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The Perfect At-Home Facial

Updated on November 30, 2015
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Whip your complexion into shape without shelling out megabucks

Wondering whatever happened to that long-gone ex-boyfriend? Get yourself a professional facial: I guarantee that when you exit the salon, mottled red from a squeeze-happy aesthetician, your former flame will be the first person you run into. Fortunately, for the cost of a spa visit, you can invest in a few months’ worth of masks, scrubs and creams to perfect your pores in the privacy of your home. Take your face into your own hands in 60 minutes or less with these four steps to flawless skin. (Long-lost lover not included.)

Step 1: Slap on the Suds

Our facial plan is a weekly one, but you should use this technique every time you wash your face: Remove eye makeup, then lather up with a gentle cleanser like Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser. Focus fingers on clog-heavy spots like your forehead, around your nose and under your lower lip. Rinse, then soap your face a second time. The first wash gets most of the surface dirt and makeup, but you need a second time to get skin really clean.

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Step 2: Steam Things Up

Hot-water groupies swear that every-seventh-day steams are the quickest route to complexion nirvana. It lets the skin sweat out the toxins, which is the way our body works naturally. It cleanses from the inside out. Despite what you may have heard, pores aren’t valves – you can’t open and close them. However, heat and steam will soften any pore plugs. One side effect: When water evaporates from your face, it can wick away some of your skin’s own moisture. As a preventive step, smooth on a light layer of their favorite moisturizer before hitting the heat. Fill a basin with hot water, and throw in some face treats, like a few drops of essential oil. (An essential-oil primer: Lavender, rosemary and clary sage are good for general purifying; tea tree and eucalyptus fight oil; rose, neroli and jasmine calm troubled skin; geranium and patchouli moisturize). Or grab Better Botanicals Facial Steam. Its mix of dried rose petals, chamomile buds and frankincense contains anti-inflammatories that soothe skin. Put a towel over your head and keep your face over the bowl for 5 to 10 minutes. If you break out a few days after steaming, don’t fret. That’s the body flushing out impurities. The more regularly you steam, the better your skin will get. Steam-related breakouts can show up as whiteheads. Anything red or rashy could be an allergic reaction to a product you’ve used. Caution: If broken capillaries (skinny red veins, usually found around the nose and cheeks) or rosacea (patchy red splotches) run in your clan, skip this step. Limit steam exposure to the shower. It’s less aggressive.

Step 3: Use Some Scour Power

Exfoliation makes everything from masks to moisturizers work better. Products are better able to penetrate the skin when they’re not impeded by dead cells. Rub on your scrub with outward circular movements, then rinse. Two to try: Archive Baby Face and Guerlain Issima Smoothing Exfoliator, which packs additional plant-based firming ingredients. Pain does not equal gain. It shouldn’t feel unpleasant; it shouldn’t sting or bite. And save the loofah for your feet: Experts no longer suggest using scrubbing cloths, because such items can collect and transmit bacteria, defeating the purpose of deep cleaning. There’s a reason nobody’s suggesting you do your own extractions (industry-speak for pimple popping). Experts say the at-home facialist should skip them. If you absolutely must, however, now is the time (post-scrub, pre-mask). DIY method: Fold a tissue over to make a cover for each index finger. Work top to bottom, starting on your forehead, and gently squeeze the impaction (any visible plug, such as a blackhead). Don’t use your nails. Don’t go near anything that’s inflamed or sore. (Those are usually cysts that are too deep to squeeze anything out of, and you may end up scarring yourself). Wiggle from side to side – it will cause less trauma than a squeeze-any-way-you-please technique. Finish by going over skin with an antiseptic wipe like Dermalogica Skin Purifying Wipes.

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Stock Your Bathroom with these Treats

Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser is a lovely floral-scented mousse.

Step 4: The Final Fix: A Mask

Everyone sees those old-school clay masks in the movies, so that’s what they buy. But it’s key to pick the right mask for your skin type. You can use gel masks to drench the dehydrated, clay masks to degrease oily types and cooling masks to soothe acne irritation. On a slow night, you can multi-mask with a zone defense plan: a de-puffing gel around your eyes, a clay concoction on the T-zone and a super moist collagen pack on parched cheeks. If you mix fixes, choose products that you keep on for the same amount of time so you’re not rinsing off your nose first and your cheeks 10 minutes later. When you’re done, follow the same cleansing method described in Step One to get all the gunk off. Then lock in the mask’s benefits with a layer of moisturizer. Schedule your facial for right before you hit the sack. You want the stuff you’ve put on to soak in, so it’s not good to apply makeup or sunscreen right away. Plus, when you’re sleeping, skin can process the ingredients in the products you’ve applied. So you can greet the day (and any exes) with a fresh, glowing complexion.

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A super-duper moisture booster: SCO Ultra Soothing Face Mask

Post-pimple picking, disinfect with Dermalogical Skin Purifying Wipes.

Soft scrub: Guerlain Issima Smoothing Exfoliator is gentle and effective.

It’s a scrub, it’s a mask – it depends on how you use it.

If you don’t use the pretty Better Botanicals Facial Steam for your face, you can try is as home décor.

Easy on the eyes: Darphin Soothing Eye Contour Mask will perk up your peepers.

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