How to do an at-home facial and get professional quality results

I wanted to cover my at-home facial routine because I love talking about my personal sh-t and will find any excuse to. Plus I’m really into skincare. There are affiliate links in this post. Please don’t feel pressured to get anything, you don’t need these specific products to get good results. Plus you can make a lot of skin treatments using ingredients at hand. This is the routine I’ve been using about once a month. My skin feels amazing afterwards! Full disclosure: I’ve only had one professional facial so I have no idea if I’m getting the same results, but these steps definitely work. It took me a little while to figure out the right order, because advice varies. Here’s what works for me and I keep a little index card with these steps on it.

1. Double Cleanse
You don’t necessarily have to double cleanse, but it’s a nice way to get makeup and oil off your skin. A double cleanse is a cream cleanser followed by a foaming cleanser. I use products from German drugstore DM but there are affordable options on Amazon and at CVS. For a cream cleanser many people recommend Cerave non-foaming facial cleanser. Banila CleanIt Zero is a K-Beauty product that’s also popular.

A great foaming cleanser is Garnier Skin Active Gentle. I own this and find it effective at cleaning but gentle on my eyelids. I mostly use it in the shower. Burts Bees foaming face wash with cucumber and mint is also supposed to be very good. Ooh and I got the Marshmallow Whip Maker for Christmas! It makes your foaming face wash into a meringue-like whip, and is so much fun to use.

If you want to get your skin really clean, use a facial brush or a rotating massage brush while cleansing. I got this massaging facial brush for myself for Christmas and it works so well! I love how smooth my skin feels afterwards and think it was worth it. A lot of you got this little silicon scrubber when we featured it and I’ve heard good things about it.

You could also just use a washcloth. If you scrub well with a washcloth it’s probably the same as using a brush. I keep a bowl of washcloths on my bathroom sink so I always have a clean one.

2. Steam
This is the step I’ve found that makes the most difference. The steamer I got off Amazon is no longer available, but here’s one that’s almost exactly like it. Do not use it on the couch or an unstable surface! Make sure it’s on a counter or table. I’m speaking from experience.

You can also boil a pot of water over the stove, turn it off and wait a minute or pour the water into a large bowl. Put your face over that using a towel on your head to trap the steam.

It’s recommended that you steam your face for about ten minutes, but I’ve found that five minutes works fine.

3. Exfoliate
You can make your own facial scrub using uncooked slow cooked oats and yogurt or water or just brown sugar and honey. Here is a link to some recipes for homemade face scrubs. For exfoliating my absolute favorite scrub is Dr.G Brightening Peeling Gel. I love that stuff. I’ve also had good results with Acure Brightening Scrub.

4. Tone
Some articles recommend toning a little later in the process, after your mask, which is the next step. If you do that you’ll strip your skin of the mask treatment! I’ve found that toning before the mask works the best. I like Garnier SkinActive Micellar water but rosewater also works great. Some people really love witch hazel, which is particularly suited for oily skin. Just use whatever toner you have!

5. Mask
There are so many great masks and I especially like sheet masks. Cheap person protip: Dollar Tree has sheet masks two for a dollar. They’re pretty good and I find them moisturizing and non-irritating. I’ve found retinol masks there, and I’ve seen Yes to Tomatoes brand there occasionally. CVS price gouges on their masks. I refuse to pay $5 for a one-time use mask, that’s outrageous to me.

6. Add a serum if you have one and/or moisturize
Depending on how moisturizing your mask is, you may not need this step. Most sheet masks will leave your skin very hydrated, but if you use a cream or clay mask you may want to do this. We’ve had so many excellent serums in the Amazon posts. I got my mom this two serum set for Christmas after so many of you recommended it. I use and really like this hyaluronic acid serum and this niacinamide serum.

Cerave moisturizing cream is one of my favorites. I keep a big jar on my desk to use on my hands and face during the day. SeoulCeuticals Snail repair is also very good and I’ve used that in the past. If you’re going out please add sunscreen or a moisturizer with sunscreen. (Also add a retinol cream to your routine if you don’t have one already. This is just a facial post, not a daily skincare post. For a daily routine, just skip the steam, exfoliation and mask steps. I do the full skincare regime at night and just rinse and apply moisturizer in the morning.)

