9 DIY Facial Treatments You Can Safely Do at Home

Updated: Apr. 07, 2021

Why head to the spa when you can pamper yourself in the comfort of your own humble abode with these relaxing and invigorating skin treatments?


Why DIY?

Getting a facial is a nice and commendable act of self-pampering, but committing to the once-a-month recommended visits comes with a hefty price tag most of us can’t afford. Thankfully, many of the treatments you get while laying on the massage table with a steamer staring right in your face doesn’t require a spa visit. Yep, as it turns out, that hydrating mask or enzyme scrub your facialist is using on your face doesn’t require a degree to apply. Even dermatologists have their favorite homemade skin care treatments. There are tons of facial treatments, from gels to masks and even chemical peels, that you can do in the comfort of your own home. We asked estheticians to share the DIY facial skin care treatments they recommend and how to do them effectively.

via environ.com

Facial massage

This is probably the simplest treatment to perform at home, since it generally only requires the use of your hands. And the best part about? It’s free—and it might even help prevent wrinkles! There are several different types of facial massage techniques you can use to pamper yourself. “Some work towards relaxation benefits, while other are lifting, stimulating,” explains Sandra Velandia, esthetician and founder of Esthetics by Sandra Velandia. Her favorite is the the lymphatic draining massage, which stimulate the epidermis and drain retain fluids. “This simple, yet effective, massage technique delivers a brighter, fresher and tighter complexion.” Her go-to at-home product line is Environ Skin Care collection, which offers a range of products aside from just cleansers, creams and lotions. “Their at-home micro needling roller is a hand-held device that helps the products soak more deeply into your skin,” she says. “I highly recommend using it at nighttime or every time you are applying your products.”

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This noninvasive skin exfoliation treatment uses tiny crystals or a diamond tip to gently remove dead skin cells and even out skin tone (just make sure you’re not making these exfoliating mistakes). It’s ideal for anyone looking for a more radiant, smoother and more relaxed appearance, though it’s not ideal for those with sensitive skin, especially individuals with acne or rosacea. “When doing this at home, it’s important to pay close attention to your skin—if you have any breakouts or blemishes you will want to avoid going over them as it will spread bacteria,” says Velandia. “Also, avoid going over any tiny broken capillaries because it will cause additional damage to the surface.” She recommends using a cream or scrub that has tiny granules that work to physically remove dead skin cells, like Dr. Brandt’s Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant, or purchasing a tool that can do it for you, like PMD’s Personal Microderm. Just be careful not to over exfoliate! Valendia recommends doing it once or twice a week, following with a hydrating or brightening mask and avoiding sun exposure the next day.

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Exfoliating scrub treatments

If you’d rather stay on the safe side when it comes to exfoliating, a simple scrub can work deliver the same results and is relatively foolproof to use.  “There are several different DIY exfoliating scrubs that you can make at home or over-the-counter scrubs that contain multiple nourishing nutrients that you might not find at home so easily,” says Bella Schneider, celebrity facialist and founder of LaBelle Day Spas & Salons. “Regardless of which type you use, you always want to start out by wetting the skin with warm water, as this preps the skin for exfoliation.” Next, Schneider recommends applying the scrub with slight pressure in circular motions to stimulate cell growth. “The frequency in which you exfoliate your skin can impact how soon you see results.” Be careful and consider your skin type whenever attempting a new treatment or method such as this one. “Different skin types react depending on how much moisture they have,” she explains. “If you have oily skin, chances are dirt and oil gets trapped into your pores more often, so you should exfoliate twice as often than somebody with dry skin.” A good exfoliating scrub for starters is Clinique’s Exfoliating Scrub, which is gentle and ideal for both oily and combination skin. (Don’t know how often you should exfoliate your face? Here’s some guidance.)

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Chemical peels

When most of us hear the word “peel” in relation to skin care, we immediately worry we’ll wind up looking like red-faced and blotchy, a la Samantha from Sex and the City. That iconic scene struck fear into the hearts of naive beauty queens around the world, but it masked the reality that brightening peels can work wonders for your skin. They gently (yes, gently!) removes the very top layers of your skin to reveal the spot-free, line-free, and vibrant skin that’s lying just beneath your top few layers (here’s what else you need to know about getting a chemical peel). “The application process varies by product, but normally you simply apply the cream or gel using your fingers, leave it on for the recommended duration and then peel it off once it’s dry,” explains Schneider. There are, however, some risks to consider when using a facial peel at home. “Using them too often or leaving them on longer than directed can burn skin, and even cause scarring,” warns Schneider. And you may want to exercise more caution depending on your skin type. “Redheads with pale skin, and those with dark complexion are advised to be wary of peels, as well as those using the acne medication isotretinoin.” She recommends peels that contain fruit enzymes as active ingredients in order to reduce side effects, such as Erno Lazlo’s White Marble Dual Phase Vitamin C Peel.

