Hey y’all! Thank you so much for such a great response to my Skincare Essentials Part 1 post. Let’s keep going on our skin journey together to talk about all of the fun auxiliary things you can do to further improve its quality and brilliance. Today we’ll explore masks, polishers, and facials. Oh – and of course there’s the skin on the rest of your body to take care of, too!
Masks are my favorite little extra to use once a week. They provide an uber-dose of nutrients to your face and come in various shapes, sizes, scents and forms – each with a different purpose but all with the ability to make you feel fresh and pampered.
Always cleanse your face first before applying any mask.
Right now I have 3 different types of masks in rotation – sugar masks, sheet masks and clay masks. I’ve been using clay masks the longest – since I was a teenager – but sugar masks caught my attention a while back. Sheet masks are the newest to the Western scene.
Clay masks – suck out impurities and cleanse the pores. They are usually super-goopy and glide on thick, only to dry and crack over 10-15 minutes. As it dries, your face will become really tight because the clay is sucking on your face – literally! Think about how a mud puddle has suction if you step into it. So does your mask! I only do clay masks at night because after you rinse it off, your pores will be wide open and clear – it’s not a good time to go out into the world, letting free radicals in, so make sure to moisturize and avoid makeup until the morning. This is, however, a great time to apply essences and serums so that the moisture and nutrients will really penetrate and sink in to your pores! I love the Glam Glow YouthMud mask.
Sugar masks – exfoliate, polish and nourish. They are grainy and need a little water mixed in to help them get all over your face without tugging on your skin. You work it into your skin first to exfoliate and loosen all the grime that’s deep in your pores and to polish your skin. Then you let it sit so that the nutrients in the sugar can seep right in. I like to apply this mask right before I take a long shower and then rinse it towards the end. I wouldn’t do this with a clay mask because you need to let that dry. But with a sugar mask, it’s okay if there’s a lot of steam and moisture in the air. When you rinse off, you’re skin will be radiant and soft but shouldn’t feel super-dry. I love this Skin Food Black Sugar Mask. My favorite South Korean skincare site, Soko Glam, recommended it – plus, it’s really reasonably priced at under $15.
Sheet masks – hydrate and deposit concentrated nutrients. They are all the rage right now, and every brand seems to be coming up with their own version. These come in individual packets and are super wet or slimy. You unfold it and apply it to your face, letting it sit for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes I like to take a little nap or meditate while I wear one and other times, I’ll put it on while we’re watching a movie on a weekend afternoon. These masks are less about stripping stuff from your pores and more about good things soaking into them. PLUS – they look super-terrifying, which is super-fun! I like these Tony Moly sheet masks because each one has a different set of nutrients – like Aloe (moisturizing), Red Wine (pore care), Tomato (radiance) and Rice (clear skin). You can also buy a box of 6 on Soko Glam for only $12!
NOTE – A little bit of mask goes a really long way, so I recommend buying sample sizes of each before you commit to a full size product. Sheet masks are usually sold separately in stores anyway, and most brands offer travel sizes at Sephora so that you can test things out. I bought the small size Glam Glow mud mask for $20, and it lasted for several months, rather than the full size for $70 that I’d probably never get through in a lifetime!
If you read my Money Talks series of posts about how to save and when to splurge, you’ll remember that I chose to spend a pretty penny on a Clarisonic Smart Profile Sonic Cleansing Brush. These tools purportedly cleanse a gagillion times more thoroughly than any cleanser you can use on its own. I’ll let you do your own research on whether this is a good choice for you, but I will say that I’m REALLY happy with the results I’m seeing after just two weeks using it.
My dermatologist explained to me that each of the circular brushes on the removable head rotate in opposite directions to literally wiggle dirt and grime out of your pores – GROSS…and COOL! You can choose the pressure and duration of time you use the brush for, and there are even different brush heads you can apply for the body or for your feet!
Here’s my skin after 15 days using the Clarisonic Smart Profile. Get all up in there and look at my pores. Normally – at this time of the month – I’d have deep cystic acne on either side of my chin because my hormones are a-raging. When you have acne related to your reproductive system, it will often show itself in this chin area. Check out ‘acne face map‘ on Google to learn about other organ-to-acne linkages!
This month, I have a few little bumps and remaining discolorations and scars in this area, but nothing like the giant zits I’ve been used to for over 15 years. I’m SOLD on the Clarisonic.
