Steps in a Facial: Tips from a Botanical Skin Care Specialist

Learn the 11 steps that Jessica follows during facials, plus product recommendations for at-home facial products!

Most of us book an appointment for a facial thinking about the clear, radiant complexion we’ll have in the days and weeks that follow. But a facial can be a restorative and relaxing ritual in itself. Especially when it includes cleansers and masques with botanical ingredients, plus a calming facial massage and stress-relieving aromatherapy. 

Below, I’m sharing the steps in a facial I follow for clients who come to my day spa. 

This botanically-infused experience leaves them glowing for days. And with the right products, you can replicate much of the process at home. Read to the end for product recommendations for at-home facials, including special pricing on the collection I’ve curated for you!

Step 1: Evaluate

At our spa, we do a short intake consultation to best understand each client’s unique skin concerns and the reason for their visit. At home, you can think about the goals for your facial as you review the products you have on hand. Hydration and exfoliation consistently come up in conversations with my clients, so those were top of the list when I crafted the product recommendations at the end of this post.

Step 2: Cleanse

The initial cleanse prepares the skin for the coming steps in a facial by removing any surface-level impurities. Even at this stage, the facial can be as much about restoration as purification. I use products that gently cleanse with plant-derived ingredients while revitalizing skin with antioxidants. Just the right amount of pressure stimulates circulation without stressing the skin.

Step 3: Exfoliate

Exfoliation is a two-part process, revealing a smoother, more radiant complexion. A scrub, like rice powder or olive seeds, polishes the skin while acids work to dissolve dead skin. A formulation using plant-derived acids, like glycolic and lactic, will take a deeper dive to assist the skin in its natural renewal process, without causing unnecessary irritation.

Step 4: Extract

Comedones are impurities within pores that give skin a rough texture. Typically, they’re caused by dead skin cells, excess oil, or bacteria. They can be open (blackheads), closed (whiteheads), or flesh colored. If needed, we’ll remove them at this stage. Even though this is one of the signature steps in a facial, not everyone’s skin requires extraction.

Step 5: Facial Massage

After the previous step, a facial massage feels divine. It also increases circulation, tones facial muscles, and calms the central nervous system. (Keep your eye out for a post in the coming months on the science behind a relaxing facial!)

Step 6: Masque

Corrective masques for your face and lips can draw out impurities, soften the appearance of large pores, deeply hydrate, tone and firm, or plump fine lines.. Products like the Snow Mushroom & Reishi Masque (profiled below) use plant-based extracts to deliver moisture on a cellular level and improve skin barrier function, boosting tone and elasticity. Look for a masque that also nourishes and protects skin, revealing a firmer complexion and boosting resilience to the stresses our skin encounters on a daily basis. 

While we wait for the masque to set, I give my clients a shoulder massage with stress-relieving aromatherapy.

Step 7: Tone

Here we want to tone the skin with a tonique, or tonic. Look for one that restores moisture and nourishes the skin. This is also a great place to include ingredients like antioxidants to fight oxidative damage, and plant extracts to revitalize the skin. Toning is one of the essential steps in a facial that will help the skin absorb and retain the benefits of the steps to come. 

Step 8: Serum

At this stage your skin is ready to drink in some serious goodness. Serums are easily-absorbed solutions that deliver moisture and nutrients at a cellular level. Different formulas address different concerns, and a serum could be rich in botanical lighteners,  collagen, or hyaluronic acid, to name a few possibilities. In general, they’re meant to moisturize, brighten, and firm the skin, leaving it truly healthy and glowing. 

Step 9: Moisturizer

Moisturizers are meant to be a moisture shield, occluding the skin at the precise level you need for your skin type. It can also serve to calm, firm, brighten, or increase the skin’s resiliency. Like serums, different formulas will aim for slightly different results, but all will work to hydrate and nourish the skin.

Step 10: Scalp Massage

One of the final steps in a facial, an invigorating scalp massage relieves tension in muscles near the hairline, behind the ears, and in the neck. In addition to feeling amazing, the massage increases blood flow to the scalp and may even stimulate hair growth. Mostly, it’s a perfect way to end the session.

