Make itJun/Jul 2013 Issue

At-Home Spa

Woman putting on face mask © Thinkstock/iStockphoto; Woman in yoga pose © Thinkstock/Fuse

Imagine a whole day just to yourself. Start out the morning with a quiet walk or solitary yoga. Nibble on fresh fruit and vegetables and sip cooling beverages and herbal teas throughout the day. Enjoy spa-style treatments customized to your needs—a facial, body scrub, manicure and pedicure. At the end of the day, you feel pampered and refreshed. No appointment necessary. No travel involved.

Where is this exclusive day spa? It’s in your own home.

The latest trend in natural beauty is saving time, money and hassle by creating a personal retreat at home. Here’s how it’s done.

Calm Down Carve out a soothing space by clearing away as many distractions as possible. Schedule playdates for the kids and tell the office you’re taking the day off. Redirect your thoughts and energy to not think about work, family or other responsibilities. Refocus your mind by meditating or reading a favorite text. 

Sound Music sets a relaxing mood. Many spas play a mix of nature sounds and New Age tracks. Create your own spa-style music with your favorite songs or classical tunes.

Color and Scent Some high-end spas offer color and aroma therapies. Clients wear tinted glasses and bathe in colored and fragranced water to energize and rebalance their bodies. You can achieve the same effect by choosing towels, scented candles and flowers in your favorite hues and scent.

Temperature How warm or cool you keep your home affects your energy level. Cooler temperatures energize while a warm bath or bed soothes and relaxes.

Provisions Prepare healthy snacks and drinks. Fill a pretty pitcher with cold water and add fresh berries, herbs, cucumber slices or lemon slices to flavor it. Use your best crystal and china to complement the simple beauty of the food.

Products Take your favorite bath and beauty items down from the shelf—bath salts, loofah sponge, nail brushes, pretty towels. Now is the time to use them.

Here are a few at-home treatments to try. Enjoy them all for a complete day of pampering or choose one for your personal “mini” spa.

Spa-Style Facial

A quality facial deep-cleans your skin, helping your complexion retain moisture and giving it a healthy glow. Wash your face thoroughly with mild cleanser or soap. Wipe away dead skin cells and soap residue with an all-natural astringent (witch hazel) or mild toner (strong green or white tea). Nourish your skin with a rich face mask. Rinse your face thoroughly with tepid water and pat dry. To clean your pores, fill a sink or a large bowl with hot water; stir in a few cleansing herbs—rosemary for dry skin, chamomile for normal skin, peppermint for oily skin. Make a tent over your head with a large bath towel and lean over the water for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse your face thoroughly, starting with warm water and slowly changing to cold. Pat dry and moisturize your face with a light, natural oil or your favorite moisturizing cream.  

Face Mask

A facial mask renews your skin. Choose one of the following ingredients, based on your skin type. For normal skin, use a whole egg (beaten), plain yogurt or all-natural white clay mixed with a bit of water. (Natural clay is an age-old beauty ingredient. Purchase it at your local natural food store in the health and beauty section.) For dry skin, use a mashed avocado, mashed banana, mayonnaise or pure honey. For oily skin, use grated cucumber, mashed strawberries or several egg whites. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons onto damp skin, avoiding the area around your eyes. Let the mask sit for 15 to 20 minutes to tighten. It will draw impurities from your pores and skin surface. Then rinse your skin with tepid water and pat dry.

Hair Conditioner

You can re-hydrate and condition your hair by using items from your kitchen. Mayonnaise makes a simple, effective mask for dry, damaged hair. Massage a few tablespoons into damp hair and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then rinse and shampoo as you normally would. Pure honey, eggs and olive oil also make excellent hair conditioners.

Body Scrub

Body scrubs exfoliate and help stimulate circulation. A gentle rubdown can counteract stress, help rid the body of excess fluid and energize your whole system. Raw sugar is perfect for freshening and moisturizing the skin.
1 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup light oil, such as sunflower, almond, walnut (if tolerated)

1. Mix ingredients, stirring well to combine.
2. To use, massage 1 to 2 tablespoons over your body, scrubbing gently in a circular motion. Do this while standing in the shower or on a large towel right before bathing.

Soothing Green Body Mask

A full-body mask is a great way to deep cleanse, calm and soothe your entire body. Fresh vegetables are currently popular beauty ingredients at spas, effective for cleaning and clearing the skin.

2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons all-natural white clay
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process into a smooth paste.
2. To use, spread mixture over your body using your fingertips or a paintbrush.
3. Wrap up in an old sheet or large towel, leaving mask on 15 to 20 minutes while you lie down and relax.
4. Rinse well with warm water. Pat skin dry.
5. Massage a light, natural oil or your favorite moisturizer into your skin.

Nail Care

Salon-quality manicures and pedicures are easy to master. Doing these at home can be a relaxing ritual and it saves you time and money.

Here are the basic steps.

Clean Remove all traces of old nail polish. Wash your hands and feet.
Soak Soften your nails and get them really clean by soaking them for a few minutes in a bowl of warm water with some lemon juice or apple cider vinegar added. Use the tub or a large bowl for your feet.

Push Apply a rich cream or natural oil to the base of your nails and gently push the cuticles back, using a cotton swab or wet washcloth.

Trim Cut your nails so they’re all the same length and shaped in squared-off ovals. This is the strongest nail shape. Trim nails when wet for the cleanest cut.

Mask Here’s a simple mask for hands and feet that works for all skin types. Mix ¼ cup sour cream or dairy-free sour cream with 1 tablespoon pure honey. Leave on 10 to 15 minutes. Then rinse off with warm water.

Massage Massage a rich moisturizing cream or natural oil into your hands, feet and nails. If your hands are really dry, cover them with cotton gloves before you go to bed and leave them on overnight.

Polish Polish your nails or buff them for a natural shine. Buffing boosts circulation and promotes healthy nail growth.

Janice Cox is the author of Natural Beauty at Home. She lives in Oregon.

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