Ask Alex: Five minute boosts
by Alex Hushcha
Some days our skin needs a quick fix. There's a time and place for a good skincare hack that's efficient, time-saving, and effective. When you can't make a trip to your facialist for an ultra-luxurious spa day, try a five minute boost at home.
Internet hacks and quick fixes for skincare can be found damn near everywhere. As an esthetician, I am supposed to loathe them. Nonsensical Pinterest DIY’s and marketing gimmicks that sell instant results fire me up and motivate me to preach the good word of quality, consistent, healthy skincare. Despite that, I do see the value of and the desire for a quick fix every now and again.
There is a time and a place for a hack. Somedays your skin is just extra spotty, dehydrated, or just missing some oomph. Somedays you are hungover, you have an interview that morning, or you’ve had a long week and it’s showing up on your face. As much as we would all love to be able to book in for a facial the minute we need a skin boost, that’s not the real world.
I’ve assembled a few fixes that I use when my skin needs something and I only have five to ten minutes to do anything about it. I just like to sprinkle these throughout my regular skin care routine throughout the week. They are easy ways to give yourself a boost and a bit of self-care. I hope it is obvious that these are not cure alls or magic solutions. If you wake up with an insane breakout, no five-minute hack will erase that. But, it may help you face the day with a little more confidence and subtle glow. Which honestly, is really all I can personally hope for on any given morning anyway.
Giving yourself a good facial massage can give you a host of different benefits. Five to ten minutes of massage in the morning over your favorite serum or facial oil will have your skin looking immediately plumper, glowier, and generally more awake. I recommend watching an oldie but a goodie YouTube video from Lisa Eldridge. Lisa is a makeup artist and the video gives some great basic moves to try out at home. Even just a few eye circles and taps along your cheekbones can do a lot in making you look and feel ready for your day.
Important caveat: if you are in the middle of a very inflamed or active breakout you should avoid facial massage. Pumping up the circulation will just make the breakout redder and inflamed and too much pressure could cause more damage and make it spread. If you are breaking out I would use a cold stone or roller to gently work product into the skin for a similar effect. A cold compress could also help bring down the redness and swelling.
Other tools to assist with facial massage? Nurse Jamie makes a cult status wand meant to stay cool and massage your skin. Jade rollers have been a long popular product. I have also seen some very beautiful rose quartz butterflies meant to curve with the contours of your face. These tools can get a little expensive, however, and their function is essentially to provide a cool surface that will glide across your skin and aid you while you massage product in. If you’re on a budget, hit up a new age or crystal shop. They frequently sell polished crystals of various sizes. Find one that feels comfortable to hold and use and then keep that in the fridge at home. It won’t have the ease of the “roller” but for a fraction of the price it will do the same thing.
A “Fancy” Cold Compress
A cold compress is stupid easy and does a lot of heavy lifting for your face. This is a simple trick estheticians use at the end of a facial if we are looking to bring down any redness or inflammation in the skin. So, if you have an angry breakout, allergic reaction, redness, sensitivity, or puffiness anywhere on your face this will help. It also has the added perk of really waking you up in the morning. Grab a bowl and throw three or four ice cubes in with your washcloth and then pour over cold water. To the cold water add a few drops of your favorite essential oils, a capful of essence or hydrating toner or a squeeze of aloe. Then grab a blanket, snuggle up and lean back. Squeeze out the washcloth and cover your face for just three to five minutes. It’s awkward to sit with a washcloth over your face but lean into it and enjoy a quiet moment. Maybe meditate and embrace the self-care moment. This same effect is achieved with a cold sheet mask. Keeping a stock of those in your fridge for the morning after a late night is always a good idea.
About those DIY’s….
This is slightly embarrassing to admit as an esthetician but I still enjoy a good DIY. I feel like this is a taboo opinion to have because 1) most DIYS floating out there are just plain stupid or harmful for your skin and 2) as an esthetician you are educated on all the formulas and benefits of professional products so why would you stray?! I can’t really answer the second one all that well. I’m a bit of an undercover hippie and I think it’s fun.
If you're healing from a breakout, hop in the shower and use a Manuka hone face mask. Honey has humectant properties and Manuka Honey specifically is especially potent in antibacterial properties and antioxidants. It makes it a great mask to pop on when you are healing from a breakout. In the last year or so I have begun to combine it with a bit of turmeric and have also loved the results (see Rina's turmeric mask here). Turmeric is full of antioxidants and is an anti-inflammatory. What I like about adding the turmeric is the extra glow the slight yellow tint adds and the slight exfoliation boost I get from it. Under makeup it offers a slight radiant color correction, which may be a bit much for those with fairer skin. With any new product, especially since honey is a common allergy trigger, I would recommend doing a patch test on the inside of your wrist, elbow or behind your ear before diving in. Another wonderful at-home ingredient is aloe. Using the aloe gel straight from the inside of the plant is a totally legit face mask. Get real Mother Earth with it and rub that gel on your face with your new crystal while you meditate and you are officially living my dream.
For the days you wake up with skin in need of TLC or a soul that’s begging for some self-care, having a five minute technique in your back pocket can feel like having a super power. If you only one mask at home you only use during special nights to yourself, start by trying to use it once a week for the five minutes you’re in the shower. It is a small thing and it won’t radically change everything, but taking the time to find the products and techniques for you and sneaking them in as small boosters here and there will add up to better skin days. Speaking from personal experience, as life has gotten hectic being able to do a small thing for myself to make my skin just a little better makes me just feel better about everything else I have spinning by me.