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Breaking Down Beauty: DIY Facials

By Sheila

I once had an esthetician give me a facial.

It was at a med spa.

It was lovely.

It made me realize that heaven must be a place where you are constantly pampered and massaged (the extraction part of the facial could stay on earth).

However, that was a long time and a lot of disposable income ago, and unfortunately a facial is not high on my “to buy” list.

Fortunately, it’s simple and fun to DIY your own facial that will leave your skin feeling renewed and refreshed in a matter of minutes.

First things first – what is your skin type? Are you oily? Dry? Normal? You’ll want to choose a mask that best corresponds to your skin type and skin needs.

Since I am oily, I am using a clay mask that draws out the gunk that tends to accumulate in my pores. For normal to dry skin, I recommend using moisturizing masks to help replenish and nourish your skin.

The Aztec Secret ... more to come on this soon.

My favorite at-home mask for normal-to-dry skin is none other than a light layer of honey. Honey has moisturizing AND antibiotic properties and it is not a pain to remove if you don’t glob it on your face. Trust!

Another great nourishing mask to try is mashed up avocado. I’ve never been good at the avocado mask, because I tend to want to eat it more than wear it on my face, you know?

How often should you do a facial? Some say once or twice a week, I tend to indulge once a month or so. If you overindulge and give yourself a facial more than once or twice a week, you run the risk of irritating your skin, so beware. Also, don’t give yourself a facial right before an important event – give your face at least three days to “recover”.

Now let’s get down to business!

Step 1: Make sure your face is cleansed and your hair is pulled back. Exfoliate your skin by using your preferred method of exfoliation. I use a Claroderm cloth, but if you want a guaranteed gentle method, use a bit of baking powder mixed in with your cleanser. And you can thank Paula Begoun for that little tip.

Step 2:  Next we move on to opening your pores steaming your face. I use my at-home facial days as a way to hard boil some eggs (or is it the other way around?), that way I don’t feel guilty for using up water unnecessarily.

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, remove from heat source, place it in a location where it won’t fall or injure anyone, and put your face over the steam for a couple of minutes with a towel over your head. Some people will recommend up to 20 minutes, but that’s just too long for me.

In the event you want to remove the risk of burns, I recommend investing in one of these doodads. They are awesome and pretty much fool proof.

Step 3: Apply your mask of choice, sit down with a book, tv show, or your favorite blog (ahem, ahem) for ten to fifteen minutes. You’ll know you’re ready to go wash your face when you can’t blink or talk anymore. For reals.

Here’s a tangential tutorial for the Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay mask, which is a huge steal at around $5 for a 1 pound jar that will last you forever, and is most commonly found at health food or vitamin stores.

The Aztec Secret ... more to come on this soon.

 This stuff is INTENSE, just warning you in advance. The manufacturer recommends mixing the clay with raw apple cider vinegar for maximum benefits, but if you have sensitive skin or don’t like torturing yourself, I recommend using water.

Like the label says, the mask will make your skin pulsate towards the end, and you feel that big time when you use the vinegar.

a)      Measure out equal amounts of clay and vinegar, or water. If you’re using vinegar, shake up the bottle before using so the “mother” part of the vinegar, aka the most nutrient-rich part of it, is incorporated. One tablespoon of each is PLENTY for one face.

b)      The mixture bubbles up immediately, so make sure to mix it well.

c)       Apply to your face and make sure you get a nice even layer of the mask, concentrating in your trouble areas, like your t-zone.

I have a confession to make – I was planning a color cosmetic tutorial, but my recent cold has positively ravaged my skin. I resemble Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I realize that posting the following pictures of me with a mask on may render me dateless for the foreseeable future, but I’m willing to take

d)      Mask about halfway in, at the moment when I realize these photos may render me dateless for the foreseeable future.

e)      At the ten minute mark. Could set for a little longer, but at this point I can’t take it anymore and call it day.

