There is nothing better than the feeling you have when your skin is not just clean, but extra-special, deep-down clean. It’s a feeling you can’t get just from your daily wash. A good facial can leave your complexion so pristine that it literally glows. If you go to a pro, expect to get some pampering—and some education—along with your treatment. “An aesthetician should always start by doing a thorough analysis of your skin, explaining the condition of your skin, asking you about your current skin-care routine and what you want to get out of the session,” says Candis Ayers, spa director at the St Julien Spa in Boulder, Colo. Take advantage of the opportunity to glean as much information and advice as you can—about your skin and what it needs, about new ingredients and how they work and about techniques that you can try at home to keep your skin looking fab. Then, use your newfound knowledge (and the smart tips on the following pages) to score a glowing, fresh-from-a-facial look on your own.
Even though you do this at least once a day, experts agree that it’s the most important step in the facial process. “A good cleanser helps to remove everything— makeup, dirt, pollution, dead skin cells and excess oil,” says Kerry Wall, manager of The Organic Pharmacy in Beverly Hills, Calif. Be sure not to clean skin so harshly that you strip away its naturally protective oils. “Skin is our barrier to the world, so it’s important to keep it strong by treating it gently,” says Carmen Miraglia, owner of Erbé Spa in New York City. Look for an allnatural cleanser that leaves skin clean but dewy (never dry or tight) and rinse with lukewarm water.
(a) Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser ($50; tataharper .com) is handmade with ingredients harvested from an organic farm in Vermont. (b) Absolis Patyka Milk Cleanser ($45; newlondonpharmacy.com) nourishes and moisturizes skin with a healing bisabolol extract from chamomile. (c) The Organic Pharmacy Carrot Butter Cleanser ($60; organicpharmacy.com) dissolves dirt and makeup (even eye makeup!) in one easy step, and the shea butter, chamomile, rosemary and other organic ingredients soothe and soften your skin. (d) SenZen Age Away Hydrating Energy Cleanser ($39; senzen.myshopify.com) is a deeply moisturizing cleanser that plumps skin with hydrating herbs.
2. Steam + Exfoliate
You can steam and exfoliate separately or together, depending on what you use to exfoliate your skin. If you are planning to use a scrub, most pros suggest steaming your face first (lean over a bowl of hot—but not boiling—water for five minutes or so) to soften and hydrate your skin before exfoliating. If you use an exfoliating peel (such as one that contains natural fruit enzymes to slough off dead cells), apply it while you are in the shower. “Leave it on for five minutes and let the steam penetrate and help loosen the dead skin, dirt and bacteria trapped in your pores,” says Ayers.
(a) Skin 2 Skin Oatmeal & Pomegranate Face Scrub ($30; skin2skincare.com) gently cleanses and exfoliates with natural oat flour and repairs delicate skin with green and white tea extracts. (b) Red Flower Bioactive Berry White Peat Exfoliant ($62; beauty.com) gently polishes skin, creating a perfect canvas for the next step. (c) Golden Path Alchemy Renew Herbal Steam ($20; goldenpathalchemy.com) infuses your steam with a nourishing blend of organic jasmine, rosehips and chamomile.