Honestly, is there anything more enjoyable than a day spent at the spa? We think not. Those hours of pure pampering are the ultimate indulgence, but when a spa trip doesn’t quite fit into your schedule (or your budget!), there are plenty of easy ways you can recreate a relaxing spa-like experience at home. Ahead, spa experts from around the country share their best tips. Say spaaa-h!
1. Load up on hot towels.
Giving yourself a facial? Rather than running back and forth to the sink to wash your face between steps, load up on soft cotton towels. Soak them in hot water, then wring them out until they’re just slightly damp. “Use these to clean your face and wipe off any product, just like the professionals do at the spa,” says Aracely Terrazas, aesthetician at the Spa at the Wit in Chicago. To up the ante, add a few drops of essential oil to the water—lavender or eucalyptus are both good options. “As you apply the warm towel on your face, you’ll be breathing in and getting all of the aroma-therapeutic benefits of the oil,” Terrazas explains.
2. Engage your senses.
A large part of the reason why going to a spa feels so special is because all five of your senses are engaged. “When setting up a treatment at home, remember to do the same and incorporate elements that are pleasing to your sense of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing,” suggests Garrett Mersberger, Spa Director at Kohler Waters Spa. Even without one, the experience won’t be the same. Set the mood with candles, soothing music, dim lighting, a cozy robe, a glass of cucumber water…it may sound simple, but these little add-ons are what make even the most mundane beauty rituals feel special and spa-like. (An interesting point about music selection: Pick instrumental songs, rather than tunes with words. The lyrics can trigger subconscious memories, upping your stress level, without you even realizing it!)
3. Mask your way to clearer skin.
There’s no doubt that a good face mask is a quintessential skincare indulgence. “A DIY version is especially ideal if you’re dealing with pesky blemishes,” says Terrazas. Mix one tablespoon each of turmeric, raw honey, and milk (the mixture should be thick, not too runny). Apply all over and leave on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing. The turmeric is anti-inflammatory, honey is anti-bacterial, and the lactic acid in the milk gently exfoliates, leaving your complexion clear and glowing.
4. Make your shower more spa-like.
Even those few minutes you spend under the spray every day can become more like a full-body treatment, simply by changing the temperature of the water. “Experiment by switching from hot to cold. This is good for the skin and helps improve blood flow,” Mersberger explains (think of this at the at-home version of all those spa plunge pools). The one caveat: Always end with three-five minutes of neutral temperature water to bring your body temperature back to normal.
4. Dry brush like a pro.
So many professional body treatments involve this technique, which is easy to do at home. Hop in the shower, but before you turn on the water, grab a body brush and brush in short, circular strokes. Move upward, toward the direction of your heart. “Dry brushing exfoliates, improves circulation, and can help make skin look smoother,” points out Sara Dolentz, spa director of Chill Spa and SpaTerre in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She recommends doing so at least once a week, and following up with a hydrating body lotion post shower.
6. Treat your eyes.
Cucumbers aren’t the only way to soothe tired eyes. Red Door Spa’s Global Chief Creative Officer Cornelia Zicu recommends boiling two chamomile tea bags in milk, then refrigerating them until cool. Place over your eyes for 10 minutes to help refresh eyes that are tired from staring at the computer screen for hours on end or after a day in the sun (you can store these in the fridge for up to a week!).
7. Create your own body buffer.
Fancy body scrubs at the spa often have many complicated ingredients, but you can easily create Dolentz’s at-home version with just two (yes, two!) items that are probably already in your kitchen. Combine equal parts granulated sugar with liquefied coconut oil into a paste-like consistency. Use it to scrub from head to toe before rinsing off (do so in the shower for easy clean up). “The sugar gently removes dead skin, while the coconut oil is especially hydrating,” notes Dolentz. Not to mention, it smells delish!