Hacks to an "At-Home" Facial

I love getting facials. It's the one service that I feel like I get my money's worth. The treatment is enjoyable and relaxing, and I can take home the results. LOL But it does get pricey. So here's my trick to getting as close to a spa facial without breaking the bank*.

Before- super dry and dull skin

Before- super dry and dull skin

After- hydrated, bright and supple

After- hydrated, bright and supple

Materials:

Facial Cost: (dividing everything up by use per day for the minimum months it'll last- minus the travel steamer and pore remover) ABOUT $6.12

     

    Directions: 

     
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    STEAM for 10 minutes. Get one here. This is the most important step. If you open up your pores, all of the cleansing and masking will react better on the skin and give you better results. I use my little travel clothing steamer as a face steamer. I fill it up, place it on my bathroom counter, and sit about 1.5 feet away from it You totally can opt for a hot shower instead, but I like sitting in front of traditional steam.

    Please be careful! I constantly move my face around (while it's on the counter) so I don't get burned, and I sit at least 1.5 feet away from the nozzle. Don't move this thing towards your face or body. Leave it on the counter flat. 

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    WASH & EXFOLIATE. I pour about a dime size portion of the Fresh Cleanser (get one here ) onto my Clarisonic (get one here) and scrub away. I use the "Sensitive" brush (comes in a pack of two), but I am still very careful of my sensitive spots such as my cheeks and upper lip. I usually go over those spots very quickly and scrub my nose and forehead a little longer. I would not recommend going longer than one round of the Clarisonic. You don't want to over-exfoliate. 

     
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    EXTRACT PORES- This step is completely optional and I won't go into details on how I do it. Get a whole set here on Amazon. I usually extract my nose and between my brows before I mask. Please be cautious of heavy pressure on your skin. You don't want to "scrape" skin off and cause scarring using any tools. 

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    ACTIVE MASK- An "active" mask is a term I use for something that will "do something" for your skin- like a peel or a detox. This is why we get facials- to see results. 

    • I picked Murad's Intensive-C Radiance Peel (get it here) for this facial. This little mask is pretty amazing and gives you beautiful results. This mask smooths and brightens your skin. We've also learned in the past that V-C (vitamin-c) help even out your complexion and helps fight free-radicals. This mask helps boosts the elasticity and also has Glycolic Acid to promote cell turnover
    • Use a wet brush to apply the product on sensitive areas. I'll usually apply the product straight on my forehead, nose, and chin. But for my cheeks and upper lip, I'll wet my brush completely then apply the product on those sensitive spots. The water helps dilute it a bit so it's not too intense. 
    • Apply this mask all over your face/neck and leave on for about 10 minutes. I love how tingly and cool the mask feels on my face. Rinse with warm water. If it gets too intense, (on a scale of 1-10, if it's past an 8) rinse it right away. 

    SOOTHING MASK- I usually like to put on a soothing cucumber mask or a hydrating mask after an active one. This just give the skin time to calm down after all those intense treatments. I love using the Korean sheet masks because they are convenient and fresh every time. I usually leave the mask on for about 15-20 minutes. You're welcome to leave them on longer. I love the MediHeal Mask- grab a whole pack of 10 here. 

     
     

    SERUM & HYDRATE- Last but not least, after your soothing mask, apply a serum onto dry skin. I love the Pure Hyaluronic Acid (get it here). It really helps lock in the moisture from the mask and lotion all day. Just use about 3 drops (check out my Serums Blog Post to learn more). Then apply the lotion of your choice. I prefer the Kate Somerville Dry Skin Saver (grab it here) since my skin is on the drier side. But feel free to use whichever lotion you like the most. 

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    Facials are supposed to renew your skin and make it better. Give you skin time after your facial to breathe and to calm down again. I would recommend not applying any face makeup, except mascara, for the rest of the day. Don't ruin it by slathering on goops of foundation that will clog your pores afterward. 

    Until next time my beauties. Stay beautiful!

    *Disclaimer: All these steps in this blog are what I do personally and not shown here as instructions. This blog is for your reference only. Following any steps in this blog will be taken at your own risk. Please be advised that products I use may not work on everybody. These are products I have tested on myself that I like. Before trying a new product, it's advised to do a patch-test on your skin.

    DIY Fresh Manicure That Lasts (almost as long as gels)

    What if I told you that I can help you get a fresh manicure at home that will last almost as long as gels?  Yes, it's totally possible and I usually get it done in about 30 minutes.

    Get ready! Long post, lots of photos!

