When it comes to beauty treatments, facials are the ultimate luxury. What could be better than lying in a dark, eucalyptus-scented room (Enya’s dulcet tones playing softly in the background) while someone massages your face, only to emerge an hour later straight-up glowing?
For most of us, though, these sumptuous spa outings are fewer and farther between than our pores deserve—let’s just say treatments cost a lot more than your daily matcha habit. But what if you could get the same radiant benefits without ever having to leave your bathroom? According to aesthetician, OSEA brand ambassador, and skin-care educator Sean Rockey, it all starts with your cleansing routine.
“When you wash your face, you’re doing much more then just cleansing.”
“Cleansing is the most important step in your skin care regimen,” says Rockey. That’s because, “When you wash your face, you’re doing much more than just cleansing. You’re actually softening the skin, exfoliating, and increasing blood and lymph circulation, which feeds and detoxifies your skin.”
The results will only ever be as good as your products, though, so it’s important to get to know your skin and learn what works for you, Rockey says. If you have sensitive skin, he recommends choosing a gentle creamy cleanser; normal or combination skin calls for an oil-based face wash (just avoid anything petroleum-based or with mineral oils, which can cause congestion); and if you have an oily complexion, opt for something with a higher concentration of antibacterial essential oils, such as tea tree or thyme.
Once your beauty cabinet is locked and loaded, it’s time to get down to business.
Keep reading for Rockey’s tips for washing your face like a pro. (Blaring “Only Time” while you do it is optional, but encouraged.)
Start with a makeup remover: Even the best cleanser may need a little help wiping off the cat eye you’ve been rocking since your morning wake-up call. Start your at-home facial with a natural makeup remover or jojoba oil, which will get your skin clean-slate ready for the next step.
Alternate cleansers: All cleansers are not created equal, so you may need more than one to get the best possible results. “I often recommend having two cleansers: one daily skin-type-specific cleanser, then something a bit stronger for weekly deep cleansing or to use if your skin is breaking out or lackluster,” says Rockey.
Apply cleanser first, then water: Start out by pumping a nickel-sized amount of cleanser into the palm of your hand, then use your fingers to spread it evenly over your face and neck before adding water.
Give your face the rubdown it deserves: Wet your hands with warm water and work the product into your complexion in upward circular motions for two to four minutes. (If your skin is acne-prone, cut this time in half: Over-massaging can lead to an increase in oil production.)
Use a brush: “Rotary or other facial brushes are great for deep cleansing and exfoliation,” says Rockey. “They can be used with your cleanser one to three times per week, depending on how thick your skin is. Thick skin can tolerate more exfoliation, while thin skin may only need to to exfoliate once a week.” Bonus: It’s arguably as soothing as a professional-level facial.
Rinse with cold water: Splashing your face with icy water does more than just make you feel awake. “The warm-to-cold action during cleansing helps increase circulation and tone skin,” says Rockey. “If you just use warm or hot water every day, over time all the muscle structures of the face will relax, leading to more sagging as you age.” It was a tried-and-true method back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, so you can thank Joan Crawford for this piece of intel.
Now, if only your bathroom came with warm towels and on-demand cucumber water, you’d never need to go to the spa again.
Need help finding the perfect skin-perfecting cleanser? Here are some of our favorite natural cleansers, and a slew of ultra-luxe moisturizers that will make you excited for your nightly skincare routine.