A home facial is a pampering ritual that may help people de-stress while improving their skin health. Potential skin benefits include removing impurities, boosting blood flow, and improving skin hydration.

Many people consider home facials to be an occasional treat they can perform at home to improve their skin’s health, feel, and appearance. But people should not do them too often as they can irritate or worsen skin problems.

In this article, we explain how to perform a facial at home. We list the essential steps, along with some optional extras, and provide tips on choosing suitable products for an individual’s skin type.

Using a relevant skin care routine can provide demonstrable skin benefits. The benefits of home facials may vary, depending on the steps, ingredients, and skin type of the person. Including facials as part of a skin care routine may benefit skin by:

  • alleviating painful or itchy skin
  • brightening dull skin
  • hydrating the skin
  • improving the appearance of scars
  • treating acne

Home facials, like professional facials, carry some risks. The most common risks may include skin irritation or worsening of skin problems. Some experts also note that while taking care of skin is important, facials are not a necessary part of a skin care routine.

An older study reports that facial side effects can include redness, swelling, dermatitis, and acne. Home facials may cause similar issues.

Some potential risks of facials may arise from the products a person uses. For example, research indicates that skin irritation is the most common adverse effect of moisturizers. In addition to redness and swelling, other signs of irritation can include tingling and stinging sensations.

There is also the risk of damage to the skin. For example, when steaming the skin, people may risk skin burns if they do not exercise caution. If performing extractions (which most professionals do not recommend for home facials), there is the risk of minor scarring.

People can minimize risks by exercising caution and only using appropriate ingredients and techniques.

Cleansers play an important role in skin care because they wash the face and help to remove some of the environmental impurities and cosmetic products that water alone cannot. Before a facial, people should cleanse their skin to try and remove any impurities.

For dry skin, use a gentle cleanser or creamy face wash. Those with combination skin may also do best with a mild cleanser. People with oily or acne-prone skin often require an oil-free foaming cleanser containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

While this is a general guide, it is important that people adjust their cleansing regimen and choice of cleanser to suit their needs. If this proves challenging, it can be helpful to see a dermatologist.

Homemade cleansing options can include items such as tea tree oil and green tea. People may want to avoid using soaps, as they are alkaline and can cause skin irritation and dryness.

Exfoliation removes dead skin cells, cleans out the pores, and improves the skin’s texture. Exfoliators may be physical scrubs containing small particles that slough away skin cells. They may also be chemical products containing acids that dissolve dead cells.

Many dermatologists may recommend using a chemical exfoliator, as scrubs may cause tiny scratches on the face that can cause irritation.

DIY exfoliation options tend to fall into the category of physical exfoliants and may include:

  • oats
  • coffee grounds
  • sugar
  • fine sea salt

To exfoliate with oats or coffee grounds, mix with water or milk and gently buff into the face before rinsing off. To use sugar or fine salt, combine with liquid coconut oil and gently rub into the skin before rinsing off.

Steaming the skin helps to open pores and prepare the skin for a mask.

To steam the skin safely at home a person should:

  1. Fill a bowl with hot water (making sure it is not boiling).
  2. Position their face approximately 6–8 inches over the bowl, with a towel over their head to trap the steam.
  3. Remain in position for up to 10 minutes to allow the steam to work. Do not exceed 10 minutes, as this may cause dehydration or skin irritation.

Some people may like to add optional extras to the water, such as orange slices or fresh rosemary. While these are not necessary, they can add to the sense of relaxation.

After steaming, it is important to follow up with a mask or moisturizer to avoid the skin becoming dry and tight.

Skin steaming may not be suitable for everyone, including those with certain skin conditions. If in doubt, people should discuss skin steaming with a dermatologist.

Face masks are a central component of professional facials, and they can be an enjoyable aspect of a home facial too. Depending on the mask a person chooses, it may hydrate, brighten, or detoxify the skin.

There are many masks available to buy in drugstores, health stores, or online. These may come in many forms, including gel, clay, cream, or sheet masks.

Alternatively, people can make their own mask. Popular ingredients include:

  • honey
  • jojoba oil
  • aloe vera
  • green tea

For each mask, mix the ingredients, apply to the skin, and leave for 10–15 minutes before removing with a damp washcloth. Some anecdotal homemade mask recipes that may help skin include:

  • Dry skin: 1 mashed avocado, 1 tablespoon (tbsp) of honey, 1 tbsp of olive oil, and 2 tbsp of yogurt.
  • Oily skin: 1 half-cup of cooked oatmeal, 1 raw egg, and 1 tbsp of lemon juice.
  • Dull skin: 1 tbsp of mashed fresh papaya, 1 teaspoon (tsp) of cacao powder, and 1 tbsp of aloe vera gel.
  • Acne-prone skin: 1 tbsp of aloe vera gel and 1 drop of tea tree oil.
  • Clogged pores: 1 tsp of bentonite clay, 1 capsule of activated charcoal, and 2 drops of tea tree oil.

To avoid skin irritation, it is a good idea to do a patch test first. Apply the chosen mask to a small patch of skin and wait 24 hours to see if a reaction occurs. If nothing happens, apply the mask to the face. If there is a reaction, avoid using the mask.

After a face mask or other skin care treatment, it is advisable to apply moisturizer. Different skin types have different moisturizing needs, and research suggests that finding the most suitable product is a matter of trial and error.

To moisturize, warm up the product in the hands before gently massaging into the skin in upward, circular motions. Begin with the cheeks and move on to the forehead and rest of the face.

While the above steps are the main ones in any good facial, there are additional steps that people may take to boost their skin health further. Examples can include:

Toner

Toners may help remove any further impurities from the skin after a cleanser and help prepare the skin to absorb other skin care products better.

Eye creams

People may have concerns about the appearance of the skin surrounding their eyes. Research suggests that eye creams can help to improve appearance by reducing puffiness and wrinkles.

Serums

Serums can provide further hydration to the skin, lighten and brighten skin tone, or reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Different serums will meet different needs. Research suggests that serums can improve skin health and help protect against signs of aging.

Day and night creams

Some people may wish to apply different creams, with differing ingredients, at different times throughout the day to get the optimal benefit. Research suggests that day and night creams can contribute towards improving skin appearance by reducing signs of aging and improving hydration.

Massage

A facial massage can improve blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. It may also improve skin color and facial sagging. People can also use a facial roller, which may help to improve blood flow and might lead to healthier-looking skin.

The following tips may help people enjoy year-round healthy skin:

  • Applying a water-resistant sunscreen daily that offers broad-spectrum protection and has an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Having a daily skin care routine that includes cleansing and moisturizing.
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Managing stress levels.
  • Avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol intake.
  • Seeing a dermatologist if extra guidance or treatment is necessary.

A home facial can provide an opportunity for relaxation while also improving skin health and appearance.

When performing a home facial, individuals should take care and use gentle products suitable for their skin type. To avoid irritation or skin damage, it is advisable to carry out a patch test before using any new product or homemade recipe.

To maintain the benefits of a home facial, it is important to care for skin regularly. People should protect their skin from the sun and support skin health through healthy lifestyle choices, such as a balanced diet, exercise, and stress management.