Easy and Fun At-Home Facial (for when you don’t have the $ to go to a spa)

at home facial
Cleanser, exfoliator, mask, serum, and face oil: all you need!

Last year I bought heavily discounted visits to a few estheticians in San Francisco as a treat to myself.  All three facials were relaxing and enjoyable, but at the end of the day, I think I would prefer that money going to massages. Massages! A Thai massage with heavy pressure is my idea of heaven, and my tight shoulders and back need a lot more help than my skin.

Luckily it’s easy to recreate the luxury and comfort of a facial at home, with just a few products. Read more to find out how!


The first step to an at-home facial is to cleanse and exfoliate your skin. Well-exfoliated skin absorbs products more readily, which gives you that sought-after glowing angel look. You don’t need the exact products I used – just tailor this to whatever you have available.

For me, that meant using my Clarisonic Mia and Philosphy’s Purity Made Simple cleanser, a fancy face wash I’ve been using sparingly (most of the time I use good ole Cetaphil). If you don’t have a face brush like the Clarisonic, you can use a (clean!) warm washcloth, or a physical exfoliant (i.e. face scrub).

Face scrub caution: make sure that the beads in your scrub are uniform small spheres. Exfoliants that have jagged edges (such as my high school favorite St Ive’s Apricot Scrub) are too rough for your face, and can cause micro-tears in your skin (which might make you cry micro-tears). Not worth it.


After you’ve washed your face, you can now use a steam bath to “open” your pores. I use scare quotes because pores don’t really open and close: they aren’t muscles (or mussels for that matter). But, warm water and steam does help dislodge remaining gunk that clogs your pores so I’ll use open metaphorically.

To make your own steam bath, all you need is a pot or bowl that can handle boiling water (not plastic), and (optional) a few herbs such as lavender or rosemary. I read somewhere that rosemary has antiseptic qualities, but I’m just a big fan of the smell (shout out to L’Oreal Everstrong Shampoo and Conditioner, which I just reordered on Amazon last night. I like switching up hair products regularly, so that’s saying something).

facial steam rosemary lavender
Rosemary and lavender steam – just before I poured in the hot water.

Boil a kettle of water, and pour it in the bowl. The steam may be too hot at first, so let it cool down for a few minutes – don’t scald yourself! Once it’s the Goldilocks right temperature, put your face over the bowl, and drape a towel around your head so the steam can’t escape.

It’s a little uncomfortable to sit like that for ten minutes or so, but it’s great for any congestion. Just put on your favorite 10-ish minute song. My gut instinct says Jungleland, but that might be more inspiring than relaxing. Maybe the new Washed Out CD?


After steaming for 5 to 15 minutes (depending on your patience for bending over), your skin is perfectly primed for a mask. Which mask you should use depends on your skin type. If you have normal to oily skin, I recommend Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask, which I previously reviewed here.

A cheaper alternative is the Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask, a cult drugstore formula. The kaolin in it is great for drawing out impurities, but I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive or dry skin.

If moisture is what you’re looking for, I highly recommend Lush Oatifix. It’s freshly made so you have to keep it in the refrigerator and use it within a few weeks (or just keep it freezer). The combination of banana, oatmeal, and ground almonds is incredibly soothing. If you’re feeling up to the DIY challenge, try mixing it up yourself.


Once you’ve washed off your mask, I recommend a serum. The one I’m trying out currently is a sample size of Ole Henriksen’s Truth Serum. It’s a very light formula that absorbs quickly into your skin and smells like oranges. I like that it’s both hydrating and brightening – definitely worth checking out.

A low-cost alternative is Seventh Generation Hydrating Serum, which is a mix of plant oils and extracts. You don’t have to use a serum at all, but if you have one on hand, now is the time to apply it.


Whether you have oily, combination, or dry skin, this is the most important step! I’m getting into face oils, which I especially recommend if you have dry or mature skin. The one I’m using right now is Fresh Seaberry Oil. It’s very very moisturizing – in fact, possibly a bit too much for my normal skin. I’m going to check out some lighter oils and report back.

That said, most women have under-moisturized skin (yep, even oily skin – not enough moisture can cause your skin to overproduce sebum).  If you want something lighter, I recommend a light face lotion such as Cerave PM or Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation.

All set! I recommend doing this at night, so you can just go right to sleep with clean, moisturized skin. Hope you wake up feeling gorgeous!


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