    Tools: 

    • Cuticle Softener 
    • Cuticle Oil
    • Makeup Remove Wipes/ Exfoliating Face Wipes
    • Bowl
    • Cuticle Pusher (optional)
    • Orangewood Stick
    • Cuticle Cutter/Nipper (optional) 
    • Nail Trimmer 
    • Nail Buffer
    • Nail File
    • Cotton Balls
    • Alcohol
    • Acetone (Polish remover works too, but I prefer acetone since it's stronger and faster)
    • Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro Set 
    • Polish Color of Choice- I used Essie "Blossom Dandy"
    • Mess no more! Liquid Tape for Nails (optional)

    Step 1: Remove

    • Tip acetone into cotton to soak through. Remove old polish (if you have darker or red polish on, you might want to use a couple of rounds of cotton to get everything off). 
     
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    Step 2: Cut and Trim

    • Cut down your nails (optional). I've taken up climbing so I have to keep these babies as short as possible.
    • Take your file and shape your nails. I keep mine round because that's the strongest shape.
     
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    Step 3: Soak

    • Add soap and warm-hot water into bowl. 
    • Soak fingers for about 3-5 minutes.
     
     

    Step 4: Push Back

    I like transferring my blue cross into a dropper bottle. It makes it easier to apply!

    I like transferring my blue cross into a dropper bottle. It makes it easier to apply!

    Be gentle when pushing back your cuticles! 

    Be gentle when pushing back your cuticles! 

    For this step, I recommend that you do one hand at a time

    • Take cuticle softener and add a couple of drops onto your cuticles.
      • Blue Cross is one of my favorite cuticle softener/remover. You can get it Sally's Beauty Supply. Please don't use this if you are allergic to lanolin
    • Take your orangewood stick and begin to push back your cuticles. Move from right to left, going in a crescent-moon shape. If your cuticles get dry, add more softener as you need. 
      • If you want to be gentle, or if you have sensitive cuticles, please keep to using the orangewood stick. It's optional to use a stainless steel cuticle pusher to push back your cuticles. Do not push straight into your cuticle. Raise the pusher to a 45-degree angle, push down onto the nail bed while gently pushing back. Be gentle! 
    Don't lay the pusher FLAT

    Don't lay the pusher FLAT

    Do ANGLE it at 45 degrees

    Do ANGLE it at 45 degrees

    Step 5: Clean Up

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    • I picked up this tip from dear friend of mine who is a Hollywood manicurist: Take a makeup remover wipe and cut it in half (one for each hand). Fold it over your index finger. Begin pushing back and scraping in a windshield wiper motion from one side of the nail to the other. Use a clean side of the wipe every 2 fingers. You'll see all the gunk come off. 
      • Optional: cut any hang nails or trim any cuticles. Always use a sharp nipper. You actually have more chances of nicking yourself with a duller one. Grab one here.
    • Take your buffer and buff down your nails gently. This eliminates gunk leftover on the nails and gives your nails a fresh start. 
    • Apply cuticle oil all over your cuticles. 
    • Repeat on other hand.
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    Step 6: Wash and Prep

    • Wash your hands with soap and warm water to get rid of excess oils.
    • Lightly buff the tops of your nails one more time. 
    • Tip alcohol onto a microfiber (a towel works well, too) and wipe down all of your nails.D
      • DO NOT touch your nails with your fingers after!! Polish will last longer and stick better to dry and oil-free nails 
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    Step 7: Mess No More! (optional)

    This is a great option for those who cannot paint in the line. Think of it like blue tape for your nails! It's kinda magical when you want clean edges. Remember it's not going to be completely perfect, but it does help tremendously! This stuff is great if you want to marble or sponge ombré your nails!

    Get it here!

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     Do not use if you are allergic to latex!

    • Paint a fat and wide layer the pink glue around your cuticle- be careful not to get it ON your nail bed! Go as far away from your nail as you need to. 
    • Add a second coat before the first one dries. 
    • Let dry completely

    Step 8: Base Coast, Polish, Top Coat

    My absolute must-have! 

    My absolute must-have! 

    Make sure your nails are wiped with alcohol/acetone before painting the base coat! It sticks better- less chips!

    Make sure your nails are wiped with alcohol/acetone before painting the base coat! It sticks better- less chips!

    Paint as messy as you want!  (I painted super messy to show you guys that the "Mess No More!" kinda-sorta-works)

    Paint as messy as you want! (I painted super messy to show you guys that the "Mess No More!" kinda-sorta-works)

    This gel lab set from Deborah Lippmann is amazing. It paints on like regular polish, but lasts longer and stays shinier. It is a bit thicker than regular polish, so make sure to use a sparing amount when applying! Get it here!  