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LED light treatments

Also known as Color Light Therapy, this type of treatment uses clinically-tested wavelengths of LED lights that don’t contain harmful UV rays that you’d get from sitting in the sun. The benefit? A boost in collagen production and a reduction in potential acne breakouts. “LED is an effective treatment for all skin types, including hypersensitive and rosacea-prone skin,” says Toska Husted, esthetician and owner of Toska European Spa Boutique in Charleston, South Carolina. “The basic premise of LED skin therapy is that different colors trigger different reactions beneath the epidermis, and penetrate the skin at varying depths.” But not all colored lights are created equal. The blue light is generally used to kill acne-causing bacteria and for the treatment of blackheads and whiteheads, whereas the red light is used to stimulate collagen production, shrink pores and tighten skin. “There are various handheld LED devices available for clients to use at home, such as LightStim, as well as masks and panels that would complement the in spa treatments.”

via shoprescuespa.com

Pore minimizers

As their name suggests, these treatments are tasked with the job of shrinking the pores on your face, ultimately reducing their appearance. “The overall purpose of pore minimizers is not to get rid of dirt and grim, but to minimize the size of your pores,” explains Schneider. There are many at-home producers available that treat pores, which are ideal for those with greasy skin or anyone who’s uncomfortable with the size and condition of their pores. Schneider recommends using a combination of products, mainly a cleanser, scrub or a mask. “Remember that once you try minimizing your pores, you need to give them time to close while they’re still clean,” she says. “This means no make up for at least a few hours.” For this reason, the best time of day to pamper yourself with this kind of treatment is at night. Husted recommends reaching for products with acids, such as salicylic acid, which work to keep pores clean, like Biologique Recherche Masque Biomagic.

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Hydrating masks

These moisturizing masks do much more than just hydrate—they soothe, nourish and strengthen the skin barrier. The best part? Most skin types can benefit from them—even those not suffering from dry or damaged skin—though those with super oily skin might want to select a different treatment. “Hydration masks may not be the best fit for those with oil-prone skin, since their natural skin oils provide enough moisture already,” she says. Instead, Schneider recommends mud or clay masks to help remove excess face oil. If you’re on the dry or sensitive side, however, hydrating masks can seriously come in handy to deliver the moisture you’re lacking. “There are two kinds of hydrating masks, both you can use at home: the cream- or gel-based hydrating masks that come in a jar, and sheet masks that come in individual packets, like this one from ERH,” says Schneider. “The cream- or gel-based masks are generally applied to the face by hand, and washed off, while the sheet-type masks are placed on the face and left for several minutes and peeled off.” If you’ve done masks like this before and saw little-to-no improvement in your skin, try prepping your skin beforehand. “Cleanse and exfoliate all the grime out and then open your pores by either taking a hot shower of covering your face with a steamy towel for a few minutes,” she says. “If you want to create a mini-sauna experience you can put boiled water in a bowl and hold your face over the rising steam.” Just be careful not to burn yourself!

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You know how this type of treatment goes down—and many prefer letting a professional do this line of work. But waxing can be done in the comfort of your own home. The first thing you should know about waxing: Not all wax is created equal. There are soft waxes, which require the use of a strip for removal, and hard waxes, which harden and can be pulled off on their own. “If you decide to wax at home, you should regularly exfoliate desired areas with a body scrub or a washcloth then hydrate with a light lotion,” says Schneider. “And don’t wax hair that is too long or too short to avoid a painful experience.” Also, remember to test out the wax temperature before applying so you don’t accidentally burn yourself. “After waxing, your skin might become irritated and red, causing it to look a little blotchy at times. But avoid scratching the area to prevent infection,” Schneider explains. When waxing areas of your face, resist applying retinol-containing products or acne creams directly after, as your skin may be more sensitive.

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Steam treatment

You know the warm air that comes out of a big machine and goes onto your face during your in-spa facials? These steamers help unclog pores and increase circulation before applying any serums, masks or lotions to the skin. “Steam treatments are one of my favorite at-home treatments, since you can simply bring water to a boil, pour it into a bowl, and hold your face over the steaming water,” explains Schneider. “You can also add in essential oils to the water to help bring moisture to the skin.” There are several at-home steamers that you can buy at the store, too. One that Schneider recommends is ORA Maskerade DUET Facial Steamer and Organic Mask Maker.

(Facial steamer vs. facial humidifier: what’s the difference?)

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