I love to be pampered, especially with long baths and luxurious beauty treatments. Unfortunately, since my husband and are both self-employed, spa days are not in the cards. Taking care of myself is a huge part of managing my depression, so instead I try to find ways to treat myself that fit in our budget. This also has the bonus of steering me towards more natural beauty treatments without questionable substances in them. Despite having a bathroom that’s a converted closet, I’ve managed to create regular spa experiences that are affordable and relaxing. Nothing can quite measure up to having someone else attend to your every need, but I like to think this comes close.
A note on oils: I use a lot of oils in my routines. I know oils are scary for many people, but when used correctly they are fantastic for your skin and not troublesome to use. I found my skin actually stopped breaking out (and I have naturally greasy skin and hair) after I started using them instead of soap lotion. Additionally, I live in a desert climate and in the winter my skin almost can’t get enough moisture if I don’t literally slather myself with oil regularly. Do some research and don’t fear the oil! That said, if oils aren’t for you, you can still have a luxurious bathtime session with whatever products work for your skin.
Equipment and Supplies
You can definitely have a relaxing home spa experience without buying much of anything, but I figure I’m saving so much on product and services, and I use the items so regularly, it’s worth the investment. Here are the ones I can’t live without.
I got this one for Christmas a couple years ago and I use it all the time. It stays well, even in my weird bathtub, thanks to the non-slip handles, and has a place for a drink (including wine glass holder), a support for your book or ipad, and holders for things like razors or nail implements.
In the aforementioned weird bathtub, the drain overflow is more than halfway down. If I couldn’t cover it, my baths would barely cover my legs and I would freeze. Not relaxing. This is a lifesaver. I can fill my bath up to the tippy top – but if you try this, it is important to keep an eye on things so that you don’t actually cause the water to spill over on to the floor.
I love a good robe, and an absorbent towel robe makes me feel more like I’m in a spa, and keeps my muscles warm after I’m out. I also use a lot of oils in my beauty treatments, and it’s nice to be able to throw on a robe while my skin soaks them up and not worry about getting it on clothes or pjs.
There are literally thousands of recipes for homemade products on the internet and what you’ll want may vary by personal preference, skin/hair type, and availability. Personally, I always keep around the following:
- coconut and olive oils
- a variety of essential oils (particularly mint, lavender, and grapefruit)
- fresh lemons
- raw sugar
- sea salt
- French green clay
- powdered kelp
- apple cider vinegar
The key to a really relaxing spa bath is to make as much as possible ahead of time, so you’re not fussing around or having to clean up in the moment. I make my treatments one hour to a couple weeks ahead of time. Here are my go-to staples.
Hot oil hair mask
Simply combine a tablespoon each (less for short hair) of good olive oil, honey, and lemon juice and heat in microwave or in jar submerged in hot water until very warm. Comb through dampened hair, cover hair with showercap or plastic wrap, and wrap in towel to keep heat in. Leave in for ten minutes or up to one hour.
Citrus face and body scrub
I make a bunch of this and leave it in the bathroom for quite a while. It shouldn’t go bad or grow bacteria due to the preservative nature of the ingredients.
In a mason jar combine equal parts sea salt and raw sugar. Add in the zest from several citrus fruits (limes, lemons, oranges) and the juice from one lemon or lime. Add enough olive oil to coat most of the sugar and salt and create a paste-like consistent suitable for scrubbing and stir till well mixed. When using on face, add a little water to it in the palm of your hand so the grains melt a little and become finer for your more delicate facial skin.
Clay face masque
This one I created to mimic LUSH’s wonderful but pricey “Mask of Magnaminty“. I make enough for for a few treatments and store it in the fridge to keep fresh and because it feels amazing to put on cold.
