How to do a facial at home? A holistic esthetician shares her simple formula and best tips for the ultimate spa-worthy, at-home facial!
There’s nothing quite like that post-facial glow.
But fitting a regular visit to the spa into your schedule or budget can be tough.
Luckily, you can give yourself a spa-worthy facial at home following a simple formula and with just a few key products.
That and about 20-30 minutes to lock yourself in the bathroom and shut out the rest of the world while you get in your zen zone!
*cue the harps and rainwater soundtrack*
I chatted with Lynn Gallagher of LGHT Wellness — a Philadelphia-based, licensed esthetician who specializes in gua sha and facial cupping — who shared her formula and best tips for the ultimate at-home facial!
Though we should all be scheduling facials with Lynn whenever we’re in Philly, her tips will tide you over until then…
The ultimate at-home facial has just 6 key steps.
Yes, simple can be effective!
It’s important to start with fresh, clean skin — to wash away makeup as well as pollutants and dirt that accumulate on our skin throughout the day.
Cleansing is the most important step of your routine, and a double cleanse is appropriate for almost all skin types and conditions.
Lynn suggests double cleansing, starting with an oil-based cleanser.
This is science: oil attracts oil. You may have been of the school that oily on skin = acne and that is false. If you choose the proper oil for your skin, that is higher grade, specifically developed for the face, you will protect the barrier of the skin that balances and helps your skin receive all the benefits of the rest of your routine.
Then follow your oil cleanser with with a more traditional face wash that’s appropriate for your skin type.
- Balm: normal, very dry, eczema prone (best for nourishment and balancing)
- Cream: normal, dry, sensitive (best for hydration)
- Gel: normal, oily, combo
- Foaming: combo, oily (also best for make-up removal)
- Enzyme: can be used as a gentle daily exfoliant
Exfoliation has SO many skin benefits — whether you’re struggling to keep blemishes and acne away or slow the signs of aging.
Because exfoliation keeps dead skin cells from getting trapped in pores, plus increases cell turnover and collagen production. It also leaves skin looking and feeling incredibly smooth, and helps makeup go on much more evenly.
I usually recommend clients exfoliate up to 3 times a week, but it depends on their routine and skin type. It’s important to err on the side of caution — over-exfoliating or exfoliating in conjunction with other products that increase cell turnover, like a retinol, can cause irritation.
There are 2 different exfoliation options: chemical and manual / physical
CHEMICAL | Chemical exfoliants help turn cells over and slough off dead skin by using….well…chemicals. Such as, AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic and lactic acid) and BHAs (beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid). AHAs are best for dry or dehydrated skin as they break the bond that holds dead skin cells together. BHAs are oil-soluble penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin, which makes them best for oily or acne-prone skin.
MANUAL / PHYSICAL | Scrubs and Clarisonic brushes are examples of manual exfoliants. Lynn warns that these “are commonly misused and cause microtraumas to the face (as such in microdermabrasion). If opting for this type of exfoliation, look for finer texture as larger grit tends to cause more micro-tearing, which we don’t want.”
No facial is complete without a great mask!
But Lynn highlights that finding the right mask for your skin type and needs is imperative. Otherwise, it may do more harm than good. For example: using a clay-based mask on dry skin will likely further dry it and can cause irritation.
She suggests the following masks by skin type:
NORMAL OR DRY SKIN | Gel | Look for hydrating qualities like hyaluronic acid or squalane
OILY OR ACNE-PRONE SKIN | Clay | Look for detoxifying or purifying ingredients like bentonite clay, sulfur, or charcoal (like my Body Unburdened Pink Perfect & Protect or Deep Clean Green dustomizable mud masks)
Dry or sensitive | Creamy | Look for soothing qualities like oat, aloe, and fatty acids
Remember: there’s a big difference between skin hydration and skin moisture! Hydration comes from water whereas moisture comes from oil, and your skin needs both to keep healthy and resilient.
Lynn suggests toning with a hydrosol to restore balance — Body Unburdened’s All Good Things Mist-Meets-Serum has a hydrosol base with high-antioxidant extracts and lactobacillus probiotic for extra umph
Then follow with a hydrating serum that contains a humectant like aloe, hyaluronic acid, or vegetable glycerin. Humectants draw and hold water to the skin.
Follow any and all water-based products with your eye serum or cream and moisturizer, then top it all off with an ultra-moisturizing face oil (like your Body Unburdened Beauty Blend!) to lock in the hydration and provide skin with an extra dose of antioxidants.
Related: The Best Face Oils By Skin Type
Last but not least, the ultimate treat for your skin that will take your at-home facial over the top…!
When thinking facial massage think: fresh oxygen and blood flow, less puffiness, and deep relaxation… giving you results almost instantly, when done correctly!
Yes, facial massage is SO much more than just a practice that feels nice — it also increases circulation and lymphatic flow, both of which have far-reaching benefits for your skin.
At home, working with a gua sha tool is the most approachable way to give yourself a facial massage. Technicality matters with gua sha but can be quite simple after you get the mechanics down.
If you’re not yet familiar with gua sha, it’s time you two meet! This traditional massage technique has been dubbed “Eastern Botox” and “Eastern Facelift”… need I say more?
And yes, you’ve probably noticed that I’m all about this trend and even started offering two gua sha stones in the Body Unburdened skincare store after getting hooked on the results!
Learn more about the difference between gua sha and trendy jade rollers in this blog post:
And learn the gua sha massage technique in this blog post:
Whether using a gua sha tool or simply your hands, be sure to apply a bit of face oil before starting your massage — it’s important to have slip so you’re not pulling at your skin and causing irritation.
NOTE: In her studio, Lynn includes facial massage before masking. However, you can save a bit of time at home by saving it for last. Give it a try both ways and see what you most enjoy!
How often should you treat your skin to an at-home facial?
That’s really up to you!
I schedule my own at-home facials into my calendar for each Sunday night, when I know I’ll be home. It’s an incredibly relaxing way to end the weekend and helps me to put my best face forward for the coming work week!
ABOUT LYNN GALLAGHER
Lynn Gallagher, licensed Esthetician, expanded on her holistic practices after years of offering wellness and healing modalities in order to delve more into the ritual of beauty. She is certified Gua Sha & Facial Cupping from Michele Gellis, a licensed cosmetic acupuncturist based out of Baltimore, Maryland and has advanced her training with Britta Plug of Studio Britta, based out of New York City. With her background in yoga, meditation and reiki, Lynn mindfully combines wellness and beauty within her Gua Sha facial massages to help you connect with your skin and rituals to enhance your vitality and radiance.