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Skin Detoxifiers
You’ve tried all manner of dietary cleanses, but your skin is the biggest organ of them all. Here, a primer on various complexion purifiers for a beatific glow.
Written By Jayme Cyk

— PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANNA PALMA FOR THE VIOLET FILES

Your January to-do list: Renew your ClassPass subscription, book a massage at Tomoko in Beverly Hills, and, most important, embark on your first monthly skin detox. Whether your facial predicament begs for a stimulating mud mask or an antioxidant-infused serum, the trick to a healthy complexion, the experts agree, is consistency.
Below, esthetician Biba de Sousa, who’s a favorite of Emily Blunt and Michelle Monaghan, and New York City–based Mamie McDonald, who tends to the visages of Angela Bassett and Kerry Washington, define the skin detox and discuss the essential treatments for advanced purification.
We’ve all heard that skin is the body’s largest organ. And, like its internal counterparts, from time to time your skin will appreciate a thorough cleaning for one week. A “facial detox” is simply a process of removing pollutants and impurities from the skin, and it should be a requisite part of every woman’s skin care ritual. Why, you inquire? When your complexion becomes overloaded with toxins (like chlorine and phthalates), it begins to look dull and tired, and often develops fine lines, wrinkles, acne, blackheads, and enlarged pores. And when lymphatic circulation—a system that helps rid the body of inflammation, water retention, and infection—slows down, so does cellular turnover, which accelerates aging. “Eventually, after a detox, skin will look glowing, soft, and radiant,” says de Sousa.
SUGGESTED USE: Once every four to six weeks. “Regular facials provide a great foundation for healthy skin,” says McDonald. “They ensure a deeper and more thorough cleansing than what you are able to provide yourself at home.”

EXPERT’S NOTE: McDonald notes that when you begin detoxing the skin, you may initially experience undesirable blemishes. “This is a natural part of the detox process as the body rids itself of all the toxins you have absorbed over time,” she explains. To keep detox-induced breakouts at bay, keep up a facialist-approved diet (rife with plenty of water and leafy greens) to produce glowing results from the inside out. To banish breakouts, make sure you stay hydrated and try eating a plant-based diet.
SUGGESTED USE: Twice a day, every day.
While cleansing should always be a daily habit, you should favor certain products when undertaking a weeklong detox. “The process should include a gentle formula that contains jojoba beads, because they are very round and won’t scratch the skin,” says de Sousa, who advises exfoliating at night, when your skin works through its natural rejuvenation process. “Or use a mildly foaming cleanser—preferably detergent- or soap-free—that also contains exfoliating jojoba beads to slough off dirt and grease.” McDonald suggests avoiding bar soaps, which tend to remove skin’s natural oils, as well as cleansers that contain alcohol or fragrance, which are overly drying and increase the potential for allergic reactions and irritation.
SUGGESTED USE: Two to three times per week.
When it comes to masking, clay and mud formulas that contain properties like magnesium and silicone are key for drawing out impurities beneath the top layers of the skin. “Mix the mask with warm water and leave it on until it sets softly,” says de Sousa. “If the mask sets hard or dries up, it pulls too much water from the skin, which can then become dehydrated.”  
SUGGESTED USE: Twice a day.
McDonald is a big proponent of serums that contain organic sulfur, Australian tea tree oil, and Vitamin K to reduce redness and sun damage. “I really feel that serums are the most effective skin care product used today,” she asserts. “They get closest to our skin cells, absorb immediately, correct specific skin concerns, and leave no residue.”
SUGGESTED USE: Two to three times per week.
A thorough steam session (exactly what it sounds like) can be done in-office or at home to emulsify the sebum and dirt in the pores and bring it up to the surface. McDonald notes that the best time to extract blackheads is post steam, but that only your skin care professional should handle them—in other words, resist the urge to squeeze. For DIY steaming, bring a small pot of water to a boil, then pour the water into a small glass or ceramic bowl and hold your face 10 inches away (with a towel placed over your head to keep the vapor contained) for up to 10 minutes. But don’t exceed the magic ten, de Sousa warns. Heat can cause inflammation if exposure is too high. “Cover your eyes with your hands, and ideally apply some kind of mask first for increased benefits,” she recommends. “I prefer an enzymatic mask, which brings out newer and plumper cells. It makes skin even softer when combined with the increased sweating from the steam.”

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