That’s it! I love doing facials when I find the time. As I always say, my skin has really transformed since I started doing the Amazon posts and learning about skincare. Thanks for all your help and recommendations for that.

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25 Responses to “How to do an at-home facial and get professional quality results”

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  1. Chartreuse says:

    Wow I’m fascinated! Probably my age but I’m in my 60s and never used skin care over washing my face with soap. A few times a year a bit of olay moisturiser. I don’t have wrinkles but I’ve assumed it’s really heredity and celebs just use surgery, fillers, and the rest and the regular stuff is for show

  2. Sofia says:

    I dislike sheet masks. I feel like they’re too expensive for what they are. I’ve tried the cheaper ones but they gave me an allergic reaction. Anything more expensive than those didn’t seem worth it.

    • Ash says:

      I used to love them but then got way too turned off by the environmental factor. No one should be using single use plastic anymore, including sheet masks.

    • Jules says:

      Same. They are expensive, look creepy, and wasteful.

  3. OriginalLala says:

    My dermatologist turned me on to CeraVe products, I was skeptical because derms also love Cetpahil and my skin hates it, but the CeraVe hydrating cleanser and the moisturizing cream are amazeballs!! so good for dry winter skin!

    • fifee says:

      A FB group I belong to love CeraVe products; very few folk have a bad word to say about the range other than using the salicylic acid wash a wee bit too often and then they drying out their skin.

  4. fifee says:

    I love to double cleanse especially with cream rather than an oil. I sometimes just use the same product twice if it isnt too heavy, Alpha H Balancing Cleanser being my favourite. No sheet masks here, just a few pots of clay ones and a couple of other assorted ones for different problems. I cant do physical exfoliation with anything more than a face cloth so prefer to use either a PHA or an AHA. If im using a retinol I will just use a non acidic toner and a mist. Serums I love! I have a decent amount to choose from but few of them have HA, I prefer glycerin, makes my skin feel so much softer. Again with moisturisers, a fair few to choose from.

  5. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    I’d just add, try to use vegan products wherever possible. A lot of the biggest companies sell to China where animal testing is mandatory. The BeBarefaced line is excellent, as is Poppy Austin. Beauty without cruelty!

    • Maxime duCamp says:

      I also use natural “green” products (not all are vegan as some use bee’s wax and I’m OK with that). There was an inexpensive small line of skincare products that used to be available at Whole Foods that was actually called Beauty Without Cruelty. They had a lovely cream skin cleanser that smelled wonderful. I haven’t seen it anywhere in years so I’m not sure if it’s still available. I love Earthscience Beauty. It’s expensive (although not as much as Vitner’s Daughter or other lines) and I don’t buy the woo woo bathed in moonlight and crystals but their stuff smells and feels amazing. If it works even a little, great; if not I’m enjoying the self-care/relaxation aspect and I’m generally supporting small, female-owned businesses that do not do animal testing and are generally more eco-conscious. Goddess knows I’m not spending $ on clothing, haircuts, travel, etc. this year so if I’m less fussed about a little overspending on skincare luxuries.

      However, I agree with others who say that a LOT of what you’re skin looks like is genetics. My aunt is 76, medium olive skin, and has always spent time in the sun with zero to minimal use of sunscreen and rarely used any special skincare products. She has no wrinkles, except deep wrinkles around her eyes (and the inevitable sagging that comes with age). Her skin color looks uniform but she’s so tan it’s hard to tell if she has any age spots. Mind you, I’m not saying sunscreen isn’t important, even if you have olive or darker skin. I wear it every day. Just pointing out the importance of genetics over topical skincare.

