One of the most relaxing parts of a spa facial occurs when a hot, moist towel is carefully draped over the face and left for several minutes. This practice, first used by barbers to prepare facial hair for the subsequent shaving ritual, was integrated into many spa facials as an alternative to steam. The mixture of heat and moisture provides an almost decadent sense of relaxation while loosening dead skin cells and dirt from the skin’s surface.
Pull hair back into a clip or band if hair tends to fall in your face. Wash your hands thoroughly using an antibacterial hand soap.
Apply cleansing milk to the face. Using the middle and fourth fingers of each hand, massage the milk over the face, taking care not to get any into the eyes. Rinse thoroughly and pat skin dry.
Spread a thin layer of an exfoliating cream to the face, following the instructions supplied by the product manufacturer.
Turn tap water to hot. Thoroughly wet the hand towel and squeeze out excess water into a sink. The towel should be damp.
Lie back on a bed or lounge chair. Open the hand towel and hold one end in each hand so that the long side is parallel to the floor. Lower the towel to the face so that the middle of the top edge of the towel touches right below the nose. Wrap the ends up and over the top of the face, spreading it out so that the chin, cheeks, eyes and forehead are covered, but the nose sticks out. Relax for five minutes.
Find the ends of the towel where they meet over the forehead. Grasp these and sweep them down and over the face, removing exfoliating cream along the way.
Look into a mirror. Use the damp towel to remove all remaining exfoliating cream. Rinse your face with warm water, and apply the appropriate moisturizer.
For a real home facial, follow the heated towel step with the application of an appropriate facial mask.
To increase relaxation, apply one drop of lavender essential oil to the damp towel before applying it to the face.
For an even more spa-like experience, play soothing music while relaxing.
For an even more luxurious treatment, have a friend perform the facial for you.
Katherine Mariaca is a professional freelance journalist who specializes in alternative and complementary medicine, and skin and body care treatments. A longtime spa director and VP of skin care companies, Mariaca developed products and services for the spa industry. She earned a B.S. from Tufts and an M.F.A. from Lesley.