1. Bare it all
Start by removing all your makeup, says aesthetician Anna Ou from Concepts Salon & Spa in Toronto. If your skin is oily, Ou recommends a gel cleanser; drier skin requires a milky or creamy wash. Cleanse twice, says Holly Sherrard, education manager for the International Dermal Institute in Toronto. “The first time removes surface dirt and makeup, whereas the second actually cleans the skin.” It’s kind of like a washing machine, she says. “The skin needs a wash and a rinse cycle to get thoroughly clean.”
2. Scrub it off
Next, exfoliate: “You’ll get better results once you’ve removed the dead skin cells — it allows treatments to penetrate deeper,” says Sherrard. Depending on your preference you can use a manual exfoliant (ideally containing rice or spherical beads) to lift off dead skin or a chemical exfoliant (with papaya or pineapple enzymes, for example) to dissolve it. When using a manual exfoliant, do not apply too much pressure or you may irritate your skin. With a chemical product, simply smooth onto the face, leave for the specified time, and rinse.
3. Dos and don’ts
Squeezing spots can cause scarring, inflammation, dilated capillaries and uneven pigmentation, all of which can add years to your face. “If there’s pus, or any sign of redness, that means stop.” Sherrard compares pimples to icebergs — you can see only the part above the surface and if you pick at one you can make it even bigger by spreading bacteria to the surrounding follicles. Also, steer clear of steaming unless you have professional equipment, says Ou, because it could burn the skin. If you want to open pores, simply have a warm shower before beginning your treatment.
4. The deep treatment
For most people, one mask won’t treat all their skin issues, says Sherrard. She suggests targeting specific problem areas with different types of facial treatments. If you have combination skin, you might want to use a clay mask on your forehead and chin along with a hydrating formulation around your eyes and nose. You can also spot treat breakouts with a specific product if you’re worried about drying out the surrounding skin, she says.
5. Keep skin fresh
To finish off, apply a serum, moisturizer and eye cream. After you exfoliate, skin can burn more easily so don’t forget a sunscreen if you’re going outside, Sherrard advises. While you can apply makeup after a facial, aestheticians recommend treating your skin before bed so that it can rest overnight.