How To Give Yourself A Facial In A Motel (Or, The “Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures” Look)

Quick, what’s the driest thing you can think of? The Mojave Desert? An empty margarita glass? A piece of sandpaper being dragged slowly across the surface of a chalkboard? Whatever you're picturing, dear reader, I’m here to tell you that it’s an apt metaphor for my face when I travel. Which is why I recently learned to give myself a facial in a motel.

Everyone knows that airplane travel is extremely drying, but in my experience, all forms of travel are brutal on the skin. Road trip? More like facial sandpaper! Fabulous Bermuda cruise? Why don't you sign me up for Premature Wrinkler's Insurance right now, huh? I'm sure there's a scientific reason behind the whole "travel = your skin's worst nightmare" equation, but I'm too busy stocking up on heavy-duty facial balms to look for it. (Stress? Change in air quality? Serious lack of moisturizers over three ounces?)

I was recently on a mini-roadtrip and things got so bad, skinwise, that I decided to throw caution to the wind and turn my Howard Johnson motel room into a miniature spa. Yes, you heard me correctly: "...turn my Howard Johnson motel room into a miniature spa." Have those ten words ever been uttered in that order before?! Anyway, armed with nothing but a bottle of Trader Joe’s Grapeseed Oil — which I bought in a frenzy after trying to scratch my entire epidermis off — I figured out how to give myself a pretty great motel facial. And I’m here to spread my wisdom to you, readers. Using headers, of course, to make it seem more legitimate than it really is.

What You'll Need

All you need, my friends, is some sort of facial oil (regular moisturizer would work in a pinch, but use that motel body lotion as a very last resort) and the accouterments found in any cheap motel room: sheets, washclothes, the sink, and an ice bucket.

What To Do

1. Raid the ice bucket.

Fill up that ice bucket like you're throwing the coolest motel party ever. And guess what? You probably are.

Set the ice to one side.

2. Give yourself a "luxurious," Howard Johnson-worthy facial massage.

Break out that oil, and use it to give yourself a long, drawn-out facial massage, while repeating the following mantra: "I don't regret not springing for the Marriott. I don't regret not springing for the Marriott." This kind of thing is so good for your skin — the massage, not necessarily the mantra — and if you're feeling lost, you should watch this video, where the beautiful British instructor swears that facial massage and sunscreen will keep you looking young forever. The oil will loosen up any dirt and gunk on your face without stripping it of moisture, and the massage will stimulate skin and relax those road-tired facial muscles.

3. Exfoliate with one of those scratchy motel washclothes.

Ah, it burns so good! Wet a washcloth in warm water and, with gentle — GENTLE, I SAY — circular motions, remove the gunked-up oil from your skin.

PS: Sensitive-skinned girls, keep an eye on the color of your skin throughout this process. If you start getting super red or feeling ultra-sensitive, stop!

4. Fill up the sink with some of that hot motel water. Yeehaw!

Plug the stopper thing at the bottom and thank your lucky stars that you're not responsible for the water bill. [Disclaimer to all California residents: Consider the drought!!!]

5. Wrench the sheet off your motel bed and drape it over your head. It's time for a facial steam.

If anyone enters the room at this point, they will think they're in The Shining. That's OK. Ignore their screams, bend over the water, trap the steam beneath your sheet, pay attention to the temperature, and please don't burn your face off. Take a few deep breaths — travel is stressful! — and hang over that sink, ghost-like, for about five to ten minutes, or as long as feels good.

6. Finish off with a little ice massage.

Kate Moss cites "ice in the morning" as her skincare secret, so need I say more? Finish off your motel facial by rubbing an ice cube or three all over your face. It'll tighten up the skin and leave you super glowy. Sensitive-skinned girls, you may want to wrap the ice in a corner of the sheet, wait until the sheet is soaked through, and then rub that across your face instead of using ice directly on your skin.

Pat your face gently with a drop or two of oil, fluff your hair, and you're ready to meet all your travel buddies at that super-cool small-town bar next door that's probably called something like Lost Tumbleweed Saloon.

Photos: Tori Telfer