Treat yourself to a spa-like experience.

By Kaitlin Clark
Oct 26, 2020 @ 12:19 pm
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Facials are magic when it comes to transforming meh-feeling skin into glowing, blissful radiance in less than an hour. Even better, there’s a facial for nearly every skin concern out there.

But as the temps cool off around the country, most of us turn to moisturizing facials brimming with hydrating masks, creams, and oils after a deep exfoliation to reveal brighter, nourished skin. 

And let’s be real: Whatever your stance is on returning to the spa this winter, we all want products we can use at home to either reboot our dehydrated skin ourselves, or extend the work of an esthetician post-professional facial. And there are a few hero products you’re going to want in your arsenal. 

All of our picks, and the steps to follow for the perfect facial for dry skin, ahead.

Step 1: Set the Mood

You could skip this step, but why on earth would you want to? Treat yourself by pulling out the good stuff — like a diffuser, your favorite candle, slow-burning sage — and set your Spotify to a relaxing playlist.

Most spas let you choose your aroma, with lavender, orange bitters, and vanilla being the popular go-tos. But you’re queen of this castle, so reach for whatever takes you to a zen place.

Not sure where to start? A 2017 study on aromatherapy showed that inhaling specific scents goes far deeper than Instagram self-care memes. Lavender, for example, is known for easing anxiety and depression, frankincense is popular for grounding practices, and cedarwood can help to ease stress.

Step 2: Start Your Double Cleanse With an Oil

Every facial starts off with a gentle cleanse, regardless of the skin type or concern. For hydration-focused facials, a good place to start is with an oil-based cleanser grounded in a botanical ingredient base, like almond, sunflower, or grape seed, blended with vitamins E or C, to dissolve the skin’s daily dirt and makeup without stripping or drying the skin.

Dermalogica’s Precleanse Cleansing Oil is vitamin E-dense to nourish and protect the skin, while the rice bran breaks down surface gunk and clears your pores.

To shop: $45;

For super-dry skin types, reach for SKII’s Facial Treatment Cleansing Oil to provide next-level moisture, thanks to their signature Pitera solution, with cleansing properties to match.  

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To shop: $70;

Step 3: Follow Up With a Cream Cleanser

Now that the top layer of grime has been removed, it’s time to dig deeper into those pores by lightly massaging a cream cleanser into your face. Foamy cleansers are terrifically suited for acne-prone skin, but since we’re here to hydrate, stick with dense cleansers heavy on the hyaluronic acid, like Tatcha’s Rice Wash Skin-Softening Cleanser, or the creamy goat milk and manuka honey formulation from Kate Somerville to rinse away debris and leave the good oils.

To shop: $35;

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To shop: $38;

Step 4: Exfoliate

Now that skin is clean and prepped, a solid exfoliation is crucial to slough away dead skin cells, leaving a new, untouched surface primed for maximum product absorption. First, choose a chemical or physical exfoliation based on your skin type and personal preferences. A chemical exfoliant, also called a peel, is a gel-like liquid that chemically removes dead skin via alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). The supercharged AHA treatment 30% Glycolic Acid Peel from Sobel Skin Rx will do the trick when it comes to revealing a brighter, smoother complexion underneath.

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To shop: $46;

Alternatively, a physical exfoliant, which is commonly known as a face polish, is a dullness-banishing blend of coarse granules working to literally brush off your top layer. Olehenriksen’s Transforming Walnut Scrub gives a satisfying, deeply clean feeling and the walnut powder is a solid natural alternative.

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To shop: $28;

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Step 5: Add In a Mask 

To mollify dehydrated, parched skin, a hydrating mask is basically a diesel fuel-powered boost of active ingredients for very potent formulations and very fast results. Thirst-quenching ingredients like ceramides, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants make Drunk Elephant’s F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial Mask a top-notch choice. Also, let your skin drink up Peter Thomas Roth’s Water Drench Hyaluronic Micro-Bubbling Cloud Mask, which helps to draw oxygen to the skin for next-level H2O. 

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To shop: $52;

To shop: $52;

Step 6: Steam

This is the best part of a facial, because you can literally just chill, but there is a purpose to this pampering. Steam is basically a humidifier specifically for your face to draw out any remaining dirt and maintain hydration. Splurge on a nearly professional grade device, like the Pro Facial Steamer from Dr. Dennis Gross, or rock a simplified DIY dupe by simmering a pot of hot water and pouring it into a heat-safe bowl then drape a small towel over your head and the bowl, essentially creating a little face sauna, for five to 10 minutes.

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To shop: $149;

Step 7: Serum, Moisturizer, and Massage

Finish off your facial by locking in your new dewy visage by layering on a serum and cream that have moisture in mind. Two of our favorite hydrating serums include SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier, an unbelievably potent cocktail of hyaluronic acid, licorice root and purple rice to support the skin’s own HA levels (read: more long-term moisture for you) and Vichy’s Minéral 89 Face Serum. The latter feels like a tall glass of water for your face, likely due to 89% of the composition sourced from the French town’s naturally mineral-rich volcanic water.

To shop: $100;

To shop: $30;

Follow up with your favorite moisturizer, or dermatologist-favorite CeraVé, a gentle emollient for even the most sensitive skin types. 

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To shop: $17;

To really bring it home, soak it all up with a massager, like a face roller or gua sha, to improve blood flow, increase collagen production, support the skin’s absorption of serums, and stimulate lymphatic drainage.

To use, begin at the center of the chin and gently glide outwards toward your ear, making your way up the face following this pattern until reaching the hairline. We like Knesko Skin’s Gemstone Jade Rollers.

To shop: $80;

Step 8: Don’t Wait, Hydrate!

Why stop at skincare? Give yourself the full spa — and full body — experience by pouring yourself a glass of extra cold water topped with a lemon or cucumber wedge, if you’re really going for it, and just luxuriate after your at-home treatment.