Combine three tablespoons of French green clay (buy a big bag from Amazon and it will last forever) with one tablespoon of kelp powder. Add 1-2 drops of mint essential oil (do not add more than this or you will burn your face off) and about a half teaspoon of a moisturizing oil of choice. Slowly add water, stirring as you go, until you reach the desired texture for a face mask. Spread on thickly and leave on for at least fifteen minutes.
Honey face mask
I also sometimes make a honey mask which is just a tablespoon, thick, dark honey combined with a quarter teaspoon each of nutmeg and cinnamon. This one will drip, but at least it tastes good if it gets in your mouth, and the spices in it double as a scrub when you go to take it off.
Create the atmosphere
Get all your treatments, products, and implements (razor if you’re going to shave, nail stuff if you plan a manicure) out. Cut up cucumbers if you plan to put them over your eyes. Lay out your robe, your clean, soft pjs, your slippers, and your fluffiest towels. Light some candles (gently scented soy is best), put on music and grab a book, if reading is your thing. The main idea is to keep everything calm and soothing, and not introduce any worries into this time. Sometimes I will put a movie on my ipad, but I try to make sure it’s more Pride and Prejudice and less Alien.
I do sometimes drink wine in the bath, but if I’m going to be doing a full spa treatment or be in there for a long time I avoid it because wine dehydrates you and the heat can make you tipsier, faster (which is not safe in a slippery tub). I love to make fancy flavored water with sparking water and fruit, and fill a bottle with it. My favorite is a combo of sparkling water, berries, and a little rosewater, but putting cucumber, melons, lemon, or ginger can also be delicious. It hydrates me and feels really special.
I also always try to do this when I have virtually nothing left to do in my day, preferably shortly before bed. You don’t want tension to creep back in afterwards.
Let the pampering begin!
Here’s what I have found works well for me, but obviously the point is to design an experience you feel is most beneficial and relaxing, so play around with it. This is just give you ideas on how to get started.
I start by getting the tub filled, as ours takes a long time. I used to prefer bubble baths, but with the dry climate now I often just put in a few tablespoons of coconut oil and a few drops of an essential oil. Sometimes I treat myself to a moisturizing bath bomb.
While the tub is filling I get undressed and apply my hair and face masks. Once I’m in the bath, I settle in and just soak for awhile, letting my body and hair benefit from all the goodness. This is when I’ll put cucumber slices or tea bags on my eyes and just listen to music or a (calming) podcast.
After about 20-30 mins, I usually take whatever is on my eyes off and shave and work on my nails (I don’t usually paint them in the tub because the oils keep polish from sticking, but I’ll trim, file, and manicure them otherwise) and feet. I also try to make sure I drink about a liter of my water while I’m in the tub. When I’m ready to get out of the tub, I rinse off my face mask, stand up, and let it drain.
Standing in the tub, I scrub my body and face thoroughly with my citrus sugar scrub and then turn on the shower to rinse it off, and rinse the treatment out of my hair. If I have time to wash my hair the next day, I usually just rinse it out and let the residue stay in overnight for extra moisturizing, but if not I’ll use a little gentle shampoo just to make sure my hair doesn’t hold on to too much of the oil.
After I get out, I might apply a little more olive or coconut oil although usually what’s left from the scrub is plenty. I’ll rise my hair once more with cold water and apple cider vinegar plus a few drops lavender oil to help the cuticles close up, and splash cold water on my face to close the pores and then spritz on a little cold rosewater (I keep it in the fridge – it’s a toner, and smells and feels amazing when you’re all hot from being in the tub for so long).
Before I leave the bathroom, I wrap myself up in my robe, wrap my hair in a towel, and put on slippers. I’ll usually hang out like that for half an hour to an hour, have some more water, and maybe paint my nails, before changing into pjs and winding down for bed with a cup of chamomile tea.
This is my Sunday night routine, and it definitely sets me up to start the work week in a good frame of mind and body, especially since I’m often rushed during the week and don’t care for my skin/face/hair as well as I should.
Do you have any beauty or relaxation routines you use to take care of yourself or wind down before work starts up?