Saturday skincare - how to give your skin a proper weekend break

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Lucy Partington
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After five days of make-up, grime and pollution, it’s tempting to drop everything skin-related at the weekend in favour of going completely bare-faced at the weekend. Stylist speaks to four experts on why Saturday and Sunday are perfect for the ultimate detox to reset your skin ready for the week ahead.

Picture the scene: it’s Saturday morning, you’ve just woken up refreshed after a long, and no doubt stressful, week at work. Your mind is clear, the weight on your shoulders has lifted and you’re raring to make the most of your days off. The last thing you want is to go through your workday skincare and make-up routines, especially if you’re heading to the gym or hanging out with friends. So you decide to give your skin a break and, instead of layering on various moisturisers, SPFs and foundation, you choose to leave it untouched and just let it breathe. Sound familiar?

Well, we hate to be the ones to break it to you, but – with or without products – skin doesn’t actually breathe. Instead, it acts as a barrier to protect us from infection and environmental extremes, while helping to regulate body temperature. “It’s the largest organ in the body, but it isn’t part of our respiratory system,” explains consultant dermatologist Dr Justine Kluk. “What people often mean when they talk about letting their skin breathe is that they’re paring back the heavy layers of make-up and skincare they might wear in the week,” she says. While that may feel refreshing, the lack of skincare isn’t actually beneficial. Suzy Reading, chartered psychologist and author of The Self-Care Revolution, believes we like to let our skin go au naturel at the weekends because there’s a sense of freedom away from work. “We’re taking a step back from the daily grind and we want that for our skin, too,” she says. “There’s an element of having to be suited and booted while we’re at work – we don the mask, so to speak – and then, come Saturday, we can let that mask fall away.”

Experts agree that the best thing we can do for our skin when we have extra time on our hands is treat it to an effective detox. During the week, exposure to city air leaves a layer of polluted grime on our skin that contributes to blemishes. Add heavy, long-wearing make-up – which can trigger breakouts – into the mix and chances are your skin needs a break after the working week just as much as you do. And that break should come in the form of a deep cleansing peel, replenishing mask or an at-home facial. It’s beneficial for your wellbeing, too. “Knowing that you’ve ear-marked that time, turning your at-home facial into a habit and creating a ritual, can help you get through tough weeks,” says Reading. So don’t just go bare this weekend – instead, join the #spaathome movement (it’s at close to 50,000 mentions on Instagram) and reset your skin ready for the week ahead. It’ll give it – and you – time to breathe. 

Get a lift with facial massage

When you’re rushing to throw yourself into the shower, into your clothes and out of the house, a facial massage may sound superfluous. But the weekend is the ideal time to spend an extra 5-10 minutes massaging your face. Facialist Michaella Bolder advises picking a product such as a cleansing oil that has enough slip to move it around without pulling at your skin. Use your fingers and work in firm, circular motions along your forehead, then down to your cheeks, onto your jaw and back again.

There are 43 muscles in the face and if we don’t give them a workout, they can slacken, says Bolder. “Massage can release tension, lift the facial contours, stimulate blood circulation and encourage lymphatic drainage – all of which help instantly bring your face to life,” she explains. “Short-term facial massage helps boost collagen supplies by increasing the blood circulation, which also brings fresh oxygen and nutrients to the surface of skin.” Regular, long-term massage can help relieve tension and lift the muscles by reminding the muscle memory where they ‘should’ actually be sitting.

Bolder suggests trying a jade roller, traditionally used in Chinese medicine. It’s great for lymphatic drainage, which helps get rid of toxins in the body. 

Expert tip: Keep a jade roller cool in the fridge for an extra de-puffing boost. 

Try: Time Bomb Peace + Quiet Cleansing Oil, £25

Gently dissolve make-up and other impurities as you massage to leave skin feeling clean and plump. 

Espa Replenishing Face Treatment Oil, £59

Massage in neroli, sandalwood and patchouli oil for a hydrating facial rub.

Yu Ling Jade Facial Roller, £18

Made from hand-carved Xiujan jade, roll this gadget over skin to help improve tone and texture. 

Replenish with an at-home peel

Peels are everywhere, and at-home versions are exploding onto the market. Unlike the professional ones, however, these gentler domestic versions won’t leave your skin peeling for days on end. They’ll still slough away the surface layer, though, getting rid of dead skin cells that can cause clogged pores and dullness, leaving skin looking fresher.

