The use of spa treatments is nothing new when it comes to pampering ourselves. Activities like soaking in a tub of hot water to relax and relieve stress took place long before towns like Spa, Belgium, and Bath, England, became famous for their public bathing pools. Spa treatments, just like regular bathing habits, can also promote cleanliness. For example, facial scrubs wash away dead skin cells and oils. Manicures mean healthy nails and cuticles, while pedicures help keep feet free of germs and pesky toenail issues. But spa treatments offer more than just a pretty face or well-groomed hands, and they aren’t just an idle indulgence. A day at the spa relieves tension from daily stress. It provides a boost to our self-esteem. And best of all, a day at the spa shared with close friends or family members is the perfect opportunity to strengthen relationships while creating lasting memories.
Risks of Using a Spa
It’s a sad truth in today’s economy that, for most people, a day at the spa is more an expensive luxury than a dire necessity. In addition to the high costs, there also exists the risk of diseases floating in communal pools and lurking in sauna areas. Between the months of November 2003 and May 2004, eight cruise ship passengers contracted Legionnaire’s disease from allegedly infected jacuzzi tubs on board the luxury sailing vessels. Why didn’t chlorine in the water kill the bacteria? Because some bacteria is not affected by chlorine and thrives under warm, moist conditions. For this reason, it’s important that establishments that offer communal, aquatic areas take extra care when cleaning and frequently change out the water. Alternately, those who suffer from sinus or asthma-related issues need to use extreme caution. While a sauna with moist heat may temporarily improve sinus or asthma issues, dry heat can actually cause new flare-ups.
Making Spa Products at Home
Last winter my car needed extensive repair work. As a result, I was left stranded at home for two weeks. Instead of hiking seven miles from my mountain home to the nearest town, I opted instead for the half-mile walk to and from the nearest community marketplace. Despite the abundance of free-range eggs and other basic necessities, they lacked certain luxuries available in town, including ones found only at my favorite local beauty-supply store. Those two weeks were a blessing in disguise, because by the time the repair shop fixed my car, I had a whole new section in my recipe box – of home spa products! Here are some of the more successful spa day essentials created in my kitchen.
A note before getting started: When making your own items, there are some other things to remember.
- Please be sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Just because you are not ingesting them does not mean they cannot cause a reaction. If you are not sure and need to test it, try the patch of skin on your neck right behind your ear or on the inside of your wrist.
- The items here work for my hair and skin types, but what works for you might be something very different. If you Google something like “facial recipe for combination skin” then you will see that it yields more specific results than if you use “facial recipe” alone as a search term.
- Another benefit to making your own spa-inspired products means no harsh chemicals. For pet owners, this one is especially important. While I do not suggest feeding these creations to pets, if Fido or Fluffy decide to taste-test your creations, they’re less likely to become ill than if they’d have tried over-the-counter products.
Banana Yogurt Facial Mask
Facial masks are awesome. They cleanse the skin and leave you feeling refreshed.
- 1 small banana
- 4 tablespoons vanilla yogurt
- 3 tablespoons of honey
Use a firm spatula or a wooden spoon to mash the banana in a glass mixing bowl. (You can use any kind of bowl you like, but I’ve found that glass allows me to really mush up the fruit.) Add the yogurt and honey to the mashed banana and continue mixing until the ingredients are well blended.
Immediately apply to skin with fingers. Be sure to coat your face evenly. Leave on for about 15 minutes, and then rinse off with tepid water using your hands or a soft cloth or bath glove.
It’s doubtful that you will have very much of the mixture leftover, if any at all. Unfortunately any leftovers of this recipe, unlike the others listed below, will not keep well. After trying it the first time, make notes and adjust the ingredients to avoid waste. Or you could just add in the rest of the yogurt and enjoy a healthy snack!
Vanilla Latte Body Scrub
There is nothing I like more than a hot vanilla latte. I love how it smells. I love how it tastes. One year a friend bought me some expensive body scrub that smelled like a vanilla latte. When it ran out, I was disappointed to discover that the store had discontinued that particular scent! However, this recipe is a close match. The coffee and salt scrub away the dead skin cells, while the other ingredients leave your skin smooth and scented with a slight hint of vanilla.
- 1/2 cup of coarse ground coffee
- 1/2 cup of oatmeal (trust me, you do NOT want instant for this)
- 1/2 cup of coarse sea salt
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of honey
- 4 tablespoons of vanilla extract
Use a spatula to combine all ingredients in a standard mixing bowl. My favorite kitchen items to use when making this recipe are a large metal bowl and a heavy wooden spatula. When the mixture reaches the consistency of paste, it’s ready to use. If your mixture is too greasy, add more dry ingredients. And if it is too dry, add more oil.
Apply to skin, rubbing in small, circular motions using a soft cloth, a bath glove, or a loofah pad. This works especially well on body parts that are stereotypically dry, like knees, elbows, and feet. Scrub each area for several minutes and then rinse with warm water. Apply your favorite lotion to keep your skin feeling soft and luxurious.
This recipe makes a lot of body scrub, and you probably won’t use all of it in one shot. Store the extra in a tightly sealed glass jar or share with friends!
Avocado and Coconut Hair Conditioner
Using this mixture on my hair once a week leaves it extremely soft. It also cuts down on the amount of dry, split ends that I have as it adds natural moisture to my hair. It’s time-consuming, but afterwards I always feel pampered and my hair looks fantastic.
- 1 avocado
- 1 cup of coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon of honey (clover honey is my favorite)
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
Peel the avocado and cut it into chunks. Place all the ingredients into the blender and start with a low setting. Slowly increase the speed until you have a nice, creamy mixture.
Comb mixture into clean hair (wet or dry, as I’ve not really seen much of a difference), then wrap your head in a warm towel. I usually spritz one with water and stick it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. If you do this, please be careful and watch for steam. Leave your hair in the towel anywhere from twenty to forty minutes. The time will vary from person to person based on the hair’s length and thickness. Finally, rinse the conditioner out with warm water and dry like normal.
When I set aside a few hours for some pampering, there are things I like to do that enhance the experience. Soothing music and scented candles creates a relaxing, atmosphere. Drizzling vanilla extract over a wet wash cloth and hanging it over the shower head turns an otherwise plain hot shower into a relaxing steam room. Snacks like mixed nuts, crisp vegetable pieces sprinkled with coarse sea salt, or chunks of fresh fruit dipped in a small bowl of warm chocolate syrup also help enhance the experience.
Spa Day Perks
Don’t completely write off a professional spa day. In moderation they are a great experience, and visiting a spa for some professional pampering certainly has its perks. Treatments like body wraps, massages, and reflexology by trained professionals do things like detoxify skin, improve circulation, and renew the body’s energy. If you aren’t sure about or have never visited a particular establishment before, ask friends and family if they have information to help you decide. Visit the spa’s website and read reviews. Ask on Facebook! Or call the spa and ask for a tour. When visiting, look for general cleanliness. If you see mold, dirty towels lying around on the floor, or anything else that gives you a general sense of uneasiness, you might decide to search elsewhere for your next pampering session.
Until then, have fun and save money creating spa products in your own kitchen. If you try any of these or have other suggestions, please leave your thoughts in the comments section.