There are some nights when even a facialist laments the necessary (but arduous) task of evening make up removal and cleansing. Whether it’s after a big night out, or just a day spent at home practicing niksen, there are nights I would just like to jump straight into bed without spending five minutes standing over the bathroom basin. A mid-week facial is the last thing on my mind.
However, the vision of my face hitting the clean white pillowcase starts to nag at me. I imagine the day’s environmental grime and the clogging makeup residue leaving their imprint on both the fresh cotton and my skin over the next eight hours. That thought almost always gets me over the bathroom door threshold. Ladies who sleep in mascara, who are you?
Once I begin my cleansing routine, I’m often reminded just how much I enjoy it and I wonder why I was putting if off after all. A mid-week facial doesn’t have to take hours, but pace is important. The act of facial massage is incredibly relaxing – just slow down. I try and take the time to focus on relieving tension along my jawline and temples, adding in some lymphatic drainage movements, and switching up my products to accomodate the condition of my skin day to day. If you have a tendency to apply too much pressure – we can all be rough with ourselves – a good tip is to simply close your eyes. Whether it’s applying your daily face cream in the morning, or a cleanser at night, closing your eyes rather than glaring into a mirror will allow you to be more instinctive with your touch and movements. Subsequently, your pressure will be gentler, your face will be less red and your massage more relaxing.
It is usually mid-week that I feel like taking a little extra time for myself, and adding in some additional steps to the standard get in, get out routine I often rush through of a nighttime. This doesn’t have to be a full on Sunday session, but a little extra than your daily splash can make a difference to your skin health and stress levels.
Step 1: The Eyes
I start by removing my mascara with the La Roche Posay Respectissime Eye Makeup Remover. The Chanel Démaquillant Yeux Yntense Gentle Bi-Phase is also beautiful, but this is significantly more affordable and just as effective. I like to soak a pad and hold it over each eye for a moment – close your eyes, exhale, and let the product penetrate. It sounds obvious but stop, take a deep breath and just relax for a moment. You have time. With a very gentle sweep, my eyes are free of makeup – no dragging, pulling or irritation.
I know a lot of people who do not remove their eye makeup separately but prefer to go straight in with an oil cleanser all over the face. Will a balm cleanser remove everything? Sure, most of the time. But I find this practice of swirling mascara and eyeliner around the skin together with your foundation perplexing. You’re simply spreading the mess – not removing it. You wouldn’t add a dollop of mascara to your morning moisturiser and smoosh it over the skin of a morning, so why do it at night?
Step 2: The Cleanse
My next step is always an oil based cleanser. Since Emma Hardie realised her Moringa Light Cleansing Gel I have barely looked at another. I take two pumps and massage it into my skin. The fragrance is heavenly. I then dampen my hands and massage to emulsify the cleanser, before rinsing well with warm (not hot) water. Removing your cleanser is as important as removing your makeup, so I finish with either a damp disposable or cotton face cloth. Again, don’t rush – press the warm cloth against your skin, exhale, and slow down. Remember how good this part of a salon facial feels? Enjoy this moment at home.
Now the second cleanse. I choose my second cleansing product based on how my skin is feeling that evening. A little dry? I might use another oil based cleanser but most often I’ll opt for a milk or cream. If I’ve been struggling with a breakout or need more clarifying after upping my SPF usage, I’ll reach for a lactic acid cleanser or a gel based product. This week, it’s Susanne Kaufman’s Cleansing Gel – it smells divine and has that satisfying lather. Finish again with a warm cloth compress.
Step 3: The Mask
What’s a mid-week facial without a mask? I rarely reach for a clay mask, as I find most often hydration is what’s really needed in my skin. If I do use a clay, I only leave it on for a short time and never let it dry on my skin. My skin is having a temperamental moment this week so I applied Oskia’s Renaissance Mask; a gorgeous pink-coloured gloopy gel that turns white as you spread it onto the face. I find this mask to be nice and gentle, while also effective at brightening and giving the skin a reset while I sleep.
Sometimes I’ll opt for a more exfoliating mask, or even use a gentle granular cleanser, but this week is all about treating my skin gently, and upping the hydration.
Step 4: The Balance
I hate the word toner. However, I do like to use products after cleansing or removing a mask for two reasons. Firstly, I want to ensure all the previous product residue has been removed and secondly, to soothe, treat, or balance the skin’s ph level. If my skin is reactive, I might use a calming facial mist. If the blackheads have been rearing their ugly heads I might swipe over a salysilic or glycolic soaked cotton square. It’s so important that your at-home facial is adapted to your skin at that particular time.
Some of my most-loved balancers include Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator (the all rounder), Pai’s Rice Plant & Rosemary BioAffinity Skin Tonic for sensitive, combo skin that’s prone to a congested t-zone, May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden and Chantecaille’s Rose Water for a meditation moment, and Pixi Glow Tonic (glycolic) for something punchier.
Step 5: The Treatment
My favourite step of my mid-week facial. I once again spritz my skin liberally with Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator – love this stuff – before going in with a moisturising product. I think of this step as the treatment because it’s nourishing like a comforting hug. Think of it as the skincare version of being covered with a blanket by a loved one while you sleep – heaven.
If you’re fond of using a separate eye cream, my current choice is Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel. It’s a light, gel texture, which I prefer around the eyes more than heavier creams. This is also a great morning eye cream that layers well with makeup.
I find myself reaching for richer moisturising products at the moment, whether it’s Josh Rosebrook’s Vital Balm, Weleda Skin Food Light or Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream. Sometimes it’s an oil, like Sarah Chapman’s Overnight Facial. I rub the product between my fingertips and then pat evenly into the skin, massaging gently to finish. When my skin is particularly dry or sensitized, I might use a lighter layer of moisturiser and then dispense a couple of drops of MV Skin Therapy Rose Plus Booster and press onto the skin. Particularly f you’re struggling with mask skin, but still want an oil, you can’t go wrong with this beauty from MV (previously MV Organics). This step locks in my previous product and creates an extra barrier of hydration.
That’s it. My mid-week facial is complete and my face feels calm and plumped, and I feel relaxed and ready for bed. No black smudges on the pillowcase tonight. This mini facial routine really helps me unwind. It’s not too product heavy; sure you could add in a serum, or double up on different masks – but we’re talking a week-night and who has the time? Adding in some massage movements really relieves tension and sets you up for a great night’s sleep. For a great follow-along tutorial, I love Abigail James’ massage video and also recommend you check out Sandra Lanshin Chiu’s gua sha technique.
If you have your own mid-week facial routine, I’d love to hear about it – and your favourite skincare products – over on Instagram.
Find May Lindstrom at The Detox Market