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How to Give Yourself a Pro-Level Facial At Home

Photo by AleksandarNakic / Getty Images

There are endless reasons why we love getting a facial—the deep cleanse, the gentle exfoliation, the glowy results (even with dry skin), and, of course, the relaxing vibe of it all. And if you’ve spent time out in the sun or dry winter air, or if your skin’s been stressed, a facial is what your skin needs to feel refreshed and radiant. Nothing compares to an in-spa facial, but when you can’t book your favorite esthetician for a professional facial, or your fave dermatologist is all booked, an at-home facial is the perfect way to boost your complexion. The best part? You don’t need an arsenal of pro-quality skincare products to do it. To be clear, we’re not talking pore extractions here—please leave extractions to the pros (doing it yourself without the right technique and tools could cause more harm than good). Think of your at-home facial like your traditional skincare routine, but with some added pampering. “Giving yourself mini facials is the best way to keep your skin bright, smooth, and glowing in between professional facials,” says Los Angeles-based esthetician Erica Marie, who loves inspiring people with tips on how to give yourself a facial at home.

There are many types of DIY facials that incorporate facial massage, steaming, and more, but at the very least, your routine should include basic steps like cleansing, exfoliating, and masking. Want to up the indulgence? Take time to set up your space, include a little meditative pre-care, and make sure you’re not rushing the process. Ready for your best at-home facial ever? We asked Marie, plus Los Angeles-based esthetician Aziel Faith Rodgers for their tips, techniques, and favorite products to get your skin refreshed and glowing until you and your beloved facialist meet again.

About the Experts:

Erica Marie Glatt Marie is a Los Angeles-based esthetician and founder of EM Skin.
Aziel Faith Rodgers is the lead esthetician at The Things We Do in Los Angeles.

DIY Facial in 8 Easy Steps

Step 1: Create Your Oasis

One reason we cherish spa time is the ambiance—we love taking in the stress-melting scents and soothing ambience, while our trusted facialist brings our skin back to life. Before you start your at-home facial, gather your favorite candles, or put on a playlist you love to create your ideal vibe. “Using an essential oil diffuser and mixing scents will help enhance your experience,” says esthetician Aziel Faith Rodgers. The plus side of doing facials at your own oasis is that you can customize them based on your mood or time of day.

For example, Rodgers loves ylang-ylang and lavender oils to soothe and calm, and lemon and rosemary to energize and clear the mind. Trust us, taking a few moments to create a clear, soothing space is worth the effort—and a good excuse to give your bathroom vanity some much needed TLC.

Close-up of a young woman with clear, glowy skin

Step 2: Start With a Double Cleanse

Ever since we started double cleansing, we’re convinced that our skin has never been cleaner (and clearer). “Double cleansing is important to really cleanse the skin and remove impurities,” says Rodgers. This two-step method ensures that all makeup, dirt, and excess oils come off, and that you’ve got a clean slate for the rest of your skincare products. Rodgers says to start with an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup and SPF that can be tough to remove with other formulas. Massage it all over your skin, using gentle circular motions, then remove with a warm, wet washcloth. Next, go in with a cream, gel, or foam cleanser (cream cleansers are great for sensitive skin types), massaging it all over and then rinsing away with warm water.

“Always include your face, neck, and décolleté,” adds Erica Marie, who recommends AYUR MEDIC’s Mild Cleansing Gel that nourishes the skin barrier. We love to use the DRUNK ELEPHANT Beste™ No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, which is a major hit on TikTok for a reason. We love its soothing formula and the way it dissolves stubborn makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and debris from our skin without stripping it of moisture.

The NEOGEN A-Clear Soothing Foam Cleanser is another cleanser we stand by. We dig the hydrating and acne-fighting foamy formula because of the way it gently washes away dirt and impurities from our face while calming redness and irritation.

Step 3: Exfoliate Away Dullness

When dead skin cells pile up on our skin’s surface, they can make our complexion look dull and uneven. “Exfoliation is important to help turn over skin cells and remove dead skin. This in turn will help with smoothing skin’s texture and help with product penetration,” says Rodgers. “Exfoliate with an exfoliator that has little granules by gently rubbing in circular motions,” adds Marie. Focus on areas where you see congestion, Marie suggests. “Don’t go over the same spot more than three times,” she adds. While you rinse, continue to massage in circles until it’s all removed. Pat (don’t rub) your skin dry.

  • Depending on the level of exfoliation you’re going for, you may even want to opt for an exfoliating cleanser to use after your oil cleanser in step 2. We’ve been using the REFLEKT SKINCARE Daily Exfoliating Face Wash, thanks to its gentle formula made from hyaluronic acid, vegetable collagen, Vitamin B5, and jojoba esters. It cleanses, exfoliates, and hydrates and is even gentle enough for daily use. 