NOTE – One thing they don’t tell you when you read all the reviews and purchase one of these is the importance of CLEANING the bristles with EVERY use. I have a small brush-cleanser spray that I use each night after rinsing the Clarisonic off to kill bacteria while it dries. I suspect that these sonic brushes get mixed reviews because people don’t clean them thoroughly after they get covered in super-deep face-dirt. If you don’t clean them, you’re just going to be blending all of that crap back into your pores the next time you use it.
FACIALS AND PEELS – CLARINS OFFEr EXTENDED THROUGH MAY!
Facials are the newest addition to my skincare regimen. I didn’t think they were a worthwhile expense in my 20s – I was broke as hell! But now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve committed to getting one every month for the rest of this year to see what all the fuss is about.
Here’s what I’ve learned and experienced so far – nothing can get into and out of your pores like a professional esthetician’s hands can! My gal Gia Favia at Spa Social here in Chicago got stuff outta there I didn’t even know was living IN my face. We’ve now done a facial and a peel, and we’ll continue alternating for the next few months until I’m in a good place. Then we’ll just keep with the facials.
Facials – if an at-home face mask is like doing a super-duper good job at brushing/flossing/rinsing your teeth, then a facial is like getting a professional teeth-cleaning – complete with digging in the nooks and crannies,removing the gunk, polishing and getting a flouride treatment. Your esthetician will use lights, steam, tools, creams, cloths – the works – to give you the ultimate in facial cleansing, so be prepared to feel pampered AND prodded. You’ll want to avoid makeup for the rest of the day, so I usually schedule my appointment in the evening because I can head straight home and out of public where I generally prefer to wear makeup.
Peels – are made from enzymes that literally eat away at your skin’s top layers. They can be activated and deactivated by other chemicals that get applied to your skin as part of the process. I chose to try this because it had been years since I’d had a facial and I really felt like I needed to clear the way for fresh skin to renew itself. It tingled a bit but was not painful, and I didn’t look like beef carpaccio when I left the spa (remember that episode of Sex and the City???). Instead, over the next week, I noticed a new brilliance to my skin which was a great foundation for all the other fun things I’ve been using.
NOTE – You *might* notice a couple small zits over the day or two after a facial. This is normal because you’ve opened up your pores for everything to jump on in. In other words, facials are not quick fixes, so don’t get one the day before a major event where you want to look your best. Facials are about long-term benefits. Over time, skin should remain clearer, longer.
SPECIAL DEAL FOR MY READERS – CLARINS IS EXTENDING THEIR $50 FACIAL DEAL THROUGH MAY! CHECK OUT THESE LOCATIONS TO SEE IF YOU CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OFFER! I’m getting mine done in early May at Nordstrom here in Chicago!
And finally, don’t forget your body – that’s a whole lot of skin to take care of – and the shower is the perfect time to cleanse and pamper yourself. It’s my favorite time of day!
Soap – I recommend starting with a soap that fights acne like this Shea Moisture African Black Soap. I just received it in my PinchMe sample box (head to this site to try products and review them for FREE!!), and I can’t wait to try it – especially on my chest and back where I sometimes break out.
Exfoliate – After you’ve done the initial soap cleansing, focus on removing dead skin with a body scrub and/or a loofah with body wash. Temperatures are changing with the spring weather right now, and we’re shedding! It’s a great time to be using scrubs and getting rid of all that. I love the Yes To Carrots brand grapefruit body wash. What a great line of products you can find at Target!
Body Brushing – using a thick-bristled body brush doesn’t just exfoliate, it also stimulates blood flow and encourages your body to eliminate toxins. Using strokes in the same direction, scrape it across your body to awaken your skin and release energy. It’s actually a very calming yet invigorating ritual! Plus, a brush with a long handle can reach/clearn parts of your body you can’t with just your short little arms.
Moisturize – once you get out of the shower or bath, apply lotion or oil while you’re still a little damp. The moisturizer will soak in better on wet skin rather than fully dried skin where it might just sit on the surface. I like to use a fragrance-free body moisturizer like this Cerave Moisturizing Cream. It’s super-thick but won’t over-power your nose, which means you can still wear a lovely perfume and not have competing smells happening in a cloud all around you. It also has hyaluronic acid in it which, as I covered in my previous post, has anti-aging properties. We want our bodies to stay just as youthful as our faces, friends!
AND…I think we’ve covered all the skincare essentials we possibly could in just two blog posts! I hope you’ve learned some new things and feel inspired to try others. Please keep me posted on what you learn and send any questions you might have my way at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you!