Everything Team Refinery29 Uses For An At-Home Facial

Illustrated by Olivia Santner.
The hashtag #SundayFacial trends at the end of every weekend, and with good reason. Alongside a slap-up roast, getting lost in a good book, a dog walk or yoga class, spending some TLC time in your bathroom is one of the best ways to fend off the fear of Monday.
Whether your beauty routine is more centred around relaxation – a bathtub strewn with candles, a facial oil massaged into your skin – or pumping and prepping your visage with your favourite products for another working week, the ritual itself is an important time-out.
Ahead, Refinery29 staff talk through their #SundayFacial, from the routines they've finessed to the products they favour. Click through to get some inspiration for your own end-of-week at-home spa session. Aaaaand relax.
1 of 9
Jacqueline Kilikita, Beauty Editor

Contrary to popular belief, my Sunday Facial routine is pretty simple – no tools and gadgets here! Dermatologist Dr. Anjali Mahto recommended this foaming cleanser for my super oily, acne-prone skin. No other product leaves my face as squeaky clean and fresh! I massage a 5p-size dollop onto damp skin for exactly one minute to dislodge all traces of oil, grime and makeup, before rinsing off.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel, £12, available at La Roche-Posay

I know this mask is a little pricy but it’s good, and without regular exfoliation, my skin becomes congested and spotty. I slather the green, sherbert-y paste onto damp skin (taking care to avoid the eye area), massage it in with my fingertips and let it work its magic for 10 minutes before rinsing off with tepid water and patting my skin dry with a warm, fluffy towel. It contains physical and chemical exfoliators, like lactic acid and fruit enzymes, to chip away at dull, dead skin cells. Warning: It tingles. A lot. But it makes my skin glow. Bye, acne scars.

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment, £72, available at Cult Beauty

I use this as an eye cream, because it’s the only product that keeps my under-eye eczema at bay. I dot it underneath my lower lash line and massage it in using back and forth motions: I start at the inner corner and sweep up and out to my temple. Then, I massage round in a circle three times to get the circulation going.

CeraVe Moisturising Cream Pot, £10.87, available at Boots

To keep pigmentation and acne at bay, I finish with a 5p-size puddle of The Ordinary’s Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion – it’s the only retinoid that doesn’t irritate my skin. I rub my palms together and apply it to every inch of skin, from my forehead right down to my neck. If I feel like my skin needs extra quenching or if it’s a little flaky, I switch to the same formula in squalane.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, £8, available at The Ordinary
2 of 9
Georgia Murray, Fashion & Beauty Writer

I'm a bonafide beauty junkie and boy, do I love a Sunday Facial. Any time spent in the bathroom with a glass of wine and a book is enough to calm my anxiety, and most nights, the 20 minutes I spend applying lotions and potions is the only alone time I get all day. It is my happy place.

First up, I cleanse with Emma Hardie’s Amazing Face Cleansing Balm, which smells divine and leaves my skin feeling plump, before removing with a hot cloth.

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm, £39.95, available at Feel Unique

Next up I slather Oskia’s Renaissance Mask over my face, and leave for about 20 minutes. It contains fruit and lactic acids to slough away dead skin cells – my skin always looks bright post-use. If I’m feeling extra, I’ll paint my nails or use Bleach’s Reincarnation Mask while I wait.

Oskia Renaissance Mask, £51, available at Cult Beauty

Once the mask is washed off and my skin is dry, I liberally spritz Sarah Chapman’s Liquid Facial D-stress all over my face and neck. This includes peptides and feels super refreshing – I use The Body Shop’s Vitamin E Hydrating Face Mist whenever I’m hungover to bring me back to life, too.

Sarah Chapman Liquid Facial D-stress, £42, available at Space NK

While my face is still moist, I apply The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 – even in summer I rely on hyaluronic acid to keep my skin feeling hydrated, plump and dewy.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90, available at Fabled

Finally, I bring out the big guns. Allies of Skin’s Promise Keeper Blemish Facial is one of the only products that keeps my hormonal spots at bay, and a little goes a long way. It smells amazing, too, and I always wake up with brighter and clearer-looking skin. It's one of the only products I can rely on to clear up my congested, angry skin – a hero product for me.

Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Facial, £110, available at Cult Beauty
3 of 9
Anna Jay, Art Director

I just really like the feeling of this sponge, it’s made of 100% sustainable bamboo and the texture is really soothing. I usually use it in the shower without any product, it’s really satisfying to use and exfoliates the skin without any harsh chemicals.

The Konjac Sponge Co Bamboo Charcoal Face Sponge, £10, available at Oliver Bonas

Unintentionally another charcoal product but this mask is my absolute favourite. It’s clay-based so dries and crackles, drawing out impurities, and leaves my skin super soft afterwards.

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask, £17, available at The Body Shop

After the mask I like to refresh my skin with rose water, which seems to help even out redness with its anti-inflammatory properties. It also smells amazing and feels super refreshing.

Diptyque Infused Facial Water, £35, available at Space NK

My skin is on the drier side, especially in the colder months, and this easily absorbed oil is my saviour. Its blend of natural oils help to repair dry patches and acts as a great pre-moisturiser, especially in the evening.

Alex Carro Balancing Face Oil, £60.79, available at Alex Carro

This cream is without doubt my skincare hero. In the year or so I’ve been using it (paired with the day cream, but I prefer the gel-like texture of the sleeping cream), my skin has been super clear and really hydrated. I use it every night just before bed, and can’t imagine changing moisturiser any time soon.

The Body Shop Oils of Life Sleeping Cream, £29, available at The Body Shop
4 of 9
Effy Okogba, International Sales Manager

I’m always looking for those magic products that fulfil more than one role in my skincare routine and this Malin & Goetz Detox Face mask ticks that box. It can be used as both a cleanser (I use it as my second cleanse) and a face mask. I use it after washing my face with a tea tree oil-based foaming cleanser, applying a thin layer to my skin and using my fingertips to massage it in, in circular motions. After two or so minutes I wash it off and pat my face dry with a washcloth.

Malin + Goetz Detox Face Mask, £34, available at Space NK

La Roche-Posay products really suit my combination skin type, and this clay-based mask specifically helps to unclog my pores after a hectic week. Using a sponge, I apply a liberal amount of the mask to my face, and leave it on for 10-15 minutes until my face feels unbearably tight. It is when I can no longer move my face that I wash off the mask with warm water, patting my face dry with a cloth.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Anti-Blemish Clay Mask, £11, available at Boots

One of the last steps in my routine is to hydrate my skin post-mask and cleanser combination, which tends to be quite drying. I discovered this Malin & Goetz recovery treatment oil a few months ago, and it has changed my life! I use the pipette to drop 5-6 drops of the oil on various points of my face. I then massage the oil in gently until my skin feels (and looks) glowy.

Malin + Goetz Recovery Treatment Oil, £66, available at Space NK

The final phase in my skincare routine serves to lock in as much moisture as possible, in the hopes of ageing as well as Naomi Campbell and Oprah. My most tried and tested product is the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex. It absorbs so well into my skin, on top of the multitude of products that have gone before; I apply it by placing a couple of drops onto the tips of my fingers and working outwards from my nose to the sides of my hairline.

Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II, £53, available at Look Fantastic
5 of 9
Katy Harrington, Managing Editor

Step one! This dinky little gadget is such a brilliant way to make cleansing feel a bit more fancy. I’m a huge fan of a creamy/ balmy cleanser (usually from a mid-price pharmacy brand like Vichy) massaged into the skin and removed with a hot muslin cloth or flannel (we call them facecloths in Ireland and I wish it would catch on here). But I really like the sensation of the soft silicon bristles, and the sonic pulses make it feel like you're getting a facial massage as well as a deep clean. If you're very serious about your at-home facials, the brand has a 'UFO mini' that combines "Korean mask expertise with Swedish technology". The best thing about it is it takes 90 seconds. That’s my kinda facial.

Foreo Luna Mini, £85, available at Look Fantastic

Foaming cleansers are just not my thing, they dry my skin out way too much. Cream cleansers are fab and you can get some great cheap ones, but this is my all-time fave because it feels so luxurious and rich, and you only need a penny-size blob to remove every stubborn bit of makeup and leave your face feeling beautifully clean. Excellent for a really decent cleanse.

