Posted by Alice Moon on Feb.28, 2009
Pampering yourself needn’t be expensive or harmful to the environment. There are some simple household solutions to fancy spa treatments and self care. They are easy to prepare and most involve ingredients close at hand. Once you understand the general idea of each mixture, there’s a lot of fun in experimenting with making your own favorites and assortments.
The basic relaxation treatment: A long hot bath
You have to wash anyway, why not make that time a bit more special? This doesn’t have to require elaborate preparation. You’ll want an uncluttered bathroom (even if you just push the laundry out of sight for a half an hour) and a clean tub. The more senses you can engage, the better. Commonly, a few lighted candles, a few drops of essential oil in the water, gentle music and maybe some light reading are a part of the setting. Vary your choices to keep the experience fresh or to suit your personal preferences. Bath oils or salts are an inexpensive indulgence. Lowered lights will suffice if candles aren’t convenient.
You can create a similar ritual for the kids if bath time or the transition to bed is usually hectic. The lowered lights and warm water will help to relax them. You can even combine story time or quiet play with their soak. A rubdown with lotion afterward offers a nice opportunity for one on one bonding. You can also use the time to bring awareness to deep breathing and gently massage away any tension they may be holding.
Bath mixtures can be created simply sprinkling into the tub oatmeal or milk (fresh or powdered), citrus, and a few drops of an essential oil. Add another natural oil, such as a couple of tablespoons of almond oil if your skin is dry. Oatmeal is very soothing to the skin. Blend the oats to a fine powder and they shouldn’t clog the drain. Milk is a skin softener and an exfoliant because of the acid it contains.
Eyes on the Prize: Facials
The typical steps to a facial treatment involve a gentle cleanse, exfoliation, steam, a mask, and moisturizing. If you prefer to tone, it is best to do so after you rinse off the mask and dry your skin. Witchhazel is an excellent toner. Creating your own facial/body scrubs is fairly straightforward, and there are hundreds of possible combinations. Basic recipes combine a sugar or a salt plus an oil. The consistency is up to you. Add enough oil to be able to smooth the mixture across your skin. A slightly fancier recipe includes 3 cups sea salt, 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon solid oil/butter/cold cream (Shea or coconut butter), 1/2 cup glycerin or honey, a few drops of essential oil. Here are a few simple recipes to get you started:
- 1 cup sugar, 4 teaspoons honey, a few drops of essential oil
- Equal parts brown sugar and oatmeal, add olive oil to moisten
- Equal measure powdered milk and honey
- Equal parts coffee grounds and sugar with honey or oil to moisten
For steam, the low tech method is to fill a bowl halfway with boiling water, then drape a towel over your head and lean over the bowl. The steam rising from the bowl is trapped under the towel. Add a couple of drops of essential oil or rose petals for a soothing scent. Treat yourself for up to ten minutes, then rinse your face and neck with warm water.
Choose your mask that fits your skin type. You’ll want to use a clay mask for oily skin and a moisturizing version for dry skin. Make your own mask by blending a combination of aloe vera gel, yogurt, honey, and cold cream or avocado. A gentle treatment for under the eyes involves equal parts aloe vera and witchhazel. Dab gently and avoid getting the mixture into your eye. A wonderful solution for puffiness is to close and cover each eye with a cooled teabag. Relax. For deep moisturizing, a little topical Vitamin E or olive oil goes a long way. Dab a few drops onto your fingertips and massage it into your face before bed. Cover your pillow with a towel if you’re worried about leaving any behind.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Pedicures
The first step is a lovely soak for the feet. Epsom salts are not only inexpensive, they promote healing and relieve soreness and swelling. They are thought to actually help boost serotonin through the increased magnesium level in the body which accompanies their use. The salts soothe itchy and irritated skin. Soak for up to 30 minutes, then follow with gentle use of a pumice stone to remove rough patches. Apply a moisturizing lotion– since you have all the necessary components in place, give yourself a relaxing foot massage as you work in the lotion. Halved citrus fruits can also be used on rough patches on the feet, knees, and elbows.
For Lovely Hair, Acid Care
Mix fizzy water 4 to 1 with citrus juice for a cleansing rinse once or twice a month. An alternate rinse recipe consists of 2 tablespoons cider vinegar to 3 cups water. Natural oils, such as coconut, can be used overnight to deep condition hair. If you don’t have the time to fuss with washing in the morning, simply rub a bit in before you step into the bath, then wash it out when you finish bathing.
Essential oils come in a variety of aromas, but their delicious smell is only part of the benefit. Each has its own special combination of properties and many help heal skin from various kinds of damage. They are usually blended with a carrier oil (olive, almond, grapeseed) before being applied to the skin. The oils are thought to influence our limbic system as we inhale, affecting our emotions. They can be used to calm or boost energy. Three good choices for experimenting at home include:
- Chamomile for its lovely floral scent and relaxing effect
- Rosemary is antiseptic and promotes muscle relaxation
- Lavender is an astringent and helps with bad skin
Feel you simply don’t have time for such personal caretaking? Why not form a group of friends and take turns hosting a spa night? Each person can bring their own favorite natural mixture. Take turns giving and receiving treatments and massage.
Whether as a personal ritual or social occasion, little touches can make a big difference. Turn phones off or down. Find a group sitter or let the dads take the kids to the park or out for a special treat. Offer a few simple snacks (it’s all about relaxing, so think cheese and crackers or coffee and cookies, something fast and basic). Dress in comfortable clothing. Use the microwave or dryer to provide hot towels; they will really go a long way toward loosening tension and adding that spa atmosphere to your event. Flower petals are always pretty and fun. Whatever works in your setting. It’s all about treating yourself, so let go and enjoy.
Article By: Alice Moon
Profile: Alice holds a degree in Political Science and the four highest awards in Girl Scouting. Once an intern at the prestigious Smithsonian Institute and the National Zoo in Washington DC, she now makes her living as a writer. A gluten free vegan, she can frequently be found foraging in the countryside or at the local farmer’s market. In her free time, she enjoys keeping fit through yoga, martial arts, biking and hiking. Alice lives in the rural Indiana countryside where the cows can observe her antics. She is frequently chased by farm dogs as she runs the back roads. My new online dating advice site is INDATE http://jamestwohats.com/indate/
Latest posts by Alice Moon
- Inexpensive Exercise with Homemade and Found Equipment - May 20th, 2009
- Get the Most from Your Exercise - April 3rd, 2009
- How To Fast - April 2nd, 2009
- Rice Basics - March 29th, 2009
- Surprising Sources of Dirt and Germs - March 24th, 2009
- Vermicomposting For Beginners - March 20th, 2009
- Decrease Engine Emissions with Easy Vehicle Maintenance - March 18th, 2009
- Reuse Challenge: 9 Bits of Useful Trash - March 16th, 2009
- Decluttering: Purging House and Mind - March 11th, 2009
- Safety Tips for Outdoor Exercise - March 6th, 2009