How To Give Yourself A Facial When You're Too Broke To Go To The Spa

Even if you're not broke, at-home facials are easy like Sunday morning, and also perfect to do on Sunday mornings.

A couple of you lovelies commented on my mom beauty advice article that you would like to know how exactly to give yourselves at home facials. I’d love nothing more than to tell you exactly how to do that. So, that’s what I’m gonna do.

Much of my 20s were spent scraping by, and although I always managed to sustain a pretty healthy product supply, I relied on Sephora samples to get me through some lean times. This also meant that extravagant spa treatments were shelved in place of filling my actual shelves with food. Pasta, mostly.

Since my mom was an esthetician when I was a kid, I learned a lot of beauty trade secrets without even realizing I was learning them. It’s great to go to a spa to get pampered, but to be able to recreate that when you’re at home saving your pennies is a lifelong skill that you can share with others. An at-home facial party sounds like a pretty fun idea, right? We should DO that. I’ll bring my copy of Steel Magnolias and some prosecco!

But there are some things that you maybe shouldn’t do at home unless you’re a superstar wizard, such as perms. Don’t get a perm anyway, because your hair will hate you and the chemicals will give you a lung infection, I think.

Facials are all about getting your skin as squeaky-clean as possible while making it soft and radiant it in the process. For an at-home facial, you will need:

  • a cleanser
  • an exfoliator
  • two towels, one small and one large
  • a mask
  • a sink
  • a toner
  • a serum or oil
  • a cream

Begin your at-home facial by putting your hair back. Of course you knew that already, but whatever.

As some of you may know, I’m a big fan of setting the mood when it comes to bathing, at-homing facials or just, you know, hanging out. Spas are always quiet, with the sounds of birds chirping or ocean waves echoing faintly in the distance. There's no reason why your at-home facial experience shouldn't be the same. Pick whatever noises make your ears happiest and most relaxed.

I sometimes listen to my mediation audio books while at-homing a facial. I also usually fall asleep.


We’re starting with a clean slate. After cleansing with warm water using a mild cleanser, rinse your face with a warm washcloth and proceed to the next step.


Go for a gentle microbead scrub in place of anything with crushed fruit shells or whatever. Those are too harsh for your skin and can cause capillaries to break. A good DIY scrub is plain ol baking soda and water. Mix, apply and circulate round the face. I also like to use Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub.

If you feel like getting fancy, at-home facials are a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of Sephora’s sample program. You can get a sample of practically anything they carry in the store. It’s a great way to try before you buy, or try because you can't afford to buy. Rub the scrub 'round yo face for a couple of minutes, and after exfoliation is complete, rinse with a warm, wet washcloth.


When we were, like, 13, my friend Kassy had a small face steamer at her house. We’d have sleepovers and steam our faces while listening to Wu-Tang and then go at our blackheads with a vengance. Good times.

Whenever I've gone for a facial, I find the steam they blow on your face with that very non-magical wand gizmo to be sort of suffocating. Like, I can take steam if it's not being forced on me, which is why I sort of prefer my zero-dolla at-home method.

Fill up your sink with hot, hot water, leaving just enough room to stick your face right above it without your skin touching the water. Put a large towel over your head and hover over the sink, blocking any outside air so the steam can't escape. Just hang there for as long as you can. Maybe five to 10 minutes. This opens your pores right up, and it's also really good to do if you’re sick like I am right now and need to clean your airways. If you put a couple of eucalyptus drops in the water, even better.

Also, I used my Neti pot right after I steamed my face and a glorious amount of junk came out of my nose. Sorry. What I'm trying to say is that steaming is good for you!

After your face is steamed, rinse it with warm water, or a warm washcloth.


Now is the time for extractions if you’re into that sort of thing. I don’t pop my pimples unless they've turned into massive white mounds with faces that start begging me to kill them. I used to pick at my face all the time and I’ve got the scars to prove it. I learn from mistakes, sometimes.

The steam has just opened your pores magnificently, so if you have blackheads that you’re dying to get at, grab an extractor or some Q-tips, or a nose strip thingy, and have at 'er. Wash with warm water when done.

But please skip the extractions if you’re not into them. I never do them anymore and my skin’s pretty decent lately.


Leave your face damp if you’re applying a clay mask like my fave, the Umbrian Clay Purifying Treatment Bar. If your skin is super-dry, you might want to opt for a more moisturizing variety. Not everyone likes their face to feel like the dry crusted surface of the moon, but I’m like “YEAH, DRY IT OUT BABY!” because it feels like it's getting cleaner that way.

Some masks you should only leave on for 10 to 15 minutes, but I love my Umbrian bar because you can leave it on for as long as you can stand.

I even had a little nap.

Once you’re fully rested and it’s dry to the point of “I can’t move my face, lest it crack,” rinse the mask off with a warm, wet cloth.


Using a toner of your preference, take a cotton pad, douse it, and give your face one final sweep clean. I like Kiehl's Acai Damage-Protecting Toning Mist because it's like a bodyguard for your face, but any will do. Just try not to use one with alcohol in it because it tends to dry out your skin in a bad way that strips it of good oils.

You don’t have to apply serum or oil, but I like to because it locks in the goodness you've just done to your face and it also moisturizes and nourishes.

If you're at-home facialing at night, you might want to consider Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. It’s an ELIXIR, which I can never resist, and it's filled with essential oils that restore your skin's appearance as you sleep. Also, it smells like delicious lavender.

If you’re daytiming your at-home facial, go with argan or another day-friendly oil like olive, jojoba, camellia, macadamia or squalene.

Yay, you're almost done! Doesn't your skin feel clean, fresh, rejuvinated and ready to take on the world? Thought so. One last step:


I have sensitive skin, so after I’ve washed, exfoliated, steamed, masked, wiped and serumed it, I like to finish off with a non-irritating, light cream like Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Sensitive Skin.

Did I just talk way too much you guys? It's the cold meds. Can you see why I'm terrible at first dates? I hope I gave you some good at-home facial advice. I seem to have developed a case of pink eye in the last 15 minutes. Any home remedies? I'm off to take another nap now. (Sadface).