Self-care has always been important, but in this past year perhaps the need for it has risen exponentially. Being intentional about taking care of yourself is an absolute necessity.

In fact, when you take the correct steps to care for your mind, body and spirit, you’re on the road to living your best life. People who neglect to take care of themselves, whether they view doing so as an unnecessary indulgence or simply don’t carve out the requisite time, end up feeling overwhelmed, tired and unprepared to handle the challenges life inevitably presents.

We’re taking a look at two ways for our readers to engage in a little self-care, and the first is to develop a skincare regimen. If you’re going to put your best face forward, you might as well make sure it’s your absolute best face. Go ahead. Give yourself permission to have a professional facial occasionally – it’s amazing how pampering it can be to have someone do the simplest of things for you. Of course, we provide all the steps (and product tips) to allow you to perform your very own facial at home. (P.S. If you have a towel warmer, this is the time to use it.)

First of all, gather the items you’ll need to do a facial – skincare products, a warm bowl (or sink) of water and clean washcloths, and warm towels will get you started. Ready the room, light some candles, turn on some soft music, dim the lights and relax.

At Island Day Spa, on St. Simons Island, esthetician Ashley Carter let us look on as she gave a one-hour facial to Crystal Akers, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hodnett Cooper Real Estate – Luxury Division, on St. Simons Island.

In the spa, a facial begins with a skin analysis. The esthetician asks the client about their skin type, skincare regimen, and if they have any topical allergies. Then, the facial is under way.

• Hot towel treatment –  Carter says this step softens “everything in your pores.”

• Wash face. This is referred to as a double-cleanse because the face, neck and chest are washed two times to get rid of any dirt and grime.

• Exfoliate. Applying an exfoliant removes dead skin cells and gives a smoother more even complexion. Carter recommends doing this step two to three times a week at home.

• Extraction. This step should not be done at home because it can scar the skin, or cause a blood vessel or capillary to burst. “The best way is to let somebody else do it for you,” said Carter. “You should have extractions done every month.”

• Clay mask.  Clay draws out impurities that are embedded in the pores, and helps smooth the skin. Applying a mask is an extra step to making sure the skin is as clean as it can be. Carter says not to apply a mask any more than once a week, because any more could be drying to the skin. In the 5-10 minutes it takes the mask to dry, the client receives the massage that accompanies their facial. In this case, it was a hand and arm massage. Ahhh. (middle)

• Facial massage.  After the mask is removed, the face is massaged with an upward motion. This promotes lymphatic drainage, Carter said, reduces swelling and puffiness, relieves tension in the jaws and between the brows, and promotes good blood circulation. “You can do this every day,” Carter said. “Use any sort of natural oil on your skin – nothing fragranced.”

• Toner. This step helps keep pores clean and balances the skin’s Ph. Something as inexpensive as witch hazel may be used as toner.

• Hydrating serum.  This is what Carter refers to as the “icing on the cake.” She said serum, gives an extra “oomph” in a skincare routine, and provides a little more hydration than regular moisturizer.

• Moisturizer. The final step is to moisturize, and Carter recommends taking this step every day. Her preferred moisturizer is tinted, so it helps even out skin tone, and contains an SPF, so it protects the skin from the damaging rays of the sun. “Even people with oily skin should moisturize. Sometimes oil glands overproduce because they are dehydrated.”

“Self-care gives your body permission to rest; it’s beneficial to your mental health. Self-care is important, and it should be intentional.

—Ashley Carter

Carter recommends treating yourself to a home facial once a week, and a professional one every four weeks or so, depending upon your skin type.

While we all tend to get distracted, even when we’re indulging ourselves, Carter cautioned against multi-tasking while trying to relax.

“Don’t do other things,” she said. “Put your mask on, get in the tub, read a book or listen to music – do whatever that (relaxing) looks like to you.”