Step 3: Mask
Choose your face mask based on whatever current issues your skin is facing. If it is oily and prone to breakouts, reach for one that is clay-based or contains vitamin C. Conversely, if it feels parched or generally dry, use a face mask that is formulated to replenish hydration; Vargas recommends seeking out ingredients like hyaluronic acid and vitamin B5.
For smoothing lines, Vargas suggests using a face mask that’s formulated with peptides and antioxidants. The bottom line on face masks is to treat whatever issue you currently have going on, Vargas says. Some of the most common acute conditions she treats with masks include dehydration, dullness, sensitivity, breakouts or oiliness, lack of firmness, and sun damage.
For oily, acne-prone skin, two of our favorite clay face masks are the Dr. Dennis Gross DRx Blemish Solutions Clarifying Mask with Colloidal Sulfur, formulated with bentonite and kaolin clays, and the 2019 Best of Beauty-winning VENeffect Skin Calming Mask, made with pink clay.
If hydration is your primary masking goal, try Eve Lom’s Moisture Mask, Kiehl’s Calendula & Aloe Soothing Hydration Masque, or one of our favorite (and Best of Beauty-winning) hydrating sheet masks, Mamonde Flower Lab Essence Sheet Mask.
Step 4: Steam
“Fill a bowl [with] hot water and position your face over the bowl with a towel over your head to let your skin ‘open up’ while masking,” Louise recommends, noting that you don’t need a fancy at-home device in order to reap the benefits of steaming. “A good old-fashioned bowl with slices of oranges will do a fantastic job of softening the skin and opening the pores.”
Step 5: Moisturize and Massage
After removing your face mask of choice, Morav says it’s time to layer on your favorite serums and moisturizer — with the overall goal being hydration. Some of our favorite hydrating facial serums include La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Pure Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum, Caudalie Vinosource SOS Deep Hydration Serum, and SkinCeuticals H. A. Intensifier.
After applying as many hydrating products as you like (working from thinnest to thickest), give yourself a facial massage to boost blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. “It is important to use very hydrating, rich ingredients as the skin is massaged,” Morav says. To give yourself a top-notch facial massage, begin at the chin and gently stroke outwards, Louise suggests. Follow a similar pattern on all areas of the face, including often-neglected spots like behind the ear lobes, the corners of your nostrils, and the center of your forehead.
You can use your fingers, a roller, or a gua sha tool — whatever tool you have on hand — just as long as you don’t push too hard. “Don’t bruise yourself,” Louise says. “The idea is to go really lightly and focus on draining versus rubbing.”
Don’t neglect to create — and enjoy — some ambiance
“We are surrounded by so much noise of all sorts, so I find it really important to create an ambiance for oneself,” says Morav, whose own spa-like set-up at home includes an essential oil diffuser, candles, music, and crystals. Once all the hard work of cleansing, exfoliating, and masking is over and you’re in the midst of a gentle facial massage, Louise also suggests that it might be the right time to light a candle, play some calming music, and give yourself some “lymphatic love.”