REN Rosa Centifolia No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm, £25, available at REN Skincare

Because of my bias towards the aforementioned heavier (cream or balm) cleansers, I need a refreshing toner before I start adding hydration. This Melvita organic toner is one of the best and it smells DREAMY.

Melvita Organic Rose Floral Water Spray, £13.13, available at Melvita

If I was made of money I’d use Sisley beauty and makeup exclusively, but I’m flesh and bone and very poor so all I’ve got is my mum’s cast-offs, including this awesome express mask that gives you really soft, fresh-looking skin. They say leave on for three minutes and then dab off the excess with a tissue; I say go to sleep in it because honey, it’s been a long week and my face is thirsty.

Sisley Paris Express Flower Gel Mask, £112.60, available at Nordstrom
6 of 9
Casey Bird, Creative Lead, Branded Content

Quite a cult classic here but you can’t go wrong with Emma Hardie’s cleansing balm. And it has lasted me for absolutely AGES so far. Apply a tiny bit (5p-size piece) to your hands and massage all over your face and neck. Then wipe away with a warm cloth. It’s that’s simple! Some people use this as a pre-cleanser but since I don’t wear a lot of makeup this does the job for me.

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm, £30, available at Cult Beauty

I’ve loved Dermalogica since I was a teenager with sensitive blotchy skin but could never afford it so saved any requests for my Christmas list. Right now I use their charcoal masque, half because it’s the latest 'cool trend' and half because it makes my skin feel really refreshed afterwards. It says leave for 3-5 minutes but I sometimes leave it for 10 minutes and then remove.

Dermalogica Charcoal Rescue Masque, £42, available at Selfridges

I get quite dry skin so I love putting on this oil just before bed and giving it hours to soak in. But be warned – my friend used it when she stayed over a few weeks ago and didn’t like how oily it felt on her face, so I guess that feeling isn’t for everyone. But I’m totally in love with it as it's full of plant extracts and essential oils, and it smells so damn good.

Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil, £34, available at Clarins

Last but not least. I hit 30 last year and became instantly obsessed with skincare specifically around my eyes. So far my absolute fave has to be Tata Harper’s eye cream. It’s kind of spenny but you only need a teeny bit and it’s lasted me six months now (although I am on my last drops). I dab this lightly around my eyes and wait for the buckwheat wax and arnica to reduce any puffiness. Insider tip: I always dab it on my upper lip as well. You’re welcome.

Tata Harper Restorative Eye Creme, £85, available at Space NK
7 of 9
Kara Kia, Editorial Intern

After seeing how well oil works for removing makeup, I think jojoba makes a decent pre-cleanse. Jojoba has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, for keeping my pores clear and calm. The oil also gives my combination skin a bit of moisture before deep cleansing. Using a dropper, I dispense one to two drops on my cheeks, forehead, nose and chin and then lightly massage my face before rinsing with warm water.

MV Skincare Pure Jojoba, £31, available at Naturisimo

My HG cleanser, going strong for two years. It's gentle, great for acne-prone and sensitive skin without the tight feeling, and has a pleasant non-irritating scent. After moistening my skin with warm water, I put a microscopic amount in the centre of my palm and emulsify the product into a foam before massaging my cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.

Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, £8, available at iHerb

I used to use Elizavecca Milky Piggy Carbonated Clay Mask (the original foaming face mask you’ve probably seen on Instagram or YouTube), which gave great results on my acne-prone skin. Recently, I tried Caudalie Instant Detox Mask and I’m not turning back – the formula is light, gentle and effective.

Caudalie Instant Detox Mask, £22, available at Look Fantastic

This moisturiser is very strong and as I have sensitive skin, I treat DCL as I would an acne medication and only use it a few times a week in the evening. I drop a few dots in the centre of my hands, rub it gently between my palms and lightly sweep it across my face in an upward motion.

DCL Clear Skin Anti-Blemish Hydrator, £37, available at Cult Beauty
8 of 9
Sohini Gogel, Head of Production

I am all about a good face mask. Even more so when it is a Himalayan Charcoal Purifying mask. I apply all over my face and while it’s doing its magic, I read a book or apply some nail varnish. Not only do I feel the mask deeply cleans my pores, but I also like the fact that it’s formulated without parabens, paraffin, silicone or mineral oil. My skin is sensitive and I like to take care of it.