    • Using a small brush or even a q-tip, wipe nails once more with alcohol or acetone really well. This is what will help your polish stick correctly. 
    • Apply base coat.
    • Apply 2 coats of color - Pick up enough in the brush and float the brush over your nail. Don't jam the brush straight down or else you'll get streaks.
      • Remove the liquid tape after polishing EACH nail with the second coat (while the second coat is still WET). Using tweezers is probably the easiest! If you wait too long like I did, the latex will peel off from under the polish and you'll still have polish stuck on your skin-booo. 
      • TIP if you are a skilled painter: Paint everything but your thumbs first- that way you have your thumbs free to scrape off any polish that hits the sides. Paint your thumbs last
    • Apply top coat. Remember to seal the bottom edge of your nails with one swipe from left to right. (this helps keep your nails from chipping!)
    • Clean up any bits of paint leftover with a small brush dipped in acetone.
      • If you have a copious amount of polish stuck on your skin and on your cuticles, wait 2-3 hours until completely dry and wash your hands in warm water. The excess paint will come right off! 
      • If you hate waiting for polish to dry, try drying drops! They literally "freeze" your polish so you can get going on your date! Beware! Some drops make the "shininess" fade away faster
    Peel off latex on each finger right after second coat of polish 

    Peel off latex on each finger right after second coat of polish 

    Steal the top coat to give you man a couple more extra days. 

    Steal the top coat to give you man a couple more extra days. 

    Clean up with acetone dipped into a brush

    Clean up with acetone dipped into a brush

    Remember that practice makes perfect! It took me almost an entire year of constantly painting my right hand with my left to actually get good. Keep trying!

    Tip: After 3-4 days, wipe your nails with alcohol (no more than 71%) with a clean microfiber and apply one more layer of top coat. Don't forget to seal! It'll keep your mani looking fresh!

    Essie: Blossom Dandy

    Essie: Blossom Dandy

    Essie: Blossom Dandy

    Essie: Blossom Dandy

    Disclaimer:  Please be careful when using any tools or chemicals on your skin as most of the ones mentioned in this post are "for professional use only". Please note that I have had my professional license for over 10 years, and the technique I have shown here is my own way of doing my own manicure at home. I am not responsible for anything that happens to you. Following any advice in the blog post is done at your own risk. 

    Fatigue Eyeballs & Pretty Bath Bombs

    I got my hands on a couple of products from a company called "Grace & Stella Co". Their motto: to give women an at-home spa experience with quality products at a great price.

    Their products are available through their website or Amazon. Since I have Amazon Prime, I took advantage of my "Two Day, Free Ship". 

    I grabbed Cucumber Facial Masks, a Gel Bead Eye Mask, and a box (yup, a box!) of Bath Bombs

     
     

    Cucumber Facial Masks

    These babies came in a pack of 6, individually wrapped- enough to last you about 1.5 months, if used weekly. They contain no parabens, no alcohols, no phthalates, and no sulfates. Yayy! 

    You're suppose to cleanse and tone your face before applying the mask. They recommended putting the mask in the fridge for a couple of hours before use, and then apply the mask for 20-30 minutes.

    My roommate and I both tried it. Her skin is drier but prone to acne. Mine is extra dry with spots of eczema and rosacea. 

    Material: These masks were a little different from my typical Korean face masks. The Korean masks are usually made from cotton, while these are made from microfiber. The microfiber made these masks super soft, yet almost too delicate in comparison to the Korean masks, which are stiffer. I felt like it didn't hold it's shape properly since microfiber is so soft- which is why I think there was a plastic film over folded mask. The plastic film on top makes is easier to apply directly to your face. Just peel it off after you stick on the mask. I messed up and peeled it off first- hence it wrinkled on the edges. Oops.

    Size: The size of the masks were perfect. They fit our faces with a little material left over to fold under our chins. The only problem was that the eye holes were extremely small. My eyeball barely fit into the eye holes- and I'm Asian. It was almost uncomfortable because my eyeball was touching the edge of the eye hole. I've never experienced this problem from any other masks company. I would definitely would like them to make the eye holes a bit wider and rounder to fit a variety of eye shapes. 

    Serum: The moisturizing serum in the mask is suppose to clarify and renew your skin. Leaving the masks in the fridge for a couple of hours made it feel really refreshing. After 30 minutes, we took it off. We were both very surprised at how soft and supple out faces were! My cheeks were very hydrated. My roommates face was noticeably brighter. The leftover serum was not sticky or tacky at all. I went to bed right after I took off the mask. In the morning, my face still felt supple- even with the AC running. I would reccommed this mask for anyone who is on the dry side. 

    Price: $7.95 for 6 masks. That's about 1.33 a mask- which is GREAT deal. 

