How to Give Yourself a Spa-Worthy At-Home Facial

A beauty insider shares ways to get professional results at home.

Facials are great for many reasons—a deep cleanse, a glow, an extraction of a ridiculously stubborn pimple. But getting to the spa can be complicated during a global pandemic. So, meet your new aesthetician during Covid-19: You.

Facials can be a great way to practice some self-care these days, says Regine Berthelot, treatment manager for the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa. “They help your skin with impurities, keep breakouts under control, and keep pores clear.” While beauty products can cleanse and treat the skin, a facial does that and more. A good facialist uses strategic application techniques when massaging product into the skin to further improve a complexion. “Facials help the skin with blood circulation and lymphatic drainage,” says Berthelot. So, along with targeting your main skin concerns—dryness, breakouts, irritation—they can also de-puff, define, and revitalize skin.

We asked Berthelot her tips for doing an at-home facial. Here, she shares how to open pores for a deeper cleanse, perform safe extractions, massage and sculpt your face, and even improve your pandemic face mask experience.

Round Up the Troops

Berthelot recommends using a cleanser, toner (optional), serum or essential oil, exfoliator, moisturizer, and purifying mask (if blemishes are a concern). Look for products that contain ingredients that target your skin concerns. “For example, if you have breakouts, we would say try salicylic acid,” says Berthelot. “If you feel you are on the dry side, go with like a cleansing oil and a moisturizing toner.”

Do the Double-Cleanse

Fully remove any makeup residue, pollution, and SPF from your face and clean pores by double cleansing. “I love to recommend a cleansing oil first,” says Berthelot. “Massage it onto dry skin, add a little water to emulsify so it becomes a milky consistency, and then rinse it off.” Follow that with a gentle exfoliator, to buff away dead skin cells. Each cleanser should be applied with your whole hand—not just your fingertips—to give your skin a massage to reap more complexion-enhancing benefits.

Lose Some Steam

Boil water and pour it into a large bowl. Add a few drops of essential oil, lean over the bowl and cover your head and the bowl with a towel. This will open up the pores, says Berthelot. “So you got rid of the surface impurities with cleansing, and now you want to go deeper into the pores.” Hover over the bowl for a few minutes, taking deep, relaxing breaths.

If You Have Pimples: Identify Invaders and Attack Accordingly

It’s always best to leave extractions to the professionals, or you risk damaging your skin. But if you can’t wait, here’s what Berthelot says to do, depending on the blemish:

  • Red pimple: “Red means stop,” she says. Don’t try to squeeze it. Instead, apply a hot compress—the heat can break down the sebum under the surface, which will bring down the inflammation. Finish with a spot treatment or purifying mask.
  • Blackhead: Instead of using a tissue to cover your fingers for an extraction, use a couple of cotton pads soaked in moisturizing toner. (Tissues tend to dry out skin, leading to flaky skin after the extraction.) Put cotton pads on your index fingers and push down and around the pimple to squeeze out all the oil under the surface.
  • Whitehead: Instead of squeezing the skin around a whitehead, pull the skin on either sides of it to stretch the blemish. “The skin is going to have pressure, and the whitehead underneath will make a tiny little tear to release the impurity,” says Berthelot.

Do the “Papler Rouler”

Next, it’s time for a toner, an essential oil, a serum, and/or a mask, all of which, now that the pores are open, can penetrate deeper into the skin. But don’t just slop them on. Apply each product by smoothing your hands from the centre of your face to the sides. This will improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, says Berthelot. You’re not done yet. Next, do a French facial massage called “Papler Rouler”—pinch the skin and roll up the fingers. Berthelot says this will “lift and tone the muscles, boost collagen and elastin and re-oxygenate the tissues.”

Give Your Pandemic Face Mask the Spa Treatment

After your facial, the last thing you want to do is put on a stinky old pandemic face mask, right? Berthelot suggests freshening it up with a few spritzes of essential oil, or better yet, Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir. “It smells so good and gives that aromatherapy experience.” What’s more? It kills bacteria, which will help keep your complexion clean and clear—like you just saw your facialist.

Next, learn if you’re even benefiting from your extensive skin-care regimen.