When you say “at home spa” or girls night in, there are certain stereotypical situations that do more to unsettle than to relax. Straight out of horror film (cue the jaws soundtrack) you picture cucumbers for eyes, a muddy face, a shower cap crown and spacers between your poorly painted toes. It’s a sight no one needs to see, including yourself. Aside from the negative visuals, how is one really to even enjoy a pampering sessions when there’s a mess of ingredients waiting to be cleaned up afterwards?
When attempting to create a DIY spa, there are three rules that will guarantee you beauty bliss. 1. Don’t make your “at home spa” day a big event, i.e. if you need to schedule it, you are not going to enjoy it. 2. Homemade facemasks are not mandatory. To truly create the essence of a luxury spa experience at home, invest in products that professional aestheticians themselves would recommend. 3. Make the “spa” a part of your routine. If you develop a routine with the products, using them will feel like less of a chore, plus, you will see better results.
Now that you’re familiar with the three tenets of at-home spa-ing, it’s time to get acquainted with the best products to remedy your beauty woes. After sampling the lot, we rounded up our favourites for you to enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
Always begin your facial treatment by washing your face and prepping skin.
In the morning, the first part of your routine should be washing off deep-sleep drool off to help snap you out of your morning haze. To do this, I recommend Grown Alchemist’s Hydra-Restore Cream Cleanser Olive Leaf and Plantago Extract.
It left my skin feeling soft, with zero tightness. Bonus: the natural scent of the product will be anything but invasive to your nostrils during those delicate early hours of the morning. Plus, you’ll feel better starting your day off using a product free of sulphates, artificial fragrances, synthetic colours, silicones or parabens. Tip: the claylike texture of this cleanser makes it difficult to wash off long-wear makeup. Use a makeup remover first if using in the evening.
Applying a facial treatment is a waste if your skin is congested with Saturday night makeup debris. Keep skin prepped with Miracle Cleanser by Aurelia Probiotic Skincare. I used it after a night out, on dry skin as the container suggests, gently massaging it around my face. Afterwards, I wet the antibacterial bamboo muslin and used it to remove the night from my face, and that it did! (The evidence was on the towel.) My skin could breathe again.
Now for the fun stuff. To start, exfoliate skin, so that the face mask you apply doesn’t go to waste on dead skin cells. Try Aurelia’s Refine & Polish Miracle Balm for a five minutes scrub. Formulated with chamomile, eucalyptus, rosemary and bergamot (like the brand’s cleanser), this gentle enzyme exfoliant works to remove dead surface skin and unclog pores, while also helping to minimize their appearance. The BioOrganic oils in the product emulsify when in contact with water, rejuvenating the skin’s moisture and your inner glow. Easy on the skin, this product can be used three to four times a week.
On that scheduling note, I like to stick to “Spa Sundays” for face masks. On these special days, may I suggest the Rosey Cheeks mask by LUSH. Classic in formula, and as it happens handmade with fresh ingredients, this tub is a handy substitute to that DIY face mask recipe you found on Pinterest. Relaxation comes at first sniff with this product. Fragrant (but not overpowering so) with the smell of roses, the formula warms the skin as it works its magic. Smooth on the mask before a soak in the tub (try to keep it to 15 minutes), and relax while the calamine powder soothes you tired skin, healing the everyday stresses your face wears. With the added effect of aromatherapy, this mask is what you want after a hard week at work.
When it’s not work, but Father Time that has your face stressing out, pulling out the big guns is a duty. And with that, let me tell you about Roloxin Lift and its Instant Skin Smoothing Masque, which promises to snap back the years. The masque is said to combat wrinkles, fine lines, pores and dullness, and while I don’t quite have any deep set wrinkles as of yet (or hopefully ever will with the help of some of these products), I did find that after using the mask my pores appeared noticeably tighter and my skin smoother. I would suggest saving this mask for a pre-event skin perk up, timed with a special occasion that demands you look your best. Smooth skin is after all the perfect makeup primer. Tip: Before opening the sachet, be sure to repeatedly squeeze it for 20 seconds to activate the formula. Then apply to your clean skin and wait for the Roloxin Lift masque to dry into a white powder. Be warned, this stuff is tough to wash off. My first time using it, I came out of the bathroom resembling a powdered Marie Antoinette. The great thing about this product is you can apply it in the morning and still apply makeup afterwards, so you don’t need to plan on not leaving the house for the rest of the day due to an irritated post-facial mug.
As it turns out, marshmallows are nourishing, who would have thought? That is if you don’t make them a part of your daily diet, but instead use the gooey food in your hair, as Percy & Reed’s Totally TLC Hydrating Mask has taught us.