    Verdict: 4/5. This mask is overall an awesome mask. It does exactly what it's suppose to do. The serum is very refreshing and hydrating. I just wish the eyeholes were larger. I think I would like to try the other kinds of face masks they offer. 

    Gel Bead Eye Mask

    This little gem can be used HOT or COLD. I read that it helps with sinus pain, headaches, and eye strain. I HAVE ALL OF THESE! HAHA I get headaches and eyestrain from too much screen time. I have major allergies that causes more headaches and sinus pain. ugh, right? I was hoping this thing will solve all my issues. LOL I don't like sleeping with anything on my eyes, so I didn't use it as a sleeping mask. I used it as a "treatment" mask.  

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    Material: One side is fuzzy and soft, and the other side has a plastic (might be silicone- the package didn't state specifically) over the individual gel beads. The directions do state that you can use this mask hot or chilled, and that it is reusable, non-toxic, and BPA free. I was a little confused on which side was suppose to touch your skin.  I assumed that it would be the gel bead side since the fuzzy will get dirty too quickly from all your skin's oils. 

    Cold Test: Freeze for 15 minutes. Anything cold over your eyes will help depuff them in the morning and wake up your skin. This masks feels amazzzzzzing in the morning! I tried it a couple days in a row and I absolutely loved it. 

    I usually don't wake up to puffy eyes, but one morning this week, my allergies went nuts. I woke up with puffy, itchy eyes, and my nose was running constantly. I froze the mask for 15 minutes and placed it on my eyes for 10 minutes. The sinus pressure between my brows started to lift and my eyes were a lot less puffy after. 

    This thing is great after a long night out, a good cry fest, or just for crazy allergies like mine. 

    Hot Test: Microwave for 10-15 seconds (15 seconds MAX). Warning: this mask does get HOT and your eyes are very DELICATE! I was an idiot and thought it didn't felt hot enough after 15 seconds. So I stuck it in for 5 more seconds. Boy, was I wrong! It became too hot. 

    TIP: After microwaving for 15 seconds, take out the mask and push the beads around. They will actually get warmer from the movement. Remember your eye area is very delicate! What is warm to the back of your hand might be too hot for your eyes- so be careful!

    OMG the warm mask felt HEAVENLY! I used it at night before bed...MAN! It feels like you're at a spa. The warmth of the beads really relaxes your eye muscles. I LOOOOOOOVE IT! It's perfect after a long day on the computer. 

     
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    Price: $8.99 for 1 mask

    Verdict: 4.5/5 I loved this mask for hot and cold treatments. It really does soothe my eyeballs and helps from all the fatigue from looking at the screen. I was just confused on which side was the one touching your eyes. 

    Box of Bath Bombs

    I love bath bombs. I have to say, this box was quite heavy and smelled wonderful. It's literally a BOX of bath bombs- plus a bonus shower gel! The scents included: Red Rose, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lavender, Peppermint, Chamomile, Jasmine, and Vanilla. They are made with Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Argan Oil, Olive Oil, and other organic ingredients! They are paraben and cruelty free! 

     

     
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    Each bath bomb was individually wrapped in plastic- so it was no wonder that I couldn't smell each scent. 

    For my bath trial, I used two different ones: Jasmine and Red Rose.

    I let the bombs sit on the surface of the water until I got bored playing with it. The pink and blue swirls looked like unicorn poop. LOL 

    Scent:  I'm not a huge fan of floral notes, but this bomb was not too "overly rosey". The Jasmine smelled amazing- not too strong either. I really enjoyed the both the scents together. It smelled like a spa. Rose and Jasmine. I think I might combo Vanilla and Lavender next time. Or Lemon and Grapefruit. :) 

    After: I didn't even need to rinse! These bombs left my skin feeling refreshed, super soft, and moisturized. There was a hint of the smell left on my skin- not too strong. The best part was that the bombs did not leave a residue in my white tub! Hooray! I love Lush bombs, but they always leave a residue in the tub and on my skin. So this was an wonderful alternative. 

    Note: Rose petals were added into the tub (they were from my garden!) and the bath bombs pictured are half the size they originally cuz we were playing with them for too long.

    Price: $17.95. 8 bombs= $2.24 per bomb. Considering Lush's bombs are about $7.95- I'd say these from Grace and Stella are a great deal. They aren't a large as a Lush bomb, but they do the job right! And they smell wonderful.

    Verdict: 5/5  It's worth the price! I like that they are individually wrapped- which means they are travel friendly! They smell so good, too!! I can't wait to try another round! 

    Overall, I'm super happy with my purchase! I can't wait to order more products from Grace & Stella Co.. They have so many different masks and spa items I want to try! 

    Until next time my beauties....