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask, £17, available at The Body Shop

Sundays are made for a long, luxurious shower, stress-free, preparing me for the week ahead. After my face mask, I always gently scrub my face and body. Very simple, circular, gentle movements with this amazing loofah. The movement on my skin relaxes my muscles, it removes dead skin cells accumulated all week long, it helps circulation and my skin immediately feels better, tighter and sooo smooth. I literally feel like the week, the pollution and the stress have been washed away. Bliss.

The Body Shop Smooth And Renew Loofah Pad, £4.50, available at The Body Shop

I have very sensitive skin and after exfoliating, I need to refresh and smooth the tight-skin, after-shower feeling. My go-to (since forever) is Weleda’s Almond Soothing Facial Cream. Fragrance-free, rich but without an oily feel, I cannot live without it. I apply the light cream on my forehead and each side of my nose, and gently blend in. The feeling is fabulous. I love the cream’s light and fluid texture – easy to apply, and so soothing for my skin.

Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Cream, £17.50, available at Weleda

I recently discovered this Kiehl’s serum and I love it. I was so impressed. I use it day and night, every day, all week long, and on Sundays too. And it works. I delicately apply several drops on the fine lines around my eyes and mouth. Super fluid texture, not oily, easy to apply: I massage the serum in, taking the time to massage the muscles in my face. Total relaxation.

Kiehl's Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate, £49.50, available at Kiehl's
9 of 9
Sadhbh O’Sullivan, Social Media Assistant

My Sunday doesn’t differ hugely from any other day of the week – I have hormonal cystic acne that I’ve finally, after two years, got in check. So while I rotate products to keep my skin on its toes (mixed metaphors, sorry), I stick to the structure of oil cleanse, vit C in the morning, BHA toner at night and retinol. This cleanser is my saving grace. Everyone’s skin is different, but I didn’t believe the hype about oil cleansers until this one. Gets rid of all the gunk, doesn’t aggravate my skin, and I look less oily, more glowy. I squeeze about half a tablespoon into the palm of my hand (only know that measurement from cooking), rub over both my hands and massage into clean skin for about 30 seconds before rinsing off with warm water and a clean flannel, and patting dry.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, £24.99, available at Amazon

This is reserved for when I’m feeling luxurious and spotty (whitehead spotty, not cysts). It’s expensive but God it’s worth it once in a while. I rarely double cleanse so this gives me a good, invigorating start to the week. This is only some Sundays, mind, if I’m not doing a mask. If I use it I follow the same steps as with the DHC cleanser: onto dry skin, massage, warm rinse.

Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser, £61, available at Cult Beauty

Depending on how my skin is looking or feeling, I might use an AHA like lactic or glycolic, though I prefer lactic acid atm. This Ordinary one is cheap, cheerful and does the job. I’ll drop about 5 droplets all over my face, massage in with my fingertips and leave to absorb.

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA, £5.80, available at The Ordinary

I’m a big fan of overnight masks so I don’t often do a wash-on, wash-off one. However this Medik8 one is fab once in a while. It’s just really nice to use! And it leaves my skin looking lush. I have no concrete evidence but I haven’t had very many blackheads at all since I incorporated this into my 'once a week and probably Sunday' routine. I put this on mainly over my T-zone, leave for 10 minutes as I wander around my flat aimlessly, then rinse off with warm water and a flannel.

Medik8 Natural Clay Mask, £29, available at Medik8

I’m very lucky to have been gifted this by our gorgeous beauty writer Georgia, and it’s changed my life just a little bit. It’s the PERFECT overnight mask, especially if used with the Molecular Saviour Mist which you spray on beforehand. Moisturising and refreshing, I look brighter and glowing on a Monday morning instead of knackered and in desperate need of a nap already. I’ll put this on before bed…

Allies of Skin 1A Overnight Mask, £87, available at Cult Beauty

... unless I use retinol! Dear sweet retinol. My saviour. How I love you. I use my prescribed one (shout out Differin) but Medik8 makes a fantastic one too. I won’t use this in conjunction with an overnight mask 'cos I’m wary of skin overload.

Medik8 Retinol 3TR, £29, available at Medik8

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