose Soothing Gel contains 95% rose and smells incredible) as a way to brighten the delicate eye area without breaking out, Dr. Engelman suggests. Keep it in the fridge for a cooling effect.

After a blast or two of a light-as-air skin mist (hello, Tatcha Dewy Skin Mist), your face will beam with the dewy finish of an It Girl full of last night’s regrets, but radiantly ready to hit the stage — even if your platform is just Snapchat.
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