While some businesses across Canada are starting to re-open during COVID-19, it looks like a trip to your facialist *probably* won’t be happening anytime in the very near future. ICYMI, even if you live somewhere that is in Stage 2 Reopening and can start enjoying services like haircuts and manicures (like most of Ontario), treatments that tend to a person’s face—including facials and eyebrow grooming—are still prohibited. And let’s be honest, more than three months into quarantine, we’re seriously missing our beauty pros—and so is our skin. Spending so much time staring at computer screens and televisions with limited exposure outside doesn’t exactly scream healthy skin regime. Plus, in many cases, our time at the salon is self-care time. In addition to keeping our skin on-point, facial appointments used to mean a few moments to relax, free from work emails and cell phones. But, staying at home doesn’t have to mean losing our beauty routines—or our “me” time.
“What I recommend for clients is to create a ritual experience around an at-home facial so they feel like it is more than just their regular skincare routine,” says Shari Miller, a holistic skin therapist at Toronto’s Province Apothecary. Here, Miller shares some tips and trick for creating a facial experience that’ll help you relax and keep your skin healthy—all from the comfort of your own bathroom!
First, carve out “you” time for your home facial
It’s important to pick a time to do your facial when you won’t be rushed or interrupted (be it because of work, roommates, a partner or kids who need to use the bathroom). During a regular facial appointment, you’re not focused on the time or subjected to distractions from people around you; the whole idea *is* to relax and disconnect, after all. Giving yourself the same treatment at home will promote a feeling of calm and allow you to get the most out of the experience.
Set the mood
Mood is key. Miller recommends putting on relaxing music, lighting natural incense or diffusing essential oils, which are the same things she does in her treatment room. She also suggests laying out all of the products you’ll be using in order. It’ll help you stay calm and feel prepared for your self-care time. (I’m personally a fan of Saje’s products; a few drops of any of their scents, like Present Moment, Spa Spirit, Stress Release and Unwind, are great options).
When giving yourself a facial, Miller recommends that you be as comfortable as possible, which means wearing your coziest clothing as well. (Just make sure your neck and décolleté are easy to reach!)
Begin your home facial with a warm steam towel
After making sure your hair is tied back and your face is clear of anything that’ll get in the way, like large earrings, get a warm steam towel ready. The easiest way to replicate a spa-like steam towel at home, Miller says, is to boil water in a kettle. “Then, add cool water so it is comfortable but steamy. Add a few drops of essential oils to the towel for a real spa experience.” You can pick your favourite scent from Aromatics Canada. Finally, place the towel over your entire face and leave it on your skin for about one minute to open up your pores.
A hot towel helps prep your skin to “receive ingredients and products more effectively,” Miller says. “They soften skin, allowing pores to both purge toxins and be prepared to absorb what is put on next. Hot towels are great for softening hardened oils in pores (a.k.a. blackheads), so they can be removed or come out on their own without force.”
Cleanse with your favourite cleanser (and take your sweet time)
The cleansing process shouldn’t be rushed, Miller says, so work your cleanser into your skin for at least two minutes, then wipe it off with a warm face cloth (this can be the same one used to steam your face, or a fresh one. You do do). “Most people spend a maximum of 20 seconds cleansing, which just doesn’t allow enough time for dirt, oil, makeup and impurities to be broken down and dissolved,” Miller says. “[Then] skin won’t be properly cleansed and the products you apply afterwards won’t penetrate well or be as effective. The buildup can also lead to congestion, clogged pores or breakouts. People mistake a toner as a second cleansing step to remove any excess makeup or dirt, which is completely wrong. If you use a toner on a cotton pad and dirt shows up after you cleanse, you haven’t cleansed properly.” She recommends Province Apothecary’s Moisturizing Oil Cleanser and Makeup Remover with avocado and raspberry oils for this step. Nannette de Gaspe’s Essence Noir Cleanser is a great charcoal-based option.
