Your end-of-summer skin may be in rough condition after all the sun, sweat, and grime. The solution for beautiful, smooth, and glowing skin? An amazing ten-step facial inspired by the European facial at Mario Badescu’s skin care salon in NYC.
It may seem a bit intensive, but the results are real. The products are all items you probably use in your daily routine. Do this regime twice a month—it's a great excuse to get your girlfriends together for a night of pampering! Check out the steps below.
01. Remove Makeup
Remove your makeup with a non-irritating and effective facial wipe. Simple’s Cleansing Facial Wipes are fragrance-free, alcohol-free, and oil-free. For extra-stubborn eye makeup, use trusty Longwear & Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover Pads by Almay.
Tip: When using a facial wipe, remove your eye makeup last. Gently press the wipe over your eyes to start dissolving the makeup, so you don’t have to rub as much.
Apply a cleanser all over your face except over your eye area. Try a cleansing brush like Olay’s dermatologist-developed ProX brush (a high-quality steal for $30 if you don’t have a Clarisonic!) for a deeper clean. Use it with a sulfate-free cleanser, such as Neutrogena Naturals Fresh Cleansing + Makeup Removerto ensure you won’t irritate or over dry your skin. Move the brush for twenty seconds over your forehead, twenty seconds over your nose and chin, and ten seconds over each cheek. Keep the touch light; more pressure doesn't make it work better.
Steam your face. This is the most relaxing, spa-like part.Revlon Spa Facial Sauna is a basic, affordable steamer. You can use boiled water in a large bowl, too; just keep your face 6-plus inches away from the bowl to avoid burns. Do several two-minute sessions with a clean towel over your head. Steaming loosens dead skin cells, dirt, and oil plugs. Estheticians steam clients’ faces so extractions are easier to do.
Dr. Julie Karen of CompleteSkinMD in NYC advises against at-home extractions, though. “While extraction is safe, effective, and can halt progression of comedones into larger inflamed pimples, it really should only be safely performed by a professional.” (For those whose pores clog a lot, she approves of Bioré’s Deep Cleansing Pore Strips.) “Everyone likes to pick, but best to resist the urge to avoid scarring. Or, if not done properly, it can lead to rupture of the underlying lesion with substantial inflammation or even, possibly, infection.”
Tip: If you’re not sensitive to essential oils or scents, add in a few drops of The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oilfor acne-prone skin, or lavender oil to calm.
Regularly exfoliating to remove dead skin cells is important. If you don't have an exfoliating brush, try Clinique’s 7 Day Scrub Cream, a standby for all skin types. Smooth the scrub onto your entire face and use circular motions to exfoliate for one to two minutes.
Tip: Twice a week at night, use a glycolic acid cleanser (a chemical exfoliant) for your skin type.
05. Apply Clay Mask
Dr. Karen highly recommends NeoStrata’s Exuviance Purifying Clay Masque.“This mask contains polyhydroxy acids, pro-vitamins A, C, E, green tea leaf (antioxidant and soothing), as well as other ingredients (papaya extract, honey extract, kaolin) for a more moisturizing, soothing clay formulation to deeply clean skin while rehydrating. It's gentle but effective.”
Mario Badescu has a range of masks ($18–$24) including a Cucumber Tonic Maskwhich purifies and tightens pores; it goes on like a mint green lotion but dries to a firm clay texture pulling up dirt, oil, and whiteheads. Remove your clay mask by rinsing it off with warm water and patting it dry with a clean towel.
Tip: Paula’s Choice and The Body Shop both sell single-use packets of masks ($.80–$2.50). Buy two packets to be sure you have enough to cover your face; use any extra on your feet.
Use a gentle toner on a cotton pad to swipe away any remaining traces of the clay mask and exfoliator. I like The Body Shop’s alcohol-free Seaweed Clarifying Tonerat this step of the facial since it’s not going to over dry already cleansed skin. For sensitive skin, try Simple’s Soothing Facial Toner.
Tip: For a refreshing experience, chill toner in your refrigerator for about thirty minutes before use.
07. Apply Sheet Mask
An extremely popular skincare trend that originated in South Korea, sheet masks are a brilliant and budget-friendly luxury. Made of cotton, hydrogel, or fiber, each sheet mask is soaked in a serum-like formula that usually has at least one active ingredient like tea-tree oil to calm irritated, acne-prone skin or green tea to infuse skin with antioxidant-rich moisture. Peach and Lily, a U.S. beauty e-commerce site, sells these individually wrapped masks by a number of Asian brands.
Simply apply your chosen sheet mask over your face for ten to twenty minutes, then carefully pull off. No need to rinse your face afterward.
Treat the skin to fix any extra problems like dark spots, acne, or dehydration. For dark spots from the sun or acne marks, try Neutrogena’s Rapid Tone Repair Dark Spot Corrector. It has retinol and vitamin C and absorbs quickly.
Tip: Don’t try to treat too many skin issues at once; just choose one. Then you'll be less likely to irritate or dry out your skin.
09. Eye Cream
Lightly dab your favorite eye cream under your brow bone and under your eyes, including the inner area by your nose. I like CeraVe’s Eye Repair Cream—it's a high-quality, fragrance-free, non-greasy cream that sinks into the skin and has a matte finish. With ceramides and hyaluronic acid, it repairs and restores the eye area as it minimizes dark circles and puffiness.
If you’ve treated your skin for dark spots or acne, it’s best to use a simple oil-free moisturizer without any strong and potentially irritating ingredients at the end of the facial. Mario Badescu’s Oil Free Moisturizer (also sold at ULTA) is ultra-light, fragrance-free, and absorbs right into the skin.
If you haven’t used a corrector or acne medication, use an oil-free cream with retinol. Neutrogena’s Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Night Formulais an excellent drugstore choice because it's fragrance-free and contains multi-vitamins.