    • MyOpinion says:

      @ Andrew’s Nemesis, I like Mad Hippie, Insta Natural, Acure, Boots and Pixie. They are not all organic, but Canada, UK and US made. For retinol, start with Differin Gel, OTC low percentage retinol that can be used nightly and is inexpensive. For a stronger impact, SkinCeuticals 1.0%, though expensive. Also ladies, as woman in her late 50’s and a daughter in her ‘30’s, please, I can’t stress this enough sunscreen!! I started using sunscreen in my early ‘30’s with Neutrogena , whereas my daughter does not nor does. I have minimal age spots, 3-4 clearly visible, whereas my daughter has 10-15 clearly visible. She has always fussed at me because I won’t leave the house without sunscreen even IF it’s cloudy outside. I started at a minimum of 30, and for the last 15 years I won’t wear anything less than 50. LaRoche Posey has a lovely collection, plus I would stay away from foundations that have it incorporated into the formula. As for exfoliating, always do this at night. I will apply a warm face cloth to my face, apply cleanser and keep it on for 10 minutes. I then apply St. Ives blackhead clearing face scrub, apply it and leave it on for 5-10 minutes. The products on your face soften the dead skin which makes it easy to remove dead skin cells and I use a Foreo cleansing brush to remove my products. I use hot water to run it over my face.

  6. Ash says:

    PHYSICAL EXFOLIATION?! (i.e. the scrub)

    R/skincareaddiction just had a collective heart attack. Chemical exfoliation all the way these days.

  7. Lola Coasters says:

    Between this post and all the HB gossip, I am all set for my time off this week! I was just looking at my face and thinking about skin care and WTH do I start and THERE you are saving the day!!! Thanks ❤️

    • Anners says:

      Can you direct an exfoliant newbie to a good place for info? I find just googling kinda overwhelming. Trying to come up with with a good routine for aging combo skin (dry in winter, oily in summer)

      • fifee says:

        It depends on what kind of exfoliation you want, a physical scrub or an acid. Both are trying to get rid of the old top layer of skin, physical being exactly what you think and the acid ‘peels’ the skin off. I prefer acid, I feel I get better results and personally I just dont like physical exfoliation, other than a quick wipe with a face cloth. I like to use Caroline Hirons cheat sheets, lots of information there about both types of exfoliation along with lots of other stuff.

      • Anners says:

        Thank you Fifee – I posted in the wrong spot! I’ll check out Caroline Hiron

  8. Mandy says:

    I love posts like this one, the bread post, and the affiliate links. My sister and I bought each other stuff from these posts for Christmas and we loved our gifts!

  9. Jaded says:

    CeraVe rocks. I also love Strivectin products but they’re so expensive I rarely bought them – just got their face and eye cream duo on an amazing sale and have been using them religiously for a week. Can’t believe how rosy and dewy my skin looks.

  10. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I love these posts. Truly. I do the masks, but I’m kinda done with the physical masks because they never fit right or go where I want them. I like smear on masks lol. Oh and when they dry? I like hand-held steamers to liven things up again (especially if my show isn’t finished). And I love brushing on the various vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid, etc. oils and gels I’ve gotten from these posts.

    I’m also addicted to my monthly makeup and skincare program. I get to try out so many things I’d never purchase outright. I received a LUCE facial brush that’s pretty awesome. Some samples are actually full size and some are products which are very pricey (I’d never buy) but are fun to try.

  11. CJS says:

    Thank you, CB! Because of your posts, I’ve started using serums—I alternate between hyaluronic acid and vitamin C in the morning and then at night it’s retinol. My skin is smoother, and I hope they’re staving away some wrinkles! For cleansing I like Biore with salicylic acid, and bought a few peel-off/wash-off masks for Christmas. I still use St. Ives apricot scrub (I know, I know). I should steam!! Wow. I think I’ve become high (skin) maintenance. 😂

  12. Kittycat says:

    I love these beauty posts and Amazon recs.

  13. Michelle says:

    Hi! I don’t meant to be contrary but I read Caroline Hirons book SkinCare over Christmas and she actually disagrees a lot with some of the points here. I found the book really fascinating and I learned a lot about things I was doing wrong myself.

    Especially foaming cleansers (which often contain sulphides and cause allergies/irritants – I no longer use sulphides in my shampoo no way I’d use them on my shin I didn’t realise they had them til I began to read the ingredients lists), the electric brushes (too aggressive and strip the skin, gentler and more consistent chemical ‘scrubs’/cleansers are better), and sheet masks (basically useless, just for fun, but use a quality serum instead at this stage).

    I’ve been following her advice and been kinder to my skin and noticed a difference over the last two weeks, much softer and smoother. The idea of doing an at-home facial is brilliant though and you seem to have been on an interesting journey discovering new skincare products, I would definitely recommend her book!