While this white fluff strengthens our hair, the coconut oil in the mask quenches the thirst of even straw-dry split ends. What the packaging fails to mention, is the conditioning treatment should be applied to wet, clean hair. After application, pile your hair high and place it in shower cap to lock the heat in. Don’t worry, that sweet smelling marshmallowy goodness will still seep through.
After using the product and blow-drying my hair, my tresses felt soft and smooth to the touch, and stayed silky all the way until my next wash a couple of days later.
Tough though this mask is on dry and damaged hair, you’d do well at lightening the load on it by using a daily shampoo and conditioner that helps maintain healthy hair. For those of you who indulge in a highlight every now and then, reply on the keratin associated protein in Kérastase’s Bain Thérapiste shampoo and conditioner to rework your hair structure and help revive an over-processed mane. Remember, good hair may start with a mask, but great hair start from everyday care.
For those of you like me, who do not like feet and tend to gag at the thought of ever touching anyone else’s, as well as not being able to help but wince a bit at the thought of giving your own feet a pedicure, the Margaret Dabbs 3 Steps to Fabulous Feet kit, needs a spot on your bathroom shelf.
I put the at-home pedicure kit to the test after a night out dancing in heels, my feet swollen and riddled with sore spots from all of the evening’s shoes chafing. I was in need of an emergency pedicure.
Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, I put the kit’s professional foot file to my heel and with little effort (warning: this gets graphic), my dry skin began flaking off onto the white porcelain tub. If you are one of those aforementioned gaggers, well, all I can say is: dead skin is better off your foot than on it. I continue to scrub the file against my feet until it stopped “snowing” dry skin. Coming from someone who regularly files their feet, one to two times a week, I was thoroughly impressed. Using compressed crystal technology, this foot file absolutely shames your average pumice stone.
After filing, I moved on to step two: the Exfoliating Foot Mousse. Using the spatula provided, I scooped a sparing amount out of the jar and applied it to my wet feet. I massaged the course exfoilant between my toes and onto my heels, later kneaded my fist into the arches of my feet to try and alleviate the pain my heels had inflicted earlier. After washing off the sandy texture, my feet were soft and smooth, they seemed almost not to need any further moisturizing. But of course, I wasn’t going to skip step 3. After drying my feet, I applied Margaret Dabbs award-winning Intensive Hydrating Foot Lotion. The non-greasy moisturizer, formulated with Emu Oil, holds anti-aging properties and carries a subtle citrus scent. I never thought of keeping my feet looking young before, but upon reflection, I would like to be able to wear strappy heels for a long time down the road. With feet this smooth, there’s not much reason for foot fears anymore!
Everyone neglects their hands, yet we rely on them the most in our daily doings. We feed our bodies with them, text with them and greet with them. So, it’s important that we pamper them to repay them for all their hard work.
Begin by washing them with LUSH’s Salted Coconut Hand Scrub to polish off the dead skin scaling up your mints. The rough grainy texture of this sweet scented cream will leave hands smooth, but may be a bit too rough for daily use. For that, there is Margaret Dabbs Exfoliating Hand Scrub. A gentle scrub, the product is formulated with orange peel and jojoba beads for soft care of your sensitive digits.
Hand cream is next on the agenda. As a quick stroll through any pharmacy would show you, there are a lot of choices out there. For this one though, we say it pays to invest in something you won’t find displayed next to an US Weekly.
Another gem from LUSH is their Love and Light Hand Cream. While sometimes the expiry date on LUSH products don’t give you enough time to finish their natural beauty concoctions, I was impressed by the life expectancy of the Love and Light Hand Cream, which gives you just over a year to use the pot up. The ingredients include Brazilian orange and orange flower, along with fair trade organic cocoa butter. The fruity burst is fresh and hydrating. I stress not to use too much or you risk it not absorbing into your skin, and it will leave your hands ultra slippery.
If you’re looking for something to take on the go to help preserve your last manicure, Margaret Dabbs Hydrating Hand Lotion from the Fabulous Hand kit is a great size for your purse, as is the Shea Nail & Cuticle Nourishing oil by L’Occitane’s from the brand’s At Home Shea Butter Manicure set. Neither will leave hands feeling sticky either, should the need for handshakes be foreseen.
Remember, hands need beauty rest too. Take five minutes before bed to apply Aveda’s Hand Relief Night Renewal Serum (andiroba oil is the key ingredient in this, working to protect the skin’s natural moisture barrier) and you’ll be popping out of bed in the morning just to show off those fresh and fancy paws of yours.