Then, it’s time to exfoliate
This step removes dead skin cells and prepares your skin to absorb nutritious and hydrating ingredients and products, Miller says. Be sure to remove the exfoliant fully. Province Apothecary’s Regenerating and Stimulating Exfoliator with lavender and green tea can also double as a gentle mask if it’s left on longer. When choosing an exfoliator, be sure to pick one that works for your skin type. A mechanical or physical exfoliator “uses textured ingredients to physically polish off dead skin cells,” Miller says. A chemical exfoliator, she explains, uses acids or enzymes like AHA or glycolic acid to dissolve dead skin cells and BHA or salicylic acid to unclog pores. Sensitive skin, Miller advises, benefit from a rice, oat or lentil powder that is finely ground and blended with gentle ingredients. Whatever you choose, exfoliating twice a week is the general rule for most skin types, but it can be adjusted to work best for you and your skin.
Next, hydrate and balance your skin
Use your favourite mist, hydrosol or toner for this step, to prep your skin for oils and serums, as well as the massage. Hydrosols, mists and toners are great hydrators, and mists in particular are great to balance, purify, calm and revitalize your skin, helping the serum to better penetrate your face. Hammam Spa’s Céla has a cruelty-free, paraben-free Essential Face Mist that would do the trick, and Deciem has their super-affordable Hylamide SubQ Mist that’s become a brand favourite. As an added bonus, Miller notes that “mists, toners and hydrosols can be used throughout the day as a skin refresher and oil balancer, even over makeup, and can be used after a workout or yoga class to balance and kill bacteria if you are unable to cleanse right away.”
Give yourself a face massage
This step helps your skin “increase circulation and relieve tension in muscles, especially the jaw and around the eyes right now,” Miller says. “Use a nourishing oil or oil-based serum based on your skin’s needs or condition.” Evio Beauty’s cannabis-based Hydrating Serum is great for this step, but you can also use Woodlot’s Nourishing Facial Oil to treat your skin’s needs. Province Apothecary has a handy Natural Facelift Massage Ritual to teach you how to give yourself a relaxing and effective massage. Their method uses your hands to hit all of your trigger points, but be sure to avoid pulling at your under-eye skin, and use gentle pressure around your eye area (except under your brow) and your neck. Also, place your thumbs on your temples or under your jawline to help stabilize your hands, allowing you to increase the pressure you place on your forehead and cheekbones.
After the massage, apply another steamed towel
Once again, apply a warm towel over top of the serum or oil to lock in their health benefits. Just like earlier, Miller advises boiling some water and adding it to a large stainless steel or ceramic bowl, then adding cold water so you can comfortably immerse a face towel. “Wring the towel out, fold it in half and put it over your face, allowing space for your nose and mouth to breathe, and gently compress for a minute. Re-apply as needed.” The water should be warm, but comfortable. If it’s too hot for your hands, it’s way too hot for your face!
Then, smooth a mask over your face and neck
You can use whatever mask you have on hand, or make one with kitchen ingredients. Miller suggests an at-home mixture of raw honey, avocado and egg yolks. Deciem’s The Ordinary, Evio, and Woodlot also offer some great pre-made options, but you can figure out your faves. Let the mask sit for 10 minutes and while it penetrates the skin, listen to music, read a book or follow a guided meditation to maximize your self-care time. When the 10 minutes are up, remove the mask with a warm, damp towel.
Mist your skin again, and then apply another layer of your oil or serum. Finish off with your favourite cream or moisturizer (like Céla’s Essential Face Moisturizer), an eye cream (like Veriphy’s award-winning 20/20 Eye Cream) and a lip balm (like Bite Beauty’s Daytime Agave Lip Balm). You should feel cleansed, relaxed and ready to take on the rest of the day. Miller suggests people give themselves facials at least once a season, but once every few weeks is a great way to keep your skin looking its best.
Many Canadian companies also offer easy bundles that include most of the products needed for each of these steps, from Woodlot’s Six-Step Skincare Set to Evio’s R+R Duo, Veriphy’s Triple Threat Discovery Kit and Province Apothecary’s At-Home Facial Kit.
Shop some of our fave Canadian brands for your at-home facial
“Present Moment” Grounding Diffuser Blend, $26, saje.com
2/10 Province Apothecary
Moisturizing Oil Cleanser + Make Up Remover, $20 and up, provinceapothecary.ca
Rejuvenating Green Tea Mask, $24, shopwoodlot.ca
Essential Face Moisturizer, $78, thisiscela.com
10/10 Province Apothecary
Limited Edition At Home Facial Ritual Kit, $28, provinceapothecary.ca