  • Another exfoliator we think is worth adding to your skincare lineup is the HEY HONEY Come Clean Propolis & Dead Sea Minerals Facial Scrub. We love that it sloughs off dead skin cells and unclogs pores to help reveal a more youthful, glowy, even complexion.

  • The GOLDFADEN MD Fresh A Peel - A Multi Acid Resurfacing Peel is a great option if you’re looking for chemical exfoliation. Apply a small amount all over the skin like a mask and leave it on for one to three minutes to reveal your softest, smoothest, and most supple skin. Lactic acid, fruit enzymes, and vitamins C and E are the MVP ingredients of the formula.

  • Want to really tap into your inner esthetician? We suggest going with one of our all-time favorite physical exfoliators: DERMAFLASH LUXE+. This electronic tool removes peach fuzz and dead skin cells. The result? A deeper exfoliation, clearer complexion, and smoother skin. The tool does include a small blade, so be sure to consult with a professional if you’re new to using dermaplaning tools. 

Step 4: Steam to Open Pores

Love a soothing steam session? You don’t need a fancy facial steaming device to reap those pore-opening and skin-softening benefits. We cracked the code to doing it at home. “If you don’t have a small facial steamer, you can boil water and add herbs like rosemary or lavender to it,” says Rodgers. Then, hold your face over the pot of water (while maintaining a safe distance), and place a towel over your head to catch all the steam.” Heavenly, right? Not only will your skin feel amazing, but your at-home spa will smell like a dream. We also love this in a pinch: Soak a face towel in very warm water, ring out the excess water, and when once cool to touch, gently place it over your face for two to three minutes.

Image of a woman putting on a clay mask and another image of the same woman putting on a sheet mask

Step 5: Apply A Face Mask or Multimask

We all have our unique skin concerns—so choose face masks that target yours. Oily and breakout-prone skin tends to benefit from applying pore-detoxifying, oil-absorbing clay masks. If your skin is dry, reach for something that boosts hydration. Marie suggests the IS CLINICAL Hydra Intensive Cooling Mask with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, rosemary leaf, and soothing aloe vera. You also can’t go wrong with the REN CLEAN SKINCARE Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, which includes a unique blend of glycolic, lactic, citric, and tartaric acids to help smooth skin texture, minimize the look of fine lines and pores, and fade dark spots.

The coolest part about DIY facials is that you’re not limited to just one mask. Multimasking is a skincare trend we swear by for targeting our skin’s various needs. When you multimask, you can apply masks to different areas of your face (like a clay mask to your T-zone if it’s oily, and a cream mask to your cheeks if they’re dry), or you can apply them consecutively (for example, a clay mask followed by a hydrating sheet mask—we love the MID FLOWER Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Sheet Mask, made with moisture-locking hyaluronic acid to help hydrate, plump, and smooth skin.).

Just don’t physically mix mask formulas, because doing so may prevent them from having their intended effect. And if you love whipping up your own masks, Rodger suggests not to “use anything too acidic or alkaline like lemons or baking soda,” as it can “impair your skin’s natural barrier.”

Image of a woman massaging her face with her hands

Step 6: Use an Ice Globe Over Hydrating Masks

If you’ve never tried an ice globe, you’re about to be wowed. Marie recommends using ice globes for their cooling, soothing, depuffing effects. “Ice globes help improve blood circulation, reduce puffiness, decrease inflammation, give you a healthy glow, and more! I like to keep ice globes in the refrigerator, not the freezer. Use ice globes with light pressure over a hydrating mask starting at your eyebrows, then glide them vertically to your temples and under eyes, and gently massage in circular motions over your face, neck, and décolleté. Repeat three times.”

We suggest the SONÄGE SKINCARE Baby Firoz Mini Icy Globes in Lilac make for the perfect pick-me-up on tired skin—just pop them in the fridge and use them to massage your skin, boost circulation, reduce redness, and more.

SONÄGE SKINCARE Baby Frioz Mini Icy Globes in Lilac

Step 7: Add Serums and Moisturizer

When we want to amplify our glow, we incorporate silky serums and moisturizers into our spa routine. Not only do we love the way they feel, but they also enhance our skin’s vibrancy. ORIGINS GINZING™ Into The Glow Brightening Serum is a great place to start. The Vitamin C-packed product combines a five percent Retexturizing Complex (a blend of green coffee seed extract and alpha and beta hydroxy acids) to help the skin’s natural cell turnover.

After applying the serum(s) of your choice, we recommend a moisturizer. We stand by the KATE SOMERVILLE® Goat Milk Moisturizing Cream because it’s safe for all skin types and infused with antioxidant-rich grapeseed oil and vitamin E to neutralize inflammation in the skin. We feel like we’re lapping our faces in luxury with every last swipe.

