After the last two years of cute events like lockdowns and Covid-iso we may have gotten reasonably adept at our DIY aesthetician skills, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t ditch the YouTube and TikTok videos as soon as things opened up.
It’s not just the sensorial experience of getting a facial somewhere other than your bathroom either. It’s the little things: the lighting, the mood, the hot towels, the massage, the snuggly bed-and-robe combo and the way they tuck you in like you’re going to sleep. But it’s also the details of what they do (which is, probably why they’re the experts and all). Most of the time we’re too blissed out (read: asleep) to notice those little magic steps they add to their facials that give your skin the kind of dewy, plumped, glowiness that makes you want to take compulsive selfies.
So, rather than insist you stay awake through a whole facial (we would never!), instead we spoke to some of the best hands in the business (who conveniently work on some of the most covetable skin in the business) who have graciously offered up their must-do’s so that maybe they’ll become your everyday should-do’s.
Yes we know it takes twice as long, but there’s a good reason every facial you have spends quality time on the clean. Melanie Grant, Facialist and Founder Melanie Grant Skin Health and SkincareEdit.com says it’s a non-negotiable night-time step for her because it ensures you’ve removed everything from the day including makeup, sunscreen and any sweat/dirt/grime/pollution you’ve acquired.
But also, importantly, Melanie say it “supports the skin while you sleep by removing anything that’ll prevent your actives from absorbing, or inhibiting the skin’s own innate processes of healing and regeneration overnight,” and can also help with regulating oil production if you have oily skin type. Generally you’ll start with an oil-based cleanser of balm that will help to remove the makeup, SPF, and even sebum, followed by either an active (think glycolic or lactic acid), or water-based cleanser tailored to your skin type.
Facial massage is not just there for the feels, it has some seriously great benefits to your skin (and body) too. The lymph nodes help to drain fluid and remove waste in your body, and as Sharlena Hassani, Celebrity Esthetician and Founder of Artisan of Skin Beverly Hills explains “lymphatic drainage speeds up the transportation of these lymph fluids, containing toxins, viruses, bacteria and proteins which improves your lymphatic system and detoxing the body on a cellular level.” In a facial treatment, lymphatic drainage increases circulation, decreases puffiness, drains toxins and reduces inflammation. Sharlena also adds that it helps oxygenate the skin, sculpt the face and push product into the skin.
At-home, she recommends you get into it at least a couple nights a week (if not every night) and layering your skin with face oil first so your skin doesn’t pull. Sharlena’s preferred tool is a gua sha, using light pressure (the lymph vessels are delicate) and says “you always want to move from the center of the face, pushing out.”
Melanie prefers to us her hands and “a very basic massage that works from the centre of the face outwards and then down the neck to « flush » stagnant lymph, puffiness and toxins.” She suggests using the full breadth of your hands a gentle, consistent pressure and letting your facial contours guide you for only a couple of minutes each night.
We all love a masking moment, but this is more about getting the most out of your masks, and understanding your skin a bit better too. Sharlena explains it simply: “Sometimes different parts of your face need different things, and sometimes you have different concerns for different areas, like a chin breakout, but fine lines on your forehead,” –so naturally you’d want to treat these areas differently (in this case you’d choose a clarifying mask for your chin and something with retinol perhaps for your forehead). “Masking isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, says Sharlena, “and multi-masking allows you to create customize solutions specific to your skins concerns, area by area.” Plus, you get to treat multiple concerns in one go.
Melanie is a fan of the multi-mask too and says you can also do it by mixing together masks (like a cream and clay) or even layering masks (like a collagen sheet mask overtop a gel mask). She says, “my favorite combination lately has been our Melanie Grant Radiance Mask with Biologique Recherche’s Playstma treatment over the lower half of the face and jawline.
Misting between steps: While both of our experts agree that this step isn’t “essential”, you won’t find a facial without it – and here’s why: “When used strategically it can really help with product absorption, particularly with ingredients like peptides and hyaluronic acid that draw water into the skin,” says Melanie.
Sharlena adds that some skin care products, like moisturizers, also work better when applied to damp skin so as to seal moisture in. “Damp skin is more permeable than dry skin, so you should get better absorption of your product if applied before it’s completely dry,” she says, “and it not only absorbs product better but increases the efficacy of your products as it’s able to penetrate deeper into the skin.
As an added benefit, some contain antioxidant ingredients, and it can also help with hydration (especially when working in air-conditioned environments) and it also leaves skin looking dewier and fresher. In other words – you’ll have that “fresh-from-the-facial” glow.