At-Home Skin Techniques To Try Instead Of In-Office Treatments


Spas, skincare clinics, and dermatology offices are veritable wonderlands for the complexion-obsessed among us. We’re talking powerful radiofrequency machines that promise to tone, microdermabrasion tools that’ll polish and perfect, and deep peels that give you the glowiest skin of your life.

Given the pandemic, many of these establishments have temporarily closed, slowed down, or — in some parts of the world — are dealing with crazy-long wait times as communities slowly reopen. Also, for some of us, splurging on an expensive in-office treatment just doesn’t make sense right now.

What we’re trying to say is that skincare junkies might be feeling like they can’t get their skin fix. But it doesn’t have to be that way – at least not quite. We asked a few amazing dermatologists to dish on at-home substitutes for some of our favorite in-office treatments. Here’s what they said!

Instead of: In-Office Chemical Peel

Do This: AHA or Enzyme Mask

“An in-office peel usually has a two to three-day downtime for healing where there is often a bit of redness and flaking. The at-home approach [using over-the-counter AHAs] has virtually no downtime, as it is gentle, less intense, and designed for more frequent use,” says Dr. Harold Lancer, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Lancer Skincare. Once or twice a week, simply wash your skin with a mild and gentle cleanser, then apply your choice AHA mask. Let it sit as long as it directs, then rinse and follow up with your favorite moisturizers.

skincare tools

Try It: We love Glo Skin Beauty Peel in a Box ($65), Savor Beauty Pumpkin Enzyme Peel + Lactic Acid Resurfacing Treatment ($80), Lancer Skincare Caviar Lime Acid Peel ($95).

Instead of: Radiofrequency (RF) / Ultrasound Tightening

Do This: At-Home Toning Device  

Professional settings bring out the big guns with treatments such as BTL Exilis, Thermage, Ultherapy, and Skintyte. These fancy treatments can deliver incredible results (and cost a lot), but at-home devices can def serve as a supplement, says Dr. Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.

skincare tools

Try It: One of Dr. Engelman’s favorite devices is the Conture Kinetic Toning Device ($178). “It has a multitude of benefits with over 250,000 hours of research behind it. Third-party studies showed that participants had over 90% increase in luminosity and radiance, 85% increase face and neck texture (smoothness and evenness), 82% in Lift in facial skin, 80% reductions in crow’s feet and wrinkles and almost 80% for overall facial firmness,” she says. “This is not by accident. Just like we exercise your bodies, Conture helps us exercise our skin.” Another great option is NuFACE Trinity® Facial Toning Kit ($325).

Instead of: Botox   

Do This: Retinoids

Obviously, Botox is going to give you a more immediately noticeable result, but a strong retinoid is a great alternative (and one you should continue using with or without your injectable fix). And while Botox will eventually wear off, this ingredient boasts amazing results over the long term. Dr. Anna Guanche, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, Calif., recommends getting yourself a prescription-strength tretinoin cream. “Applying a tiny, pea-sized amount every night to your entire face can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she says. “You can opt for an over-the-counter retinol if you’re unable to obtain prescription-strength tretinoin. Retinol can also be less irritating.”

skincare tools

Try It: Apostrophe is an online dermatology service that connects you with a dermatologist who can prescribe retinoids, including tretinoin cream. For an OTC retinol, try Algenist Elevate Advanced Retinol Serum ($98) or Obagi Clinical Retinol 0.5 Retexturizing Cream ($55).

Instead of: Body Toning Treatments   

Do This: Dry Brushing  

There’s no shortage of in-office body toning treatments out there. For example, EmTone uses monopolar radiofrequency and targeted pressure energy to smooth the appearance of cellulite. As you’d expect, these treatments are hella spendy. Dr. Engelman says that a simple and low-cost alternative is simply dry brushing. “Dry brushing improves skin appearance by removing the top layers of the skin through weakening the lipids that bond them together, thus removing dull and dead skin cells and revealing healthy skin cells,” she says. “Manual exfoliation also helps to increase blood flow to the area and reduce inflammation. This stimulates the lymphatic system because blood increases in that area and eliminates waste.”

skincare tools

Try It: Apply gentle pressure brushing upwards towards the heart and brush daily for maximum results. We like EcoTools Dry Body Brush ($5) and The Organic Pharmacy Skin Brush ($19) if you want a long handle.

Instead of: Professional Extractions   

Do This: Steam + Clay Mask

Professional extractions hurt so good; few things compare to having the gunk squeezed right out of your pores! Skincare professionals have an eye for this and know exactly when and how to get the gunk out… but trying to do the same at home can leave you red-faced for days and potentially even create post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH). For your fix, Dr. Guanche says to give yourself a good steam – even if it’s just in the shower – to loosen the gunk. Following up with a clay mask will help extract everything safely.

skincare tools

Try It: A shower (or placing your face over a steamy bowl) will do, but if you want to treat yourself try the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Pro Facial Steamer ($149). For masks, we like Freck Foreclay Cactus Clay Mask ($22) and SheaMoisture African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask ($13.50). You can also try out this insanely effective blackhead extractor.

Instead of: In-Office Microneedling

Do This: Microneedle Derma-Roller

Microneedling involves puncturing the skin with very tiny, very thin needles in order to cause a “micro-injury” that sends the skin into collagen and elastin production overdrive. The result is skin that looks firmer and has a more even texture. Pro treatments are robust, but there are at-home versions (with even smaller needles) that you can safely use at home, says Dr. Engelman.

skincare tools

Try It: She recommends the Environ 14K Gold Microneedler ($298). “It’s a hand-held roller that stimulates collagen – the building blocks of your skin – to improve looks of scars, fine lines, and wrinkles,” she says. The gold naturally repels bacteria. For a less costly alternative, try Stacked Skincare Micro-Roller ($30). Note: It’s imperative to keep the device super clean and to only use it as directed. Check out our guide to dermarolling at home.

Let us know if you try any of these alternatives, and feel free to shout out/lament some of your fave in-office treatments in the comment section!