All You Need to Create an At-Home Spa Is a Washcloth

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Going to the spa is not always top priority, but we still want to give our skin the attention it deserves. Allure sat down with celebrity facialist Ling Chan and learned how to DIY a spa-level facial.


I think we can all agree that a facial isn't really a facial unless you're lying down, having delicious creams spread all over your face, and listening to the sounds of a distant seashore. But according to Ling Chan, a facialist who has ministered to Gisele Bündchen and Uma Thurman (and who owns two New York City spas and has her own skin care line), you really can make your skin smoother, softer, and less irritable by re-creating the professional experience at home. So this weekend, pour yourself a nice glass of cucumber water and follow these steps for some serious self-pampering.

No shortcuts. "For an at-home facial that yields truly professional results, you can't skip steps or skimp on products," says Chan. "Every true facial should include exfoliation, clay to cleanse the pores, and products that rehydrate and calm the skin."

Take off. Look for a gentle scrub (I like Peter Lamas Exfoliating Pumpkin Facial Scrub, $20) or an enzyme peel, like Ling Spotlight Papaya Resurface Peel ($65), to slough dead skin and de-gunk the pores. But don't rinse it off just yet!

Steam cleaning. Assuming you're not Mariah Carey and don't have a professional skin steamer on the premises, just run a washcloth under really, really hot water, wring it out, and drape it over your face. Let the cloth sit for a few minutes. "The enzymes and steam will work together to really open the pores," says Chan.

Masked ball. "A clay mask cleanses the pores and removes impurities from skin," explains Chan. For my own DIY facials, I have used Kiehl's Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask ($23), with kaolin. Let the mask set for 15 minutes, but don't let it get to that completely crumbly, mummified stage. Repeat the steaming-washcloth routine from above to remove the clay.

Bare naked. "A hydrating mask after a clay mask allows for the moisturizing properties to better penetrate the skin, since all the impurities and debris have been thoroughly removed," says Chan. I like the Nügg Hydrating Face Mask ($3) and Ling Ginseng Therapy Moisture Mask ($36), one of Chan's products. Rinse it off with cool water.

Ever upward. "After using a hydrating mask, I recommend sealing it in with a moisturizer," says Chan. Use your normal moisturizer, but take your time applying it — this is where the massage comes in. "The key to massaging the face is to keep moving the hands up, never down. You never want to pull at the skin," she says.

No digging. Even if you really want to, ignore the urge to squeeze or pop your blemishes. "If you do an extraction yourself, you have a better chance of breaking out or even causing an infection," says Chan. "Even professionals have a hard time performing extractions on themselves, because you can't see at the same angle on your own skin as you can on someone else's."

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