not a professional. just crazy.

Help Me, Rio: How Do I Do a Facial at Home?

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I’m no stranger to beauty mishaps — I once ripped half of my eyelashes out with a drugstore lash curler. After such an incident, it’s easy to take to the internet to look for advice. The trouble is, there is simply too much out there. Which is why, when I have a beauty dilemma, I prefer to go to trusted friends — people who’ve been there before, know their stuff, and can give me helpful, tailored advice. I’d like to be that friend for you, so I created the email Send me your strange, specific beauty problems, and I’ll respond with tips, tricks, and remedies to get you through your predicament.

I saw you mention on your Instagram that you pick your skin when you’re anxious. Since I started staying at home, I’ve been picking my face like crazy. My skin has been really red and angry, and frankly I’m just not feeling my best, physically or emotionally. Before, if my skin was looking this crummy (or, frankly, if I was feeling this crummy), I would do something nice for myself — like go get a facial. But that’s obviously not possible. Do you have any tips for putting together an at-home facial that’ll both boost my mood and get my skin looking less dry, pimply, and blotchy?

First of all, you’re not alone — I too have been picking a lot since I started self-isolating (picking is a compulsion that can be directly linked to anxiety). And to be honest, during the first week I spent inside, I didn’t give much thought to my skin at all, even though it was looking particularly dehydrated (I’m pretty sure I didn’t even wash my face.) Having said that, my friend, the aesthetician Sofie Pavitt, convinced me to hop on Instagram Live with her a couple of days ago for a guided, at-home facial. And as it turned out, chatting with my friend while doing something mindless and kind for myself felt really good. Below, I put together a list of products for an at-home “facial” so you can do the same, either alone, or with a friend over FaceTime— it includes some light exfoliation (to slough off dead skin so that everything you apply after can properly penetrate), and a whole bunch of moisturizing and healing products (to reverse some of that dehydration and calm down any redness and inflammation from the picking). You can add more steps (you could add for instance, a toner or eye cream) or take some out, depending on what your skin needs and how much time you want to spend on it.


Any cleanser will do, but I’ve been really liking this milky one from Moon Juice lately — it’s really conditioning and non-stripping, and really effectively gets all that dirt and sweat off your skin.


This chemical exfoliant from Purito is really great, gentle yet effective, and relatively affordable. It’s a blend of AHAs (which are great for surface brightening), BHAs (which go deep into the pores to deal with acne-causing bacteria), and PHAs (a gentler acid that also boosts hydration levels). This blend means it targets all different kinds of skin issues — it’ll buff away dead skin cells, brighten up your complexion, and unclog your pores — but also isn’t too aggressive or irritating on the skin. Put two to three pumps of this on your skin after washing your face. Also, if you don’t have this product, whatever chemical exfoliant you have in your medicine cabinet will do — an exfoliant is a great way to start off an at-home facial because it’ll buff away any dead skin so that your products can penetrate better.


Whether you choose a wash-off mask or sheet mask is totally your call. When I’ve picked at my skin, however, I tend to lean towards a wash-off — they do a better job when it comes to absorbing excess oil, and giving your skin a really deep clean. In particular, I really love this one from I’m From—it’s filled with mugwort, an herb often used in Korean cuisine and medicine, that helps calm, soothe, and reduce any kinds of redness or inflammation. After exfoliating, I put this on my skin for about 10 to 15 minutes, then wash it off — almost instantly my skin appears more nourished, bright, and much, much less aggravated. (A note: When you apply this, it will feel warm on the skin. This is normal — it just means it’s activating, and getting into your pores.)

If I haven’t picked a ton, I’ll go with a sheet mask. If I have these on hand, they’re always my go-to. I’ve written about this mask many a time, because they not only fit the face well and feel more luxurious than most, they also deliver wonderfully hydrating, plumping, and illuminating ingredients — like niacinamide, ginger, and licorice root — to your skin. The best.


This cream was recommended to me by my friends at oo35mm a while back when I said I was in the market for a hydrating (but not overly greasy) cream that could help with sensitivity and dryness. This cream is a beautiful blend of nourishing and renewing galactomyces ferment filtrate (a moisturizing yeast), chamomile for soothing, and antioxidant-rich shiitake mushroom extract. The girl at the counter at oo35mm told me that her boyfriend suffers from really bad razor burn and breakouts after shaving, and this cream is the only thing that really helped soothe and calm his skin. While I don’t have razor burns, my skin is eczema-prone and generally very dry and irritated. After a few days of using this, I noticed the little flaky patches on my face starting to calm and fade away. This is a perfect last step to lock in moisture and sooth your skin.

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Help Me, Rio: How Do I Do a Facial at Home?