How to Give Yourself the Best At-Home Facial

Reset your complexion as summer transitions into fall.

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Summer takes its toll on everyone's skin, whether you got a little too much sun—and a new smattering of freckles or dark spots—or your pores are simply congested (thanks to layers of sunscreen and sweat). Reset your complexion with an at-home facial that deep-cleans, hydrates, and troubleshoots.

woman covering eyes from sun in front of dark background

Cleanse Thoroughly

The trick to removing every speck of grime and makeup is washing twice. Afterward, wipe your skin with a moist cotton pad; if it's pristine, you're ready to proceed, says New York City facialist Georgia Louise. New York City dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum likes CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($10.99, because it doesn't strip away skin's natural moisture. If you're oily, try antioxidant-packed Neutrogena Soothing Clear Turmeric Mousse Cleanser ($9.99,

Open Pores and Exfoliate

Steam helps a mask's active ingredients penetrate, says Dr. Nussbaum. Stand in a hot-ish shower for five minutes, or run a washcloth under warm water and lay it over your face, says Louise. Then sweep away old cells so fresh ones get the spa treatment: Lightly rub your face in circular motions with a wet cloth or lightly textured Doctor Babor Deep Cleansing Pads ($39.95,, then do a DIY massage (more on that ahead).

Deep-Treat with the Right Mask

To boost radiance, "look for antioxidants," says New Jersey dermatologist Shari Sperling. In Burt's Bees Brightening Biocellulose Mask ($3.99 each,, seaweed and mandarin help safely even out all tones. If you're looking to calm redness, StriVectin Supergreens Soother Cooling Gel Mask ($48, contains anti-inflammatory aloe vera and holy basil, plus polyphenol-rich green-tea extracts.

As for congested pores that need clearing? Reach for Indie Lee I-Waken Resurfacing Mask ($48,; its fruit enzymes and beta-hydroxy acids remove dead cells, and kaolin clay pulls excess oils from pores in five minutes flat. Those with dry skin, on the other hand, should maximize their moisture levels: Dr. Nussbaum suggests replenishing niacinamide and ceramides; find them in Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Water-Facial ($52,, which you can leave on overnight.

Seal in the Benefits

After rinsing off a mask, lock in its active ingredients with a rich moisturizer. For instant radiance and more free-radical foragers, try OleHenriksen C-Rush Brightening Double Crème ($46,, which gets its satin finish from shea butter and grapeseed oil. Or warm some Naturopathica Carrot Seed Soothing Facial Oil ($64, in your palms and press it onto your face, for an infusion of soothing primrose oil and antioxidant-packed carrot-seed extract. To prevent irritation and redness from exfoliating, avoid sun and retinol products for two days thereafter.

Work in a Facial Massage

This tool-free massage relaxes muscles and flushes away puffiness. "For the full effect, repeat each motion five times," says Louise.

dropper on hand illustration
Illustration by Brown Bird Design

Start by spreading a dime-size amount of oil, like Trilogy Very Gentle Restoring Oil ($45,, all over your face to prevent tugging.

woman rubbing temples illustration
Illustration by Brown Bird Design

Next, "pump your middle and index fingers three times under your earlobes," says Louise. Then place them under the outer edges of your lower lip, push three more times, and glide them toward your hairline. Repeat next to your nostrils, then your inner brows.

woman sculpting and lifting illustration
Illustration by Brown Bird Design

Hold your palms flush together under your chin. Separate them and slide them up toward your forehead, applying firm pressure. Next, cup your brows with your three middle fingers (nails pointing down), and massage up toward your hairline.

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