Just because you’re hunkering down to stay safe or watching your budget doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a little DIY spa day at home. There are real stress-relieving benefits to focusing time and energy on self care. Whether you spend an afternoon on an elaborate five-step facial at home or simply change the type of pillowcase you use, you can absolutely refresh your skin — and your spirit — in the comfort of your own home.
We asked dermatologists and other skincare experts to share their favorite DIY acne treatments for you to try. Ahead, our tips for the best (and most affordable) self-care Sunday, acne-prone skin style.
1. Mask up after the mask’s off.
If constantly wearing a protective mask is wreaking havoc on your skin, you’re not alone. Articles and social posts about mask acne or "maskne" are everywhere, because so many people are suffering breakouts in the areas where their mask rubs against their skin. Taking care of your skin when you’re not wearing a mask is a must-do, and a facial mask is a great way to do that.
“Treat yourself to hydrating masks and choose a mask most appropriate for your skin type,” says Dr. Elizabeth Mullans, a board-certified, Texas-based dermatologist. “If you have sensitive skin, try clay, or try glycolic acid or salicylic acid masks for oily or acne-prone skin. To minimize the risk of skin irritation, I do not recommend layering face masks, but masks can complement a good skincare routine.”
Cost: You can find some great single-use masks for around $3 — just check the ingredient list to ensure there’s nothing in your mask that will irritate acne-prone skin.
2. Make hydrating feel fancy.
Sipping on cucumber water while you let your mask do its job can really help set the mood for your DIY spa day at home. And when our bodies are well hydrated, our skin looks smoother, clearer and more youthful. Start with a pitcher of filtered water. Add half of a sliced cucumber, which is high in silica, a mineral that can boost collagen production. Since most of the silica is found in the skin of the cucumber, buy organic and don’t peel it before slicing. Add a sliced lemon for a good source of skin-brightening vitamin C and allow all the flavors to infuse the water for a few hours (or even overnight).
Cost: $1-2 for ingredients
3. Upgrade your pillowcase.
“Using a pillowcase that is made out of smooth material, such as silk or even copper, is helpful,” says Dr. Kemunto Mokaya, a Tennessee-based, board-certified dermatologist. “There is less friction and irritation with silk, leading to less inflammation. Additionally, fabrics like silk are not very absorbent and will not hold on to oils and dirt (which exacerbate acne) as readily as fabrics like cotton. Wash pillowcases twice a week to reduce build-up of dirt, bacteria, oils and dead skin.”
Cost: There are numerous 4+ star-rated silk and copper pillowcases on Amazon in the $20-25 price range.
4. Try facial steaming.
Missing your sauna time at the spa? Do your own 10-minute steam facial at home. Facial steaming softens skin, opens pores for exfoliation, and preps skin for masks, serums or moisturizers. Start by washing your face with your normal cleanser. Next, bring water to a boil in a large pot. Remove the pot from the stove and place it on towels in an area where you can comfortably kneel or lean over it. You can add a few drops of essential oil if desired — try rose oil for dry skin, grapefruit oil for combination skin and tea tree oil for acne. Then place a large towel over your head and position your face 5–10 inches away from the steam. Do five two-minute steaming sessions, allowing your skin to cool for a few moments between each session.
Directly after your steam, you can follow up with a physical exfoliant or tool, peel, mask or moisturizer (depending on your skin’s needs).
Cost: Free for the steam; $6 for essential oils
5. Massage your face.
Another great post-steam option, facial massage can help reduce inflammation, boost circulation and lower stress levels (meaning fewer hormonal acne triggers). The best part? You can incorporate massage into many of the skincare steps or at home acne treatments you're already doing on a regular basis. Take whatever cleanser, moisturizer or serum you typically use, and spend two minutes massaging it in a circular motion. Start at the jawline and move up your face, avoiding the sensitive skin around the eyes.
6. Go all-natural with aloe.
Much loved on Instagram, aloe vera is an inexpensive, all-natural ingredient that can help with a variety of skin concerns, including pimples and acne scarring. “This bad boy poses a triple threat,” says Harley Street Skin Clinic co-founder Lesley Reynolds. “It not only cools off the skin, but also decreases pimple irritation, and prevents oiliness from the face. You can also produce your own, in addition to purchasing aloe vera gel from local markets and drug stores.”
Simply apply a thin layer of aloe vera to any breakouts or acne scars immediately after cleansing. Allow it to dry for a few minutes before continuing with your usual skincare routine.
Cost: $5-10. Look for products with 95% or more pure aloe vera, or make your own by blending the flesh of an aloe vera leaf (store leftovers in the fridge).