Step 8: Massage with Face Oil

You’ve made it to the most relaxing, indulgent part of your facial—the massage. Facial massages help boost circulation, and can help with lymphatic drainage (to help direct toxins out of your body). “You can use facial tools like a jade roller to help with product penetration, or a gua sha tool to help with toning and lifting,” says Rodgers. But if you don’t have those, your hands will work just fine. Face oils are great for facial massage, and they’re packed with skin-healthy ingredients, but you can also use a good amount of your favorite moisturizer, too. “Just apply with your fingertips, and then gently massage and tap onto your skin,” says Rodgers. Focus on spots like your orbital bone, under your cheekbones, your jaw, and behind your earlobes (so soothing). Once you’re done, you can dab off any excess product or let your skin soak it up. The BYROE Pear Serum Oil uses a nourishing blend of moringa seed oil, red algae, a dew-boosting glow matrix, and leaf shield to help hydrate and strengthen your skin’s barrier.

Step 9: Top Off Your Eyes and Lips

If you’ve ever had a pro facial, then you know the telltale signs that your relaxing treatment has come to an end: the application of eye cream and lip balm. Yes, these two products signify the final step of your facial, but they also serve an important purpose. The skin around both your eyes and your lips is incredibly thin and prone to moisture loss. You’ve done all that work above to ensure your skin is hydrated and happy, and eye cream and lip balms lock that all in, so you can reap the benefits of your at-home facial for longer.

When we want to leave a facial with soft, supple, decadently moisturized lips, we apply the CIATÉ LONDON Smiley® Lip Mask. It goes the extra mile, extending beyond your traditional balm. Shea butter and jojoba seed take hydration to the next level, even doubling as an overnight mask if we choose to use it that way. As for eye cream, Marie suggests, DR. ZENOVIA’s Retinol Recovery Eye Cream to help hydrate while softening fine lines and wrinkles, or RETROUVE’s Revitalizing Eye Concentrate Serum that delivers much-needed moisture while softening skin.

DERMALACTIVES Light Therapy 7-in-1

Want to Take Your DIY Facial to the Next Level? Try These 4 Easy Ideas.

  • Set Your Space: As we mentioned in the beginning, creating a comfortable, relaxing, or fun environment for your at-home facial will make the experience far more enjoyable. Think of your facialist’s space—chances are it's warm, inviting, and soothing. While you don’t have to invest in a professional set-up, adding touches like candles, calming scents (as Faith mentioned above), and soft music can work wonders. Make sure all of your products and tools are laid out in the order in which you need them, and within reach, to take the guesswork out of each step. Finally, try to shut out distractions so you can work through your DIY facial with fewer interruptions.

  • Use LED Lights: There are many at-home LED devices available (including one we mention below). It’s important to use the correct type of LED light depending on your skin’s needs. Marie says the rule of thumb is as follows: “Red [light] for anti-aging, and fine lines and wrinkles, and blue for blemished skin to kill bacteria and get rid of acne.” The DERMALACTIVES Light Therapy 7-in-1 for hands-free LED skincare therapy. It helps speed up healing, stimulates blood flow, and more for healthy, glowing skin.

  • Try an At-Home Microcurrent Device: According to Marie, microcurrent is the perfect way to boost your facial if you purchase a DIY device. “[Microcurrent] softens fine lines and wrinkles, brightens dark circles, de-puffs, tightens, tones, and gives you a beautiful glow!”

  • Try an All-In-One Tool: Marie recommends SOLAWAVE Wand, which is known for its multiple benefits. It stimulates muscles and deeper layers of skin with microcurrents, gently massages skin to de-puff, delivers both red and blue light therapy to target skin concerns, and imparts therapeutic warmth to boost absorption of skincare products during your facial, resulting in reduced redness, and more.

What Not to Do During Your DIY Facial

  • DIY Extractions: Repeat after us, “Extractions are for the pros.” It may be tempting, but trying to extract your own blemishes, blackheads, or clogged pores can actually make them worse and cause damage to your skin, resulting in scarring. 

  • Use Harsh or Strong Skincare Products: If you’ve discovered a new wonder cream made with skincare ingredients you’ve never tried before, now may not be the time. Between cleansing, exfoliating, steaming, and more, your skin’s already undergoing more than usual. Use something gentle your skin is already used to, and always check with your derm before trying something that may be harsh on your skin.

  • Use Unwashed Tools: Cleanliness is key! From your hands to your skincare tools, to the washcloths and surfaces you’re using, make sure everything’s nice and clean so you’re not introducing germs to your skin.

Want more at-home skincare tips and buzzy tricks? Get your at-home spa stocked with products from an IPSY subscription. Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already a member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram @IPSY.

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About the author
Pia Bhattacharya
Pia is a New York-based beauty editor at IPSY with over 10 years experience including editorial, public relations, and copywriting. Her work has appeared in SELF magazine, in beauty and branding for Bloomingdale’s, and others.
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Article Last Updated March 27, 2023 12:00 AM