First, remove all traces of makeup, dirt and impurities. If you have an oily complexion, use a gel-based cleanser, which will balance out your skin's natural oil. A gentle, creamy cleanser hydrates dry skin. For a spa-like experience, fill the sink with lukewarm water, then add a few drops of essential oil, such as lavender, rosewood or eucalyptus. Dip a cotton facecloth into the water, then gently wring it out and press it onto your face to soothe and further cleanse your skin. This second cleanse will help you unwind – and remove all makeup residue, without stripping away oils.
2. Slough off
Next, choose a mild exfoliant, which will remove the surface layer of dead cells. If you frequently skip this step in your regular beauty regimen, it can give your skin a dull appearance – so get scrubbing! Depending on your preference and your skin's sensitivity, you can either use a manual exfoliant, with spherical beads that lift dead cells off your skin's surface; or a chemical exfoliant, which uses natural enzymes, such as those derived from pineapples, that digest skin cells. Moisten your skin before applying the exfoliant. If you're using a manual scrub, distribute the product all over your face in a circular motion, using light pressure (avoid the eye area, as that skin is thin and can be damaged easily); rinse with tepid water. If you're using a chemical exfoliant, simply slather it on, leave it for the specified time, then rinse with tepid water.
3. Miracle masks
Now it's time to indulge in a refreshing, invigorating mask that's designed to fulfill your skin-care desires. Regrettably, there's no such thing as a mask that can treat all of your skin-care woes in a single application. (That's why treatment offerings at spas include multiple facial options; each one targets a specific problem area.) If your complexion is oily, use a clay mask. Natural clay masks are detoxifying treatments that help remove excess oil and deeply cleanse pores, which over time can help clear up pesky blackheads. If you have dry or mature skin, look for an ultranourishing cream mask to add moisture and plump up your skin. These types of masks are typically absorbed into the skin; however, they still require a final rinse. If you have combination skin, you can customize your mask. For example, in oilier areas, such as your T zone, try applying a clay mask; apply a hydrating gel or cream mask to the rest of your face. When applying any kind of mask, ensure that it's a safe distance (1 inch/2.5 cm) away from your hairline, eyes and lips. Application times for masks vary; after the time specified for your mask, use a clean cotton facecloth soaked in lukewarm water to remove the mask.
4. Add the moisture
Finally, it's important to seal in all that hard work by applying your daily serum, eye cream and moisturizer. Don't forget your lips: apply a rich hydrating balm or treatment to get them looking just as radiant as the rest of your face. If you're planning on stepping outside into sunlight after your facial, be sure to apply sunscreen with at least an SPF 30.
This story was originally titled "4-Step Do-It-Yourself Facial" in the April 2010 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
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