Why make an at-home spa?
The provincial government has been sending around surveys asking people to weigh in on the impact COVID has been having on their lives. One of the questions is to rate your stress level—I can only imagine that nearly everyone checked the box that said it was higher than before the pandemic started. It is no coincidence that the influx of self-care and wellness stories have spiked over the past few months. And here is another. Because a deliberate and concerted effort to combat stress and take time for ourselves is a necessity if we hope to move forward in these uncertain times with any semblance of calm and our mental health intact.
Here, a list of realistic and attainable suggestions for an at-home spa that will have a positive effect on body and mind.
Plan ahead and set realistic expectations
Are you a morning or evening person? What are you trying to achieve: a relaxing experience before bed or a reviving experience to feel refreshed? How much time can you dedicate to this? Your answers to these questions will influence the scents, the beauty rituals, and the overall elaborateness of your at-home spa kit. Once you’ve established when you want to set aside the time for a spa day, you can begin to prepare.
Sheltering in place can make it appear like it’s easier to dedicate time to ourselves, but the reality is we still have responsibilities—children, jobs, and general life admin. To combat this, clean your home ahead of time. A decluttered, tidy space will set the tone for relaxation, and you will feel less guilty and distracted. Deliberately set aside the time, and voice the intention and boundary to anyone who may wish to stake a claim on your time and attention. If possible, get your partner involved, too. It can be a great bonding experience and alleviate any tension that has arisen from being stuck together for so long.
Plan out what you want to do in the period allotted (facial, steam shower, bubble bath, foot mask, meditate, et cetera), but prepare to be flexible if you don’t get to everything. If you are enjoying your meditation, allow it to run long and maybe leave out the foot massage. If you have a whole day to dedicate to this, then perfect, but if not, remember that this is your time to spend how you want to—it isn’t about checking off beauty routine boxes.
It should go without saying that phones and spas do not mix. An at-home spa should be no exception. Read, meditate, practise mindfulness, listen to music, or talk to your partner in between treatments. And if possible, avoid your phone for at least an hour after you’re finished.
Music, scent, and candles—the mood makers, if you will—are the first things to set up. If you have a diffuser, bright citrus and verdant oils are best for a morning spa, and heady lavender or woody scents for evening, but of course, it’s a matter of preference. Relaxing music, ideally without lyrics or at least with calm, unobtrusive ones, should be on in the background, and candles or fairy lights should be lit. It may be a pain to set up but will make all the difference.
Integrating scent into everything is one of the ways professional spas set themselves apart from your everyday beauty routines. Even something as simple as towels can be indulgent and uplifting. Throw your body towels in the dryer with a lavender bag right before you start your experience so that they are warm and scented when you’re ready for them. Fill a large bowl with ice and a few drops of eucalyptus, tea tree, and mint essential oils, and submerge rolled-up face cloths in there. It is a refreshing, relaxing, and anti-inflammatory way to finish a steam shower, bath, or facial.
To create a steam shower, place a eucalyptus branch on the tap and run the shower on hot until steam forms and the scent permeates the room. Alternatively you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the tub and achieve the same effect.
There are plenty of recipes online for creating scented body and face oils with essential oils that are readily available. If you have the time, do your research and make them yourself, along with body scrubs and face masks to add a bespoke accent to your at-home spa.
Pay equal attention to all parts of your body
Part of the decadence from a day at the spa, which we may not even realize, is caring for all parts of our body: head to toe. A professional full body massage at a spa spends more time on the scalp and feet than you would expect, and yet it is something we tend to skip over during our daily routines.
When doing a body scrub, don’t leave out the feet and use it as an opportunity for massage. If you do a facial or a mask, consider putting on a lip and hair mask, too. Take time to notice each individual part of the body and give it some attention either through exfoliation, moisturizing, or massage, depending on your skin type and what products you have on hand or like to use. The difference in mood and feeling is unexpected and special because it is something we don’t normally do.
Worry less about products and more about using them right
A cleanser, exfoliator, toner, serum, and moisturizer are the building blocks of every skin-care routine, but each skin type should add or remove the things that don’t work for them. Most beauty gurus would have people believe that lathering on product after product is the key to feeling luxuriously brightened, but, in truth, that doesn’t have the best benefits for everyone’s skin and the same effect can achieved with minimal products by making small adjustments to how they’re applied. For instance, use a clean brush to apply your clay or mud mask instead of your fingers, like you’re painting your face.
It’s okay to use the same everyday skin routine that works for you while you’re spa-ing (maybe with the addition of a mask), but what if you applied your serum or facial oil with a just-out-of-the-fridge jade roller? It doesn’t have to have miracle face-changing results, it just feels good. And that’s the whole point of this exercise.
When choosing the products to use in your spa, focus on your individual needs that day. Do you need a detox, a polish, a repairing, cleansing, or brightening mask? Pick one or two elements to focus on and dedicate the time to these. Trying to do everything will only undermine each product and make it less effective. Baby steps: you can always do this again next week.
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