Step 11: Look Forward

During our wrap-up consultation, I recommend the best home care routine for each client’s needs and lifestyle. You can recreate this at home with a mental review of how the facial went, and identifying what you’d like to focus on for maintenance until your next facial.

Expert Hands

A few features of the facials I do for clients either require training or must be done on an individual basis: 

  • Aroma Point Therapy, a method that combines the philosophies of aromatherapy and acupuncture
  • Energy meridian massage
  • Attention to individual skin concerns like dryness, a disrupted barrier, acne, excess oil, rosacea and telangiectasia, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and other skin disorders.

For a restorative facial from a botanical skin care specialist, schedule a facial with me today.

P.S. Want to do your own facial at home? Purchase this special collection bundle for savings (see products below).

At-Home Facial Collection

As I was putting together this specially priced collection for at-home facials, I looked for three products that would work together in an alchemical way to elevate exfoliation and hydration. This power trio covers the basic steps in a facial, and because all three work well for a variety of skin types, the collection can be woven into any skin care regimen. 

You can buy each of the below products individually, or you can purchase them together for a combined price of $128 (a savings of $42).

The products are made by Eminence Organic Skin Care, a high-quality botanical brand with wholehearted standards from formulation to sourcing. Their products combine science-backed, plant-based skin care with biodynamic (beyond organic) farming methods.

Note: If you get a restorative facial at my studio we may or may not use these particular products, depending on the needs of your skin at the time. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant

This exfoliator uses strawberry and rhubarb to reveal a brighter, more radiant complexion. Natural salicylic acid in strawberries gently exfoliates, removing impurities. It also has astringent properties that tighten pores. Rhubarb brings antioxidants to the formula, helping to prevent oxidative damage that leads to the appearance of wrinkles.

Rice powder and chickpea flour absorb oil and smooth skin texture. Heilmoor clay draws out impurities and softens the skin. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant also contains BioComplex, a mix of antioxidants including coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid that prevent damage at the cellular level, minimizing wrinkles and improving the appearance of skin.

To use, dispense a dime-sized amount into your palm and add a half teaspoon of water, or your facial cleanser. Rub your hands together to create a creamy paste and apply it to your face using circular motions, avoiding the delicate skin around the eyes. Gently massage the paste into your skin, then rinse thoroughly with water and pat dry.

Purchase the Strawberry Rhubarb Dermafoliant here.

Snow Mushroom & Reishi Masque

Deeply hydrate, purify, and tighten the appearance of your skin with this depuffing mask. Snow mushroom hydrates and improves skin barrier function, boosting elasticity. And reishi mushroom offers polysaccharides that help plump cells by binding to water. Birch water nourishes, purifies and hydrates the skin, leaving it toned and tightened. Paracress extract elevates the appearance of skin density, revealing a firmer complexion at any age. Caffeine also helps revitalize the skin’s appearance.

To use, mix a small amount of the product with a few drops of water in your hand. Apply the mixture evenly over your face, including the eye area, neck, and décolleté if you wish. Allow to dry for 5-10 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water, use a face cloth if desired. Use 1-2 times per week, or as often as needed.

Purchase the Snow Mushroom & Reishi Masque here.

Birch Water Purifying Essence

Replenish skin and restores moisture levels. Nutrient-rich birch water purifies and hydrates the skin while botanically-sourced collagen increases structure and elasticity. Snow mushroom brings additional hydration and antioxidants to increase elasticity and improve skin barrier function. And polysaccharides in reishi mushrooms boost hydration while antioxidants reduce puffiness. The Birch Water Purifying Essence tones while preparing skin to absorb and retain the benefits of any serums or moisturizers you use next. 

To use, dispense a small amount of the product in your hands or on a cotton

 pad and pat onto cleansed and toned skin. Leave on.

Purchase the Birch Water Purifying Essence here.

Purchase the At-Home Facial Collection for a special price of $128, here.