The inspiration for this post has come from my bridal clients who regularly ask me how they can look after their skin at home, while you can’t quite match the relaxing effects of a professional facial you can recreate the sequence of a basic facial at home with products you can easily purchase on the high street. By doing a facial at home you can save yourself time and money and create yourself a good skin care routine.
Start by removing your make-up then do a second skin cleanse by massaging your skin with a cleansing cream or milk, apply enough so that you are able to massage the skin without the product drying out half way through. Use circular movements with your finger tips to massage the skin for a minute or two working in an outward direction from the centre of the face, concentrate on working around the corners of the nose including the neck area too. Tissue off the cleanser and wipe your face with a hot face cloth. Alternatively you can do an oil cleanse instead of using cleansing creams, you can view this method here. If you like a natural alternative to cleanser then you can also massage damp skin with manuka honey adding a splash of water if needed then wash off with a face cloth.
Now that your skin is clean you can move onto exfoliation to remove the surface dead skin cells. There are two types of exfoliator; one is gritty and the other is AHA based where you don’t feel any grittiness as this type of exfoliator dissolves the skin cells rather than scrubbing them off. Choose the type you prefer and start massaging it into your skin paying particular attention to any dry flaky areas and avoiding the delicate skin around the eyes. For a natural alternative mix together some brown sugar and honey for a gritty exfoliator. Remove with a hot face cloth.
Now that we have cleansed the skin and removed the surface dead skin cells we are now ready to steam the skin, this will open up the pores and encourage the skin to push out any excess sebum (natural oils) and toxins that are building up in the pores. This is particularly good for oily skin as it will help unblock any pores that are becoming clogged with excess oil causing blackheads which in turn can lead to spots. To create your own facial steamer add boiling water to a large pyrex bowl, hold your head over the bowl and place a towel over your head to help trap the steam, or you can buy a facial steamer from most major stores (such as Argos) for a very reasonable price. Facial steamers will maintain the heat at a constant temperature so you have a constant flow of steam just like professional steamers, I received a facial steamer as a present about 25 years ago and it’s still going strong so they are a pretty good investment. For added benefits add a few drops of aromatherapy oil to the hot water such as lavender, frankincense or eucalyptus as they are also very beneficial to inhale especially if you are feeling a little bit congested in your sinuses or lungs. Steam the skin for about ten minutes or for as long as feels comfortable. Tissue off the excess water that’s on your face and gently extract any blackheads or spots with white heads while the skin is soft by wrapping your index fingers in a little piece of tissue and gently massaging either side of the spot or blackhead. If it’s ready to come out then it shouldn’t need much coaxing, if a massage and a gentle squeeze doesn’t shift it then leave it alone as it’s not ready and you may end up scarring your skin if you force it, you can try again a week later.
Using a little facial oil in the palm of your hand (such as sweet almond, jojoba, apricot, coconut or avocado oil) start massaging your face using your finger tips from the centre of the face working towards the outer side. By working in this direction you will help to drain the lymphatic fluids towards the nodes which are located in the area just behind the jaw and ear. Lymph fluid carries away toxins from the cells to the lymphatic nodes where it’s cleaned and filtered, massage helps to encourage this process as the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to keep it working efficiently (like the blood has the heart) so sometimes the lymphatic system can become a little sluggish. Keep the neck and forehead movements in a ‘lifted’ direction by moving the palms of the hands in an upward motion. Massage for ten to fifteen minutes, when you have finished gently wipe off the oil using a hot face cloth so your skin is now ready for the next step.
Use a face mask that is suited to your skin type, clay masks are usually good for the more oily skins as they are quite drying and tend to draw moisture out of the skin giving it a really deep clean, creamier masks suit dryer skins, if you have combination skin then you can always put on two different masks to suit the skin on the different areas of your face. If you like to use natural home made face masks then you can always use food, mash an avocado or banana in a bowl and apply to the skin for normal and dry skin types, if your skin is more oily then mash some strawberries and apply to your skin (always avoiding the eye area), the fruit acids naturally exfoliate the skin and have an astringent effect. Natural yoghurt either on its own or mixed with a little honey also make a good face mask, the lactic acid in the yoghurt also has an mild exfoliating effect which helps to brighten the skin. Natural yoghurt also has natural antibacterial properties which can be enhanced if teamed with a spoonful of manuka honey, you can also mix yoghurt into the avocado or banana face mask too. If you need to reduce puffiness around the eyes then now is the time to place something cold on top of the eyelids such as slices of cucumber while you sit back and relax for fifteen minutes. Remove the face mask with a hot face cloth when finished.
Tone and moisturise
Give the skin a refreshing wipe with a toner suited to your skin type to make sure all of the face mask has been removed and your skin is totally clean. If you are looking for a natural home made toner then green tea is good for all skin types, simply leave a green tea bag to steep in boiling water for five minute then let it cool down (prep this beforehand and store in the fridge), dip a ball of cotton wool into the tea and wipe onto the skin. Another great toner is with raw apple cider vinegar, it’s made from fermented apples which results in a vinegar that’s loaded with beneficial enzymes and acids, it’s naturally antibacterial and when applied to the skin it helps to rebalance the skins ph. Dilute the raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) with distilled water or mineral water in quantities according to your skin type, here is a guide that you can then adjust to suit your skin depending on how it feels:
Sensitive and dry skin: 1 part ACV to 3 parts water
Normal and combination skin: 1 part ACV to 2 parts water
Oily skin: 1 part ACV to 1 part water
Finish by massaging around your eyes with an eye cream and applying moisturiser to your face and neck. If you prefer oils then use an aromatherapy blend or a few drops of jojoba oil massaged into the skin will suit all skin types. If you like to use skin serums then finish your facial with a skin serum topped with your favourite moisturiser.
Patch test any new or home made face products before applying to your face. Even if your skin isn’t sensitive there is still a chance your could react to something new.