Step 4: Extraction time. I can’t bring myself to use one of those metal extractors, so here’s a helpful way to get out any glaring blemishes without risking too much pain. Use two q-tips – one in each hand – to push out the offending pimple or blackhead. Works like a charm.

Step 5: Tone your face with your toner of choice. Witch hazel is a cheap and effective option from the drugstore.

Step 6: Moisturize with your moisturizer of choice.

And that’s how you get your glow on!

Tell me, what’s your skin type and what are your favorite masks? Have you DIY’d a facial before?

  • http://www.rubysbeauty.com Lisa

    I never feel like I have the time to do a full-on facial. But last weekend I bought Queen Helen’s Mint Julep mask at the dollar store for $2. I love that stuff! It worked really well on my oily face and didn’t take that long. And thanks for the tip about the two q-tips. I should really try that instead of using my fingers.

  • Miss Boom

    A facial for me basically means slapping some mask on my face for an hour or so ant watching TV. Better than nothing, right? 😉 My skin is oily, so I use Paula Begoun’s Skin Balancing Carbon Mask. I also love Witch Hazel as a toner! You can’t beat the price and it’s so gentle.

  • Diane Brown

    I love this mask for oily skin. I cant wait to have my oily clients try this mask out, thanks. Here is a mask that works on all skin types expecailly normal to dry skin. Plain Mountain High yogurt at room tempeture it has enzymes that eat dead protent which smooths and defines and moisturizes the skin and lactic acid that lightens and brightens the skin, add organtic honey for more moisture. I have a better facial scrub, check this out ladies, corn meal added to your cleanser as a paste roll it around gentle but firm on your face, rinse in the shower less messy. Let me know what you ladies think.

  • http://thevinylwordandothermusings.blogspot.com Deb

    Never done a DIY facial before. I’ve always gone to an aesthetician (even though it’s much more costly). I have a gal I see regularly, and it’s pure relaxation.
    When my skin was a lot oilier, I used to use Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask. Not only did it help soak up the oil and dry my blemishes, it was also fun to run around freaking people out with my green face while waiting for it to dry!

  • admin

    @Diane – those are some fantastic ideas – I would never have thought about yougurt and cornmeal. Thank you for sharing
    @Miss Boom – I love carbon masks – it’s crazy how much gunk they pull out.
    @ Lisa and Deb – yep! You cannot beat the price of the Queen Helene mask!

  • Ninjagato

    The mint julep mask is amazing. I also swear by using hydrogen peroxide as a toner. It zaps bacteria and doesn’t have any alcohol in it so it’s not drying.

  • admin

    Another plus of hydrogen peroxide is that it bleaches the hair on your face! LOL …

  • http://conbdebelleza.blogspot.com/ Gabriela

    You shouldn`t use a metallic spoon to mix it. The clay must not enter in contact with metal.

  • admin

    I stand corrected about the metal spoon! Apparently metal may decrease the potency of the clay, so for precautionary purposes, use wooden utensils.

  • http://tigerflower89.blogspot.com/ Denise

    Oh my, this was a fantastic post, Sheila!!! So thorough and so helpful!!!! That is exactly how I do a facial (except for the last years I have skipped the most important part, the mask!!) *leaves in shame* Only because I didn’t have a mask and for some reason I never used a mask, since I was 15. :/// Now I’m definitely going to buy something, it does make a difference! Your clay mask sounds amazing.

    I exfoliate with honey and sugar but I don’t think that’s enough for some reason, although it makes your skin soft. I have normal/dry skin and I really like honey on the face, though, very nourishing. and my mom uses a Clarins mask.
    Thank you for the tip about the q-tips, I never thought of that ! :O Great post, very insightful!!

  • shari

    I think tomorrow is facial day :) Thanks.

  • admin

    You’re welcome, Denise!

  • ShannoninBC

    Guess what I’ll be doing now… :)

  • Susan


    Great ideas on masks, but I’m in my 50’s, so have dry, aging skin. Any suggestions on ingredients for dry/aging skin masks?