You know the feeling when it’s like an hour before bedtime and you want to do something? Bake something, knit, re-organize your Wii games… but nothing seems to really appeal. Statistically, it’s far more likely that you’ll be spending long, quiet nights in as the days get shorter and winter settles in for real.
Often pampering springs to mind when you’ve got little to do and want to make use of some precious free time. So what better way to use a block of peace than to do some home spa treatments? Yes, nothing beats the lavender scented, unlimited clean laundried bliss of a spa-spa, but with soaring treatment price tags and frankly unreasonable hours for night owls, the at-home alternative becomes ever more appealing.
One of the first things you learn as a working esthetician is- as my successful, spa-owning mentor once put it- is that the beauty industry is a lot of ‘smoke and mirrors’ (or as a fellow counter girl once told me my first day on the job, ‘we don’t sell £100 cremes- we sell hope.’) This is not to say that spas and salons are not worth the outlay for a special occasion, but few of us can afford a facial every time we need one. Here are some tips to bridge the gaps with a passable home spa experience.
I’ve posted about the miracle skincare product that is honey before, but few are the people who drink tea and don’t have this pantry staple on hand. Honey is fantastic for all skin types- it kills acne-causing microbes, traps water and imparts an unmatchable glow. True story- a high-end spa in which I once worked allowed us to put aside the super-expensive facial masques in favor of honey for a special skincare package, and client feedback was far more positive than it was for the super-pricey version.
The best method for a honey mask is to simply smooth it on to clean skin with fingers or a fan brush and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. The crucial part is to relax while you’ve got it on, or the experience won’t be as fulfilling. When you’ve finished, steam and wring out some face flannels to remove the sticky substance. (And if you’ve made tea, the bags really do make good eye pads to reduce swelling.)
Around a decade ago, chocolate masks hit the spa scene hard, popping up all over the place and dominating trendy treatments. While they’re not as efficient for skincare purposes as an aspirin or honey mask, they are aesthetically pleasing and have some palpable skin benefits. The best binding ingredient for a chocolate mask is honey, so you can enhance your honey mask with 2 tablespoons of good-quality cocoa for an indulgent home spa treatment.
An herbal steam
A trick I picked up from a spa worker at a summer camp once has been a lifelong favorite. Simmering herbs of your choice (chamomile, mint or essential oils like lavender are excellent selections) in a small saucepan is the work of a minute, and then all you need is a trivet, a towel and perhaps some soothing music. After cleansing skin, tent the towel over the saucepan on a non-melty surface and experience the soothing, herbal treatment. Follow with a mask for maximum relaxation.
Oatmeal is not just a super-healthy breakfast
Another contender for better-than-store-bought is oatmeal, which luckily likes to hang out in many people’s larders. If you’ve to a food processor, you can grind the oats up before adding water for a finer paste, and after you cook (and cool, a step for which the importance cannot be stressed enough) them, spread them over skin. The still-warm oats will have a steaming effect for your face, forcing water into dehydrated winter skin and quelling irritation from wind and cold temperatures. Remove with damp flannels and moisturize copiously.
Bananas and avocado
Aside from baby food and guacamole, these are popular one-ingredient masks that just require a mashing implement. If you’ve got some bananas or avocado in danger of turning, you can make a quick mask and appreciate their hydrating, nourishing benefits without having to bake something or make an avocado sandwich you don’t really want. Smush them up and apply for 10-15 minutes, rinse, tone and moisturize.
Do you indulge in at-home spa treatments? Which are your favorites?