“Most at-home peels contain a mix of alpha-hydroxy acids – such as glycolic – and salicylic, a beta-hydroxy acid,” explains Dr Howard Murad, founder of Murad Skincare. “But it’s important to stick to the recommended instructions and timings. People often tend to keep peels on for longer at home, but that doesn’t make the product work any harder or make it more effective.” In fact, extending the length of a peel can actually cause more harm by damaging the skin barrier. You should always apply a peel to clean skin in order to get the best results. That means it’s worth spending a few minutes doing a thorough cleanse first. “Making sure your make-up is removed properly and ensuring skin is free of products allows the peel to penetrate more effectively, which will give better results,” says Murad. Finish with a hydrating repair balm – we like La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5, £6.50 – to replenish moisture.

Expert tip: Always use SPF for a few days after a peel – we like Shiseido Urban Environment UV Protection Cream, £33 – because your skin will be much more sensitive to sunlight.

Try: Murad Intensive C-Radiance Peel, £55 

A blend of glycolic acid and vitamin C has superior brightening power for a gentle peel.

Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula, £81 

Two-step technology improves skin’s luminosity, helps reduce redness and unclogs blocked pores. 

Caudalie Glycolic Peel, £22 

Made using glycolic acid, this non-irritating cream brightens complexions for an instant boost. 

Plump with a face mask

There’s no way to deny our current masking obsession. According to the NPD Group, sales of prestige face masks almost doubled last year, something that Nicolas Travis, founder of Allies Of Skin, believes is down to our modern wired society. “Social media and the internet are at our fingertips and we’ve become a nation of people who want instant gratification,” he says. “Face masks are the perfect way for us to fulfil that need. We’re also living in the age of self-care, and part of that is the realisation that we don’t always have to spend £300 a month on a facial to look good for 24 hours.”

So how do you chose the right mask? Well, it’s worth having a few on standby to switch between to give your skin what it needs each week. Masks are designed to provide a noticeable boost to your skin, so choosing something with active ingredients, such as AHAs and BHAs, means the results will be more noticeable. “Leave-on masks don’t need washing off and will work through the night. They are usually quite potent and so more effective in their delivery because they have more time to penetrate the skin,” says Travis. “They’re also good for those evenings where you still want to reap all the benefits of a mask but without the hassle.” And, truth be told, we all have nights like those.

Expert tip: Don’t overuse any mask with active ingredients – it could damage your skin. A weekly mask is all you need. 

Try: Allies Of Skin Fresh Slate Brightening Cleanser + Masque, £38 

This supercharged mask is formulated with vitamin C to make skin look brighter and feel smoother. 

REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial, £34 

Promises to exfoliate, reinvigorate and hydrate skin while you sleep with a blend of alpha hydroxy acids. 

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, £25

Avocado and apricot-kernel oils quench parched, dehydrated skin, making it look refreshed and supple. 

Get a glow by derma-rolling

Derma-rolling – or micro-needling – is the process of rolling a small wheel covered with tiny needles over the skin’s surface. Slightly damaging the skin means it has to heal and repair itself, which then encourages collagen production. It helps reduce acne scarring and aids the skin in absorbing the products you’re using more effectively. In turn, that gives a luminous glow.

At-home devices will usually have a needle length of between 0.1mm and 0.5mm – anything above that should only be used by a qualified medical practitioner. “Skin might feel slightly irritated and more sensitive following a derma-rolling session,” explains skincare brand founder Nannette de Gaspé. “It’s also normal for skin to feel drier than usual for around 48 hours post-treatment.”

Recommended for use once a week, you should avoid derma-rolling on skin that has any active acne breakouts or any form of damaged, infective or sensitive skin. Use an alcohol-free toner, such as Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner, £35, to soothe skin after treatment, and follow with a serum bursting with active ingredients. Serums are lightweight and absorb quickly, but still benefit the skin. Finish with a hydrating night cream and you’ll wake with a restful glow. Who wouldn’t want that?

Expert tip: Each roller lasts 12 uses, but if you drop one, throw it away. Never use dull or damaged needles on your face. 

Try: Nannette de Gaspé Roller Noir, £30 

Made with 192 titanium-grade micro-needles, this derma-roller will smooth and plump skin. 

iS Clinical Super Serum Advance +, £72 

Packed with vitamin C, this serum will give skin its best glow yet post-derma roll. 

Clinique Moisture Surge 72-Hour Replenishing Hydrator, £24 

Restore your moisture levels with this cream, formulated with aloe water and hyaluronic acid. Make-up meets skincare for a low-impact look 

Your weekend heroes: make-up meets skincare for a low-impact…


BareMinerals Gen Nude Glow Blush in Call My Blush, £22 

This chemical-free matte blusher will give you a healthy colour. 


RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, £36 

Made with coconut oil and rosemary extract, this will give cheekbones a chic, dewy glow. 


Sleek Make Up CC Cream, £8.99 

Lightweight and long-wearing, this skincare/ make-up hybrid will hydrate, protect and perfect. 


Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser, £7.99

Free from both oil and fragrance, this blurs pores without suffocating skin.  

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