We’re rapidly approaching the most chaotic time of the year. It’s a good type of chaos, but the season of giving often puts a lot of stress and strain on our social lives, bank accounts, and most notably, our personal downtime. Between tackling an endless shopping list for gifts for our loved ones, researching recipes for Friendsgiving, stressing over which wine to bring to your boss’s Christmas party, and hustling to stay on top of your regular chores and daily tasks, self-care can easily fall by the wayside.
It’s impossible to pour from an empty cup, so in order to fully enjoy the moments of the holiday season, we encourage you to set aside time each week to lavish yourself with some much-deserved attention and pampering. Since your finances will be a little tied up in other areas over the next couple months, let’s start with the perfect at-home facial.
Step One: Cleanse
To begin your facial, you’ll want to ensure that your skin is completely clean of all makeup and debris you’ve encountered throughout your day. I like to soak my eye makeup off with a micellar water drenched cotton round, but you can also do this with olive, almond, or jojoba oil. Coconut oil is only ok if you’re not acne prone, since it’s highly comedogenic (meaning that it easily clogs and inflames pores).
Once your eye makeup has been gently removed, you’ll want to do a quick double cleanse. In short, double cleansing is using an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser, so you can effectively remove various types of grime from your skin. Chances are you’re already using a water-based cleanser (you’ll know because “water” will be listed as one of its top three ingredients), but investing in an oil-based cleanser is important for your regular routine, as well as an occasional facial.
Once you’ve oil cleansed, take time to work your water-based cleanser into a nice lather. This is the step in your facial where you’ll want to focus on some facial massaging, since you’re using a product that is more viscous and allows your hands to move easily across the skin without tugging or pulling. Starting at your chest and working up your neck and jawline with long strokes, gently push the muscles of your face in upward motions while also working your cleanser in circular motions, to encourage an increase of blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. For some visual aid, watch a couple videos of estheticians doing this step before starting your facial.
Step Two: Exfoliate
You’ll want to consider your skin condition before deciding on an exfoliation method. If you’re experiencing breakouts and oiliness, then a chemical exfoliant might be best for you; if your skin is dull, uneven, or dry, then you might be better off with a physical granular exfoliant. Exfoliation should always be done with a light hand or by the exact instructions for your particular product. If you’re using a physical exfoliant, be sure that you do not scratch the product against your skin, as this can easily cause irritation, inflammation, and breakouts. For chemical exfoliants, always use them for the prescribed amount of time — longer exposure on the skin will not result in deeper exfoliation, and you could end up with a chemical burn.
Step Three: Open
Steam is an important part of a facial, but be mindful to keep it cool! Steam can help open pores to allow for deeper penetration of the products that follow, but too much heat against your skin might cause irritation and sensitivity. Investing in a facial steamer would be ideal, but you can always boil a pot of water, fill a large bowl, and allow your face to hover several inches away from the steam. If it feels warm, back up a little bit, and stay for only about 10 minutes maximum.
Step Four: Masks
Yes, masks was meant to be plural. This can be done one of two ways: you can either choose to apply one mask and then follow with another, or you can opt for a multi-mask — it all depends on what your skin is needing! If you’re dealing with oiliness in some places and dryness in others, applying a mud or clay mask to the oily zones, and a hydrating rinse-off mask to the rest of your face might be the best plan for your skin’s needs. If your skin is relatively consistent in all areas, apply a brightening or tightening mask followed by a hydrating sheet mask.
A good facial is all about layering, so don’t be afraid to go all out on the masking! Just be sure that you aren’t mixing too many active ingredients together — in other words, don’t layer on multiple types of exfoliators. If you’ve done a chemical exfoliation during your second step, opt for a couple of different types of hydrating masks to avoid stressing out your skin.
Step Five: Press
Now that your skin is clean, pores are opened, and you’ve rinsed away your treatment masks, it’s time to really lay on the hydration. Korean skincare places a heavy emphasis on hydrating layers, and often you’ll see several “skins” applied during facials and daily routines. A “skin” is simply a layer of an essence or hydrating toner that is pressed onto the face using your fingertips, not rubbed on with a cotton round.
Taking a dime-sized amount of your favorite essence or hydrating toner, press it onto your face and neck and repeat as many times as you wish. The Korean 7 Skin Method would have you do it seven times — and since you’ve set aside this space for yourself, why not take the time to complete them all?
Step Six: Serum
Now that your skin is in a more receptive state, you’re going to want to give it a good dose of nourishment. You can either go for the brightening effects of a Vitamin C serum, or reach instead for a “buffet” of active ingredients in the form of a more general hydrating serum. It doesn’t really matter which route you take, just get some of that good stuff on your skin!
If you have a jade or quartz roller, now is an excellent time to whip it out. Pop it in your freezer ahead of time and work a dime-sized amount of your serum of choice across your face — the cold roller will help your skin start to calm down after all it has been through thus far.
Step Seven: Eyes and Lips
This one is easy: just apply your favorite eye cream or lip treatment before moving on to your final step. Always remember to apply eye creams with your ring finger for the lightest pressure possible.
Step Eight: Seal
All that’s left to do is seal all this goodness in. If you’re doing a facial during the day, or plan on applying makeup later, it might be best to finish off with a simple moisturizer (followed by SPF, of course!), rather than a cream or facial oil. If you’re calling it a night, or never planned on leaving the house in the first place (we don’t judge), then you’ll want to apply a moisturizer and an oil to really lock in all the hydration.