No offense to Bath and Body Works, but their home spa product line seems almost silly to buy once you notice the simple ingredients that are used. Many of these products are incredibly effective, which is what makes it so exciting to create them at home for a fraction of the cost! Is there a law against copying listed ingredients from the pros in order to enjoy a spa day at home? Absolutely not—just be sure to give credit where it’s due if you ever decide to bottle some of your own concoctions. Soon enough, your friends will be begging you for your recipes!
Ingredients for exfoliants
Bath and Body Works uses sugar and ground walnut shells as exfoliants in some of their products, and their sugar hand treatment is particularly good. Sugar grains can gently exfoliate sensitive parts of your skin (e.g. your hands and face) without irritation. However, ground walnut shells have a stronger exfoliation level, making them idea for tough skin (e.g. on the bottom of your feet). Kitchen ingredients offer a wide range of options that you can use for your entire body—if you don’t walnuts, try grinding avocado pits after they dry out for a couple days. Mix the finely ground pits with yogurt or even milk to make an all-over body scrub.
However, the easiest body scrub recipe is probably one based around salt. A salt body scrub has numerous health benefits aside from exfoliation, such as increased circulation (though be sure to avoid the face when using salt). Add just ¼ cup of water to two cups of coarse sea salt, wet your skin with water, and scrub with the mixture. The easiest (and cleanest) way to use this method is in a bathtub with a small amount of water.
The coveted facial
People can often tell when you have had a facial, which is one of the major reasons facials are so popular. However, they can cost hundreds of dollars, and you may feel a bit intimidated to create your own facial at home. Never fear! People have different skin needs, and you know your skin better than anyone else.
Spa facials usually include a type of steam blast that opens your pores and naturally moisturizes your face. You can create this effect at home, but you can also tailor it to your precise skin type. Boil two liters of water in the largest pot you can find in your kitchen, add approximately one cup of dry herbs to the water once boiled, and cover for two minutes with the heat turned off. Place the large pot on a table where you can easily sit near it (remember to watch the hot steam when you first remove the lid!). Drape a large towel over your head and the pot so that you can absorb the steam without putting your face directly over the pot, and you’re ready to go!
The fun begins when you decide what herbs to use. If you have herbs in your own garden, try using them as well. Greta Breelove’s book “Home Spa” offers the following table to choose your herbs.
Dry skin: rose, lavender, comfrey, chamomile.
Normal skin: rose, lavender, lemon balm, calendula.
Oily skin: rosemary, sage, witch hazel.
Skin prone to break-outs: comfrey.
Does the classic kitchen staple really work?
Cucumber slices are often associated with spa treatments, and many spas still place fresh cucumber slices over each eye in order to reduce inflammation. According to dermatologist Dr. Nikolaidi, cucumbers must be chilled in order to achieve any result, but the antioxidants they contain can indeed reduce swelling and puffiness around the eyes. Cucumbers can also be used for other skin remedies—they may treat itchy skin, and can even help reduce irritation from poison ivy.
The sounds of the spa
Finally, you may not even be aware of the background noise in most spas, but most play incredibly soothing background music. There is a reason why you feel relaxed on the massage table before a massage therapist even walks in the room! Spa music is not a kitchen ingredient, but it is available in your home. iTunes offers soundtracks specifically for therapists, and they contain some of the most soothing sounds.
If you do not want to pay for music for your special at-home spa day, then try Pandora radio. You can choose your own station, but there is a chance you may not like one of the songs. This is why YouTube is one of the best options for free spa music. Since so many people have trouble falling asleep, there are plenty of YouTube channels dedicated to 8-11 hours of consistent and calming natural sounds. If you really want to escape from your daily world for a day, then try listening to YouTube with noise-canceling headphones. You’ll probably never want to take them off!
Breedlove, Greta. Home Spa. 1998.
Kitchens, Simone. Do Cucumbers Really Help with Puffy Eyes? Pros Weigh-in on This Beauty Legend. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/puffy-eyes-undereyes-cucumbers-cures-remedies_n_1964329.html